― Maya Angelou,
After a mostly relaxing afternoon on a very windy Alcala beach and a nice dinner at Red Level hotel last night, I had arranged for our last day in Tenerife a tour with a company called Tenerife host. The best part about this tour is that they asked you what you were interested in and then tailor made it for you. I said, "Scenery and wine for Paul." So at 10 AM, a Ukranian guy in a Mercedes showed up with a big smile and a plan for today. I have to admit, I was a bit skeptical. He said he had been living here 5 years and before that worked in Denmark . He promptly pronounced Denmark "boring" and then he and Paul made a plan for the day-- Circle the island and look at all the cool scenery we hadn't already seen and visit some wine sites .
|Our guide and driver, Gregory|
So from the outset, let me say that I was pleasantly surprised by both my guide and the wonders of Tenerife that you don't see unless you remove yourself from the overtouristed beach scene.
We started by going to a nearby cliff with three large rock formations called Los Gigantes (the giants.) There are three viewpoints in the village, the main one on main road to towards Tamaimo another above the sports club and a third on a coastal path around the Hotel Barceló. We saw them from two sides, so we felt very lucky. These cliffs rise about 1500 to 2500 feet out of the sea. If you have ever visited Dover, Eastbourne or Cliff of Mohr, you get some idea of how they look.
|Los Gigantes from a northern vantage point|
|This view is about 5 miles from where we were staying. We also saw them full frontal but distant from La Gomera.|
|Photos for freaks :)|
|Views from the Masca road...there was a postcard around every corner|
|The pirate conquers motion sickness to make hundreds of turn going around Tenerife on the Masca Road. Note EU funding and Spanish engineering to make the road behind him|
Masca is a village now of about 50 people. It is a popular launch point for a 3 hour downhill hike to the beach. A boat will pick you up there and take you to Los Cristianos...if you don't want to go back up
|Masca village. Now a hiker's paradise and once a pirate refuge|
|Orchards and bananas all the way to the north beaches of Tenerife|
In a very nondescript restaurant along the roadside, we had a nice light lunch of local cheeses and croquettes. The restaurant had a lovely tropical garden and was located next to a small banana grove. I had fun feeding the little dog who was more than happy to consume my leftovers.
|The gardens at our lunch stop. Cacti seem to do well in all of the Canaries we have visited so far.|
|A recipient of our leftover cheese. He was living with the bananas|
From here we ventured to the first capital of Tenerife, Garachico. Garachico and the surrounding area is arguably the least spoilt coastal area of Tenerife, and is in sharp contrast to the heavily touristed southern beach areas and has a real Spanish flavor. This capital was destroyed in the 1706 by a volcanic eruption and the capital moved to La Laguna. Most of the town was eventually rebuilt. We had a nice stroll down the streets which had a colonial feel with many wooden architectural features and noticeably older Spanish design. Parts of the town reminded us of old San Juan, Puerto Rico as well with the stucco and wood.
|Wooden windows designed to keep strong sunlight out, but still provide ventilation|
|Wood balcony on stucco|
|Some streets reminded us of old town San Juan, PR|
|And the balconies were somewhat reminiscent of New Orleans|
|People must have been shorter when they built this door.|
|Me and my honey on the streets of Garachico|
There is no beach worth mentioning; the coastline is essentially volcanic debris, but this does give the town its charm and a reason to visit it. Near the old port in Garachico, there has been considerable recent effort to landscape the shoreline. Many paths have been laid as crazy paving, and some natural rock pools made into swimming pools.
|There has been some effort to make some "natural pools" along the beach. The water beyond is quite rough|
Another feature of this town was the "world's oldest drago tree." I have since been told, that like the world's oldest continuously occupied human settlement, everyone essentially makes this claim. Gregory told us that there was "an older one" nearby but a storm destroyed it. However, when the scientists dated the tree it was 8000 years old. When I asked how old the current eldest tree was he said, "Between 500 and 5000 years. They won't know till it dies." So....maybe not the oldest. But still, a danged beautiful work of nature.
