Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

We’ve been lucky enough through a mixture of work and pleasure to have visited two of our neighbouring islands in the past two weeks and the contrast in the landscapes and our  locations couldn’t have been more marked.

Our first island hop of 2011 was to Lanzarote where we discovered a very different world from the one we had left here in Tenerife. Gone was the mountainous horizon with its dominant volcano and the tropical jungle of north Tenerife where everything grows as if it’s been swigging on Alice’s drink me bottle. Instead we found an island with a different beauty; a stark, flat terrain of volcanic earth where clusters of low rise white buildings were strung together along roads delineated by miniature palm trees in a dot to dot landscape of predominantly black and white.

Our home for two days was the delightful Sands Beach Resort in Costa Teguise where we had an apartment on the beach front of the resort’s salt water lagoon.
Bleached rafters, white walls, pine furnishings and bright, modern artwork dominated the apex-roofed apartment with its fully equipped kitchen, double bedroom, large, comfy living room and oodles of wardrobe and storage space.
In the mornings the sun rose directly in front of the apartment, so that breakfast on the patio would be a warm and golden one as we watched the rose coloured rays spread across the lagoon.
Despite being almost occupied to capacity, the overwhelming impression at Sands Beach and indeed at Costa Teguise was one of unhurried tranquillity.

Less than a week later we found ourselves flying in to La Palma on the 7.30 am Binter Airlines flight. It was our second attempt at making the hop to La Palma, storms the night before diverting our plane back to Tenerife when we must have been within sight of the La Palma runway – had we been able to see it through the pitch dark and driving rain.

As the aircraft banked towards the airport at Santa Cruz de La Palma, we could see the sheer cliffs and rocky coastline of the eastern flank of the island which make the Tenerife obsession with beach building all but impossible on La Palma. It’s a blessing in my opinion as it means that hopefully, La Palma will never appeal to the hordes of suntan seekers whom the developers are so keen to court.

From our aerial vantage point we could clearly see a landscape given over almost entirely to agriculture where, behind the compact cluster of the capital city, small hamlets nestled amongst the banana plantations and the neat rows of tropical fruits and almond blossom of the Isla Verde (green island).

We arrived in Santa Cruz de La Palma in time for breakfast and we ordered strong coffee, fresh juice and tostada with mermelada (jam and toast) in the Havana Cafe and watched as the city came to life.
In the narrow, cobbled streets lined with tall, Colonial buildings with their carved wooden  balconies, the morning sunlight was forbidden from entering as commerce got under way. I felt as though I’d taken a 30 minute flight and arrived in down town Havana.

Shop keepers were raising their blinds, opening their doors and sweeping their steps.
Stylishly vogue shop and office workers threaded their way past delivery vans to their favourite morning haunts for pre-work coffee and pastries. One street back, on the promenade, cafeterias raised umbrellas over their tables as the sun spilled onto the wide pavement and crept up the walls of the iconic casas de balconies the flowering cascades of their abundant window boxes.

Our accommodation was in Apartamentos La Fuente, right in the heart of the city. We’d stayed here before and had tried to request the beautiful rooms with their mudejar ceilings and window seats that overlooked the street. Alas those room were occupied and so we had an apartment in the rear of the building instead.
The room was perfectly adequate for our needs but it was in dire need of a little TLC. The curtains were cheap and shabby and didn’t match the décor or each other; the shower head was old and plastic, the bath was chipped and stained and the sheets, towels and quilts had all seen far better days in their youth.
But the shower was powerful, the water was piping hot, there was a fast WiFi connection in the apartment and we stepped straight out onto the main street to shops, cafes and restaurants.

Tenerife, Lanzarote and La Palma may share the same geographical location and language, but differences in climate and rainfall have created markedly different landscapes and each island has its own history, culture and identity.
For me, the joy of living on the Canary Islands is that there are seven different worlds on our doorstep.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

You might consider that, living in the Canaries, visiting the other islands would be a regular occurrence of everyday life. Sadly it isn’t so. Unlike the residents of La Gomera, El Hierro and to a lesser extent La Palma who have little choice but to travel to Tenerife, as International flights from their own islands are either scarce or non existent, living on Tenerife we’re pretty much self contained.

It would be interesting to conduct a poll of ex-pats to find out just how many of them ever visit neighbouring islands. I wouldn’t mind betting that for the majority the answer would be “never”, which is a lengthy way of admitting that, in the seven plus years we’ve lived on Tenerife, we hadn’t once visited Lanzarote… until last week.

