On the way to the high mountain villages
Even driving out of the airport, one of the first things we noticed was how excellent the roads were. Then, we noticed how clean everything was. We repeated those two phrases many times as we drove around Tenerife and Gran Canary. True, we don´t usually travel by car, but the roads really were outstanding. Especially when you consider the terrain. Most roads are clinging to steep, rocky cliffs over looking the ocean or snaking through steep ravines and high mountain passes. That said, don't even talk to us about the parking issues!
Tenerife was our favorite of the two islands we visited. The beaches were lovely and the topography was so varied. Parque Nacional Del Teide was a true highlight. We drove up the side of El Teide volcano through a beautiful Canary Pine tree forest into the barren expanse of the volcanic lava flow. Along the way we passed through a movie set for the film "The Clash of the Titans". We learned that Ralph Fiennes and Liam Nieson were there filming, but we didn´t see them. To complete the journey, a "Swiss" built cable car then took us to the top. At 11,000 ft. El Teide ranks as
the third highest volcano in the world. The views of the lava field, the ocean, and the island were tremendous.
Our circular drive around Tenerife took us to many not so small villages, over high winding mountain roads, past acres and acres of shade-cloth covered agricultural farms, and along beautiful streches of rocky and sandy coast line. Many of the sites we planned to see were missed due to the constant lack of parking. Traveling by car had its advantages until we wanted to park and see something. It was a most frustrating experience. The parking situation on both islands was a real disaster and this wasn´t even the peak tourist season.
Gran Canary is like traveling on the planet "Vulcan". It is a mountainous, rocky, desert island. The ravines rise hundreds of feet straight up from the coast and dominate the scenery. The highway clings to the high rocky cliffs and winds through tunnels and along the side of the ravines. The many tourist resorts built by European tour companies sit like mini Disney resorts on the shore at the base of these steep and rugged ravines. It is both incredible and surreal.
Again, our tour
of the island went fine as long as we were content to stay in the car. Parking was even more of an issue since this is the most populated Canary island. Luckily, we were staying near the town that we were most impressed with after touring the entire perimeter and interior of the island. It is the town of Puerto de Mogan and is sometimes called "the Venice of the Canaries". It is a charming town with canals, a harbor, quaint architecture, a small beach, and a small town atmosphere. It is still very touristy, but that´s the way it is on most of the island.
At the southern tip of the island is the Park Nacional del Dunas, The sand dunes are massive and stretch down to the Maspalomas Beach. We did some hiking on the dunes and then returned to civilization (not very far away) and enjoyed the view while having lunch.
So, now we are in Cork, Ireland. We arrived in Dublin 3 days ago. The weather has been GLORIOUS!!! I'm not even going to say that nasty R-word. It hasn't found us yet and we hope to keep it that way. The sun is
shining and there is blue sky so all is good on the Emerald Isle.
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