Tenerife in four acts – Act One the North

Friday, 06.11.2015

Cheap flights are always an incentive to explore the world a bit further. This time, fate led my husband and me to Tenerife. We had no preconceptions about the island except for it being the spot for all-inclusive holidays. We couldn’t have been more wrong.

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Short History Of Tenerife

Tenerife, one of the seven islands in the Canary Archipelago, was formed around 10 million years ago. Although the circumstances of the beginnings are unclear, volcanic eruptions had a substantial part in erecting the island. This is the reason Tenerife is a Mecca for geologists and volcanologists. El Teide, the volcano (3,718 meters above sea level), crowns the island. It is so powerful that it moved me to the core; that’s why I dedicated a separate note for it. The volcanic character of the island makes its every corner so varied.

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Puerto de la Cruz

In the Caribbean blog post, I mentioned my first impression of the island – the lingering sweet scent hovering in the air. Tenerife was like déjà vu. After the arrival at the airport, I experienced the scent again. The sweet aroma of the flowers didn’t leave me for the next three weeks.

We decided to divide our trip into three parts – the north, the volcano, and the west. We spent the first week exploring the north. It’s not usually on the must-see list because of the higher humidity levels and unstable weather. But that’s not a bad thing – it means less crowds. Our starting point was the city of Puerto de la Cruz. Puerto is a harbor city, where the center has typical Canarian architecture: narrow streets, limestone facades of houses, and adorned balconies made of the local pine wood – pinares

 

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Although the city wasn’t the most stunning place on the island, it had one undeniable advantage – the nightlife. Every evening local artists gave performances. When strolling around the center on a warm night, we heard the sounds of a harp. Surprised, we didn’t need more encouragement and followed the sounds of the instrument. We ended up in front of a bar called El Arrado. We quietly went inside not to disturb the performance. The moment we passed the doorstep, the owner of the place showed us to our table and conjured up a bottle of wine in front of us.

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When we sat in our places, we started to look around the bar. The audience knew each other very well. It consisted mainly of elderly people, but never judge a book by its cover; they were in their prime. They cherished the moment by listening to the music and sipping wine. The artists were a group of locals in their 70s called Les Tres Soles. The men sang traditional Canarian songs and played a Peruvian harp. I believe the songs were about homesickness, mother, and homeland. Some people in the audience even had their own instruments – the rattle and the rasper. Whenever the musicians started to play the songs, the listeners accompanied them. Wine fused with the sounds of the harp floating in the air and created a one-of-a-kind Canarian ambiance. In that moment, we felt in love with the island.

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Puerto became our starting point for other escapades – to the Teno mountains, the village of Taganana, the Bullollo beach, and Las Teresitas – Tenerife’s biggest beach.

The Diversified Character Of Tenerife

Each of these places painted a different picture of Tenerife – at once mild and exotic as well as wild and unpredictable. I truly enjoyed the black volcanic beaches with the sand flickering in the sun. La Bollullo beach stole my heart. It was one of the places that only locals attend. Not only the beach but the road leading to it gave us thrills. Imagine the narrowest possible road to drive on. Then, add a two-meter high concrete wall on both sides, a steep hill upwards, and an approaching car from the opposite direction. What can be done? Pass the car with the mirrors closed and be careful, the dent is just a few centimeters away. A day like every other. Splendid!

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The Northern Beaches

The Bollullo beach was the embodiment of Tenerife’s nature that the guidebooks so lavishly detailed. Accessible only by the steep volcanic stairs, the beach was under a hundred-meter-high cliff jutting into the sea. The blackness of the sand mingled with the dark color of the basalt rocks. The waves roared and stroked the seashore. Above us, on one side of the cliff, there was a bar offering local tapas. A crab salad and tortilla tempted us.

Only a 10-minute drive from the capital city of Santa Cruz, another gem awaited us – the longest beach on Tenerife called Las Teresitas. It is over one-kilometer-long with the white sand transported from the Sahara Desert!

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The desert sand was transported in containers straight from the heart of Africa in 1970. Soon, the beach became a riviera (or coastline), which might be boldly compared to Saint Tropez. It is located at the foot of the Anaga Massif. The rugged mountains descending to the sea add even more charm to the place. That’s why we wanted a road trip around those wild peaks.

The Anaga Massif

The road along the Anaga is the most picturesque drive you can take on Tenerife. This is the oldest massif on the island. It is around 6 to 9 million years old. But don’t be fooled by the weather. It changes with every meter gained in altitude. So from 25 degrees Celsius at the beach, we reached about 13 degrees at the top along with slight rain showers and occasional fog.

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Eerie scenery embraced us – the winding road dragged through the Laurence woods. The light was scarce, hanging lichens covered the trees, and the ground was patched with thick moss. The road cut through the Laurence woods. The road was narrow. With shivers down my spine, the view opened in front of our eyes – wild, fierce tops of towering mountains. They looked completely uninhabited. Completely empty. All we could hear was the whistling wind. All we could see were the clumsy clouds overflowing the mountain sides.

The road was about 30 kilometers long and led straight to the tiny village of Taganana – a place in the middle of nowhere. Just take a look at the pictures.

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The drops of rough sea dashed against our faces. When we looked up we could only see the sharp slopes of the Anaga mountains, which gazed at us menacingly. We sensed the mighty power of nature in Taganana – nature’s true feat – on one hand the fierce sea and on the other, the rugged mountains. And that’s how we got to the end of the world, or at least to the end of the island.