Monday, November 30, 2009

A visit to Tenerife






My seat belt was securely fastened. I tried my hardest to look interested during the safety demonstration being carried out by a clearly disinterested crew. I then knew where the exits were, and my mind was put at rest in the knowledge that should we land in the sea I’d have a little light and whistle with which to attract the attention of a passing super tanker!

The world through my little oval window was a dreary place. Rain splattered on the glass distorting everything in the grey beyond. It was the dawn, but the sun wouldn’t be getting out of bed this morning, not in England anyway.
But a few hours later I emerged onto the steps leading down from the plane and the heat hit me in the face and the sun assaulted my eyes. How I love that feeling!

A short taxi ride took me to my hotel, the H10 Gran Tinerfe. The massive glass doors swooshed aside and I walked into a vast white space. White marble on the floor, on the walls and the ceiling. If I hadn’t had known better I’d have thought I’d walked into an art gallery. And not any art gallery, more the type you see in the movies or in a glossy magazine. I was surrounded by enormous pictures which were changed from photographs into fantastic works of art.



Everything about the hotel was stylish. There was a bar to suit every mood. If you wanted to dance you could dance. Sit and doze off to an organist? – no problem. But best of all was the terrace deck overlooking the Atlantic which every evening became a haven of tranquillity. Tent like structures of timber and linen housed enormous white beds scattered with pillows as soft as summer clouds. Others covered sumptuous white sofas piled high with overstuffed black cushions. To lay there with the sound of the sea, classical music playing in the background and a globe of brandy in my hand was about as good as it could get!

The restaurant was amazing. No matter what you wanted it was on offer, and a row of chefs cooked meats and fish right in front of your eyes and exactly the way you liked it. Deserts, ice creams, cheeses and fruit ended your meal in style.

Before I left several people expressed surprised that I’d chosen Tenerife for my break. The reason for my choice was simple. What I wanted was the maximum warmth within the shortest distance! Tenerife is ideally situated off the West African coast in the Atlantic Ocean. It’s known as the Island of Eternal Spring due to its climate which provides an almost unvarying temperature all year round. In November even mainland Spain sees values drop to 14 degrees yet Tenerife basks in warmth similar to a hot English summer’s day – I stepped off the plane into a 29 C heat, that’s 85 F. Very pleasant indeed!

I only had a few days so I decided to spend most of my time relaxing, writing and reading. Just one day was set aside for looking around the island; after all, it must be quite special as it attracts a whopping five million visitors each year.

It was impossible for me to go to Tenerife and not compare it to Majorca. They are after all both Spanish islands with a similar image. But to me the difference is stark. Away from the tourist hotspots Majorca is stylish. Its main town Palma is arty, trendy and sophisticated. The coastal villages are bursting with character and colour and in the picturesque mountain village of Valldemossa, Chopin composed many of his best known works.

I packed a lot into my one day tour of Tenerife and it was a day of highs and lows in both senses of the words! It started with an ear-popping climb of 3000 feet to the Teide National Park, at the centre of which stands the summit of the volcanic mountain which gives the area its name. It last erupted in 1909. The area surrounding it is truly breathtaking, flat and black, the stuff of space movies! Many films have been made there including Clash of the Titans.

The lava flows and glistening black rocks give one the impression that you are in a different world. The sides of the mountains are thick with pine forests and from the winding twisting roads with sheer drops to their sides one often glimpse jaw dropping vistas of the planes below and the sea beyond.

The coast, particularly in the north of the island is very dramatic. Black rocks line the ocean’s edge, and here and there, the sea laps over charcoal grey volcanic sand.

But although the coastal towns were picked out by the tour operator to be of particular interest I found them rather disappointing! In fact I found very little to photograph - so different from Majorca where I didn't know where to point my camera next.


Now here’s a funny thing. Mention Playa de las Americas to those who’ve never visited and all you get is a sharp intake of breath and a shake of the head! Now when I booked my holiday I didn’t realise that I dropped myself at the edge of it, an area known as Adeje The official tourist guide describes it thus; ‘row upon row of British Pubs, Fish and Chip parlours, Pizza parlours and other fast food outlets - this is a real home from home for those that don't like Spanish Food and want to spend their nights in the coolest hot spots and their days on the beach sleeping off the nights’.

It was built in the 1960’s and laid out with almost clinical precision. The roads are wide as are the pavements. Hundreds of palm trees are strategically placed for maximum impact even though the palm is not actually a native of the Canary Islands. But it works. It’s pristine. The beaches and manmade coves are perfectly formed and the gardens and flower beds are beautifully manicured. Fountains play in the street and some of retails best known names can be found in the town centre.

One evening I decided to venture down-town at 2am. I wanted to either confirm my prejudices or shatter them, and shatter them I did! I didn’t see people falling over drunk, I didn’t see anyone throwing up in the gutter. All I saw was bars full of people enjoying themselves. Many of them had singers perched on stools with guitars entertaining the crowd. There was only word I could think of to sum up what I saw – happy! And that’s not a word I would necessarily use to describe Majorca at night!

This was the shortest holiday I’d ever had. No sooner had I settled in before the last day arrived! For the last few days I’d enjoyed enormous breakfasts (I don’t normally eat breakfast) so consequently I never really needed lunch. Having feasted on hotel food each day, good as it was, I felt the need to find some authentic Spanish food – not as easy as you’d think in international Playa de las Americas! I wandered past pizza restaurants, burger joints and Chinese restaurants then I suddenly came across Restaurante Don Carlos. The menu was fantastic and I was spoilt for choice. I settled for the house speciality, grilled sardines and I’m so glad I did!


A few hours later I was to return to England. At the end of a holiday I always ask myself one question – would I go back again? Most places I’ve been to merit a ‘possibly’, and India and Samos, a ‘definitely’. But Tenerife? No. Having said that, I left feeling relaxed and refreshed, and that was my main aim when setting out. So, objective achieved!
To see all of my photographs of Tenerife CLICK HERE
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8 comments:

  1. I am delighted to hear that you came back feeling relaxed but I am sorry to hear that you didn't enjoy it enough to go back. But that is okay as long as your objective was achieved that is all that counts. Hugs to you

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  2. Keith it's like being on vacation with you every time I read about your adventures :)

    Sounds like it was a fantastic time indeed. One thing I know is that Mexican or Spanish food is never the same everywhere you go, each place has a different take on the same item. :)

    Glad to hear you made it back safe and sound.

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  3. Mmm the food looks good I went to the canarie islands when I was young to do axactly that Partying and sleeping on the beach We also went with a 4 wheeldrive in the mountains to be covered with dust. Ah the good old time. Indeed great place to relax

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  4. beautiful. i'd go just to sleep in those tent-like rooms...

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  5. I am glad you had a fun vacation. The grayish sand by the coast is fascinating. Igneous rocks are always truly mesmerizing!

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  6. It sounds and looks lovely. You are so eloquent when you describe where you've been that I feel like I was there too.

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  7. Hi Keith - Your vacation and my vision of writer's heaven are very very similar.
    Every week I look at Carry On Tuesday and get a little frightened. The participant's work is so good, I don't feel I could ever meaure up.
    This week's prompt is so tempting.
    Dare I?
    We'll see.
    Every time I come to your blog you've done something amazingly creative.
    You're an inspiration more men should blog.

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