25th – 28th January ~ A Few Days in Tenerife!
After the most unwelcome surprises we have had over the last few days in Las Palmas, it was somewhat of a relief to board the ferry to Santa Cruz, Tenerife!
We had hired a car as soon as we arrived back to Las Palmas from UK and so we were able to take it on the ferry too! It just saved us time on our arrival!
Tenerife ~ some information!
Tenerife is the largest of all the Canary Islands and is the most populated too.
It is also the most visited of the Canary Islands and is one of the most important tourist destinations in Spain! We arrived in the capital city, Santa Cruz, which is a large commercial port, a ferry port and has a marina too not that we were going to use this one!
Santa Cruz together with Las Palmas, Gran Canaria form the capital of the Canary Islands community. This arrangement has been in place since 1927 when the Crown ordered that the capital of the islands should be shared! A slightly bizarre situation but it obviously works!!
The Natural Symbols of Tenerife
The natural plant symbol of Tenerife is the Canary Island Dragon Tree. It is a tree-like plant of the Asparagus family! The dragon ‘tree’ is plentiful with several different species and we have seen many during our time in the Canary Islands! The one in the photo is “El Drago Milenario” or thousand year old dragon tree, is to be found on Tenerife and is the oldest living plant of it’s species!
The natural animal symbol of Tenerife is the Blue Chaffinch which is endemic in Tenerife but sadly we didn’t see one of these?
We arrived our hotel at Las Caletillas, another little treat to ourselves, which was about 30 minutes drive away from Santa Cruz. The hotel was fine, comfortable and clean and positioned well for the few things we wanted to see and do!
26th January ~ To Los Cristianos to visit our Dutch friends!
It was so good to see Co and Jopie again, our Dutch fellow sailors! We had first met them two years ago when we were cruising the Gulf of Morbihan in South Brittany. We enjoyed an evening drink with them in Vannes on board Musetta together with their friends, Patrick and Hedwige a Belgian couple and we all became firm friends!
Los Cristianos in the south of Tenerife is very much within the holiday area of the island. Co and Jopie escape the freezing cold winters in Holland every January, staying for a month!
We had a great day catching up with their news and sailing plans with their boat “Heron” in South Brittany for the coming sailing season. We even did some hiking up a small dormant volcano not far from their apartment!
Moments from our day in Los Cristianos!
We so enjoyed spending the day with our Dutch friends, an arrangement we had made way back at the beginning of December when we realised that we would both be on
Tenerife at around the same time!!
27th January ~ Teide National Park!
This is a ‘must see’ when visiting Tenerife and something we had always planned to do! With the car it was so easy to drive to the park from our hotel. The route once we were off the motorway was typically very twisty as we climbed the mountains, and very pretty too.
As we climbed we watched the outside temperature dropping rapidly, especially as we went up through the cloud level into glorious sunshine! Hang gliders were also enjoying the view!
We arrived at the park and were stunned by the landscape! It was like nothing I had seen before and little wonder that in 2007 the park was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site! The volcanic structures were incredible, a moonscape of volcanic stone sharing similar characteristics with the Grand Canyon National Park in Arizona. It is completely understandable why several films have been shot here including Planet of the Apes and Clash of the Titans.
A veritable moonscape!
….dominates the profile of Tenerife and stands a 3,718 metres above sea level at it’s summit! It is the highest elevation in Spain, the highest of all the Atlantic Islands and the third largest volcano in the world! Some credentials?!
Also, and in the same park is the Pico Viejo which is the second highest peak of Tenerife and the Canary Islands with it’s height recorded at 3,135 metres above sea level and has an enormous crater which measures 720 metres across?!! This was our view of it from the cable car station.
We parked the car easily enough at the bottom of the cable car lift and naturally couldn’t resist the ride – well I couldn’t, Alan is not that keen on cable cars but he stoically came with me!
When we got to the top we could only walk on the lava rock paths to the West and to the East which were amazing in themselves but it would have been good to have been able to climb to the summit and look into the crater too. No joy on that score as we couldn’t get a pass to do the last bit! It is free but can only be applied for on line and at least the day before!! We didn’t know!
It was an amazing experience and we were so pleased to have been able to see it and experience the mountain! Time to descend to sea level with one more site to see before returning to Las Caletillas and our hotel….
Candelaria ~ The Basilica!
Candelaria is a small town and port just to the south of Caletillas where we were staying and so after our trip to the National Park we called in on our way back to the hotel! The town seemed to be on high alert for something? It was as we discovered later!
The square with the beautiful Basilica of Candelaria!
We parked the car and walked to the square which is dominated by the Basilica of Candelaria, considered to be the main church dedicated to the Virgin Mary, patron saint of the Canary Islands! Her feast is celebrated on February 2nd, in a few days time, the Fiesta de la Candelaria, hence the sense of ‘something in the air’! For some strange reason the Virgin Mary is depicted as a Black Madonna?
We were intrigued by these statues which line the seaward side of the square? I discovered that they represent the nine Aboriginal Kings (Guanchos) of Tenerife! Guanchos is the most recent name given to the indigenous people of Tenerife, at least it is the name given to any person who is non-hispanic!
We didn’t expect our ‘drop in’ to Candelaria to be so interesting, nor did we expect to discover that this small town would carry such significance in the Canary Islands!
We had had another very enjoyable day on Tenerife and returned wearily to Las Caletillas and our hotel via this black sand beach and a rock pool surrounded by very black lava rock!
The characteristically Black Coastline!
28th January ~ Return to Las Palmas!
We had so enjoyed our stay in Tenerife, meeting up with Co and Jopie was such a pleasure but now it was time to leave and return to Musetta! Fingers crossed that we could complete all necessary works and then set sail again, to a revised destination now…..