Give me one hour and I’ll come up with a good travel plan, give me one day and I’ll be all booked and ready to go but give me a month (or more) and I’ll probably overthink myself out of it. For this last trip in Tenerife I had way too much time to think due to the fact that I was not alone and booked everything way too in advance. Final result is that I found myself boarding a plane without having done any research on the place and no idea of what I would do once there. All I knew was that I would find my friend over-there, that I would meet at some point one of my best friends that was in Gran Canaria in the same period and that I was going to stay in Tenerife Sur.
Four hours fifteen minutes later I’m at Tenerife Sur airport after a great approach from north. The airport is small but very well kept and organised; I guess it has to be given the amount of tourists transiting each year. Connections from and to it are easy and frequent and on my taxi ride to Playa de las Americas I also enjoy my first glorious sunset on this beautiful island. My friend Francesco is already there and enjoying a drink at the sky bar. There isn’t much left of the day and now I look forward to the evening. After asking for the best places to go at the reception we end up in an area called Las Veronicas. Tip: if you communicate in English in a country where English is not the native language do not ask for “night clubs” unless you want to end up in a gentlemen’s club (or worse!). Entered Las Veronicas area, in the space of 25 meters I was offered by three different friendly chaps 1) a buy-one-get-one-free drink 2) an unspecified drug (no freebie here) 3) VIP entrance to a “low-end gentlemen’s club”. Now, don’t get me wrong, las Veronicas is not necessarily bad as I learned in the following evenings, you just need to know where to go and when. My suggestion is to talk with the locals or foreigners that live there, they’ll likely be happy to help. If you find yourself disoriented the Lava Lounge is a good place to have a drink and get an idea of how eterogenious the scene is and then carefully plan your next move based on what “fun” means to you.
Since there was no plan, the day after is all about planning and… yeah, pool side relax. As always I love the first 7 minutes of pool side relax, after 8 minutes I need a dip, after 9 I start becoming itchy and after 10 I need to go. I spend the rest of the day doing some activity booking with the help of the customer experience staff at the hotel and take a stroll around. After getting things set up for the next days I surrender to the idea that I will spend the first day in sedentary fashion and to be honest in the end I did not mind. With a better idea of how much Tenerife has to offer I’m now dreaming of the next days and taking full advantage of the sky-bar and rooftop pool whilst enjoying an unique sunset. History note: the rooftop bar of the hotel I stayed is managed by Cafe’ del Mar. My friend Riccardo (whom I’ll meet later during this trip) explained me that this brand was born in Ibiza in the ’80s from a small shack in Sant Antoni de Portmany. At the beginning the unique selling point of this place was… well, the sunset! It later became famous the Chillout music they played there till it became also a recording label in the ’90s
In every trip there has to be a something new to try aside from visiting and discovering new places. In this instance it was jet-skis! Very similar to snow-mobiles for layout and controls they are a lot of fun once you familiarise a bit especially when the sea is a bit rough. Recommendation: don’t try to stay seated if you care about your back especially if you are a passenger.
With that out of the way and with a rental car is now time to get on with it. First stop is the small village of Masca. Situated in the west of the island well hidden in the gorges of the Teno massif, Masca for me is a must see not just because it is a beautifully preserved village but because of how unique and wild the area is. From the narrow winding road (hold tight!!) to get there to the imposing cliffs surrounding the village everything seems to belong to a different time and place. If you are lucky enough and the Barranco de Masca is open during your visit you can hike from the village to the beach (which I will get to by sea later in the trip). At the time of my visit the barranco is closed till further notice because a bunch of tourists decided that it was ok to ignore an orange weather warning for heavy rain and strong winds whilst tackling a gorge. Tip: don’t be an idiot and behave the way you would behave in your country. Locals know better and ignoring what you are told means somebody will have to risk his/her life so save your ass and plus you might prevent me from taking a beautiful hike like in this case.
