Canary Island Cruise (Pullmanur - Horizon) & Tenerife


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February 12th 2018
Published: February 14th 2018
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We were lucky enough to have ten days back in Spain in January before our cruise around the Canary Islands. A few walks, plenty of socialising and a local procession of a trono with an orange tree on the Sunday (we think it was in honour of St Anton but not sure!!) We went a farce at the Theatre in Fuengirola on the Friday evening, and learnt that some friends of ours, Gwen and David, were going on the same cruise as us, AND that they were also using Norwegian Air on the Sunday at 7.15am.

After getting up at 4.00am, taking the rental car back, getting through airport security by about 6.00am, the flight was uneventful, other than a view of Mount Teide above the clouds, and we arrived in Tenerife South Airport at about 8.45am (Tenerife is an hour behind Spain and the same time as UK!) Bus stop outside, number 111 takes you all the way to Santa Cruz which is where the cruise was starting from.

First impressions of Tenerife were very different to how I always imagined it. I thought it would be pretty but it was bleak, dry, brown plastic greenhouses, almost tatty with a lot of new developments by the sea shore. Santa Cruz looked better and it was a 30minute walk that took us to the cruise Port. (Pullmantur Cruises, Horizon) We could board at 11.00am, quite painless as we said goodbye to our luggage (not seeing it again until 4.00pm!!) and had some lunch on board and a fairly lazy afternoon. Our dinner is at 7.30pm and we have six of us on the table. Cabin No 4154 which is the last cabin at the back of the ship and noisy as above the engines, when travelling to Agadir and back, and also when docking!!

LA PALMA

We decided to visit the Caldera de Taburiente in the Parque National, which is in the centre of the island, a 4 hr trip taking in a 16th C Church and also a mirador. English guide told us lots of history on the journey, where the scenery was quite spectacular. Almost rainforest in appearance, with plenty of unusual flora and fauna. The church was in a little square and contains the Royal Shrine of Our Lady of the Snows, a small terracotta painted statue (between 1451 & 1467AD) that was found in a cave by the conquerors of the island, having been placed there by missionaries. The Mirador Risco de la Conception afforded great views of the houses dotted about the island, as well as Santa Cruz Port and the sea. We then travelled through the mountains (literally, as there was a tunnel!!) to the Visitors Centre and then up into the National Park. Amazing scenery, loads of Canary Island Pine trees and the narrow road climbs upwards, to the carpark at the top. From here we walked about 1/2hr down to a viewpoint of the Caldera (crater), where we were treated to a wonderful view of the caldera with a rainbow within. Unfortunately the top of the caldera was shrouded in cloud, so the pointy peaks that could just be made out will have to wait until next time!!

Back to the ship and straight into Santa Cruz to look along the sea front at the black sand and also a look at all the different types of balconies. Walked along to Christopher Columbus’ ship (naval museum! ) and then back along the cobbled main street with its shops and cafes. Fortunately we were having coffee through the heavy rain shower and then it was back to the ship ready to leave at 5.00pm.

AGADIR, MOROCCO

After a sea day we were more than ready to explore Agadir, even though we knew it was a fairly modern town due to earthquakes that had destroyed the old town. 17,000 people died with 7000 that remained missing and the new town of Agadir was built 3km away. Caught a taxi to the Kasbar, the old ruined fort at the top of a hill – lots of camels and Moroccon men carrying baby goats for a photo – not too much hassling! Had a brief wander around – very derelict, before getting the same taxi into town, where we got dropped off at an old mosque.

Walked via a bird park and a sort of a zoo (free !) back down to the sea front, where we caught the Petit Tren (2 euros) for a good ¾ hr ride around the town. Saw the ‘historical’ part of the PO and the Hotel de Ville (1960’s) and the guarded Royal Palace Gardens. Walked back to the Port along a mosaiced road (long boring walk!!), getting back about 15.30pm ready to sail away about 18.00hrs.

LANZAROTE

Sun and clouds but looked ok weatherwise. It never rains on Lanzarote (said our guide!) Anyway, we docked at Arracife, the capital about midday and we were booked to go on the trip to Timanfaya National Park on the west side of the island on a 4hr trip. The landscape is very lunar – black, volcanic, quite bleak, but interesting and different!! First we stopped at the restaurant where we had demonstrations showing that heat is still coming from the ground! A handful of hot stones, a bush catching fire, a blow hole when water was put down and an oven where the meat for the restaurant is cooked. First of our short rain showers!!

