Tag Archives: Tenerife

Spanish Islands, Postcards from Tenerife

Tenerife Postcard

Tenerife, Mount Teide

Tenerife Island Map Postcard

Spanish Islands, Tenerife and Mount Teide

Parque Santiago, Los Christianos, Tenerife

I visited Tenerife in 1989 and stayed in the tourist resort of Los Christianos near Playa de Los Americas in a hotel complex called the Parque Santiago.  One day I took a coach tour to the Teide National Park.  It wasn’t a long trip in terms of kilometres but the bus left early because it happens to be an awfully long way to climb to the top.

The summit of Mount Teide at just over three thousand, seven hundred metres is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic.  At 7,500 m from its base on the ocean floor, it is the third highest volcano in the world (but do bear in mind that half of it is underwater) and its altitude makes Tenerife the tenth highest island in the world (although to be fair this is another of those biggest, largest, highest statistics to be wary of). It remains active and its most recent eruption occurred in 1909. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation designated Teide what they call a Decade Volcano because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to several large towns.

Mount Teide Tenerife

The coach entered the national park with its eerie moon like landscape of twisted rocks and strange formations (so eerie that they shot some scenes for the film ‘Planet of the Apes’ here) and growled and wheezed its way up the narrow road towards the summit as the overworked  engine and gearbox complained noisily all the way to the top. 

About two-thirds of the way up we entered the clouds and a thick fog clung to the sides of the coach like a damp dish-cloth, the windows clouded over on the inside and ran with water on the outside and I began to wonder if I might have wasted my money because there was nothing to see but through an impenetrable mist that hung like grey shrouds on the windows.

Luckily the driver seemed to know where he was going and negotiated his way around the hairpin bends on the way to the summit to a coach park about three hundred metres from the top of the one thousand, three hundred metre high crater.  This was as far as it could go but there was still a considerable way to walk up a dusty path of loose volcanic ash and clinker so it was a good job that we had taken the pre-excursion advice to wear stout shoes and suitable clothing.

Mount Teide Certificate

Even the climb didn’t get us to the very top but only as far as a cable-car station because the only way to the summit was by mechanical means.  While I waited my turn to be ushered into the gondola I had my photograph taken with a girl in local costume who, after a full morning shift, looked suitably bored and uninterested and then I was inside the red and cream cab which left the station and immediately started to sway in the stiff wind as it began the final ascent over the yawing black crater below.

Several people couldn’t bear to look because it was indeed a long way down into the black void of the massive jagged crater and the cable car creaked and groaned as it made its agonising ten minute journey.  Eventually we could see the top but there was one last panic as the car passed over the final pylon and swung dramatically back and forth before it steadied itself again and came to rest at the summit station.  I understand that the cable car and the gondolas have since been overhauled and replaced and that it is a lot less scary now.

Apart from the great views there wasn’t really a great deal to see at the top except for the great yawning crater and a big hole full of rocks waiting to blow up again sometime soon.  I suppose the point of going to the top of Teide is simply to say you have been there and not because there is anything special to see.  In the sunshine the colours however were fascinating, the rocks were black, brown, purple and umber and all over there was scraggy green vegetation stubbornly clinging on to life in a highly improbable location.

Cable Car Mount Teide

There were little wisps of smoke and every so often a smell of sulphur and a little bit of steam drifting across the path just to remind us that this was a living and active volcano.  At the top an old man demonstrated how hot the rocks were by lighting a cigarette by bending down and igniting it on the rocks.  I think he must have got through a lot of cigarettes in a day and we were all impressed with this and left a small contribution in his collection pot but I have always wondered subsequently if it was some sort of trick.

Eventually it was time to return and after I had collected my certificate and photograph with the girl who couldn’t smile to confirm that I had been to the top of the volcano the coach made its way back down the mountain, wearing out a set of brake pads on the way and after a stop at a banana plantation to buy some rather unpleasant tasting liqueur concoction I was back in Los Christianos with tales of my volcano adventure which were of secondary importance to my travelling companions holiday early evening dining preference…

McDonalds Los Christianos Tenerife 1989

The fact that there was a McDonalds there was one of the things that put me off ever going back to Tenerife.

