An October 2000 trip
to Tenerife by MichaelJM
Quote: This was our first"Last Minute" booking for a winter break on a package tour. All we knew was that we were going to Tenerife.What to expect...
The Dragon Tree is worth looking out for. It’s a strange tree that looks a little like a cactus on a stick. The most famous on the island is the gigantic specimen at Icod de los Vinos, which is reported to be thousands of years old.
Just outside Puerto de la Cruz is one of several banana plantations on the island. We’d never seen one before, so were chuffed to view this one. Also at Puerto you’ll see the black sands and the countless "blow holes." It also has some interesting old buildings.
If you like to be entertained, Playa de las Americas is the place for you. It’s rammed with restaurants selling "cheap and cheerful" food and exotic drinks and putting on nights of free entertainment. If you’re in Tenerife, you must give it a try. We saw all the stars of the entertainment world, including Elvis, Roy Orbison, Buddy Holly, Gene Pitney, and Shirley Bassey to name but a few. Some were extremely good and worth listening to, but others were best forgotten. If you want quieter meals, we found several good quality fish restaurants nearer the seafront.
The Santiago shopping mall is well worth a visit. There are exclusive shops here as well as the normal outlets, but the design of the centre is interesting. There are also a number of expensive-looking buildings housing casinos, exclusive timeshares, and high-class restaurants.
Your shopping purchases are cheap here. Tenerife is a tax-free haven, but you do need to watch what you’re buying and be prepared to haggle over the prices. Although you won’t get a massive amount off the price, you’re bound to get some kind of discount. If not, try the shop down the road! Generally Tenerife isn’t the place for a relaxed, tranquil holiday. It’s noisy, brash, and a paradise for package holidaymakers. We wouldn’t go back, but I’m not upset that we’ve been.
Beware the friendly youngsters with outstretched hands. They are not beggars-they are the dreaded time share promoters. You will surely "win" one of the major prizes, much to their "absolute surprise," and they will then attempt to cajole you to attend the "short presentation." If their first plea doesn’t work, they will say how hard it is for a poor student to manage and that this helps supplement their income. How could you refuse? I would advise that you resist because timeshare sales aren’t necessarily happy affairs.
On the island you’ll be able to hire most leisure equipment, including windsurfing boats, jet skis, motor bikes, and more. This, after all, is the pleasure-seeker’s holiday resort!
Buses are very easy to get around in and run until midnight. After that you’ll be reliant on taxis, but they are plentiful and not overly expensive. Although I’d strongly advise that you agree on a price before you agree to travel. We did hear of fellow guests who paid significantly over the going rate.
Buses for longer journeys are less reliable, but are fine if you don’t necessarily want a return journey. You will need careful planning and patience to make the trip enjoyable.
When going around town, use the "shanks pony," as parking can be horrendous.
Hotel | "Ocean Palace"
When we holidayed here, it was an attractive, clean, and new apartment block offering four-star facilities with some terrific views. We were well chuffed as it meant our last-minute booking was a terrific value.
Our apartment was extremely roomy with an opulent feeling to it. We entered by a lobby hall and went down a short well-lit corridor into a very pleasant lounge/kitchenette. The large double-bed room had a queen-size bed. The apartment was well decorated and had some very tasteful pictures hung throughout-nothing expensive, but it gave a feeling of being "lived in." The air-conditioning was standard and the TV had a few channels, but enabled you to buy additional satellite channels if you wished (who has time to watch TV whilst on holiday?). The kitchen was also well equipped-you could have easily prepared a three-course meal if you wanted.
The balcony, overlooking the pool area, was very spacious and provided us with a great sunbathing spot with comfortable chairs and a drink’s table.
The pool area had two large swimming pools with a separate child’s pool and was enclosed by extensive terracing with sun beds and parasols. Out of season it was great, but if you’re without children, I would be inclined to give this place a miss. I reckon it will attract families and a large amount of shrieking and other ribald activity.
There was plenty to do if you tired of the pool (not that we did!), as the hotel had its own gym, Jacuzzi, and sauna. It offered hairdressing and massage services, and there was a small decent shop for essentials.
You would have no reason to starve at the Ocean Palace, as the poolside snack bar was open from dawn to dusk, keeping guests supplied with drinks, ice creams, and the standard snacks of chips, pizza, and burgers. Main meals could be purchased from the restaurant, although from our point of view, it was a bit expensive and seemed quite clinical (it really was a large cafeteria).
Each night the hotel put on entertainment and a happy hour from 10.00pm. We did go a couple of nights but we felt the quality of the shows was poor to indifferent and the bar lacked ambience. However, the drinks were cheap!
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 24, 2004
Ocean Palace Hotel
Jardines Del Duque
We had great difficulty in parking in this place and finally opted for the healthy approach, parked at the top of the hill and walked down. Even this was a little treacherous, as the streets seemed so narrow that we always felt a little vulnerable when cars passed us.
Somehow the walk seemed worth while as Los Gigantes is a pretty resort with no multi-storeys to ruin its peace and tranquillity and we saw a variety of charming old houses on route.
The church and attractive harbour dominate the village and the Market Square. We enjoyed a coffee and a snack in one of the hospitable restaurants overlooking the waters-edge. It feels like nothing rushes here and it is evident that package tours are not wanted or encouraged to tarry. I guess the resort has attempted to exploit its serenity and in succeeding has developed an air of exclusivity. You should however not be left with the idea that this is a sophisticated resort because although there’s the odd "quality shop" there are more souvenir shops aimed at the passing tourist.
