Tenerife 2007

It's been a long awaited vacation. Isn't vacation always long awaited? But with all the hassles we went through the past few months, making the decision to move cross-country, I dare say it was really long awaited. We left home Saturday afternoon; my friend dropped us off at the airport. As always, it was an uneventful flight. No major disturbances or turbulences. We got our rental car, stopped at the next supermarket to get some groceries and arrived at the rental apartment at 9.30 pm Spanish time. Spanish time is an hour earlier than German time. But with being closer to the equator, it was already completely dark.

The apartment is really, really nice. Spacious! A separate bedroom for hubby and me, Nicole sleeps behind a curtain in a corner of the huge living room. Actually we have two living rooms, one with a sofa and shelf in the wall, the other one completely surrounded by huge windows, there is another sofa, a dining table and a small tv set. We have a small kitchen and a bathroom (including a washing machine!), a deck with another table and a couple of chairs.

After a small dinner of Canarian tomatoes and queso fresco, we go to bed. We woke up to two cocks' cock-a-doodle-doo – I remember the description of the apartment said that they have chicken to serve fresh eggs in the morning! They also have a dog, Simba, he was in the pictures they have on the internet. Actually not just one dog. They own two, the youngest is Nemo and there is another one, Luna, visiting from the neighbors who are on vacation. That's not all – we were also visited by two cats! Very young cats, both without a name yet. The youngest, maybe 3 months old or so, we named Diego – that would've been Nelly's name if she had been a boy. The other one is a little older but not older than maybe 4 months, he looks more than a girl with the fur a little fluffy and longer, but it is a male. We call him Timo, or Julio, just as we like to. Later we found out that his name is Felix. We found out that there is a third tomcat, a red one, his name is Hugo. Well, breakfast with 6 animals, that's not exactly what we have expected!

We took the rental car and drove a small distance to the north, to Los Gigantes, which is a huge rock formation. We had a wonderful view from a vista point, where a small restaurant and a gift shop is. We bought banana jam – Canarian bananas are very famous and tasty! We got lost in the community of Los Gigantes, not finding our way south again. So we go back and drive another way. We stopped in Armeñime to buy pearl jewellery. Then we went looking for a nice restaurant – of course I wanted to have fresh fish! We went for a recommendation of the travel guide we bought, and visited the restaurant called Pisces in La Caleta, The food was good, the service, well, not exactly friendly. Besides, the deck of the restaurant was used as a pathway from the beach. I didn't find it very nice to see and hear fat, half-naked people fighting over something I didn't understand.

Monday we went to the beach. We drove down to the huge touristy place called Las Americas. We didn't even go that far, but stopped in Costa Adeje. The communities in the south of Tenerife have grown into one big municipal area. We tried to find a parking space but didn't find any, so we ended up in a parking house, which was ok, since the car stood in the shade. The beach was in front of the five-star hotel Bahia del Duque, a huge complex Disney style. Actually the hotel was one of our first choices when we thought about going to Tenerife, but we couldn't afford it. We spent a few hours at the beach, went into the ocean a few times, but the waves were quite powerful and I have to admit that I was a little scared after being hit by a big wave. We left in the afternoon and bought some groceries on our way home. We cooked spaghetti bolognese.

Tuesday morning we woke up to a cloudy sky. We had planned to visit the Loro Parque, an animal park with a couple of shows. Loro Parque is in the north of Tenerife, we had to cross the mountain range – the roads are narrow and curvy and steep! We had to drive through low clouds and it was wet. Usually the clouds don't reach the south of the island, that's why the north is much greener than the south! Since the weather was not suitable for the beach, many other people had the same idea, so the park was pretty crowded. The official parking lot was full, but we were lucky to find a space around the corner. Apparently the people who live there rent their spaces to the tourists! Anyway, we walked through the park with hundreds of other people. We saw penguins and puffins, lots of different parrots, some apes. They have a leopard, iguanas, turtles, tigers. On the map the park looked much bigger, actually it is pretty narrow and small. They have orcas and dolphins, and they have shows with both of them. I love seeing orcas! They are new, the park got them from the Sea Worlds in San Antonio and Orlando! They showed a short movie of the transport before the show started. Actually we wanted to see the parrot show too, but we were tired and fed up somehow so we left. We found a lovely restaurant owned by a German and had the most wonderful tapas and some great red wine.

