For our last adventure we booked a packaged deal through eDreams to Tenerife. The flights were with Ryanair, who’s positioning is ‘Low Cost’
It’s true that the initial airfare is cheap but that’s where cheap ends. If you want to reserve a seat, check-in luggage or have a drink of water, then it’s all an extra and expensive.
The weight of your suitcase is limited to 15kg and your hand luggage has a strict size and weight limit as well.
The airline staff police the line of waiting passengers, checking that they are within the limits. If you’re not then there’s a heavy price to pay.
Once you are on board the cabin staff are more anxious to sell you something than an African hawker on Barceloneta Beach in August. They try to flog you lottery tickets and to my amusement there were ads on the overhead lockers and the seat backs.
There are even ‘smokeless cigarettes’ for sale, so you aren’t forced to abstain or sneak off to the little room at the back of the plane for a quiet puff.
However the flight was on time and it was a very pleasant 3 hours journey to the Canary Islands.
Our hotel in Puerto de la Cruz was also part of the package and again relatively inexpensive.
On arrival we were told that because the hotel was full our room wasn’t that good, but if we wanted to we could change rooms in the morning.
We did change and got a much better room with a terrace and garden view, which was worthwhile considering that we were going to be there for seven days.
We were even offered a free meal in the restaurant as compensation for putting up with the dog box on the first night.
On our last night we took up the offer of the free meal and were happy that we hadn’t taken the ‘Full Board’ option. The bonus that night was an excellent bottle of wine that only cost us €6 (A$7.60).
Tenerife, with its sub tropical climate, is a destination favoured by Northern Europeans wanting to escape their bitterly cold winters.
They are there to get a tan, keep warm and drink beer.
The Canaries are Spanish and 100km to the west of Africa and the outermost region of the European Union. Tenerife is the largest island in the archipelago measuring 2,034.38 km².
We decided that we would replace ‘getting a tan’ with touring and went shopping for a hire car. We thought that a Citroen C3 was great value at €65 (A$82.40) for 3 days, that’s until we drove it.
This little car had had a tough life.
There were dints and scratches on all panels, no sun visor on the passenger side, the glove box had been screwed shut, the key was held together with gaffer tape and the warning lights on the dashboard had been blacked out.
Under the bonnet wasn’t much better.
The clutch had gone (where do clutches go?) and every time I changed down a gear the engine lost 1000+rpm. This became an issue on the climb to Mount Tiede, the highest mountain in Spain and the world’s third highest volcano.
Tiede and the Tiede National Park are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Most of the park is formed by a caldera that was created when the original volcano walls collapsed into the sea about 160,000 to 220,000 years ago. This has resulted in the most spectacular moonscape appearance of towering escarpments, jagged rock formations and rubble strewn valley floor.
There is a cable car that runs to within a few hundred meters of the summit and you can then hike to the rim of the volcano, if you get permission first.
The Citroen managed the trip down the mountain with far greater ease.
On the second day we drove north east to Park Rural Anaga and enjoyed the ‘Path of the Senses’. This was through a beautifully preserved laurel woodland, one of the oldest on the planet.
Signs were placed along the walking track encouraging you to Touch, Listen, Smell and See the surrounding forest and spectacular views of the coastline.
From there we drove down to the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This is a port town, and there is no hiding it, as the harbor and container cranes dominate the coastline.
We wandered through Parque Garcia Sanabria, a large urban park in the centre of Santa Cruz with its amazing cactus garden. There you can see, close up, many of the succulents and cacti that are prevalent all over Tenerife.
Buoyed by the survival of the Citroen on the first two days, we became even more adventurous on our third and final day and travelled west. Our first stop was Icod de los Vinos, a quaint village overlooking the northern coast and home to one of the world’s oldest trees. Within the Parque del Drago, with its collection of Canarian flora, is the Millenary Drago which is believed to be over 1,000 years old.
The Drago or Dragon tree is shrouded in legends and mystery and get its name from the deep red sap, known as Dragon’s Blood, that it produces.
From Icod de los Vinos we drove around the coast to Buenavista del Norte then struggled over the mountains to Santiago del Tiede and finally reached the western coastline at Los Gigantes.
Then, to the whine of the failing wheel bearings, we drove back through Parque Nacional de Tiede to Puerto de La Cruz.
We travelled over 400km around Tenerife, had a great time, and to our surprise the Citroen kept going.
When we weren’t touring around the island we were exploring the streets of Puerto de la Cruz and the nearby village of Punta Brava.
It’s a tourist town without a doubt but there are some quaint churches and interesting architecture, but for me, the tourists were the biggest attraction.
We chose to pay for reserved seats on the flight to and from Tenerife. A decision that paid for itself, if only from the looks on the faces of the other travellers. They watched in envy as we went to the front of the line, that’s after they had been standing there for at least an hour. Not only did we board the plane first but we had a row to ourselves and didn’t have to fight for overhead locker space.
This little extravagance cost us €20 (A$25) and was worth every Euro Cent.
I guess we got what we paid for.