They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression, but I’m not sure that’s true.
Before last week, the first (and only) time we have been to Lanzarote was 20 years ago when we sought some winter sun and booked a last minute, cheap ‘pot luck’ type holiday where you didn’t know which resort or accommodation you were going to until you got there, and we got Puerto del Carmen.
To be fair to Lanzarote and Puerto Del Carmen, we had recently returned from our honeymoon in Sri Lanka and been completely blown away by the island. I suspect that no matter where we had gone next, disappointment was the only emotion we were going to feel and in that respect, Puerto del Carmen didn’t let us down. As the coach drove along the sea front passing row upon row of ‘all day British breakfast’ signs, amusement arcades and British pub names, we looked at each other in horror and  realised we had made a terrible mistake, this was our idea of holiday hell.

So it’s fair to say that when we had to go to Lanzarote on business for three days last week, it was with some trepidation that we boarded the Binter Airlines flight to Arrecife.

As we drove the short journey to Costa Teguise and Sands Beach Resort which was to be our home for the next three days, Lanzarote got a second chance to make a good first impression on us…and she rose to the occasion with style.
The first thing we were struck by was the marked contrast in the landscape between Tenerife and this eastern isle. As Jack put it: “I keep wondering where the rest of the horizon is.”
We are so used to seeing a backdrop of mountainous terrain towering above us that Lanzarote’s arid flatness was almost unnerving. On the other hand, from what we could see there were no high rise hotels; no industrial estates sprawling into the distance; no motorway or vast commercial centres and no traffic queues or gridlocked junctions.

The stark contrast of low rise white buildings against the black volcanic earth studded with cacti and irrigated rows of palm trees create a beauty that is unique to Lanzarote.
We arrived at Costa Teguise and drove through the resort to the far side of Las Cucharas Beach where the resort of Sands Beach lies in its own unique, lagoon side location.
We had a lovely, beach front apartment on the edge of the saltwater lagoon with its little golden beach beyond which a promenade led along the coast to the centre of Costa Teguise and to beautiful sandy coves and tranquil bays.

On our second day we visited the former capital of La Villa de Teguise and were thoroughly charmed by its narrow cobbled streets, picturesque plaza, pavement cafes and historic buildings. 20 years ago we hired a car and spent three days touring the island but neither of us could remember going to Teguise, or Costa Teguise for that matter.

This was a very different Lanzarote from the one we visited 20 years ago. Could it be that things have changed so much in that time? They certainly have in Tenerife so it’s not beyond the realms of possibility that Lanzarote too has shaken off some of the tacky image of the 1990s. Of course, only a return visit to Puerto Del Carmen will determine if that’s the case.

Or was it just that we were literally and figuratively seeing a different side to the island? Or were we simply looking through different eyes?

Whichever it is, I don’t think it will be another 20 years before we next return to Lanzarote.

Read Full Post »

Any of my friends will attest to the fact that, for the past three months I’ve been about as much fun as a bout of influenza, virtually all of my waking hours being in front of a screen and a keyboard in order to meet deadlines. So the weekend before Christmas, deadlines finally achieved, Jack and I took ourselves off for a bit of R and R on Tenerife’s sunny south west coast.


The prospect of this mini holiday had been keeping me going through the final pushes of work and I’d envisaged myself lying by a Bond-esque swimming pool, cocktail in hand, soaking up the healing rays of the sun and watching my skin slowly losing its blinding white hue.
So it wasn’t without some concerns that a few days before we were due to go away I began to pick up reports of yellow alerts and first hand accounts of persistent rain in the south of the island.

On Saturday morning we headed out of the blue skies and sunshine of Puerto de la Cruz for the drive to Puerto Santiago. As we climbed higher into the cloud my heart began to sink, but when we reached the mirador above Santiago Del Teide I could see the resort of Playa de la Arena in sunshine on the coast below and we arrived at the Hotel Barceló Santiago in glorious sunshine.


You often hear about the different weather zones on Tenerife and here we were under blue skies and sunshine just a fifteen minute drive along the coast from Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje where, very unusually, it was raining heavily.

After checking in and getting into the holiday mood with a complimentary glass of chilled cava, we headed to our suite.
We’d stayed in the Hotel Barceló Santiago seven years ago and although completely blown away by its location, we’d been somewhat disappointed with our room. But clearly the hotel hadn’t stood still in those intervening years and refurbishments had transformed it beyond recognition.
As we walked through the door of room 819 it wasn’t disappointment we felt, it was elation.