Day 5 – Wednesday, a lazy day. We took it easy, read and just hung around. We drove down to San Juan, but there is nothing spectacular, so we just had a small lunch and went "home" again. Nicole spent time in the pool, accompanied by Simba and Luna. Christian and I sat in the garden, below a huge ficus tree, having a glass of wine and looking down to the coast. We had spaghetti with tuna sauce, interrupted by Diego who always tried to sneak some of the food! What a little impertinent cat he is – he was successful, as he was quick!

Thursday. The cocks wake us as usual. It looks dull with many clouds, but we know that this won't last all day long. Besides, a few kilometers farther it can change immediately. We want to go around the island today. Tenerife is the biggest of all Canary Islands, but still the distances are not too big. Again we drive up north, but we don't have clouds up there. On our way, we stopped and looked at the burnt slopes. The forest fires were extinguished shortly before we left home. It still smelled a lot, and it looked unreal. Imagining what it must've been like during the fires… We had talked to our neighbors in the other apartment the day before, who had been here – they said they had spent a night at the coast, as they could *see* the flames! I feel thankful that we didn't have to experience this. Back to our round trip. We had our first stop in Icod de los Vinos and visited the Drago Milenario. This tree is very old, but latest examinations say it's not 1,000 years old, maybe a couple of hundred. No one really knows. The next stop is in La Orotava. We spent quite a bit of time to look for a parking space and end up in a parking house. We walk to the Casas de los Balcones, old houses with really nice old wooden balconies. These balconies are typical for Tenerife. We saw them all over the city of La Orotava. The valley is said to be one of the most beautiful places in Tenerife, but we didn't see much due to the clouds. Another stop in the north is in El Sauzal, there is a small wine museum (and a honey museum!). We have papas arrugadas for lunch and buy some honey and wine. Papas arrugadas are small salty potatoes served with two different sauces, a red, spicy one and a green one with lots of cilantro. Both with lots of garlic! They are called mojo in Spanish – the mojos in the cafeteria in El Sauzal must've been homemade – they looked different and tasted even better than the usual ones in the restaurants, even Nicole liked them! We took the autopista norte (highway north) to the east and then south. We all are somehow pretty exhausted and don't really care for another stop. We take a break in Playa de Las Americas though, but this is the typical touristy place, worse than I had expected. Nothing else but dirty looking fast food places, British bars, lots of noise due to construction sites and stuff like that. I had hoped for a nice and cozy restaurant, but no such luck. We decide to go home and have hot dogs. No non-human guests today.

The next day was 100% lazy. We spent the day reading, playing cards, watching tv, lying around at the pool. We went grocery shopping late afternoon. I like foreign supermarkets! Supermarkets are supermercados in Spanish. The one in Guía de Isora is really nice and clean – we have experienced it otherwise! They have a great bakery and there is a huge gift shop nearby! We bought souvenirs for home, banana marmalade, tropical seeds (I know they probably won't survive the climate at home!), and our last name in colorful tiles for the new home next year. We seldom talk about the move here. It's still far away somehow. Still, there is a light feeling of excitement already. Even Nicole says she somehow is looking forward to moving. I have to admit, I am looking forward to creating a new garden and a new home as well. Despite the feelings of sadness and loss. It certainly doesn't really feel like we'll move so far away. It all looks like we will rent the house in Solingen. We think so much about it and make so many plans for it, that we probably won't have another choice! Today we had internet access for the first time here. The apartment description said DSL access, but the wireless connection is very instable. I don't care really, I am on vacation and don't really *need* the internet – but it's nice to say hello via my Yahoo blog.

Saturday is reserved for culture. We go to Güímar, on the East coast, where in the 1990 pyramids were found by Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian ethnologist. The ethnographical park (Parque Etnográfico Pirámides) was founded in 1997. Heyerdahl, who died in 2002, thought that these pyramids could be the missing link between the cultures in ancient Egypt and ancient South America. He crossed the Atlantic Ocean with boats built after ancient models, the Kon Tiki and the Ra I and Ra II. I find this extremely fascinating and I have to read more about Heyerdahl when we're home. On our way home we stop in Los Cristianos, a part of the huge tourist complex in the south. It looks neater than Las Americas, but still we don't stay for dinner. Instead we go for another tip in the tourist guide and drive a bit back to Los Abrigos, where we have a nice fish dinner.