More Postcard Maps – Spanish Islands

Lanzarote island map postcard

Fuertuventura Postcard 02

Gran Canaria Island Map postcard

Tenerife Island Map Postcard

Ibiza Island Mapp Postcard

Minorca Island Map Postcard

Twelve Treasures of Spain – Mount Teide

Mount Teide Tenerife

The “Twelve Treasures of the Kingdom of Spain” was a contest/poll that was conducted by the Spanish Television Company Antena 3 and the radio broadcaster Cope. The final results were announced on 31st December 2007.  I thought it might be interesting to take a look at the eight out of the twelve that I have visited.  Sixth in the competition and the first of two natural landscape finalists was Mount Teide on the Atlantic Ocean island of Tenerife.

I visited Tenerife in 1989 and stayed in the tourist resort of Los Christianos near Playa de Los Americas and one day took a coach tour to the Teide National Park.  It wasn’t a long trip in terms of kilometres but the bus left early because it happens to be an awfully long way to climb to the top.

The summit of Mount Teide at just over three thousand, seven hundred metres is the highest point in Spain and the highest point above sea level in the islands of the Atlantic.  At 7,500 m from its base on the ocean floor, it is the third highest volcano in the world and its altitude makes Tenerife the tenth highest island in the world (although to be fair this is another of those biggest, largest, highest statistics to be wary of). It remains active: its most recent eruption occurred in 1909 from the El Chinyero vent on the north-western Santiago rift. The United Nations Committee for Disaster Mitigation designated Teide what they call a Decade Volcano because of its history of destructive eruptions and its proximity to several large towns.

Mount Teide Tenerife

The coach entered the national park with its eerie moon like landscape of twisted rocks and strange formations and wheezed its way up the narrow road towards the summit as the engine complained all the way to the top.  About two-thirds of the way up we entered the clouds and a thick fog clung to the sides of the coach like a damp dish-cloth, the windows clouded over on the inside and ran with water on the outside and I began to wonder if I might have wasted my money because there was nothing to see but through an impenetrable mist that hung like grey shrouds on the windows.

Luckily the driver seemed to know where he was going and negotiated his way around the hairpin bends on the way to the summit to a coach park about three hundred metres from the top of the one thousand, three hundred metre high crater.  This was as far as it could go but there was still a considerable way to walk up a dusty path of loose volcanic ash and clinker so it was a good job that we had taken the pre-excursion advice to wear stout shoes and suitable clothing.

The track would almost certainly not have met current health and safety regulations because there was very little to stop careless people slipping and falling over the edge and tumbling down the mountain because every so often the track had slipped away down a massive vertical drop and occasionally had been propped up with a few bits of insufficient wood held together with scraps of string.  I understand that it is a lot safer now however.

Mount Teide Certificate

Even the climb didn’t get us to the very top but only as far as a cable-car station because the only way to the summit was by mechanical means.  While I waited my turn to be ushered into the gondola I had my photograph taken with a girl in local costume who, after a full morning shift, looked suitably bored and uninterested and then I was inside the blue and white cab which left the station and immediately started to sway in the stiff wind as it began the final ascent over the yawing black crater below.

Several people couldn’t bear to look because it was indeed a long way down into the black void of the massive jagged crater and the cable car creaked and groaned as it made its agonising ten minute journey.  Eventually we could see the top but there was one last panic as the car passed over the final pylon and swung dramatically back and forth before it steadied itself again and came to rest at the departure point.

Apart from the great views there wasn’t really a great deal to see at the top except for the great yawning crater and a big hole full of rocks waiting to blow up again sometime soon.  I suppose the point of going to the top of Teide is simply to say you have been there and not because there is anything special to see.  In the sunshine the colours however were fascinating, the rocks were black, brown, purple and umber and all over there was scraggy green vegetation clinging on to life in a highly improbable location.

Mount Teide Cable Car tenerife

There were little wisps of smoke and every so often a smell of sulphur and a little bit of steam drifting across the path just to remind us that this was a living and active volcano.  At the top an old man demonstrated how hot the rocks were by lighting a cigarette by bending down and igniting it on the rocks.  I think he must have got through a lot of cigarettes in a day and we were all impressed with this and left a small contribution in his collection pot but I have always wondered subsequently if it was some sort of trick.

Eventually it was time to return and after I had collected my certificate to confirm that I had been to the top of the volcano the coach made its way back down the mountain, wearing out a set of brake pads on the way and after a stop at a banana plantation to buy some rather disgusting liqueur concoction I was back in Los Christianos with tales of my volcano adventure which were of secondary importance to my travelling companions holiday early evening dining preference…

McDonalds Tenerife

My Personal A to Z of Spain, I is for Islands

With an area of just over five hundred thousand square kilometers Spain is the second largest country in Western Europe after France and with an average altitude of six hundred and fifty metres it is second highest country in Europe after Switzerland. It also has two groups of interesting islands, the Canary Islands in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of North Africa and the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean.