The first thing we saw was the stylish en suite bathroom and walk in shower constructed in ice blue opaque glass. Beyond the bathroom was a comfortable lounge area and beyond the opaque glass screen lay the elegant, contemporary-styled bedroom which occupied a corner of the hotel’s eighth floor.
Drawing back the floor to ceiling curtains, we had panoramic views over the cliffs of Los Gigantes and the whale and dolphin watching boats which were cutting a white swathe through the shimmering turquoise of the ocean. From the other window, the views were equally impressive over La Gomera and the hotel’s fabulously stylish swimming pools and sun terraces.


After wandering over and back between views on our corner balcony, we unpacked and headed down to the buffet lunch.

I wasn’t really very hungry and so I headed for the salad bar and stacked my plate from the cold meats, salads and dressings. Unfortunately, on the way back to my table on the elegant outside terrace I caught sight of the carvery section where sirloin steaks and plump pork fillets and chops were sizzling on a griddle, then past the sweets tables (okay, admittedly my route back to the table may not have been the most direct…) where small pastries, ice creams and chocolate mousses were whispering “eat me” in seductive tones.


After my salad lunch which morphed into a three course sumptuous affair with red wine and several return trips to the buffet there was only one place to go. I chose a sunbed alongside the infinity pool with views over the Los Gigantes cliffs, applied the factor 15 and let the afternoon drift away in a pleasant doze lulled by soft Jazz melodies drifting from the pool bar, the distant chatter of a couple in the Jacuzzi and the rhythmic ebbing and flowing of the ocean.

As I lay there in the afternoon sun, the stresses and strains of the past three months began to evaporate into the ether and all I had left to worry about was how on earth I was going to be hungry enough for our 7.30 pm reservation at the Sabor Español restaurant. Now that’s what I call R and R.

P.S. If you like the look of the Hotel Barceló Santiago, you could win a  FREE week, half board for 2 persons simply by liking Tenerife Magazine on Facebook – no catch, no hidden ‘sell’, just hit the ‘like’ button and you could be lying by that pool gazing over the Los Gigantes cliffs. I’ve already hit the button several times. Well, you never know…

Read Full Post »

Stepping out of the Costa Adeje heat and into the air conditioned lobby of the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel a few weeks ago, one word springs immediately to my mind and lodges itself there – splendid.

The glass-fronted, marble columned lobby stretches as far as the eye can see, its concealed roof lights and golden table lamps reflecting in the highly polished floor like diamonds. Centre stage, a grand staircase is flanked by a marble cascading waterfall which adds a sound track of running water to the lush forest of greenery dripping from surfaces and balconies.
Above my head is a sunken section of turquoise from the rooftop swimming pool and the sunlight is dancing through the water and bouncing around the ceiling.

The vast glass frontage is hemmed with long, low settees and inviting armchairs just begging me to sink into their plush cushions, order a long, cool drink and spend some time watching the busy comings and goings of the lobby.
But there’s a whole lot of hotel to explore first, so I glide above the splendour in the glass bullet lift and am transported to the rooftop swimming pools and memories of the Far East.

 

Can't you just see yourself here?

Elegant palm trees fan their heads in the gently breeze and admire their reflections in the glass of the Colonial style buildings with their wooden balconies which surround the pools.
Between the palm trees an expanse of electric blue swimming pools curves and wends its way beneath a wooden footbridge and around islands of sunbathing terraces. Sun loungers dot the terraces, their occupants soaking up the sun’s rays or cooling off under the shade of an umbrella and losing themselves in the pages of a novel.

Later that evening I return to the rooftop pools as the sun is turning the faces of the buildings rose pink and throwing black silhouettes of the palm trees into the still surface of the water. I make my way over the footbridge to the La Laja restaurant and with a grandstand view of the pools and the sunset, I enjoy one of the best meals I’ve eaten on Tenerife.

Imagine yourself slipping into the blue paradise of that beautiful swimming pool or sipping a mojito from your sun lounger and feeling the warm sun on your skin.
Now imagine you can do that every day for a whole week without it costing you a penny and you’ll begin to realise what a fabulous opportunity fans of Tenerife Magazine have this month.

GF Hotels are giving away one week half board at the Costa Adeje Gran Hotel to one lucky winner of this month’s competition and all you have to do to enter is to ‘like’ Tenerife Magazine on Facebook. Could it possibly be any easier?

Read Full Post »

I realise this offer isn’t likely to be enough to get folks from the UK and the US hitting the Internet and browsing for cheap flights to Tenerife…but for full or part time residents of Tenerife and the Canary Islands, it’s a chance at a fabulous weekend break not to be missed.

