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11-18 December 1999


Day 1:
Arrival on Saturday morning at Tenerife's southern airport Reina Sofia after about a four hours flight. Transfer to our hotel by coach for about two hours. With 2034 m² Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands. It belongs to Spain but it's location is about 300 km from the West African coast. Our hotel Barceló Santiago**** was situated between Puerto de Santiago and Los Gigantes, on top of a small cliff. From our room we had a seaview, looking out at the neighbouring island of La Gomera and the steep cliffs of Los Gigantes. The buffet (all-inclusive or half-board) was good with a lot of different choices, international and local dishes. In the evening there was an entertainment programme, Bingo or a Flamenco show for example. There were two swimming-pools on the roof, a bigger one and a smaller heated one which was really appreciated in winter time as the water in non-heated pools or the sea can be really cold. After checking in we had lunch at a café/restaurant in Puerto de Santiago (the famous "papas arrugadas", potatoes cooked in a lot of salt, with chicken, "pollo"). During the afternoon we just relaxed at the pool. The weather was marvellous and in the sun it was really hot. Only in the evening it got a bit cold, so it was good to bring a sweater.

Day 2:
In the morning we explored Puerto de Santiago with its interesting beach of black lava sand and during the late afternoon Los Gigantes with its little port. The Christmas decoration looked strange under the sun and next to the palm trees. We spent some time at the pool again and checked with the travel guide for possible trips and car rental. Finally we rented a small car for three days from the following day which was Monday.

Day 3:
We decided to visit Loro Parque first, a zoo at Puerto de la Cruz, in the northern part of the island. We left early and spent the morning in the park after taking a look at Tenerife's oldest Dragon Tree (Drago) in Icod de los Vinos. Loro Parque isn't cheap but it's worth its money. They have gorillas, tigers, the world's biggest penguin house, a shark tunnel as well as seal, dolphin and parrot shows. Afterwards we went to the seafront of Puerto de la Cruz where several seawater swimming-pools have been built due to its lack of proper beaches. The city is the tourist centre of the north which is much greener than the barren south but here you cannot always count on the sun. On the way back we went along the coast to Garachico, one of the prettiest villages of Tenerife which was covered by lava and ashes during the volcanic eruption of 1706. We went all the way along a road with dangerous rockslides to Punta de Teno, the furthest point on the west side of the island, and got a nice view along the coast of Los Gigantes. Back up through the mountains we passed by Masca, a pretty mountain village. Then we watched the sun set behind La Gomera.

Day 4:
On Tuesday we planned to visit the Parque Nacional de las Cañadas del Teide. We drove up into the mountains and after passing the tree line we reached the volcanic landscape of the park. We went along the southern side of the volcano El Teide, the highest mountain in Spain (3718 m), which can be seen from most parts of the island, but didn't take the funicular up to the top, which was being repaired anyway. Instead we went across the mountain ridge with views both of the southern and northern side of Tenerife as well as the islands Gran Canaria and La Palma. In La Esperanza we turned north towards Puerto de la Cruz again but before we reached the city we turned south up into the mountains again to visit the village La Orotava which is famous for its beautiful wooden balconies which are so typical for the island's architecture. Once more we passed along the southern side of El Teide before we got back to Los Gigantes in the evening.

Day 5:
For this day we had booked a trip on horse-back for 1 1/2 hours which meant we had to go to the south, near the airport, passing by the main tourist areas of Playa de las Américas and Los Cristianos with their many big hotels. The riding-school "Rancho Grande" was on a golf site. My boyfriend had never ridden before, so it was to be a new experience for him. Along with us came a group of four British females with a handicapped girl which were beginners as well. Luckily for me we went with two guides, so that I could get the one or other trot or gallop, while the others just went along at foot pace. The area wasn't so nice to ride, just rocks and cacti and surrounded by an industrial area, and it was expensive as well. So afterwards we took the Motorway No. 1 (there are only two motorways on the island) up north towards Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the island's capital, which we passed by on our way to Tenerife's only white beach, Playa de las Teresitas, which is really beautiful. The sand was brought overhere all the way from the Sahara! After spending only a little while on the beach (the water was too cold for us to swim anyway) we turned into the Anaga Mountains of the most north-eastern part of Tenerife. When we reached the top we went along the ridge, got back down to La Laguna, the island's university town, and back up via La Esperanza along the same mountain ridge we crossed already yesterday, but the other way round. And this time we were able to observe the phenomena of the sea of clouds from the north being blocked by the mountain range. The clouds hanging in the woods looked just beautiful. Once more passing along the bottom of El Teide, we turned south this time towards Vilaflor, the highest village of Tenerife where the island's mineral water comes from, instead of north towards Santiago del Teide and Los Gigantes. We watched the sunset from the mountains and then took the coast highway to get back to our hotel.

Day 6:
For Thursday morning we had booked a mountain-bike tour which was a mistake as we imagined the trip to be downhill most of the time, but unfortunately that wasn't the case. Instead it was very tiring and we didn't enjoy the rough ground, especially going uphill! The worst of all was the fact that we suddenly ended up with rain against which we had no protection. All the other days the weather had just been fine, but in the mountains it can change quickly. So eventually we only felt wet and cold and fed up, and after more than 1 1/2 hours and no fun at all we finally broke off the trip. Apart from us and the two guides there was only one more paying guest, a guy from Switzerland. He was very fit and did the complete tour with one of our guides. With the other guide we ended up in a café to warm ourselves up a bit. It said a meal would be included in the price but all this consisted of was one cheese roll for each of us. And we even had to pay for our coffee at the café! Back down at the hotel the sun was shining and we spent the remainder of the day at the pool to recuperate.

Day 7:
The last day of our vacation was spent at the pool as well to profit from the last rays of sunshine before our return to another bleak winter in Germany. Our return flight was scheduled for Saturday morning.


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