Saturday, December 31, 2016

December 30: Anniversario Canaria: Chafoya, Tenerife

Subtitle: It's Not the Destination, It's the Journey

"My father used to run auctions. He's now a singer in the Canary Islands. "

Jason Statham

December 30, 2016

 Today was mostly about getting from Madrid to Tenerife, finding a place to cure jet lag and learn a little bit more about the island we plan to visit for the next few days.

When we tell people we are going hiking in the Canary Islands, most folks at least know they exist, but aren't too sure exactly where they are. So as a source of orientation, the continent you see in the far right of the map is Africa--Morocco for the most part and these islands, which are still a part of Spain, are hanging out at 28 degrees latitude which is the same as Orlando. They are near the meridian, so almost at zero longitude and below England. Europe, in general, is warmer at every latitude than the US due to warmer currents overall, so usually the temperatures here in winter are 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit during the day.

That said, there is SNOW right now on Europe's highest mountain, Mount Teide, which we hope to hike on New Year's Day. Kind of like snow on Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa in Hawaii, which incidentally also has happened this year.

We got up with the pollo this morning and reported to Barajas Airport to catch an Iberia flight to Tenerife South. The island is fairly diverse and has two airports. The north end is more of a business oriented proposition and the south is mucho turisto. We flew south for the winter to the sandy beaches mostly haunted by Europeans of the Northern ilk, particularly Brits, Germans and some Scandanavians, Poles and an occasional Eastern Europe snowbird. 

We are on Tenerife which you see in the middle left of the map.  Specifically tonight we are very close to Costa Adeja.

We are staying in a less populated hotel in Chafoyo-- just above the disco-beat of Costa Adeje/Los Cristianos. Those are reminiscent of Panama City beach on 4th of July weekend. Many restaurants, beaches, souvenir shops, bars and people. But today they are walking around in sweaters and coats, because although it is 60 degrees, it is windy as all get out. We didn't see one person on the beach or in a pool.

This hotel is nice because it is reasonably priced, has a shuttle to the beach and we are in a good size apartment. It is bigger than the place I lived when I met Paul (but maybe that's not saying all that much. ) It's basic but really quiet and has a large balcony and a view of the ocean.  The rooms are furnished with good furniture and the bed is comfy.

Only a fool would get in the pool (Or a disoriented polar bear)

It's not fancy but we are grateful.  The views of the ocean are great.
Our first order of business was lunch. We don't necessarily recommend the restaurant for cuisine but it was filling.  Then we were off to do some inner eyelid inspection and fight off some jet lag. 

Then we were off on the shuttle to enjoy our first Tenerife sunset at the El Gran Sol cafe with an open seating at the beach. We just caught the last few rays. Everyone was bundled up somewhat, but it was nice. Paul enjoyed his gin and tonic in a place where it is an art form.

A very windy Tenerife day with no one on the beach and now the sun is out of reach.  Our first Tenerife sunset.
G&T? Don't mind if I do.

Then we were off to Mayte, a two mile walk along all the glory and gory of a tourist beach. The restaurant,  Mayte, is family owned and they were all so friendly. We had a beautiful paella served tableside by one of the sons. DELICIOUS!

Pretty paella

No serving yourself at Mayte

The final presentation with prawn atop.

If you ever get a chance to eat pimientos de padron, do not walk, run.  Pan tomate is not bad either.

We were also entertained by a family from Leeds who were most likely exceedingly drunk but effusive and convivial. The restaurant family doted on them even though they pronounced to us that each individual person in the family from the matronly mama waiter to the trim son to the male waiter who has worked there for 21 years was  a "nasty" person. Of course, this could be "trumpspeak" but we hope not. When they found out we were from Tennessee, in addition to their already ample alcohol intake, they had a Jack and Coke in our honor. Then they had a Canarian honey rum in honor of the Canaries. I suppose they'd had beers and gin and tonic prior to our arrival to honor England and who knows what other countries were honored as well by these jovial souls.

Although they sound like utter ogres, they were instead quite jovial and magnanimous.  They came by our table and kissed us and shook our hands when they left, after having razed about a quarter of a cow to the bone. This was their 31st year coming to the island and they obviously love this nasty island and all its nasty denizen. They made our meal entertaining as well as delicious.

God bless these folks from Leeds, who honored the alcohol of several nations.

By now, since Spanish dinner time is around 9 pm at the earliest, we were bringing in the new day and were off to our hotel for another attempt at getting caught up on sleep. A nice day in transition and better than we could deserve. New island, new food, new friends. Does it get any better than that?

“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles.” – Tim Cahill

Paul's Ponderings:   OK, we are officially at the age where a night spent in transit, in Madrid, makes a vacation better.   We flew Iberia to Tenerife, which is a tourist airline, meaning, it's very cramped but cheap.  All good though.   It's a bit windy here, but pleasant.   What's not to like:  it's a remote Spanish island that we end up at, no?  

Like Gran Canaria, this appears very volcanic and desert-like, not so much like a beach vacation kind of place so far.   Huge peaks in the distance with Mount Tiede looming in the background....a sign of hiking to come.   

We've been lucky to have great and inexpensive dining here with some great local wines (Spanish) so far, a combination of seafood and more, if you include Madrid's meal last night.   

The Canaries are a very unique place.....remote, tourist destinations in part, serious mountains in other parts, nice locals, a new picture at every turn....pretty swell all around.....highly recommend as they say.   Our goal is to visit all seven islands.   After this turn, we'll have three in the bag.   Do not let anyone tell you that spending time in Spanish island territory is a bad plan...Canaries, Marjorca, etc are great places in every meaning of the word.