Then we drove in the coach around and up and down, through the National Park on a single tracked tarmacked road ( I was hoping the road wasn’t too slippery after the rain) where our Guide pointed out river beds and many other features of the lunar landscape.

We were then driven top the south of the island, Los Hervidos, where on most days the sea is quite rough and has created blow holes and caves. We were ‘treated’ to yet another rain shower but with the added advantage of a rainbow.

Our last stop was a Bodega, at Geria I think, where they make wine. The grapes are grown in circular pits with dry lava stone walls around half of it, to ensure that the grapes are protected from the Trade Winds. The volcanic ash retains the humidity at night and as its very porous, allows water to drain through, yet impedes evaporation. Other fruit and vegetables are grown like this and even though there is very little rainfall on the Island there is a heavy dew overnight, the most famous being the Canary Island Potato, that is served with its skin on and with a red salsa and a green pesto.

An architect, Cesar Manrique (1919-1972) designed Lanzarote and all the houses must face south as the wind comes from the north and most of them have flat roofs to collect any rain water that falls. All the windows and doors have to be painted green or brown and the buildings painted white, so it makes a very ‘tidy’ island.

FUERTEVENTURA

Another day, another port! The weather is still unusually cold but it didn’t look too bad a day, a few dark clouds loomed but the sun was out! We were on another of the ships tours ‘Panoramic Fuerteventura’ and after docking at about 8.00am our coach left about 9.30am to the north part of the Island. It was very bleak, with rocks and dull brown, almost desert, with a few rundown fishing villages by the sea-shore. However, the scenery changed very quickly and dramatically into sand and wonderful beaches. Apparently, the sand was discharged from the sea after a major storm, and left to form the brilliant sand dunes and beaches. Had a 15 minute break where we all duly trekked about – the sand was surprisingly hard – whether that is due to the rain and wind I don’t know.

Onto Corralejo which is a big town, but unfortunately had been hit by the Spanish crisis and has quite a few half built resorts and dwellings. Across the valleys and plains, past windmills to La Oliva and an Aloe Vera centre, where we had a demonstration and info about the plant and its healing properties. We were supposed to stop at a church, but it was really hammering down now so we moved on to Moro Veloso viewpoint, located at the summit of Mount Tegu (669m). It was still raining hard, most of the time, although the clouds did break to give us fantastic views down to Antigua (the old capital) and to the coast! Back across the middle of the island and back to the ship, a quick lunch on board, and then a shuttle bus off the port area into Puerto del Rosario. Heavy showers when we first started, so we spent a fair bit of time sheltering, before wandering up the main street to the church, some carnival drag queens having a drink after rehearsals ?, and into the large shopping mall. Walked along the front to the lime kilns owned by the family, Morales Saavedra and built in the 1930’s and finished functioning in the 1970’s, before having a wander on the golden man-made beach! Back to the ship by about 4.30ish!

GRAN CANARIA

I thought this might be the highlight of the trip because the centre of the island is supposed to be really good with 360 degree views, so it was disappointing when a) the weather was not good, b) there were no ships trips to Roque Nublo, and the trip which we had wanted to do was cancelled!

We had duly booked on another of the ship’s trips that they said was very similar and we set off to Playa de las Canteras, where we all duly filed off the bus for a quick ten minute stop to look at the beach. Then all back on the coach for another five minute drive to look at a park and Hotel Santa Catalina, where it was reputed that Agatha Christie stayed one night. All back on the coach for another five minute drive to Vegueta, the oldest quarter of Las Palmas for a two hour stop!! This was definitely NOT our sort of trip, and a lot of other people were also complaining (I assume that they were also booked on the other trip that was cancelled!) Anyway, we all walked around the old quarter, in the rain, stopped at ‘Christopher Columbus House’ that turned out to be the Governor’s House, and a Museum dedicated to great Explorer, where is said that Christopher “Columber” may have stayed for one night whilst his ship was being repaired . We could then go into the cathedral (another three euros) or else we had an hours free time, where we just wandered around and had a coffee!! Fortunately it didn’t rain!!

Back on the coach for a trip to the Bandama crater (about 20 minutes away!) pleasant green scenery and the crater was fairly interesting, not many views as it was raining, but our guide explained that there was a family with four children who lived for free in the house at the bottom of the crater and it took 4 hrs to climb back out of the crater unless you took a donkey! Back to the ship for a quick lunch and then we walked back into Las Palmas, along the pedestrianised street to Las Cantaras beach, where we walked along the promenade to the Lighthouse Auditorium, (Auditorio Alfeda Kraus) watching the waves crashing.