The aristocratic Arona Gran Hotel in Los Cristianos is giving away a FREE weekend in this month’s Tenerife Magazine competition and all you have to do for a chance to win is to hit that little ‘like’ icon on the Tenerife Magazine Facebook page.

For anyone who enjoys excellent food, lying around some rather splendid swimming pools and chilling on a sun-soaked balcony with sunset views over to La Gomera, the Spring Arona Gran beckons.
From the moment you walk into its marble-pillared atrium lobby filled with tropical plants and trailing vines, shoulders ease and breathing deepens. But the wow factor doesn’t end at the amazing lobby; heading outside where you’ll find three beautiful freeform swimming pools surrounded by palm tree-studded sunbathing terraces just crying out for a prone body, a bottle of factor 25 and a good novel.

And just to make sure that everything is going to be in tip top condition for our lucky winner, I’m going to be spending this weekend checking out the Arona Gran Hotel and all it has to offer.
I would say “it’s dirty work but…blah…blah” but it clearly isn’t!

Watch Tenerife Magazine for my report and meanwhile…you have to be in it to win it 🙂

Read Full Post »

I’ve heard it said that Puerto de la Cruz in the north of Tenerife is a quiet, traditional town favoured by elderley Brit and German holidaymakers who choose the resort for their holidays on Tenerife. In fact, for some regular visitors to TripAdvisor, that image is promoted as a selling point. But in reality, Puerto is probably the most misrepresented resort on Tenerife.
You see, it just doesn’t fit the mould of other popular Tenerife resorts.

For one thing, its character is essentially Tinerfeñan. Although the first resort on the island and the victim of mass tourism development in the 1960s and 1970s, the town has never given up its identity to fit in with tourist expectations. The vast majority of its almost 32,000 population are Tinerfeñan, Canarian or Spanish and they live, work and play in the town year-round.

Nightlife in Puerto doesn’t fit the mould of other Tenerife resorts either. Conspicuous by their absence are cabaret bars (with the notable exception of the excellent and hilarious Bitter & Twisted), tribute bands and Karaoke bars. Absent too are über-stylish lounge bars where the beautiful people gather to pay extortionate prices for their vodka and Red Bull. Instead, Puerto prefers to conduct its social life the same way it does its family life – in the community; sitting at one of the tables beside the harbour or in one of the squares people-watching over a carafe of wine; chatting in a local bar with a glass of vino del pais and shots of brandy; open air concerts, fiestas and entertainment at the harbour and dancing in night clubs that don’t open until midnight and unless you knew where they were, you would probably never find them.

But more than anything else, the thing that separates Puerto from other Tenerife resorts is that it’s at its very liveliest in summer when Spanish mainlanders and Canarios descend on the town in their droves to enjoy a non-stop party. Beaches become a busy playground of brightly coloured sun umbrellas at the water’s edge; the harbour, streets and squares buzz day and night with holiday makers strolling with ice creams, candy-floss and almendras; tapas restaurants fill the streets with candlelit tables and the night air with irresistible aromas and there’s barely a Brit or a German to be seen.

Puerto de la Cruz – about as sleepy as a convention of insomniacs.

Read Full Post »

There was an interesting little snippet in one of the local newspapers this week in which one of the goatherds at Puerto’s Midsummer bathing of the goats revealed that, after their dip, the goats liked to enjoy a bit of rumpty. It seems that the old Guanche legend of increased fertility as a result of the annual dip is not just superstition and legend, it’s a fact.
Coincidentally but not at all surprisingly, statistics have apparently shown that quite a few human births follow on nine months down the line from the San Juan beach party and midnight swimming too.

The potent magic of ‘Summer Nights’ is most definitely upon us and Hotel Las Aguilas in Puerto de la Cruz have been making the most of it by offering romantic summer weekends for couples.
The luxurious four star hotel which sits above Puerto in its seductive haven of landscaped gardens and sexy swimming pools is the perfect venue to get away from it all. At just €180 per couple for a weekend half board in one of their sea view rooms, the price tag alone is enough to encourage the libido to raise in line with the thermometer.

And this month Hotel Las Aguilas are offering a fabulous prize in conjunction with Tenerife Magazine. Just become a fan of Tenerife Magazine on Facebook and your name will go into the draw for a FREE week’s accommodation including half board.

Thanks to Hotel Las Aguilas, I don’t think it will just be the goats who are enjoying some holiday romance in Puerto this summer…

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »