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Posts Tagged ‘Teide National Park’

A very good friend of mine sent me this from the ‘Things to be Miserable About’ site:

Miserable Fact of the Day
A study found that most people report no increase in happiness after taking a vacation, and even those who do, return to their normal levels of unhappiness after only two weeks. [New York Times]

If you’ve just flown back from Tenerife’s palm-filled paradise, of course you’re going to be miserable when you get back to the cold weather, daily grindstone and concrete of home. But as the excellent Pamela pointed out, there are ways to prolong the benefits and defer the misery.

If all you do while you’re on vacation is lie around a pool or on the beach developing a nice, even tan, then let’s be honest, the holiday’s over the moment you set off for the airport.
After all, what are you going to tell people when you get back?
“Hi – how was the holiday?” they’ll ask.
“Great!” you’ll respond.
“Nice tan!” they’ll remark.
Conversation…and holiday over.

If, on the other hand, you get out and about exploring, discovering tucked away gems of places, charismatic restaurants that turned up the best tapas you’ve ever tasted and scenery that’s even had the kids going “WOW!” you’ll have a whole store of adventures and tales to tell. You can relish, embellish and re-tell experiences endlessly, re-igniting memories and bringing that holiday smile right back!

Leaving your comfort zone and experiencing something different can open the door to a whole new world of adventure. Why not try your hand at diving around the beautiful waters off Las Galletas, or try a tandem paraglide in Adeje or bike rafting down from Teide National Park? You never know, it might spark a latent talent or a passion that’ll have you embarking on a whole new way of life after you get back home!

If the office sends your stress-ometer off the chart, walk it right out of your system by taking to some of Tenerife’s amazing hiking trails. Walking is a great way to relax your mind and tone your muscles while experiencing parts of the island that most visitors never get to see. Your body will feel more refreshed, your mind will be more alert and you’ll be better equipped to keep the stress bar down when the in-tray rises.

Island Walks and Island Drives – for holidays that last longer than the tan!

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Sri Lankas wildlife takes some beating

Sri Lanka's wildlife takes some beating

A couple of nights ago Jack and I were watching a video of our last trip to Sri Lanka (sad I know, but until you’ve lived with Spanish TV for 6 years, don’t knock it) and we were reminded of the incredible variety of birds and animals that you find on that island paradise. Kingfishers, cormorants, weaver birds, parakeets, fireflies, monitor lizards, elephants – and that was just in the space of one trip down the Mahweli River in Kandy.

By comparison, the island of Tenerife is rather thin on the ground when it comes to wildlife – Whiskas being the exception of course.
We once had a bizarre conversation with a Brit ‘swallow’ on his last winter sojourn when he casually informed us that wild deer roamed the pine forests around the edge of Teide National Park. When pressed, he had to admit that his information was based solely on the existence of several traffic warning signs which clearly showed the outline of a deer within the red triangular framework. We assured him that there had undoubtedly been a cheap job lot of deer warning signs for sale and the Tinerfeños were using them to advise drivers to watch out for ‘mouflon’, in their typically mas o menos way (which incidentally is the reason why bends only ever occur at 3 kilometre intervals on Tenerife…there was a sale of ‘bends for 3 kilometres’ signs – okay that’s completely unsubstantiated, but I reckon it’s true).

Mouflon are in fact wild sheep with incredibly impressive long, curled horns like some sort of mythological creature. Which is quite appropriate really as we’ve never, ever seen one. Jack thought he saw some on a ridge in the Anaga Mountains once but they were too far away to be sure and to be honest, I thought they looked more like goats. The mouflon allegedly inhabit parts of the Teide National Park and graze on rare species of plant life so they’re considered pests and apparently are killed if spotted by rangers.
Still, the point is that in six years of travelling the island and never having seen one, it seems highly unlikely that they should warrant the use of warning signs to alert drivers to their presence.

He may not be monitor sized, but hes a handsome chap neverthless - Lagarto Tizon, native to Tenerife

He may not be monitor sized, but he's a handsome chap neverthless - Lagarto Tizon, native to Tenerife

Other than the illusive mouflon, we’re pretty much restricted to lizards or run-of-the-mill rabbits, rats, bats and assorted domestic animals. Even the birds, although some are clearly spectacular, pale into insignificance alongside Sri Lanka’s 400 plus species.

But then yesterday afternoon, just as I was leaving the car park to drive to a meeting in the south west of the island, I had to brake hard to avoid hitting a kestrel which swooped down right in front of the car, grabbed a large lizard in both claws and then struggled to achieve height with the weight, flying low in front of the bonnet until it adjusted its carrion and finally flew over the banana plantation wall.

The wildlife might not come up to Sri Lanka standards, but it can still put on a show for you when you least expect it.

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I noticed on the news yesterday that Lufthansa airlines were offering compensation to holidaymakers who got rainy days while they were away.
I reckon it’s a fairly safe bet that the UK won’t be one of the 36 destinations for which the insurance company will pay out, but I guess Tenerife might be. The chances of seeing rain at the coast anywhere between June and October on Tenerife are low enough even for me to consider giving good odds.

We’ve had weeks and weeks of cloudless searing heat here so, for those of us who live on the island, the occasional cloud cover we’re having this week is a merciful relief.
Of course, if this is your two weeks R&R away from the sort of ‘barbecue summer’ that sent Noah heading briskly towards the woodshed, the last thing you want to see is clouds.

But worry not, there are so many excellent things to do on Tenerife that you should really look on cloudy days, not as disappointments, but as opportunities.

So, here is my list of things to do when it’s cloudy in Tenerife; it’s by no means exhaustive
:

Beat the clouds – if you absolutely must have the sun, you can pretty much guarantee finding it in Teide National

Life above the clouds

Life above the clouds

Park and at least you get to see a bit of the island in the process. Simply drive up through the pine forests to emerge above the clouds and into the blue. In this volcanic wonderland you can take a cable to the top of the world (well, nearly); eat lunch in Spain’s highest restaurant; wander amongst incredible rock formations at Roques García or simply soak up the sun. But be warned, the air at this height is thinner and the sun’s rays more intense, slap on the factor 25, wear a hat and drink plenty of water.

Go wild – leave the barren landscape of the south and head to the north’s verdant Puerto de la Cruz and Tenerife’s number one ‘must-see’; Loro Parque.
Dolphin, sea lion, Orca and parrot shows are all great fun and entertainment while the penguins at the incredible artificial iceberg are compulsive watching. You’ll need at least five hours in the park so give yourself plenty of time for this one.

In Santa Cruz, just be cool

In Santa Cruz, just be cool

See summer in the city – the island’s capital city of Santa Cruz has a surprising number of things to see and do and cloudy days afford some respite for wandering the shops (tax free shopping), chilling out in the tranquil Parque García Sanabria, exploring the museums and galleries or just kicking back in one of the pavement cafes and watching the world go by. And if the sun re-emerges (as it usually does in Santa Cruz), you’re just a hop and skip away from the island’s best beach at Las Teresitas and the best seafood lunch at beach-side San Andrés.

Tour mini-Tenerife – at Pueblo Chico in La Orotava. Spend a

Its a small world at Pueblo Chico

It's a small world at Pueblo Chico

couple of hours wandering around beautifully crafted models of the Canaries in miniature with meticulous attention to detail and lots of funny bits.
When you’re done, head up the hill to the full sized La Orotava, the jewel in Tenerife’s crown, and explore the streets of the old quarter. You’ll find parks and gardens, historic houses lining narrow cobbled streets, old monasteries, a Gothic church and some nice little antique shops.

Take a hike – along some of Tenerife’s stunning walking trails. Summer can be murderous for tackling some stamina-sapping parts of the island so take advantage of cloud cover to trek the parts that don’t have wide vistas crying out for sunshine, like Masca Barranco or Hell’s Ravine.

Dive in –to the deep, blue Atlantic at one of the island’s fascinating dive sites around the coast of Las Galletas or take the whole family and head to San Miguel marina for a trip in a Yellow Submarine…all together now; “we all live ” tum ti tum.

Mummified Guanche at Museum of Man & Nature

Mummified Guanche at Museum of Man & Nature

Mooch – around one of Tenerife’s museums. Now before you yawn and skip to the end…not all museums are dull. Science and Cosmos in La Laguna is an oversized playground of optical illusions; Man and Nature in Santa Cruz has some gruesome mummies and the Anthropological in Valle Guerra is like Tenerife’s version of the set of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’. And on Sundays they’re all free to get in.

So…bring on the clouds, see if we care!

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An idyllic, if somewaht dusty, haven of warm, pine scented tranquility

An idyllic, if somewhat dusty, haven of warm, pine scented tranquility

We gathered up the dead pine needles into a thick square onto the hard baked earth. The needles pricked my fingers and sent clouds of dust into my nose causing an avalanche of sneezes. There were sharp stones, large boulders, tree roots and suspicious looking tissues dotted around the forest floor. We cleared a space as best we could and placed the groundsheet onto the pine needles, attempting to correct a 15° slope by the addition of further needles and creating an echo avalanche of sneezes.
By the time the fly sheet was on and the tent pegs were being hammered into the earth, we were both covered in dust and I had the equivalent of a bad head cold. Hmm, the benefits of fresh air and ‘back to nature’ pursuits.

We’d decided on a hike to Paisajes Lunar near Vilaflor and needed an early start so it was the perfect excuse to enjoy a Tenerife drive up into the pine forests around Teide National Park and try out one of the free campsites that Tenerife has to offer.

Further along the ‘zona de acampada’ or camping area, were two small and one medium sized tent occupied by five boys and two men; presumably a ‘boys and dads’ camping weekend. Other than that, the zone was empty.

It was difficult to see what had determined this area as the camping zone. The ground was exactly the same hard, uneven, stone strewn pine forest as the rest of the park and there were no facilities of any kind.
The only reason we had chosen our spot was because the car couldn’t go any further on the jagged terrain and the ground disappeared on either side into steep barrancos. The amount of space where it was actually possible to pitch a tent at all was minimal and the only nod to the needs of campers was the proximity of the toilet block which, on closer inspection, turned out to be a hole in the ground with a flush pipe and a sink with no water. That explained the tissues.

When the tent was pitched and the guy ropes taut, we cracked a couple of beers and sat in quiet (apart from my sneezing) contemplation of the warm solitude of the pine forest. Three more sets of campers arrived before dusk and there was a flurry of activity as tents were pitched, suppers were prepared and eaten and lamps were lit as the darkness crept like a silent thief amongst us and stole every last vestige of light.
This is Teide National Park, over 2000 metres above sea level in an area of forbidden light pollution; when darkness comes, it’s complete.

Little by little stars began to appear above us and instinctively, one by one, we extinguished our lamps and torches until there was nothing but the night’s canvas to fill our vision. Familiar constellations like the plough and Orion were lost in the multitude of tiny lights that penetrated the black. As our eyes adjusted to the darkness, more and more stars appeared until it seemed like the entire sky was one vast Milky Way intermittently slashed with the fiery trails of shooting stars which appeared, streaked and faded before I could even raise a finger to pinpoint their location.

By the time we came back from our hike the following day, all the other campers had packed up and left, leaving the forest and the star studded cosmos to just us; the last two people on earth.

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Walking above the clouds on Mount Guajara in Teide National Park

Walking above the clouds on Mount Guajara in Teide National Park

Which of the following statements would you say was false?

Hiking in the Teide National Park:
a) Exercises your heart and lungs
b) Tones up your leg muscles
c) Leaves your mind free to think
d) Is good publicity
e) Provides stunning, surreal scenery

“The answer is d)!” I hear you cry. Wrong. The answer is that all of the above are true. And whilst the story of how we met Chris and Kath Shaw in the National Park is, in itself an amusing story of illusion, its moral is clear: don’t underestimate the power of networking…wherever you are.

The “couple who passed me at speed” in the story turned out to be the proprietors of a successful, UK based PR Agency called Pink Elephant and, once they’d got over their confusion as to how we’d managed to materialise on the path ahead of them, we exchanged website addresses (the modern equivalent of telephone numbers) and promised to stay in touch.
When they made one of their rare holiday visits back to Tenerife we met up with them for dinner at Cha Paula’s in Puerto and chatted about our respective businesses.

Thanks to Pink Elephant, this week’s Wednesday edition of the Manchester Evening News carried a ¾ page spread on Real Tenerife Island Drives, Jack and myself and an article by Leslie Beeson of Tenerife Property Shop on the continuing good sense of investing in Tenerife property in the prevailing UK downturn.

Whilst we haven’t actually seen the page ourselves (there’s a copy winging its way to us from the UK as I speak), we have already been contacted by several friends and former colleagues in the UK all quoting pieces of it back to us and taking the mickey out of my “former pupil of Stockport Convent High School” reference (I can’t think why that should be so amusing) and Jack’s “raised in Rothesay, Isle of Bute” pedigree and generally enthusing about the article.

While we wait with baited breath to assess the economic impact of the piece, it’s certainly got people talking about us, which is rather splendid.

If you’d like to benefit from seeing Pink Elephants, get in touch with Chris and Kath, or keep an eye out for them when you’re hiking in the crater!

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Those blessed with powers of observation will have noticed that there’s been blog silence here for a couple of weeks.

That’s because we’ve had our 19 year old nephew staying with us and he’s 24/7 maintenance. From the moment he drags himself from his pit at the crack of 10 am to his self-imposed curfew at 1 am, the most common phrase to fall from his lips is “What are we doing now?”
In the few short hours that don’t consist of organizing excursions, driving and playing board games there’s the shopping, cooking, cleaning up, washing, and exhausted sleep.