Sunday, another cloudy morning. Seems like this is normal for the area! The landlord said she is so thankful for the lower temperatures, compared to the heat and the fires. It's really cool in the mornings here, much cooler than I thought it would be. Better than hot temperatures . Christian and I left for the Barrancos del Infierno, the Hell's Canyon, not far from us in Adeje. You can hike to a waterfall there. Nicole didn't want to come, she decided to stay in the apartment. Arriving there, we had to learn that a hike isn't possible that day. Only 200 people are allowed per day and at 11 am there were already 80 people inside. We made a reservation for Wednesday. Going back, we stopped again at the gift shop. What we hadn't known until then, it must be a popular stop for tourist buses – when we went inside, one bus stood there, leaving, we saw SEVEN buses! Change of plans – we decided to do a tour to the northwest of the island, the Teno mountains. Destination Masca, a beautiful mountain village overlooking a valley. Unfortunately we knew that the valley was hit by the fires. It still looked wonderful with a hint of smoke in the air. A restaurant was burnt down, lots of blackened slopes, it made my eyes teary. It looked so awful! I almost could feel the fear and the anger of the people who live there. I had read on the internet in a forum that the road had been closed and the inhabitants weren't allowed to go and save their homes. Probably for safety reasons. The view over the valley is truly spectacular – that's exactly what I thought Tenerife would be like. The road to the next city Buenavista del Norte is so narrow and steep that I refuse to go back the same way. We had to drive a detour – I was too afraid to go back up there! I refuse to drive here anyway. We have no automatic transmission and the roads are not easy. Christian loves to drive, so he doesn't mind thankfully. We then go west to a vista point and to the westernmost point of Tenerife, Punta del Teno. Actually, since the road can be closed due to high winds or rain, I expected it to be quite lonely out there. Well, I was wrong. Lots and lots of cars of people who stay there for a bath in the ocean. There is a small lighthouse and you can see Los Gigantes from the other side! I suddenly realized that we're actually not far away from our home away from home. We then go home via Garachico and the Erjos pass (1117 meters) and have dinner at home. Spaghetti Bolognese, Nicole loves the taste of the ground meat here!

Another must for a visit on the island is the Parque Nacional de Teide. So we went there on Monday. The Teide is the highest mountain in Spain, the peak being at 3718 meters. It's a volcano that had erupted last in 1798, the lava fields are huge! All Canary islands are of volcanic heritage – although some people think of the area as where Atlantis had been! We pass pine woods, parts of it burnt. We go higher and higher, the Nationalpark begins at about 2000 meters above sea level. The Teide is actually inside a huge caldera from a much bigger volcano. The surroundings are called Caldera de las Cañadas and it really looks like you're on the moon! We stayed for a while at the first vista point, then decide to skip the other ones and go for the cable car first. About a couple of thousand other cars are looking for a parking space, so Nicole and I got out of the car and line up in the queue for the gondola, while Christian looked for a place to park. It took a while but he finally found one maybe a 10 minute walk away. Unbelievable, but we have to wait two hours before we can go up to the gondola station, which is 3550 meters above sea level. Actually we were lucky, as the cable car was closed due to high winds for two days before! Due to environmental reasons you may only stay up for an hour, just enough to walk almost halfway around the peak and back. And walking in this height really makes breathing difficult! To go up to the actual peak you have to acquire a permit, which we didn't have, but I didn't mind. The view from up there is absolutely breathtaking! This waiting was really worth it! Going down again, we decide to postpone the planned hike to Los Roques (the stones) until Friday, our last day. We were quite hungry and had planned to go to Los Gigantes for dinner. We did stop at the several vista points though. In Los Gigantes we were looking for a whale watching boat. Between the islands of Tenerife and Gomera there is a population of maybe 300 resident whales and lots of dolphins. We made a reservation for Thursday, then looked for a restaurant. We had a lovely dinner with an Italian waiter. It feels weird to think of leaving again. Now I feel like I have been here for a while, I now feel comfortable (despite always waking up early due to the cocks!). But it's only a couple of days until we are going home again.

