I mentioned in my last post that we had to leave our Ingleton weekend in a hurry as we had places to go. After a drive home down the M6 in the rain (in a broken car with no turbo), a madcap 2 hours unpacking and re-packing, squeezing all four of us and 2 weeks luggage (which includes my daughters fifty pairs of shoes) into a 2 door hatchback, a hurried meal in Ross on Wye, another drive to London and an overnight in a stuffy hotel, we were all ready at Terminal 5 Heathrow for a winter sun holiday.
TBF has been badgering me for years to take a winter sun holiday but I’d always ruled it out as too costly. After 3 years of wet and dreary Xmas breaks and stories from friends raving about how good taking a Xmas sun holiday was, I relented. Decision making was spurred by TJS being denied a place on the school skiing trip when it was oversubscribed and he was unlucky to be drawn from the hat. When I mentioned we could go somewhere sunny with mountains and one in particular at nearly 4000m, he was in! Needless to say the Funsters needed little convincing and the plan was set
Now I’m not a superstitious sort but the omens were good. Having negotiated the tedium that is check-in and security at a modern large airport we needed breakfast. The first one we picked was mobbed but we were shown to a table next to the huge windows that overlook the runway so we could watch the planes while we ate. The signs were good
Still it was a long day, two flights via Madrid and it was gone 11pm by the time we’d landed, driven to the villa, shopped and eaten. Exploring our holiday destination would have to wait till morning
By the way, that destination was Tenerife
Our first morning delivered exactly what I’d hoped.
Replacing endless storms, rain and grey skies was a cloudless blue sky and a leisurely breakfast on the terrace in the sunshine. The villa was in the NW corner of the island near Los Gigantes but away from the town amongst the banana plantations. The villa was clean and tidy but the grounds were gorgeous and the views over the sea and the mountains behind were stunning. Best of all we had several fruit trees in the garden so fresh lemons, oranges and grapefruits were readily available. Rather splendid indeed, this winter-sun-thing was going to be hard habit to break.
The first day was spent chilling out in the sunshine, shopping and eating (a day of airport and airline food does that to you). The weather was sensational, warm enough to laze comfortably in the sun without being too hot.
The end of the day confirmed what I’d hoped that the position gave superb sunsets over the nearby island of La Gomera. We were very happy!
The next day we were restless – well I was – and with the weather set fair did a tourist day and headed up to Las Canadas, the Volcanic crater and landscape that holds the summit of El Teide, Tenerife and Spain’s highest point. The road goes up to well over 2000m and once you leave the coast behind and climb, the skies become a deep blue and the air crystal clear and pin-sharp. It reminded me of the air clarity of summer days in the Alps, only with volcanos
The landscape is remarkable. Sparse forests of pines cut through with barren lava flows. Its a reminder that in geological terms, Tenerife is still very much active. It has experienced regular volcanic events for the past few hundred years although nothing since 1909. That was Chinyero and we took our first Tenerife wander around the forests that surround it with our first views of the huge mass of El Teide. The mix of lush forest and lava devastation is amazing and the warm sunshine in the cool mountain air was wonderful.
Onwards with the tour as the road spills over into the Las Canadas crater. El Teide disappears for a moment behind the bulk of Pico Viejo, Tenerife’s second highest peak. As impressive as Teide itself but more on this in later post.
The road through the lava flows is extraordinary. It seems impossible to imagine an engineer looking at the mass of twisted wreckage that is a lava flow and thinking “we could put a road through there”
It was time for lunch and a tactical error. I thought it would be good to picnic in the forest on the northern side of the crater. Doesn’t take a genius to work out that at 2000m in the shade of trees in December is pretty chilly, even in Tenerife. We hurried through lunch and headed back to the sun
The landscape inside the crater is breathtaking. A veritable moonscape of dusty bowls, rocky towers and lava flows. Its very reminiscent of a desert but it’s all volcanic action, and everywhere, El Teide watches over you silently, ever present. It’s an iconic mountain, instantly recognisable and it dominates the whole island. You might see one or two photos of it in the next few posts!
What the photos, desert-like in their impression, don’t convey is just how cold it was. Car thermometer was showing 7C although out of the wind the power of the sun at this altitude kept us warm
Another of Tenerife’s iconic sites are the Roques de Garcia and especially Roque Cincho. I visited Tenerife in my teens on a schools cruise and it was this spot I remember.
The sun was lighting up the rocks to stunning effect. Here, as well as Teide we were watched by Guajara, Tenerife’s third highest peak and part of its very own “Three Peaks”. It really was rather cold here, exposed to the wind so we took advantage of another of the islands advantages.
Despite its height Tenerife is still quite a small island. This means you can explore the base of a volcano at 2000m and 45 minutes later be on the beach. Cool!
We headed to Playa Arena just down the hill from the villa. Lots of lava rock also means black sand beaches and this one is a beauty. It feels wrong to tread on black sand. In the UK you normally associate black sand with dirt and oil but this beach was spotlessly clean. The waves were far too big and powerful for a proper swim but we had fun jumping in the waves and generally messing about.
We took an early evening stroll and stopped to look at the cliffs above Los Gigantes (that give the town its name) bathed in setting sunlight.
Sunset at the villa finished off a grand day
Not a bad way to spend the Xmas Eve don’t you think!