Archive for the ‘los gigantes’ Tag

The Last Voyage   4 comments

Sandwiched around our New Years Day outing were a couple of days spent in/on/near water. We’d booked onto a boat trip to go sail along the coast, spot dolphins and swim in the sea. Our vessel was the “Flipper Uno” recommended by the Funsters as great day out from last year. We were scheduled for New Years Eve and duly headed down to the harbour. Alas the strong winds caused them to cancel the trip so we were at something of a loose end.

We decided a day by the pool was in order and we went to the Oasis complex in Los Gigantes.

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Despite being extraordinarily windy we had  rather a nice day.

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We found as sheltered a spot as we could and the pool area is really rather classy with an infinity style view at one end and overlooked by the famous cliffs at the other

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We had a few swims and a nice lunch and plenty of lazing around

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TBF enjoyed her swims as did I

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TJF enjoyed lazing in the sun

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TJS looked a little underwhelmed by the whole experience

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They fitted us in for a another trip on our last day. Here is our chosen vessel

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The weather was grand and the views from the boat were mighty fine. A different perspective from out at sea

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Alas the dolphins were a little shy. The Funsters assured us they were jumping and swimming along with the boat last year. We saw a couple of lazy looking specimens that did nothing much before vanishing beneath the waves. That’s the natural world for you, can’t be relied upon to put on a show!

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The boat headed back to Masca Bay (where our gorge walk ended last year) for lunch and a swim. It’s a really spectacular spot

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We were encouraged to swim and take a leap off the rope swing. I’m pretty pleased with my efforts swinging out the furthest, as several people made a complete hash of it. No photos of my success but you get the idea from this random small boy

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It was fantastic swimming near to the cliffs in fairly bouncy, deep, clear water, a memorable experience

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One of the crew made amends for the limited dolphin views by letting the gulls take food from his mouth. Actually pretty impressive and I wouldn’t do it. The gulls must know the timing as they were all gathered waiting for a feed

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The ride back home along the cliffs was equally spectacular

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In truth the whole thing was just too tacky for me – all pirate costumes and cheesy music – but it was fun and a nice family way to end the holiday. As a finale we took a visit to the natural rock swimming pool for a dip and to watch the waves bouncing

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Even though the water was swirling wildly you could still see shoals of fish hugging the rocks. I like this spot as well

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There are some video clips of the waves in the slide-show

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So the end of our winter sun trip and something that I’ll be reluctant to give up now. A combination of warm sunshine, swimming, walking and the avoidance of all things Xmas is an irresistible combination for me.

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 – Masca Gorge   8 comments

It couldn’t last. The sound of heavy rain beating a drum on the roof disturbed my night’s sleep. Still, a lie in was welcome and a leisurely breakfast inside for a change gave us a taste of home as the rain continued.

But not for long. The clouds started to break and things looked promising. By lunchtime there was sunshine and we headed to the beach. The nearby beaches are exposed to the Atlantic swell so we headed for the shelter of the large, brash and very well known resort of Playa de las Americas. I was hoping to avoid these heavily built up resorts, really the kind of place I hate but in fact it was rather pleasant. Sure it’s heavily developed and rather “Brits Abroad”- you know, “Ye Olde English Pub”, Full English Breakfast and lager, but it was all relatively tasteful and spotlessly clean and tidy.

It was the beach we’d come for and it really was a good one. PdlA has several beaches adnd we picked, or rather stumbled onto Playa de las Vistas. Water was crystal clear and warm and not excessively crowded. The weather had completely reverted and was now clear blue and sunny again. The rain had washed away the dusty air. It was perfect

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We spread our rug and spent a very nice afternoon swimming and chilling out

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You can see the collection of large inflatables laughingly referred to as a “Water Park”. We had a play without realising it wasn’t free and were told off by the owners. We had to spend a short penalty period on the naughty sandcastle.

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There were even waves for a little body-surfing

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Towards the end of the afternoon everyone heads home early so you have an hour when the beach is peaceful. Again it was nice to think that back home we’d more than likely have been sitting watching it get dark through rain-spattered windows

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As the sun went down we strolled across the sands and watched the waves

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I was really surprised how much I liked the place. There are no roads along the beachfront so it’s all walkways and it was a delight to wander about in nice relaxed family atmosphere. It’s probably a heaving mass in the heat of mid-summer but on a warm winters afternoon it really was stunning. It certainly teaches you not to believe all you read in the press and I was pleased that PdlA had surprised me so much

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We were back home for sunset and the obligatory end of day photo. Rain in the morning, glorious again by the end

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Back to the title of the post. Masca gorge is one most famous walks on the island. It scythes down through the NW mountains and down to the sea in a twisted gash of lava rock. I thought this would be a good family walk as it’s all downhill and you get a boat ride at the end. Takes a bit of organising. Taxi ride to village of Masca before the boat home. The drive is itself a spectacular one twisting up and then down to the isolated hamlet of Masca at the head of the gorge. It’s a truly breathtaking spot

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After pithering around the village for a while and soaking up the stunning views we pitched down into the gorge

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Along with most of the population of wester Europe. I said that this is one of Tenerife’s most famous walks and that means busy. Despite the fact that its remote and seriously awkward place to get to, it was heaving. It’s absolutely amazing with the gorge twisting and turning in serpentine fashion like a science experiment cross section through the layers of volcanic rock

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Trouble is you share it with several hundred other people. Many of whom are brash, noisy and disrespectful of the majesty of the place. Many of whom are completely ill-equipped or up to the task of 300 foot descent down a narrow rocky gorge. Many of whom are too selfish and rude to stand back and let people past. Basically we had to queue to get down, most unsatisfactory and was well irritated by the time we finally reached the bottom

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I should have used this guy’s stick to beat a path (I had no idea what he was using it for)

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It really is a special, magical place that should be savoured. I’ve done similar gorge walks Greece and had them to myself and they are marvellous. It was such a shame that the Masca gorge was hard to love. My friends J&A (who were coincidentally on Tenerife at the same time, more on that in a letter post) had the right idea and walked it on Xmas day when it was deserted. It would be well worth making the effort to walk it either at first light or the end of the day to watch the sunset from the beach at the then simply walk back out again. I certainly wouldn’t want to walk it again in the middle of the day

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We’d been pinning our hopes on a swim in the sea at the end of the walk. Problem was the “beach” was just huge boulders and crashing waves, far too dangerous for a swim. Possibly could have jumped in from the boat jetty but by the time we realised it was time to go

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Still, the bay was magnificent in the afternoon sunshine

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Getting on the boat was fun as the gangway rose and fell alarmingly with the waves. Timing your jump on-board was an added excitement

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At least the ride along in the speedboat past the immense cliffs was breathtaking and made up for the few disappointments and frustrations of the day

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We took a chance for a swim on the tiny beach at Los Gigantes. The waves were huge and the red flag was flying although the life guards seemed oblivious. I was happy to swim but the Funsters were edgy having been battered by waves and dragged across the sands a couple of days before

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And yes TJS did get slapped on the back by the wave in the photo below 🙂

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A day to class as an experience rather than one quite as fondly remembered as others. I’m glad we did it but I’m not sure I’d want to walk it again.

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Back home for winter light on the surrounding mountains and yet another stunning sunset

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Back to less crowded walking the next day

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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