Back to the Ship passing the Aida Prima, the new flagship of the Aida cruise line, a huge 3,300 passenger monster dwarfing the Horizon. Our last night on board ready for departure at 9.30am.

TENERIFE Sunday 4th Feb 2018

Departed at about 9.30am and walked back to the bus station, along the front, with our friends. This took about 20mins and we then duly boarded the bus (all the buses on the Canary Islands are known as Guagua and pronounced wah wah – no idea why!!) for the North Terminal (5.30 euros for both) where we picked up the rental car.

Drove along the motorway and as the sun was shining, and we were too early for our AirBnB, went down to Puerta de la Cruz for a wander along the seafront and to pick up some essential food. Back to the AirBnB in St Ursulas (we were still a bit early!) and Alejandro showed us our room and bathroom, and then the magnificent roof terrace with views down to the coast and also of snow covered Mt Teide. Had a lazy afternoon, a quick wander around in the evening discovering loads of local cafes and restaurants, (excellent gourmet burgers in Omelete !), before a drink on the terrace and then the rain set in!!

Monday 5th Feb 2018

Cloudy start…mmm…not ideal for exploring Mt Teide so we set off along the TF5 and then onto the TF42 with its tunnels to Garachico. A lovely little walled city, with a church and a tower that you could climb for 2 euros, giving us views of the sea and the island, and the town and its squares. A drive along the coast to Los Silos – saw a church, convent and a huge rubbish-built bird before deciding to go to the end of the peninsular – Punta de Teno.

The road hugged the cliffs, went through tunnels, (hoping more rocks wouldn’t fall on us or in the road), until we reached the lighthouse at the end. Had a short walk out on the volcanic rock to the lighthouse, admiring the cliffs and vegetation of cactus and prickly pear! Then back along the road and up the TF435 towards Masca, past loads of banana plantations. The weather wasn’t too bad after the short shower earlier, and we climbed steadily upwards, around many hair pin bends, watching the coastline and villages below getting ever smaller.

Masca was busy!! Too busy to get even parked unfortunately, so we just had a drive through and stopped at the viewpoints for pictures! It looked a pretty little hamlet, but quite over-run with tourists, so we drove on upwards and then downwards to Santiago del Teide, where we contented ourselves with a quick visit to the church!! Time was ticking on so we decided, as we still had shopping to do, to head back via the TF82 that turned out to be a very good road and ran into the TF5. Back by 4.00ish.

Tuesday 6th Feb 2018

Woke up to blue skies and sun and clear views of Mt Teide so we set off along the Orotava Valley, up and up with views of sunny Puerta de la Cruz. We passed a yellow sign saying Carretera Cortado (road closed) in 24km, but as so many cars were travelling up, we ignored it and followed the rest of them! The weather seemed to be closing in and we soon hit the cloud and rain and then…..guess what…the road was closed 150m away from Ramon Caminero , and everyone was turning back! I think they were laying new tarmac but couldn’t be sure. Anyway, gave it up as a bad job and went back down the valley, and along the TF5 to the turn off to Tacoronte and the Valle de Guerra until we reached Punta del Hidalgo where we stopped for lunch.

As the sun was shining we decided to walk to the modern lighthouse and round the coast, past Ermita San Juanito, watching the huge waves roll in, to Playa de los Troches and back. Drove onto La Lugana and had a lovely, if not chilly (apparently it’s the coolest place in Tenerife!) walk around the old town. Paid 2 euros so that we could climb the old Bell Tower at Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Conception for good views of the old town. Then walked own, past the old Cathedral to Plaza del Adelantado where the sky was black with rain clouds!! Headed back up Calle San Sebastian with all its wonderful palaces, courtyards, houses, churches and convents and then after the predictable rain shower, drove back to the house for about 5.30pm.





Wed 7th Feb 2018

Woke up to a clear blue sky over Teide, with the sun rising on the snow and as today was the best forecast we decided to try the TF24 from La Laguna to reach Mt Teide. Left about 9.00am ish and then we hit traffic jams on the TF5….but we reached the turnoff and followed another car up towards Mt Teide. Predictably the weather got worse and we saw another sign saying Carretera Cortado 24km….but assumed it meant the same road as yesterday! Wrong!! We were stopped just before the TF523 (I think!) as there had been heavy snow, and took the TF523 back down the sunny side of the mountain towards Candelaria where we had a look at the Basilica and the bronze statues of the Guanche kings,who were the native people of the islands before the Spanish Conquest in the 15th century, the promenade and beach, shops and square before taking stock! Thought I had seen a ‘miracle’ in the Basilica as the Virgin moved – but it was just a steam of visitors that climbed the stairs to see her closer up! Candelaria houses the Patron saint of the Canary Islands – the black Madonna, La Morenita. A statue of the virgin was found by Guanche goatherds and originally taken to the palace of the Guanche king and venerated as the Guanche goddess Chaxiraxi (mother of the gods). When the conquistadors arrived they decided it was a statue of the Virgin Mary and constructed a hermitage which was later replaced by the Basilica.