We were told that Los Gigantes had retained its "Spanishness" but I’m not sure that I’d necessarily agree with that sentiment.
The main attraction of Los Gigantes is its quiet and unassuming air. However you’d really struggle if you have restricted mobility because the only way out is up an extremely steep hill and the only flat land is round the harbour. This fact, however, is the village’s saving grace, because the physical environment restricts its growth and will ensure it is not subjected to a massive influx of new properties.
The beach at Los Gigantes is typical of northern Tenerife insofar as it is small and covered in black volcanic sand. From here you will once again be able to appreciate the mighty cliffs as they stamp their authority over the aggressiveness of the Atlantic waves.
From here you can take a boat trip, which will give you another view of the cliffs and, if you’re lucky, your boat will be accompanied by dolphins and you might even see the odd whale.
Returning back to the car we treated ourselves to a final view of the mighty black cliffs as they stand serenely over the Atlantic shores. We were glad to have been but I’m not sure that we’ll ever rush back to Los Gigantes.
Member Rating 2 out of 5 on November 21, 2004
Attraction | "The Lost Village"
It’s only in the last three decades that Masca has been accessible by road, and interesting enough, this has not encouraged people to live here. Indeed the village community has been seriously reduced, with over 80% having left since the road was created. Now it’s left to those who see the financial opportunities of tourism and cafés, restaurants, and small souvenir shops, which are in abundance.
But despite its change of occupancy, Masca is not really commercialised and is well worth a visit. We are not big walkers, but there was a short circular walk (probably more than 3 miles) starting from the car park (it was extremely difficult to park here). The first part of the walk took us down a series of steep steps through part of the old town and past a number of old stone houses with small, but beautifully tended courtyard gardens. There were the brightly coloured bougainvilleas draped over the rough stone wall and poinsettias standing over 8 feet tall. We watched hoards of vibrantly coloured butterflies and listened to the warbling of countless birds. You know, it was surprisingly quiet here despite the large numbers of cars at the top of the hill.
At the bottom of this hill, you can pause at the souvenir shops and have a snack at restaurant/snack bar. The view from their patio is superb. Now you have a choice of direction–take the right fork and you’re in for a 3-hour walk down to the beach through the gorge (but remember it’s an uphill walk back!). We took the left fork, which would take us back up to the car park. On this route, you’ll be surrounded by Cacti and Aloe Vera plants; see loads of orange trees (the locals use these for fresh orange drinks in the cafes); and appreciate the lushness of the gorges. You’ll feel diminutive against the craggy outcrops and appreciate the different hues on the cliffs as the sun casts shadows across the rock faces. If you study them long enough, you will see grotesque faces in the ridged rock.
As we passed through the narrow streets, we had chance to admire more flower gardens and glimpse the difficult route down the gorge. Hikers down there appear as ants! There are still signs that some villagers try to be self-sufficient, as they cultivate their sparse vegetable gardens and tend the goats and poultry. We appreciated how difficult it must have been for these villagers to manage before the road, but wonder how they truly regard the intrusiveness of tourists peering into their living space.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on November 23, 2004
Masca Mountain Village
Tenerife, Canary Islands
Attraction | "Mount Teide National Park"
The way to the summit is strangely paradoxical in so far as this barren and uncompromising landscape is so haunting and attractive. As you approach the two main cones of the centrepiece, Pico Veijo and Pico del Teide stand proudly and somewhat dauntingly in front of you. The foreground is no less interesting, and of particular note are the ostentatiously shaped lava Roques de Garcia that seem to demand crowds to assemble and photograph them, almost detracting your attention away from the equally stunning rocks of Los Azulejos. As their name implies, this stunning formation glitters blue-green in the sunlight (caused by the high copper deposits in the rock). When we first saw it, we thought we were imagining the colour because it is so vivid and so few people seemed to be observing it.
The moon-type landscape hurls itself into your consciousness as you see the craggy formation of the enormous collapsed crater. The hues of the rocks are surreal in appearance, and it will be no surprise to learn that both Planet of the Apes and Star Wars were filmed on this very terrain.
The journey to the summit cannot be described as inspiring. There are some terrific views, but after a few minutes, they become less interesting. But things become different as you disembark from the cable car. Although you can’t overlook the crater, you will be struck by the thinness of the air up here. Although there is no clear sign of volcanic activity, the pungent aroma confirms that Teide could blow at some point. After a short walk, we felt a little dizzy, but admired the view one more time, because up here the whole area truly feels volcanic and the old lava flow is evident.
On the journey from Teide, you’ll pass the sandy plateau of Las Canadas, a real contrast to the black heavily contoured lava scenery that we’d seen at the beginning of our journey.
Throughout the ride in the national park, you’ll see clear evidence of the plant life in this inhospitable environment, from ground-hugging scrub plants to the tall and curvaceous Viper’s Bugloss (to see the flowers in all their glory make sure you go to Teide between May and July).
Even as you leave Teide behind you, this park will be full of surprises, with spectacular glimpses of the sea and across the island, particularly the stark black view of the lava flow that destroyed Garachico in 1706.
Take a full day to leisurely savour the various views through this pearl of a park.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on December 8, 2004
Teide National Park/Mount Teide
Tenerife, Canary Islands