Tag Archives: Tenerife

Departure

It’s a ferry which feels like a cruise ship. A DJ plays loud Latino music; a troupe of dancers twirl, swirl and wave at passengers from their stage, a swimming pool barely bigger than the average bath tub. People stock up on plastic cups of amber lager. Beyond the stern, Tenerife’s hooded Auditorium recedes into the distance under typically blue skies.

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Departure.

It feels surreal. The party atmosphere makes it feel like a celebration of our time, more than a decade, on the island.

The cabin we’ve booked for the next 36 hours is cosy enough, the sea is calm and the sunset spectacular. All feels good with the world. Tomorrow a new and exciting day dawns.

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Dinner on the Naviera Armas ferry pops the party balloon. The buffet meal is cheap and the selection is… is what exactly? Not depressing at best. But it’s not even lukewarm. It’s cold.

Tellingly there is a microwave in the dining room. It’s a classy ship where you have to heat up your own food. A rough looking extended Spanish family are wise to the ferry’s culinary flaws, they’ve brought their own food stash and hog the microwave. We muscle our way in and one of them, illustrating how we shouldn’t make judgements based on appearances, helpfully shows us how to use it (we’re microwave virgins). It makes the food edible… just.

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Overnight we sail into rough seas and it sounds as though Poseidon himself is tearing at the hull with a can opener. The metal screams in pain. It’s unnerving. Our cabin is near the prow, right at the highest point of the arc where the ship pauses briefly after rising into the air before crashing back into the sea.

It’s not the best night’s sleep I’ve ever enjoyed.

The stormy weather doesn’t let up the next day. Getting from our cabin to the less violent rear of the ship involves a bruise-inducing journey of silly walks.

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There are far fewer voyagers in the lounge than the previous day. Many passengers are ill and stay in their cabins. Maybe many passengers are ill because they stay in their cabins.

It’s a long day. Only the ever-enthusiastic entertainment team provide relief from the irritated sea and limited selection of mediocre food. Still we will be on terra firma later, with food in proper restaurants to fuel deflated spirits.

However, an hour from docking and there’s no land at all in sight. There have been no announcements about any delays, but something clearly isn’t right. We should be halfway along an estuary by my reckoning.

I stagger to the information desk.

“Rough weather has delayed us four hours,” I’m told when I ask why there’s no dry land outside the portholes.

I’m not sure when they planned on sharing this quite important piece of information.

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I’m gutted. The sea has calmed but the delay means instead of dining in a restaurant in Huelva we have another meal on board to not look forward to.

We agree the food was so poor we can’t go through another dinner. Instead, I head outside to the the pool bar, the domain of serious drinkers and heavy smokers, to check what snacks they might have.

They have more than snacks, they have burgers and pizza. They have food which looks far, far, far more appetising than the tired offerings in the main dining room. The person in front of me is served with a generous sized, good looking beefy burger. If only I’d ventured outside before we may have ate if not like kings at least not like paupers. I order two burgers and try to avoid drooling.

“Sorry, that was the last one,” the barman informs me.

My misery is complete.

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Where is the South of Tenerife?

Where exactly is the south of Tenerife? Seriously, where is it? Because I don’t know. I thought I knew. The Spanish papers think it’s in the same place as I do. But there are quite a few non-Canarios on the island who seem to have drawn up completely different boundaries.

The location of the north of Tenerife is easy to define. It’s anywhere there’s cloud and rain… even if that happens to be geographically in the south. Honestly, there was a situation a year back when heavy rain devastated a beach in the south west of the island, yet if you read facebook you’d have been told the town was in the north.

A few weeks ago A was on a trip with a posse of British travel writers when the coach left warm sunshine to enter cool, damp cloud. Comments were made about how there was a noticeable difference when you left the south for the north.
Only thing was, this was still in the south. But it was in the hills and, as I’ve discovered over the years, nowhere in the south is above coastal level, certainly not anywhere where cloud is common and it’s significantly cooler i.e. the hills.

Last week we stood at the coast under a thick blanket of cloud watching holidaymakers in denial cloudbathe… with towels wrapped around them to keep them warm. It was in the heart of what I’d always believed was the main southern resort on Tenerife. That’s where it is on the map anyway. But then I read about how sunny the south was at that time so I was clearly mistaken.

This week on Tenerife all the seasons have descended at once – wind, sun, monsoon rain, wild seas, snow. There’s no doubt northern parts are experiencing the most extreme of the weather but I’ve seen photos of snow on the southern slopes and in hill towns above the south west coast, in some places as low as I’ve seen snow before.

Yet I also read about how the south was warm whilst the north was cold. It’s common for people to talk of the north when referring to anywhere from coastal level to the highest point in Spain at the peak of Mount Teide and compare it to the temperature on the coast at a specific point on the southern coast (i.e. the warmest bit). This can change on a daily basis – one of the reasons it’s difficult to pin down exactly where the south of Tenerife is.

But think I might have finally tracked it down. The south of Tenerife is actually on a balcony overlooking the coast on a promontory in Playa de las Americas.

At least that’s where it is this week, if cloud dares to fall across the balcony the south will up sticks and move somewhere else; somewhere there’s a sunny spot.

The Rim of a Volcano

The thing about walking along the rim of an ancient volcanic crater rising over 2400m above sea level is that at some point you have to descend.

After an exhilarating and challenging 17km trek, our moment to descend arrived at what looked like a rock bob-sleigh run that cut straight through the ridge and sort of disappeared.

Mount Teide, Teide National Park, TenerifeThe path looked as though it just fell away. I stood looking at the rock exit, almost unable to compute that if I wanted to continue I was going to have to show some faith and step through the gap into who knows what.

With sweaty palms and reluctant legs, I entered the rock channel, stepped through the opening and…

And… well I’m here to tell the tale so I clearly survived. But I won’t say any more in case you ever happen to find yourself on that same ridge looking down the same furrow in the rock. Nobody likes spoilers.

The Ten Rules of writing Tripadvisor Restaurant Reviews for Tenerife

The first rule is to try not to write anything that is actually of any use to anyone else.

The second rule is that even though you’ve only ever eaten in two restaurants on Tenerife you must state with unshakeable authority that what you are eating (usually steak) is the best on the island.

The third rule of Tripadvisor restaurant reviews for Tenerife is it doesn’t matter if a restaurant specialises in tapas, Mexican, Italian, Canarian, Spanish or seafood, at least half the reviews will be about how good or bad the steaks are.

The fourth rule is a restaurant will be classed as being excellent if a mountain of food is piled on the plate, even if said food is barely edible.

The fifth rule follows on from the fourth; the cheaper the mountain of food on the plate is, the better the restaurant is.

The sixth rule is when you write ‘a local told me of this hidden gem’, don’t mention the ‘local’ was actually a Cockney expat in a Brit bar.

The seventh rule of Tenerife restaurant reviews is to try to avoid saying what you’ve eaten… unless it was steak.

The eighth rule is when you say a restaurant was clearly good as all the ‘locals’ ate there, you mean it was full of British expats.

The ninth rule is to always complain that your bacalao encebollado wasn’t made with fresh fish. You can mention what you’ve eaten in this case as it’s a complaint.

And the tenth rule of Tenerife restaurant reviews is to seriously criticise any restaurant that serves a steak which is the slightest bit pink in the middle as they obviously don’t know how to do steaks properly.