Anyway, we decided that as today was the best day weather-wise, we would have one last attempt at reaching El Teide. We asked in the Visitors Centre if any more roads were closed and after checking a website (cic.tenerife.es) explained that there was a big problem in Tenerife when it rains, as a lot of rocks cause landslides and roads are closed quite a lot! The road to Punta el Teno is shut at the moment, so I’m really glad we had done that on Monday!! However the south road to Mt Teide was open – for the time being – but things change very quickly in this weather!!

Drove down to the south of the Island on TF1 and then took the TF64 up towards Granadillo and then Vilaflor. What a difference!! The rock was brown and the weather was sunny and made for a pleasant drive. However we reached the cloud, but the expected rain never came – we ended up going through the clouds into bright sunshine! It was truly beautiful – if not absolutely, bitterly cold!!

Drove around, admiring the clear deep blue sky, black volcanic rock, the green canary pine trees and the snow on Mt Teide. Mt Teide is the third largest volcanic structure on Planet Earth but is dwarfed by the largest volcano in the Solar System – Olympus Mons, on Mars (25km high?!) Went as far as the cable car station before the road was closed, and the cable car was not running due to high winds. Had a walk out to the Roques of Garcia but it was bitingly windy and cold so we took our pics and got back in the car!! Went back down the north side of the mountain to Santiago del Teide where we stopped for a quick wander, took the TF82, then the TF5 and got back to the house about 6.00pm. (it’s a good job we didn’t do this trip yesterday as the TF82 was closed due to a landslide and all the traffic was diverted via the Masca road!!)

We decided to eat out in the evening, and as I didn’t want to walk down (and therefore UP) we decided to try and find the local Guachinche Quintero (Pronounced wah – cheen – chay Quintero) that had been recommended to us by Alejandro. Not too far – just down the hill and turn left and then just before going back up the hill its on your left – and its basically a garage!! There is no menu, and originally the Guachinche were used for small growers to sell their surplus wine. They are family run and offer chick peas, cheese and bread ( to complement their wine) followed by either fried pork or pulpo…we also had a desert of white cheese, guava jelly between two biscuits! Its very cheap and good authentic Canarian food! Guachinche are only found in Northern Tenerife, especially around St Ursulas! We may look for more!!!



Thursday 8th Feb 2018

We had made arrangements to see a couple of people we had met on the cruise, who had the fortunate lifestyle of living on Tenerife! Drove to their house on the south side of the island and it was warm and sunny! Made a change from where we had come from – cloud, rain and no sign of the sun at all. Its amazing the different weathers on each side of the island – its like two completely different worlds! Anyway had a coffee, and saw both of their Maine coon cats, like small lynx really – totally beautiful before driving up to the Mirador de la Centinela where we had fantastic views of the coast and mountains. Drove down to admire the harbour at San Miguel before a super lunch (cant remember where – just remember Dianes!!) and then drove to Los Cristianos, La Vista and then had a walk along the promenade at Playa de las Americas. It was really nice seeing all the places I had heard of , yet hadn’t actually been there!! Watched the surfers and walked past the oldest hotel on the island, saw Hard Rock café – its easy to see why people come to Playa de las Americas!

Anyway, it was time to say our fond farewells to Graham and Pat and hoping they come to visit us in the south of Spain. Left them in the sun but pretty soon we were up in the clouds and going over the mountain at Santiago de Teide in the rain and wind before emerging on the north of the island – cloudy but not too bad! After a quick burger in the town, back up the hill by about 8.00pm

Friday 9th February 2018

Drove into La Laguna, parked and got the tram into Santa Cruz (last stop opposite the bus station!) We knew the Carnival was on today and wanted to find Tourist Information to find out times etc – turned out the Parade didn’t start until 20.00hrs, so we decided to give it a miss! Wandered around Santa Cruz pedestrianised old town and up to the Parque Garcia Sanobria, admired all the florescent bougainvillea before wandering back down into the Old Town for lunch by the clock with all the viola’s and pansies….as well as the odd monarch butterfly! Got the tram back to La Laguna and then decided to drive to Puerta de la Cruz.

