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Posts Tagged ‘Mount Teide’

I recently read a blog in which the blogger posed the question, what is it about Puerto de la Cruz that makes some people recommend it so frequently on forums such as Tripadvisor. After all, you can number the ‘what to dos’ of the resort on the fingers of one hand, particularly for teenagers, whereas the resorts of the south are jam packed with theme parks.

It got me wondering how many holidaymakers from the UK now rely on manufactured entertainment in order to enjoy themselves?

I can honestly say that in all our years of traveling, Jack and I have never once, even remotely, considered what a place had to offer in terms of things laid on for visitors before deciding to travel there. In fact, if anything that would be a factor against going.

All the fun of Siam Park without the entrance fee

Our very good friends,  the Largies’ have been coming to stay in Puerto de la Cruz ever since we moved here. To begin with they just brought their then 14 year old daughter and her friend but they had so much fun that next time the party had grown to include their 17 year old son and his friend. Now completely hooked, they all arrived again the following year when the offspring and their friends were16 yrs and 19 yrs respectively.
In fact, they all enjoyed it so much and wanted to come back so frequently that we had to put a stop to it as we were having far too much fun and not actually working for a living – a balance that can only lead to one destination – Skintville.

Crater capers

In all the times the Largies came they only left the resort twice – once to go to Mount Teide with which they were blown away, and once to go to Aqualand which they thought was an overpriced  disappointment.
I have no doubt they would have enjoyed Siam Park, on the other hand the waves at  Playa Jardín gave them just as many adrenalin-packed thrills and spills and didn’t cost anything. They may  have enjoyed a visit to Veronica’s or Starco’s but instead they danced the nights away in the streets at Carnaval and in the local clubs where they met a cosmopolitan set of new friends. Perhaps Castillo de San Miguel would have been a novelty for them but instead they played Russian roulette over plates of pimientos de padrón in Bar Louis and practised their Spanish over ordering postres and drinks.

I don’t consider that Puerto de la Cruz is the only resort on Tenerife and it certainly won’t suit the majority of visitors who seem to want their sun, sand and sea accompanied by cabaret and theme parks. But I’m not convinced that everyone needs their entertainment to be packaged, admission charged and sold as ‘get your fun here’, regardless of what age they are…are you?

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Tenerife is an island that attracts over 6 million visitors a year, many of whom believe they know it like the back of their hands and few of whom know it at all.”
Going Native in Tenerife

The Tenerife we knew long before we set foot here

Long before we ever set foot on Tenerife we knew exactly what it was like – that’s why we’d never set foot on it.
Persuaded by a good friend to give it a chance, we spent some time in Los Cristianos, Playa de San Juan, Playa Santiago and Los Gigantes, before finally heading to Puerto de la Cruz and finding a different island; one we’d held no preconceived ideas about and so saw with new eyes. We liked it so much we stayed.
We didn’t bother looking at the east coast at all; “Lancashire Hill in the sun” our friend had said, so we gave it as wide a berth as we’d always given Lancashire Hill.
And we didn’t bother looking at Playa de Las Américas; we didn’t need to, we knew what was there. Cheap shops selling tourist souvenir tat; all day British breakfast cafes, €1 a pint Brit bars showing Sky Sports coverage and the Soaps followed by Robbie Williams tribute acts. Our idea of Hell.

Puerto de la Cruz - a different Tenerife

When friends and family asked where we were living, we went to great pains to explain to them that we lived in the North of the island – as far away from Playa de Las Américas as it was possible to get. We spent countless Internet hours on the Tenerife forum of TripAdvisor correcting other peoples’ preconceived ideas about the north, explaining that, despite being Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide wasn’t actually high enough to block out the sun – a popular misconception – and that the town did not consist entirely of octogenarian Brits and their Zimmer frames but in fact had a large, young and lively resident population.

We began writing and photographing for a popular Tenerife lifestyle magazine which involved exploring in depth every town, village and hamlet across the island, uncovering hidden gems in the most unlikely places. We discovered that, apart from one small area of ugly high rise buildings, much of the east coast contained delightful hidden coves, secret hamlets and hill towns where life went on in much the same way as it had done for centuries. We found cave restaurants; emblematic bridges, forgotten roads and empty beaches.

Lancashire Hill never looked like this!

We wrote our first guide book, giving detailed driving routes to encourage other people to discover a Tenerife that was a million miles away from their misconceptions.
And when it came time to place our book in retailers across the island, we knew we’d have to put it in and around Playa de Las Américas if we were to reach our target audience, so we began to explore the streets and coast of the south from La Caleta to Los Cristianos.

The Playa de Las Américas we didn't know

At La Caleta we discovered a small fishing village with lovely seafood restaurants; in Playa Del Duque we stumbled upon golden sandy coves with azure waters lapping the shore, fine restaurants and designer shops; and in Playa de Las Américas we uncovered a vibrant, modern, chic resort with a palm tree lined promenade, wide avenues, stylish bars and restaurants and a pulsating nightlife.

From north to south and east to west, there are many different Tenerifes – how well do you think you know them?

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When the novelty of building snowmen, having snowball fights, sledging, skating and playing ‘spot the gritter’ have worn off, you might feel it’s time to remind your body what it feels like to walk out of the house with less than 20lbs of clothing on. And when that happens, there are few places ready to dish up the sunny goods quite so efficiently as Tenerife’s Los Gigantes.

Blessed with some of the longest sunshine hours and fewest rainfall inches anywhere on the island, Los Gigantes is the resort with the most stunning location on Tenerife.
Backed by sheer 500 metre cliffs, the village climbs the hillside behind its sparkling marina from which trips leave daily to spot the bottle-nosed dolphins and pilot whales that inhabit the warm waters. When the sun finally bids adios it paints the horizon and the tip of Mount Teide in vivid streaks of violet and blood red before slipping silently behind the neighbouring island of La Gomera.

A 10 minute stroll out of the village is where you’ll find the elegant El Marques resort with its luxurious apartments, beautifully landscaped gardens and heated swimming pool, which is where the incredibly generous people at Wimpen Leisure are giving away a free week’s holiday to fans of Tenerife Magazine.

So, if you feel you can pull yourself away from short days, cold nights and nose-running temperatures to watch dolphins and whales play in the bay; and trade drinking cocoa with your feet on the radiator for sipping cocktails over spectacular sunsets…all you have to do is become a fan of Tenerife Magazine on Facebook and hope that your name comes out of the hat.
Err, that’s a sun hat, not a beanie.

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It's hard to beat starting your day with a sight like this.

We were just admiring the magnificent view of Mount Teide from the putting green outside our gate this morning when José and Glenn came wandering past. There followed a short conversation during which each showed due deference to the other’s native tongue.  So Glenn, Jack and I spoke in Spanish and José answered in English.

It made me smile.

The conversation ended with us all  agreeing that we were living “en paraíso”.

And indeed we are.

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The views are well worth the uphill slog.

The views are well worth the uphill slog.

I woke up yesterday to one of those perfect summer mornings. The sun shone down from a cloudless sky, the birds were in full voice and the warm air carried the scent of the last of the jasmine. On the mountainside above us, the ochres, mustards and russets of Mount Teide saturated the skyline.
In short, it was the perfect day for taking to the hills.

It’s been a while since our last ‘serious’ walk so I knew the 600 metre ascent from the La Caldera forest pista to the top of the ridge was going to make itself known to my legs and lungs, and I wasn’t wrong.
Stripping layers and pinning hair up as I went I found myself sweating, gasping and grunting my way up the forest path whilst bitching about the 3 litres of water, waterproofs, sunscreen, lunch etc. that I was carrying in the rucksack.

After an hour and a half of re-staging ‘The Hill’, we finally arrived at the

Stunning scenery comes as standard on the La Caldera walk

There aren't many walks where scenery like this keeps you company

stone gate that marks the end of the ascent and took a well deserved break on a promontory looking out over the entire valley with Teide shimmering above the emerald carpet of the Corona Forestal.

For me, this is where the best part of this walk begins. A fairytale dappled path twists, undulates and zigzags its way along the ridge through forests filled with the heady perfume of broom, pine and a multitude of endemic plants with the omnipresent Teide above and the shimmering Atlantic below. It’s a hiker’s paradise up here.

Then we rounded a corner to see something absolutely unspeakably, outrageously incongruous in this rustic Eden; a red wire barrier had been placed right across the path with a sign showing a hand raised in ‘STOP’ position and the words “Alto! No Pasar!” written above it.

Thats what we think of that!

That's what we think of that!

Gobsmacked, we stood and stared at the obscene article before saying almost in unison “Fuck that!”

There is NO WAY that I have huffed and puffed my way for an hour and a half up a 600 metre ascent to be told by some ‘job’s worth’ medio-ambiente worker that I have to turn back.
The sign was given all the respect it deserved and climbed around.

If we arrive at something that seems dangerous or if there’s some kind of activity that we’re encroaching on, we reasoned, then we’ll turn back. But as far as we could see, there was absolutely nothing going on and no earthly reason for the sign to be there.
For the next 6 or 7 kilometres we hiked along the path with no visible sign of

Drama and beauty - if you look closely youll see me holding the handrail on this particularly vertiginous section of the walk.

Drama and beauty - if you look closely you'll see me holding the handrail on this 'squeaky bum' section of the walk.

any activity at all save for a couple of green plastic bags into which forest debris had been cleared and a few bags of cement and some large plastic containers of water lying by the side of the path at one corner.
Eventually we arrived at the other side of this ludicrous path closure and similarly climbed over that to descend through the forest and back to La Caldera.

I’m not advocating anarchy when it comes to warning signs on Tenerife, but with a little bit of commonsense and caution exercised, don’t assume that ‘access denied’ signs on this island are either current or necessary, because sometimes they simply aren’t.

