Archive for the ‘guajara’ Tag

Tenerife Bits and Pieces (and more sunsets)   6 comments

After our first full day we had some rain! Mostly overnight and into the morning letting us have a lie in. The best thing about a winter sun holiday here is that spells of bad weather never last long and it was sunny by lunchtime. Time to spend a few hours lazing by and swimming in the pool

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And nice sunset to end the day

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Xmas Eve saw TBF and TJS head off for a walk leaving me and TJF to spend some quality father-daughter time together. We walked down into Los Gigantes (via a set of steps that went almost to the beach then suddenly stopped in the middle of waste ground so we had climb back to the top again) and paid a visit to the natural rock swimming pool.

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Its perfect for a swim and has the added excitement of large Atlantic waves that break over the retaining wall turning the pool fizzy for a few seconds

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Needless to say I had a swim to peer over the wall. Rather intimidating on day like this when the swell was rather large but perfectly safe (although there is no way I would I have stood on the slippery wall to dive in. Fall the other way and you’d be in very big trouble)

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It was rather good to just stand in the pool and let the waves break over you

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I was well chuffed with this photo. Just catching it perfectly with the breaking wave and three synchronised divers.

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The views of the coast weren’t half bad either

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We had a very nice lunch together and followed that with me accompanying TJF to do some shopping. I hung around outside with my wallet primed while she shopped, occasionally trying on silly hats to try and embarrass her. After another rolling of eyes I slipped away to take a look at the cliffs from the small town beach. It was a great day as we don’t very often spend time together just the two of us

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Christmas Day and unlike last year we managed a swim. It was a bit breezy and cool but plenty warm enough for a swim on the beach at Playa de las Americas

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Much better than spending all day cooking, watching TV and the rain outside. Another fine sunset before an improvised Christmas dinner that did involve poultry and roast potatoes. I even thought I’d managed to find some pigs in blankets. However what I thought were sausages wrapped in bacon turned out to be dates! I tried to pretend they were nice but they were pretty gross. Some kind of Tapas it seems. Dates in Blankets, who’d have thought

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A couple of days later I dropped TJS and TBF off so they could climb El Teide, staying at the hut as last year. There was loads of snow and all was set for a successful ascent. However TJS came down with a bad case of altitude sickness (the hut is at 3200m) and they had to head down without reaching the summit. Me and TJF headed to the beach but it was so windy we couldn’t get near it without being sand-blasted. We did get some nice views of the snowy mountains on the way down by way of compensation

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I had to pick up the weary climbers the next morning so we had the afternoon for another walk into Los Gigantes and more shopping

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And, to finish off this post, yet another glorious sunset

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More walking adventures to come

Island in the Sun – The Third Peak   7 comments

Happy Xmas Everyone! Well I know it was a couple of months ago but I can’t be expected to write blog posts the same day can I. This was our Xmas day breakfast and very fine it was to.

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The deal I made withe family was that we would go to the sun for Xmas provided we abandoned everything associated with the whole festive period. No presents, card, decorations, trees etc. Surprisingly they agreed. Apart from a couple of calls home to family it could have been any other summer holiday day. I have to admit I find the whole Xmas thing deeply irritating. From its traditional roots its now become an orgy of consumer madness and greed (witness the disturbing scenes over “Black Friday”, “Cyber Monday” and the like”). A good xmas is now seemingly measured by how much money you spend. The only thing that I like about Xmas is the chance to spend a day with the family which is what we got.

We decided Xmas day was ideally spent with a morning by the pool and afternoon by the beach and a swim in the sea. As we were sunning ourselves I idly commented to TBF that the wind was picking up a bit. Within an hour it was blowing a gale, chairs were thrown about the patio and we retreated inside. The sky was still clear but there was a grey dust in the air. Apparently it was the trailing edge of Saharan storm that blows in occasionally and quite common. We did try a swim but were blown off the beach and settled for a paddle in the waves in Los Gigantes. Ironically even though the sun was still out it was the worst day of the holiday weather-wise, made worse by the fact I dropped my iPad on the floor and cracked the screen 😦

Boxing Day and it was time for me and TJS to do what we’d come for and do some walking while the Funsters went shopping in Los Gigantes. We headed for Guajara, Tenerife’s third highest peak and one of the “Three Peaks”. As before once up at 2000m the skies cleared to deep blue but it was still windy and pretty cold

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We walked into the wild and rocky volcanic terrain to begin the climb, instantly leaving the crowds at the car park behind

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The weather was in fact perfect for walking. The warmth of the sun taking the edge of the cold and chilly air. Very alpine in character contrasting with the desert like terrain underfoot and all around

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When we planned the trip we first had Gran Canaria in mind. It’s pretty well known as a good walking destination and I only really looked at Tenerife out of curiosity. It turns out that its a superb island for walking. There are several peaks to climb and endless trails through a variety of terrain. Walk through the cloud forest, trails in the caldera and coastal walks. I reckon we could come back several times and still never see it all.

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Back to Guajara. It’s a steep climb up a very well made path to the pass of the Degollada de Ucanca and the views back across to El Teide were sensational. Iconic as ever.

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From there the path climbs and the description seemed to indicate it traverses under the towering cliffs of the north face. The obvious ledge visible in this photo

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Here’s a close up and it looked a little intimidating from a distance. The guide book didn’t make it sound difficult and so it proved

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The path was a little exposed in places but well made and easy to follow with sensational views down to the Parador and Roques de Garcia where we started from.

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In the event the terrace was wide and just a walk, spectacularly overhung by the North face in places as here

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A scramble over the rocks at the end of the terrace and we were on the summit plateau. The sky above was a deep blue up here at 2,715m but down by the coast it was clearly still masked by the dust from the Sahara.

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We found a sheltered perch right on the edge of the cliffs and ate our lunch on our first Tenerife summit. One Three Peak done, two to go!

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Yours truly posing for a photo. What you can’t see is the 1,000 foot drop directly behind me. It really was an exposed spot for a pose

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The route down introduced us to what was to become a theme on these high peaks. The paths are incredibly dry, dusty and very, very loose. In places it was like walking on marbles and really hard work. The views however, continued to amaze and more than made up for the punishing and slippery descent

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The path continued on temptingly beyond the Degollada de Guajara to the next peak, Montana de Pasajiron and beyond. Another day. It was time to head down (via what looked like a shortcut but turned into a very loose and slippery gully!)

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At the base of the mountain we had a long 3km hike back along the vehicle track to the Parador. More weird and amazing rock formations

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A cracking days walk and a great introduction to the high mountains of Tenerife. No better way to celebrate than a meal out. We found a splendid little restaurant right down the beach in Playa Arena that did a mighty fine Paella, a family favourite. Despite the fact it was December we were able to eat outside to the sound of waves crashing on the beach

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Xmas 2015 was turning out to be a good one

Island in the Sun – The introduction   8 comments

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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”

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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

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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!

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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Sunset at the villa finished off a grand day

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Not a bad way to spend the Xmas Eve don’t you think!

 

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