Today on Tuesday actually a visit to the beach was planned. But Nicole didn't feel well, she has had an earache. So we decided for another lazy day at home. We again spent the day reading and playing. We have a couple of German books here from previous visitors and as I had finished my books I had brought (Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and the sixth of the Outlander saga by Diana Gabaldon, which I read for the third time), I chose a Scandinavian thriller about a serial killer – well, I finished it in one sitting, so captivating! The internet connection failed during the day, so I couldn't post my entry on Yahoo 360 – I continued my travel report instead. Our landlord has constructions work going on; the guys are building a stone stairway, listening to a Spanish radio station. We are having a bottle of Canarian wine, the two little tomcats are sleeping on one of our chairs, it all feels so peaceful!

Wednesday didn't pass as we had planned. Life is what happens when you made plans! That should be my motto… Nicole's earache didn't go away. She said it was better yesterday, but this morning, well, nothing improved. Christian and I made the reserved hike in Barranco del Infierno and it was well worth the wait! The hike wasn't really easy, especially towards the end. As predicted, we needed three hours for a distance of 6 kilometers. We really enjoyed the hike and it is good that not many people at once can go into the canyon. Sometimes we didn't think there were any other people at all! We heard the wild goats before we could see them – they were at the bottom of the canyon. A ranger told us that these goats actually were supposed to move, since they eat endemic plants, but they always return. At the end of the canyon is a waterfall, with not much water during the hot season. We weren't allowed to stay there longer than a few minutes, the danger of stonefall is always there. On our way back we were glad that we began the hike quite early at 9.30 am. It became sunny and really warm. Back at the apartment, we decided to visit a doctor. Our travel guide had the address and telephone number of a German doctor center in Las Americas so we called and went. Turns out that Nicole almost has otitis media! She got an antibiotic and antibiotic ear drops. Now, only a few hours after the first treatment, she says it has improved. I'm relieved! We have another appointment on Friday for control. Actually we want to return to the Teide Nationalpark on Friday, but as we mentioned that, the doctor (Spanish, but talking German almost perfectly!) said that we will decide on Friday. The height at 2,000 meters is not good for an ear infection! So, we'll see.

At about noon on Thursday we left for the boat trip in Los Gigantes. The weather is perfect – sunny and warm. We had chosen the Flipper Uno, a wooden sail boat. When it returned from the previous trip into the harbor, they played the Pirates of the Caribbean theme! That was funny and as Nicole loves the movies, she liked that very much. We saw a couple of dolphins, no whales, unfortunately. The dolphins seem to play with us, they accompany the boat – I got soaked by one wave splashing over the railing! The whole trip is an event with drinks and food and music. We have fun with the Italian family next to us. We made a stop in Masca Bay, where it is allowed to swim. Many people jump into the water – Nicole was so angry that she wasn't allowed. We didn't go either. After the people got back on the boat, the crew served a traditional Spanish dish, paella, then we go back to the harbor.

Friday morning, a trip back to Las Americas to visit the doctor. Nicole's ear didn't really improve greatly, so he decided to flush her ears to get rid of the earwax. That must've hurt! We go home again, the doctor advised us not to take her with us to the Teide Nationalpark. She decided to watch tv and play gameboy to relax, we promised her to be back in the afternoon. We chose the southern route to enter the Nationalpark. The forestal zone below the Nationalpark is truly beautiful! Sometimes we feel like in the Canadian Rockies. If the rocks had another color… We did a short hike at Los Roques, with some beautiful sights. The round trip is more than 2 hours, so we skipped that.

In the evening we drove down to Costa Adeje to have dinner – the last one! It was a nice evening, and Nicole finally felt better!

Saturday – packing, saying goodbye to our landlords and the animals. Nicole would've loved to take Diego with her! We drove to the airport, dropped off the rental car and waited for the flight home. On one hand I was looking forward to leaving, sleeping in my own bed again, one the other I would've loved to stay at least another week. We haven't seen the northeastern part of the island at all, and a few more beach days would've been nice as well. Maybe we'll have the chance to go there again one day.