Puerta de la Cruz seems to be on many different levels and after wandering around for a while, decided to drive back down to sea level and have another wander about. Lovely little place, with its Old Town, with many wooden balconies, little squares, small harbour with its fishing boats, and lots of pedestrianised streets with cafes, churches, restaurants and bars all along the sea front. Walked along to the Lago Martianez the Municipal Tourist Complex with its lagoons and lots of look out points to the wild sea that was crashing over the defence walls and rocks.

All was well until we decided to eat! Ate in the main square, Plaza el Charco, at a place called Plaza Compostelano (underneath a Chinese restaurant!) and it was grim! I had ½ a chicken that must have been being cooked since yesterday, cold canarian potatoes, a little bit of salad (ok but no dressing) and a glass of undrinkable red wine (not like me at all!!!) Chris had a chicken escalope that was dry and overcooked. We were charged for the bread that we didn’t eat and overcharged on one of the meals. And a waiter had the nerve to come up to us and ask us to tell other people what lovely food it was!!! Don’t eat in this place - You have been warned!! Back to the house by 8.00pm ish.

Saturday 10th Feb 2018

Didn’t look too bad weatherwise so it was up and over the Puerto de Erjos (1170m) and down to Santiago de Teide and then took the road for Los Gigantes. It was a long, long way down!! Managed to find parking and walked to the Marina along the promenade and past some lovely apartments! Booked a boat trip and had a egg and bacon toasted sandwich before boarding the boat at 12.30pm (Masca Express) Went out to where the pilot whales were supposed to be….and saw loads!! Well at least three! Got some good pics and then we shot off on the boat to Masca beach! This is where the walk comes out, if you walk from Masca (8km downhill through a gorge) and you can also book a boat return with Masca Express for 10 Euros (next time!) Saw a turtle on the way and then we took the boat back via the deep cliffs that showed where the lava spilled over them! Good trip and worth the 15 euros each. Walked back to the car and drove to Santaigo de Teide where we were hoping to get a bus up to Masca, but alas it was Saturday, and the next bus wasn’t until 5.00pm and it was only 3.40pm.

Went back over the Puerto and drove into Icod, parked up and wandered through the Old Town looking for the oldest dragon tree (no more than 365 years old although it used to be thought it was 1000 years old!) and eventually found it! Didn’t go into the botanical gardens (5 euros each) but drove along to Puerto de la Cruz as Chris wanted to catch some carnival atmosphere!! There wasn’t any!! Wandered around for an hour or so before driving back to the house and going to another Guachinche that we found wandering about (there was a signpost nailed to a tree!!) Guachinche Jose el Rinconero 50 metres….Wandered along a street, up a very dark hill and found the garage!!

This one was a bit more professional as it had a menu! So ½ rancion of chickpeas, cheese and olives, chips, canary potatoes, a huge piece of pork, flan and tiramisu washed down with a litre of wine and the bill came to 31.00 euros!! We were stuffed!! Back to the house by 9.30pm.

Sunday 11th Feb 2018

A beautiful sunny day, giving the illusion of warmth, although to be fair, if you sat in the sun it was quite warm. Lovely views of the sea and Mt Teide from the terrace – I shall miss the views!

Decided to have an easy day and just potter about so first we went to La Guancha (up the mountain towards Teide) but couldn’t find anything of interest, so it was down to San Juan de la Rambla – an interesting little place with a church, square, view and two coffee shops that didn’t seem to want to serve us! Maybe we were too impatient!! Followed the road down, past the banana plantations to Las Aguas where we watched the waves crashing against the sea wall. Only one way out so it was back through San Juan de la Rambla and along the TF5 into Puerto de la Cruz. Walked along the sea wall and unfortunately a wave ’got us’ and we were drenched! I suppose you have to see the funny side but it wasn’t funny at the time!! Watched a bit of the dancing for the Carnival, had pizza for lunch and wandered along the sea front, looking in the shops and watching the waves crashing again! The sea is much rougher today for some reason, and it’s a shame all that power from the waves can’t be harnessed. So much power!

Anyway, the sun had long disappeared so it was back to the roof terrace (where it was decidedly warmer!) for a cup of tea and packing ready for the early flight back to Spain tomorrow.We few back from Tenerife to Malaga on 12th February 2018 and sat on the porch and felt warm for the first time in two weeks! I think we had just been very unlucky with the weather in Tenerife – they couldn’t remember it ever being so cold in Tenerife and there was even snow in Morocco!!


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