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

sardines, wine or beer and a bread roll for €3 at Puerto de la Cruz, oh and a live Latino band too

Having spent as much time with us as he has with his parents since he was old enough to toddle next door to our house and ring the doorbell, we were no strangers to the demands of his company and were prepared(ish) with a list of things to do and places to go.

What we were not prepared for was fate giving us the finger by, just a few days into his sojourn, the car’s power steering packing up and leaving us with an astronomical bill and three days without wheels.

Now for someone who loves walking on Tenerife, this shouldn’t be an issue, but for some reason, hiking repeatedly up the hill, along the banana road, along the pavement til it runs out and down past the Botanical Gardens into La Paz and back again in the hot sun very quickly lost its appeal.

Even the little everyday things like running out of drinking water, which is usually cause for no more than a “D’oh” and a short drive to the supermarket, turned into a two hour outing with the nephew moaning about carrying a five litre bottle back.

It’s at times like this that I question the wisdom of living on a golf course in the middle of banana plantations at the foot of the valley.

Having cleaned out every bank account and borrowed to get the car back, the ‘plans’ resumed and Teide National Park was the first place we headed to for a spot of walking in the volcanic crater.

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

Exploring amazing rock formations in Teide National Park

The nephew started out with bounce in his step and an eagerness to examine every rock underfoot but the decision to climb a small volcanic cone and then run down into its crater…and back again, allowed the altitude to do what it does best and by lunchtime there were moans of “I can’t do any more uphill”.

That night was the town’s annual Sardinada and several hours on foot walking around town, queuing for sardines and watching the Latino band. The following day was ‘Embarkation Tuesday’; an all day on the feet affair without the car as the consumption of beer is a mandatory (oh alright, preferable) component of the day’s events.

Another hike through Las Cañades, a coastal walk to a former pirate fort and several T shirt shopping trips later and the nephew has been safely dispatched back to Blighty leaving Jack and I exhausted, skint and seriously behind with work deadlines.

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puertos July Fiestas

Grabbing a flag from a greasy pole suspended over the harbour; one of the watery games at Puerto's July Fiestas on Embarkation Tuesday

Then yesterday, worried that he was late for an appointment (in the Canaries that constitutes an oxymoronic statement) Jack sprinted back to the house for some forgotten paperwork and strained a muscle in his calf. The shock and pain of the incident was however alleviated when, on looking up how best to treat it, he discovered that it’s an injury normally associated with athletes …there’s always a silver lining.

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A have a vague memory from my student of philosophy days about a theory that puts forward the notion that things only exist as long as you’re looking at them and that the memory of things is nothing more than a spectre of one’s imagination (apologies to Plato, Descartes, Kant or Russell or whoever it was whose life’s work I’ve just reduced to a single, and probably inaccurate, statement). Although at the time I considered the whole idea to be the wrong side of sane even for a philosophical theory, I think I may finally have reached an understanding of where it was coming from…

This week I went to the hamlet of Masca, a place I’ve visited often, in the south west of Tenerife. It’s the second most visited place on the island after the Teide National Park and its attraction lies in its location and its beauty. Sited at the top of an 8 km gorge hewn from the ancient Teno Mountains, the village consists of three small settlements of rural houses and fincas scattered around a valley dense with palm groves, fruit trees, sugar cane and giant agave plants. Only accessible since the 1970s when the road was built, it’s commonly referred to as Tenerife’s Shangri-La.

When I took the steep path down from the upper to the lower valley, I was shocked by what I saw. Where once a valley luxuriant in palm trees stood, now only a handful of black trunks spawned a green crown; where once the valley floor was invisible, now it stood naked in soil and stone; where once the giant agave stood as high as a man, now its serrated limbs lay in charred and twisted heaps. What I was seeing was the dismembered remains of the summer’s holocaust of forest fires that had swept through the valley like an air-borne virus.
fire blackened palm trees in MascaBut from the ashes of the fire a new beauty was emerging. The palm trees that had remained standing now had black trunks which stood out against the valley’s backdrop. Topped by the vivid green of fresh, new growth, the palms had taken on a surreal beauty that threatened to surpass their original design.

In Bar Blanky I chatted to a couple who’d come to Masca on a half day trip from one of the resorts of the south coast and it seems their tour guide had seen fit not to mention the summer’s fires. As far as this couple were concerned, this was Masca, for them it had never existed any other way. And for me, had I not come back to see it now, Masca would still exist in exactly the same way it always had done, a spectre of my imagination, a true Shangri-La.

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