Sunday, November 01, 2009

Tenerife, Canary Islands

The island of Tenerife is only a 10 - 12 hour sail from Graciosa so we left just before dark and arrived in Santa Cruz at daybreak.

We rented a car for a couple days and drove through the mountain range that runs east-west through the island. We were headed for El Teide, the highest mountain in Spain at 3717metres high. As we drove up the winding mountain roads, we couldn’t see the valley below when we looked out over the guardrail. We thought it was heavy fog but then realized we were actually up in the clouds. As we stood at one roadside “scenic lookout” seeing nothing but white, we met a German family who had done this trip before and assured us that when we got to the top, we would be above the clouds and the view was spectacular. We continued driving for another ½ hour and we did indeed break through the top of the clouds to see El Teide in all her magnificence.

As we continued driving, we passed a collection of observatories on top of the 2nd highest mountain on Tenerife. Scientists from all over the world have set up facilities at this location, not only because of it’s height above the clouds, but also because there is very little air pollution or light pollution since there are no cities nearby.

We drove as far as the road’s end and then took the cable car the rest of the way up El Teide. Being basically very cheap, I questioned whether we really needed to pay the 25 euros each ( $80 for us to get to the top) but when we got there, there was no doubt left in my mind. The view was spectacular. We hiked along trails marked on the old lava flows and looked down into the crater of the volcano. As we hiked along, we met some German hikers who had opted not to pay the 25 euros and it took them 4 ½ hours to walk up (needless to say, they were going to take the cable car down).

We rode the cable car down the mountain and then drove through the Orotava Valley. The high rainfall and humidity combined with moderate temperatures makes for an ideal growing climate. The hillsides are covered in lush green fruit orchards and banana groves. We stopped at a café built on the side of a cliff overlooking the valley where Steve took a break from the white knuckle driving of hairpin turns on very narrow roads. The café overlooked the tiny village of Masca set on a narrow mountain ridge .

We stopped for the night in Puerto de la Cruz and the next day visited the Botanical Gardens. The gardens were created in the 17th century to acclimatize plant species from America and Asia and now showcases plants from all over the world. Although none of these plants would survive in the Canadian climate, it did get me thinking about gardening and how much I look forward to having some dirt of my own again to exercise my green thumbs. But that’s not for a few more months…


Anonymous Brigitte said...

Happy Birthday Nancy! It sounds like you had a wonderful day today. Your pictures are spectacular! Best wishes to you and Stephen for continued safe and happy sailing, love Brigitte and Paul

3:05 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home