On the way down from Masca the next stop is Garachico and its natural pools. The history of the town and the natural pools is tightly linked, I mean, like… big time linked! Founded in 1496 Garachico established itself as an important port and export hub for Malvasia wine; ideally positioned on the route between Europe and the New World had all it needed to become a thriving city. I 1706 things changed and an eruption filled with lava the harbour putting a stop to the trade activity which moved to Santa Cruz. Digging into the town history the eruption was not the only calamity hitting this community. Have a look and you’ll understand why their motto is “Glorious in adversity”. That said, for visitors today the eruption left the natural pools where it is possible to take a dip in a somehow surreal context. I also got the feeling that time stopped and Garachico has preserved its originality and nature. There aren’t big hotels or establishments; a stroll along the narrow streets easily unveils beautiful churches, colonial buildings and monuments that hint at an even richer past.
Before I move on to the other natures beauties Tenerife has to offer let’s talk a bit more about evenings. As said, my recommendation is talk to the locals, native or not and I’m sure you’ll find a place that caters for whatever fun means to you. You’ll find anything, from super loud, get-shit-faced-just-because places to local latin music clubs and Irish pubs… an epidemic of Irish pubs. Now, an Irish pub is my kind of thing but not in Tenerife. If you really feel compelled then I recommend the Gaelic Corner and right below it The Dubliner where live music is a featured every evening (as I understand). If you really want something that belongs here go to the Achaman in nearby Costa Adeje, just be sure you like salsa and reggaeton because that is all you will get till 5 a.m. (Wednesday or Thursdays). You will see some bad reviews on Tripadvisor related to scuffles but my honest, controversial opinion is that they looked for it. Also during my experience there it was evident that the majority of tourists and locals were there to have fun and knew how to have fun but there is always a small douchebag minority, outsiders or not… you know what I’m saying. Closer to Playa de las Americas the Papagayo offers a nice and quite lounge setting for most of the week. If you are looking for more then go there Thursday to Saturday. In most of the cases they will have famous DJs (don’t ask me, I have no idea who these guys/girls are) and for a fair price you will likely have a great night.
Now the big one and it is indeed big! I’m talking about the Teide. It is an active stratovolcano that summits at 3718 meters (highest point in Spain) above sea level. It is the third highest volcanic structure in the world (after two Hawaiian Islands) and measures 7500 meters from the ocean floor. Teide it is not just the highlight of the island, Teide literally is the island. Approaching it by car you have to enter the Teide national Park and the only way to describe is that it is like going to Mars (at least for me). The landscape changes rapidly climbing the road that leads to the cable car station and it goes from a pine tree forest to a Martian scene where black solidified lava slabs/boulders contrast with red rocks. The sudden change of landscape is common theme throughout Tenerife, banana plantations, tropical forest, pine trees, arid planes and high altitude environment are all concentrated in this small corner off the coast of Africa and the drive to the base of the Teide encompasses all of them. The cable car brings you from 2356 meters up to 3555 meters. The last 200 meters to the top of the Teide can’t be walked unless special permission is granted. The main reason is that there are a couple of fumarole emitting gasses and I’m not sure that would be a break of fresh air. Nevertheless from the station at 3555 meters is possible to take a quick walk in a couple of directions and admire the rest of the island below and the remains of the huge crater left by the last collapse of the volcano a couple of ten thousand years ago. If you decide to go remember appropriate shoes and depending on the season also warm clothing, at that altitude the weather can change really fast. Last thing, make sure you book and stick to the booking time and to the general time schedule unless you are really keen to walk your way down.
Visiting Los Gigantes by sea is in my mind the way to go. They easily reachable by road but in most of the cases you’ll end up in some viewpoint on top of them and miss the prospective from below. There are many small companies that offer tours by sea of different length and itinerary. I definitely recommend picking one to go admire Los Gigantes from the sea. Most of these establishments offer catering (for the longer journeys) and the possibility to take a splash in the most scenic places. And let’s be honest, Tenerife is an island and the sea surrounding it is integral part of that environment. If you are lucky enough you’ll also have a chance to see dolphins swimming and following the boat you are on.
It is almost the end of my time in Tenerife and the summary looks pretty good: aside from the day trips described above, in a few days I managed to become know as “the photographer” in the hotel and I know it was serious business because I also got an official stalker/not-so-secret admirer that must be a good sign, right? Kidding aside it has been a wonderful experience made of amazing places but also of old and new friends. Francesco fraternised quite a lot with the locals and with my friend Riccardo now here from Gran Canaria I decide to spend the evening with him in El Medano. After all the story that is beyond this blog is a story closely linked to his story and a chat to catch up from where we left last time it was a very welcome ending to this new little chapter.