Sunday, December 16, 2012

Tenerrific Tenerife

Dec 2-7 was an unexpected excursion made possible by my parents' timeshare week exchange.  The timeshare interval was about to expire so they offered the week to us, and we were beyond grateful for the generosity.  In no scenario of how my life would unfold have I ever imagined spending a week in the Spanish Canary islands 60 miles off the Moroccan coast in December, in celebration of nothing in particular.  Kerry and I have done nothing to deserve such opportunity, and for that we try to remain forever thankful.   Everyone - friends and family, new and old, who we connect with along the way weave a fabric that is shaping my life before my eyes.  When I step back and think about the chain of events which led to my current situation, I'm dumbfounded.  We only hope that one day we can humbly return the favors offered to us.

Sun, sand, sky, and sea - makes you feel human

The 4.5 hour flight from Manchester to Tenerife South airport (the big one they built after the  1977 disaster) was quite a deal.  $145/person roundtrip for a 2000 mile journey seemed too good to be true; a similar journey from Indianapolis to the west coast is almost unheard of these days.  I studied the public bus system (TITSA) before we left, and that, coupled with my weak handle on the Spanish language, gave us the confidence to get around the island without a car rental.  In fact, it was the smoothest transfer so far - usually the chaos that is getting from the airport to the hotel with local currency in hand is the most difficult task associated with our trip.  Maybe we're getting good at this?  But I don't want to brag; I'm sure  the next time will throw a few more curveballs.

Soaking in the sun near our timeshare in Chayofa

Some views from our neighborhood

The best part of this trip was we had a kitchenette, which means we were able to cook dinners instead of having to find a restaurant every night.

Shopping for supplies:  water and wine.  We were told not to drink out of the tap, and wine was under 4 euros a bottle.  Now walk 1000m, no drops!

Making some dinner plans at the carniceria

Not a pedestrian friendly route back from shopping

Rebels without a car

Appreciating the views and we decided this 3200' hill must be climbed ASAP.
The week was low key, with the budget focused on food and bus fare.  Even though we were there 5 nights, the time spent poolside and oceanside reading novels makes it easy to compress this into a single post.

Poolside reading and vino

Looking for the perfect beach spot in Los Cristianos, better take my shirt off
Ocean views here beat Skegness for sure
Here's a summary of our trip because after this I'm going to focus on our two excursions.
Day 1:  Check out Los Cristianos, buy groceries, hang out on beach
Day 2:  Excursion 1 - Climb Roque del Conde
Day 3:  Relax poolside, Check out Playa de las Americas
Day 4:  Excursion 2 - Descend into the Masca Gorge
Day 5:  Catch a 6:30 am flight home ("beggars" can't be choosers, you get what you pay for, etc)

Like I said, we wanted to climb the hill (Roque del Conde), so we did.

Obvious sign

Cobblestone path?  Not for the hikers - crazy folks used to farm this hillside

Important rule about hiking is to stop and enjoy the view often

The start of the hike descends into this ravine

From my time spent in AZ, I knew prickly pear fruits were edible.  They were nice and ripe here so I stopped for a snack - only a few thorns got stuck in my lip.  Great taste, imagine a tart raspberry/pomegranate blend.  Stains the fingers pretty bad though.  Kerry ate one too.

Massive organ pipe cactus?

Near the peak

Made it! A view of Tiede volcano behind me, only another 8000 ft climb to tackle that one... next time.
This orange lichen is very vibrant, and I'm sure there are interesting facts to be read about why.  I'll add that to the list.

Well that looks precarious...

Found some goats grazing on the way back down, can you spot them?

Didn't do any fact checking, but this looks like lit could have been lava 100 years ago
To refuel after this walk we hit up a local restaurant where I had some local dishes of calorie dense gofio and papas arrugadas (a bland chickpea paste and small potatoes with wrinkly skin boiled in seawater).   It was served with some tasty pepper sauces however.  Kerry had some prawns with garlic - always a winner.  It's been a long time since we had some good shrimp.

The next day was low key.  We watched some surfers and it made me want to try it out some day.  Surely it is less painful than learning how to snowboard?

Nothing like ocean sunsets

Thursday was the big hike starting from the remote town Masca. This was going to take 3 buses to get there, with the final bus only making one trip a day, and we would only have 6 minutes to make the transfer.

Well you guessed it, we missed that bus.  There was a bit of confusion when buses were late and then as to which stop we were supposed to get off in Santiago del Tiede.   Luckily it was a very short ride we missed to Masca, only 5 km.  We're highly capable, so we walked it and saved 3 euro.  In fact, I was glad we did; it made us appreciate the remoteness of this village all the more.  

One side note - I was impressed by the bus driver handling the mountain roads to get to Santiago del Tiede.  Considering how often I imagine the bus needs its brake pads replaced, the ride was a good deal.  

Sorry for missing the last leg, but the walk to the trailhead had amazing views

Reminds me of Phoenix

Good grief, have I no concern for safety?

One of my favorite pictures from the trip, with La Gomera in the distance

Buses would have to make 3 point turns to make this corner

Shortcut?  It was a bad idea - the volcanic dirt was loose and we both gashed our hands as we slid down to the next switchback.

At the trailhead we descended into the jungle gorge, which was full of amazing views that reminded me of some sections of the grand canyon.  The cliff walls were only 600 meters, but still impressive.  I got trigger happy with the camera here so brace yourself.

"The decrease takes 3 hours transitting spots that might cause vertigo, present difficulties  at passing, or suffer danger of rockfall."  Huh?  Just keep going.

No one was around to take our picture.

Cool sign, instagram-ish effect from the sun.

Not sure what I'm trying to do here - maybe I thought the hike was not dangerous enough.

The last manmade structure for a while.  I should note we saw quite a few elderly Germans on the hike, as in the upper right corner.  Impressive fitness, this hike was no joke!

Some of those 600 m cliffs. 
More old lava?

Kerry hiding in the tall grasses, can you spot her?

Slippery when wet

The last thing you'd see if you fell

Still on the trail?  I don't see any cairns.

The stones are strategically placed to avoid wet feet, but still slick.  We both had wet feet by the end.

More excellent scenery

One of the more technical spots on the trail

Made it to the water!

Black volcanic sand

Refreshing myself in the waves

Kerry was not done being dangerous yet

We had some food on the beach and hung out in the sun for an hour before we got picked up by a boat that took us to Los Gigantes.

Waiting for the boat

The driver started handing out beers

Hard to believe we hiked down between those cliffs

Condos hanging off the cliffs in Los Gigantes.  You can imagine how the town got it's name.

Gigantes would be a great town to spend more time in, it seemed much less touristy than Los Cristianos, but I think it was more well-to-do overall.   We had to catch our bus home though so didn't have a lot of time to enjoy.

Our flight left early on Friday, and we were both a bit stiff when we woke up.  That hike was pretty hard on the knees and hips, since it was mostly downhill the whole time.  Totally worth it though.   We were very pleased with the mix of activity and rest on this trip, even though we missed the volcano.  Oh well, it was always cloudy around the peak anyway all week.   Upon return it was only two more weeks of work to wrap up the year.

Dawn - a view courtesy of RyanAir.  Adios Tenerife.


  1. Great views, your sightseeing experience on the secondment keeps getting better and better.

  2. I like the thing that you are able to cook your own food. And you amazing photos. holidays to tenerife by 2013 will be plan.