I have visited several of the islands but each occasion was prior to 2009 when my current ‘Search for real Spain’ began.  As a consequence these were generally beach or family holidays and I doubtless failed to investigate the islands adequately in groundhog days squandered in meaningless sunbathing and superficial trips around the coastal villages and towns.

In December 1983 I visited the island of Lanzarote and except for a jeep drive into the interior this trip was mostly about hanging around in bars and drinking lots of beer so I missed a visit to the capital Arrecife except for a drive through the middle without stopping on the way to somewhere else.

Two years later I went to Gran Canaria.  The first time was in May when I had a one year old daughter to entertain so a fortnights holiday was spent mostly around the swimming pool and walking backwards and forwards to the beach although we did hire a car for a couple of days and did some driving around the interior.  I got a puncture one day high up in the mountains and that put me off driving much more on the holiday.  Later that year in November I went back with my brother and stayed in the resort of Playa del Ingles and this again wasn’t a particularly educational visit I have to confess!

Tenerife Island Map Postcard

In 1989 I went to Tenerife but by now I had two small children to keep amused so again there was a lot of swimming pool and sun-bed time and not a lot of opportunity for serious sightseeing although one day I got to go out by myself and took a coach trip to Mount Teide, went to the top and was presented with a certificate for having risked the rather shaky cable car ride to the summit.

My last visit to the Canary Islands was in 2002 to the large island of Fuerteventura where, to be honest, there isn’t a great deal to see anyway but it was here that I discovered what, in my opinion, is probably the best beach in the World at the remote hippy commune of Cofete.

Fuertuventura Postcard 02

I have also visited Minorca and Ibiza in the Balearic Islands but so far not Majorca.  I holidayed in Minorca in 1987 and 1989.  On the first occasion we visited the historic town of Ciudadela on the west coast and the lively port of Mahon on the east.  Ciudadela was the previous capital and Mahon enjoys that status today and, by certain measures, claims to be the second deepest natural harbour in the World after Sydney in Australia.  With the children getting older but not having developed an interest in anything historical, geographical or philosophical the return visit two years later was mostly about beaches and ice cream!

Squeezed in between these two holidays to Minorca was a week in Ibiza in 1988 and this was a similar Mediterranean holiday experience except on this occasion we had no money because we were going through a bit of a financial crisis for the whole two weeks because I forgot to take my credit card with me and getting money abroad was a lot more difficult twenty five years ago.

So whilst I can lay claim to having visited the islands I cannot claim that I have done them justice and so now, in my search for real Spain I just may have to put them on the itinerary for a return visit and perhaps it would be a good idea to go to the one that so far I haven’t been to – Majorca.

Spain 2011, World Heritage Sites

Each new trip to Spain includes visits to World Heritage Sites so when I counted them up I was interested to discover that out of the forty-three sites on the UNESCO list (second only to Italy with forty-seven) I have now been to twenty and that is nearly half of them.

In 2005 I went to Barcelona in Catalonia and saw the works of Antoni Gaudi, Palau de la Música Catalana and the Hospital de Sant Pau. Then in 2008 I saw the Historic Centre of Cordoba, the Caves of Altamira in Cantabria, the Old Town and Cathedral of Santiago de Compostella  and the Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville.  In 2009 in the motoring holiday around Castilian cities it was the Old Town of Segovia and its Roman Aqueduct, the Walled Town of Cuenca, the Historic City of  Toledo and the Old Town of Ávila.  This trip in 2011 added CáceresMérida and Aranjuez and also Trujillo which for the time being is only on the tentative list.

   

Even before I knew anything about World Heritage Sites it turns out that I have visited two more in the days of my beach type holidays.  Although, to be absolutely fair, when I went to these places neither of them were yet on the list.  In 1988 I holidayed on the island of Ibiza which was accepted onto the list in 1999 in recognition of its biodiversity and culture and the following year I went to Tenerife and took a cable car ride to the top of Mount Tiede, a national park that was accepted to the list in 2007.

Even though they weren’t World Heritage Sites at the time I visited them I am still going to count them but the final two might be a bit dubious – but anyway here goes.  In 1984 while driving back through Spain from Portugal I drove with friends through the city of Burgos which was accepted in that year because of its Cathedral and in Galicia in 2008 while visiting Santiago de Compostella I managed to drive over parts of the Pilgrim Route, which exists on the list separately from the old city itself.

Index of  Spain

World Heritage Sites (posted June 2009)