The ‘La Caldera’ walk is available to buy on PDF, sent straight to your inbox

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We woke up yesterday to cold, cloud and drizzle, cursing our luck that we’d chosen the week’s worst weather day to show a friend something he’d never seen, despite 30 years of visiting Tenerife.
As we were about to pull the front door, the electricity went off.
“I think a day out will do us good”, I sighed.

Bob’s not like a lot of the Brits who spend their winters on Tenerife, moving from their apartment to the beach and the beach to their favourite bar, the longest journey they undertake being the one from the airport to their resort and then back again when it’s time to return in the spring.
Bob likes to explore Tenerife.

Not being a driver though, his exploration has to confine itself to those places he can easily access by public transport in a day and so, in 30 years of coming to Puerto de la Cruz, Bob had never been to Masca; Tenerife’s Shangri-La and the second most visited place on the island after Mount Teide.
Yesterday, Jack and I decided to rectify that omission and to take Bob on our ‘Hidden Depths’ discovery drive.

Masca never fails to impress even the most hardened of travellers.
From the moment you begin to climb the narrow road that snakes its way up the mountainside out of Santiago del Teide, then crest to reveal the tiny settlement perched at the mouth of its ravine, surrounded by palm groves and towering monoliths, until you reach the end of the path at the bottom of the village, the ‘WOW’ factor never diminishes.

“They have quite a history of witches here, you know.”
“Really?” Bob looked suitably sceptical.
“Yup, shape-changers; women who become crows, or pigs or cats and play tricks on you.”
We were walking back along the narrow road towards the car.
“That’s odd”, said Jack, “the mobile phone won’t switch on.”
“My camera’s just gone blank”, said Bob, “it won’t do anything.”
We stopped in the road and tried pressing buttons and changing batteries but nothing would resurrect the camera or the phone.
Eventually we gave up and continued walking. After a few yards the phone came back on and Bob’s camera miraculously came back to life.
“Told you.” I grinned.

By the time we arrived at the valley, the sun had burned the clouds off and it had turned into a beautiful afternoon. We found a perfect table at the picnic zone, in the dappled shade of the fruit trees and ate our bocadillos while Bob filled the memory stick on his camera, completely seduced by the beauty of his surroundings.

After lunch we continued our trip to the Westerly town of Buenavista where Bob informed us he’d once gone, not known where to go and, disillusioned with the surroundings, had got straight back on the bus to Puerto.
Yesterday we took him to the old quarter with its pretty plaza and church, to the best cake shop on Tenerife and the old little store that sells local produce and handicrafts .

Later, as we sat in the sun by the Art Nouveau bandstand of another picturesque plaza enjoying a coffee, Bob asked if there were toilets in the café, there weren’t, but we knew where there were some and directed him to the courtyard of the old convent.
When he came back Bob said; “I can’t believe how many beautiful places I’ve seen today and all the things I’ve learned about them. You even know where the toilets are everywhere we’ve been!”

It was a great day; relaxing, enjoyable and fun and it was rewarding to share in Bob’s enthusiasm.
Sometimes we forget how few people really know this beautiful island and its hidden depths; it’s a joy to share that knowledge with those who want more from Tenerife than just a suntan.

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Then you’re lucky you stumbled across this, particularly if it’s your first time to Tenerife.

The economic crisis is deepening, prospects are bleak, the pound has today fallen against the dollar and remains on its knees against the euro and the yen.

So if you’re going to invest in a holiday abroad, it’s imperative that you get it right.

Some holiday brochures will tell you about golden beaches, romantic sunsets and organised tours to Mount Teide. I copied this piece of in-depth insight to the island from a popular tour operator’s website today:
Tenerife is making a comeback. It’s bigger and better than ever before, with 2 bar strips, a waterpark, loads of beaches and even its own volcano.”

With that level of information, how on earth can you make an informed decision about where to stay and when to go?
How do you know where to find Tenerife’s hidden treasures; that little gem of a place off the tourist trail that has everything you’re looking for?

Where can you find the best seafood lunch on the island or the best tapas in the south?
How do you know where to go to pay the same as locals do and not ‘tourist’ prices?
What about the best nudist beaches or where the cool set go?
Is there going to be a local fiesta while you’re there and if so, where and when do you go to catch the best of it?

Well now you can get answers to these and hundreds more questions by flicking through the pages of Tenerife’s first truly comprehensive, brand new guide; ‘Going Native in Tenerife’.

Going Native in Tenerife’ has 200 pages written with insight and passion by authors who have spent years treading the streets of every town and village, trekking along goat trails in the mountains and revelling at fiestas until dawn (all in the name of research). In short, exploring the Tenerife that visitors and even most residents never see…the Tenerife which lies beyond the holiday brochures.

If you only get one holiday in Tenerife in 2009, make sure it’s the best it can possibly be.

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