|The world's "oldest" drago tree. After 500 years, who's counting anyway?|
Something Paul found even more gorgeous is that there was a Museo de Malvasia--the local grape that most Canarian wine is made from. Garachico, prior to the eruption, was the center for exportation of Malmsey wine, which was very well regarded but the Brits of it's day. Amongst its devotees were the greats of English 101, such as Lord Byron and Keats. An interesting note is that William Shakespeare received Malmsey wine as a portion of his salary. We had a very nice wine tasting there in this family owned winery and museum. The dry white grape of the liston varietal was particularly tasty and we saw and tasted a beautiful rose as well. We weren't quite as drawn to their reds, but overall it was a fun tasting experience. Additonally, the showed us products, mostly cosmetic in nature that they manufactured from the grapeseeds. They also had a nice tropical garden. We would recommend a stop here for anyone interested in wines or history or both.
|The dry white from the Liston grape on the far left was really nice. We loved the color of the rose|
|The museum of malvasia|
|Family run. Very knowledgeable folks.|
|Paul tries out their novel wine opener.|
|Canarian grape varietals. Nothing French in this room!|
|A large wine press at Casa De Vino|
At this juncture, we began a race against sunset. I had asked to go to the Anaga Mountains in a very remote northeastern section of the island. The guide was game for anything, so off we went leaving quite a number of interesting historical sites in our wake. We regret that we did not have time for La Laguna, the second capital of Tenerife, nor the current one, Santa Cruz. But we did get a trip up some pretty rugged mountains and some gorgeous vistas. We even got out for a very short hike to get a feel for the trails on this less accessed area, in case we ever make it back. We did manage an absolutely stunning sundown from on high.
|Laurisilva Forest found anywhere in the Canaries if the altitude reaches >2000 ft|
|We hope to explore these hikes in the Anaga in the future|
|The backside of the island from Anaga Mountains|
|Sunset with Mt. Teide in the background|
Paul mentioned to Gregory as he got back into the car that we had an 8:30 dinner reservation at a restaurant at our hotel. Here we experienced a Nascar like return. We did make it back at exactly 8:27 pm to the South of the island with a pale, white knuckled Paul holding fast to the passenger subway strap. It was scary. I've been on so many third world rides like this, I have learned to just sleep. Having your eyes closed while driving 100mph can be a good thing. We were delayed during a crash on the freeway and got a look at a search and rescue going on actively near Medano beach where we stayed two nights before and where wind and strong ocean currents abound. Even though the Ukranian Dale Earnhardt equivalent was exceeding any normal speed limit frequently and tailgating like Bristol, TN raceway on a fast night, we arrived thankfully in one piece.
|Ummm...that is a mojito...seriously|
|And why not have 4 pats of butter?|
|Our appetizers. Thankfully only one bite each: green apple gazpacho, crab bite and a iberico ham croquette|
|Two bites of tuna with accompaniment|
|Seafood coconut soup. Thank heaven none of these courses were more than a mouthful|
|Canaries apparently have good wild mushrooms. These are served on a toast point with potato|
|hake in papaya|
|Lamb and risotto. Even with tiny portions I was getting full by this point.|
|Kiwi sorbet, kiwi and cucumber|
|Flan ice cream with fancy decor|
What a day! Completely around the island, albeit the last 75 minutes in the dark, but we did see port operations on a grand scale passing through Santa Cruz. Tenerife is not only a well known cruise , but also has a refinery and ships petroleum to Spain and South America. They are the center for numerous independent shipping companies and the host of containers and container ships bore witness to the importance of their geographic positioning not only in the time of Christopher Columbus, but also in the modern era.
Next I am going to post a few funny photos before signing out about this grand day in Tenerife, because we all need a laugh as least as much as we need information about worldwide vacation possibilities...Actually, even more than we need that...
|That's a lot of crying|
|Not sure I want this as a vanity plate|
|Chips, Mars Bars...and Condoms. Maybe Mick Jagger hangs out here?|
|This small museum of the native Gaunches is located....in a parking garage. No use wasting space!|
|Not sure this is really what North African Berber life looked like pre-1400, but whatever. They tried, I reckon.|
|Fake snow for Christmas even in the tropics!|