I am very fortunate to be writing this week’s weekly blog on my last morning in Tenerife. It’s Saturday morning and we fly home later this afternoon, and I don’t mind saying that I’d be happy to stay here at least another week, it’s been wonderful. Getting home will be very nice too, well apart from the weather, and work, and chores, oh wait…
We’ve had this week booked off work for a good while, but only made the final snow versus sun decision over Christmas. Sun won, thanks to our tired bodies and brains, and we booked this week away on New Year’s Eve (an excellent night to book a holiday), as we felt we needed a bit of vitamin D to get us through the Great British grey and damp winter. And we were right. It’s been an absolutely lovely week of relaxing, walking and eating – three of our favourite things to do on holiday.
The Sea is Still There
Being a small island, you can see the sea from pretty much anywhere in Tenerife. Which you know I particularly like. If you look at Tenerife from above or on any map, you’ve pretty much got a wonky circle of land sticking out of the North Atlantic, with a big pointy volcanic hill sat in the middle – Mount Teide. There’s snow on the top of the mountain, but everywhere else is warm and sunny. The north of the island is green because it rains a fair bit up there, and the south is brown and dusty because it doesn’t rain there. That pointy volcano in the centre is over 11,000 feet high and is still technically active, although it hasn’t erupted since 1909.
Extremely popular with British tourists, parts of Tenerife are pretty well full up; high-rise hotels, hire cars and tour coaches everywhere, restaurants serving cheap English breakfasts and for-the-British-palette tapas, and hoards of people walking up and down boardwalks. To be honest I don’t blame anyone for wanting to spend time here – it’s warm and sunny even in February and only a cheap four-hour flight from the UK. I mean, those are the two main reasons we landed on Tenerife as a good place for a week away, and I don’t feel at all bad about that.
Having said that, the high-rise hotels might be luxurious (sometimes), but crowds and business aren’t our scene. We chose to stay away from the tourist-centre in a villa within a residential complex in the small town of La Tejita (well, technically Granadilla de Abona), which is on the south coast close to the famous lump of rock Montana Roja. As soon as we arrived, just a 15 minute drive from the airport, we knew we’d hit the jackpot – we had a house with a garage to ourselves in a very quiet neighbourhood, close to a supermarket and a handful of restaurants, with a view of the sea from the first and second floor terraces, and plenty of space to call home for our week of rest and recuperation. I use the word recoup intentionally, my brain and body needed rest, and this was my opportunity for that. I will very happily give Jose and Villa Ocean Beach, his lovely home, a recommendation – we booked it through Expedia.
How Do You Relax?
Looking at the Health app on my phone, I’ve walked over 60 miles this week, wandering along the seafront, hiking up a couple of hills, and exploring towns and villages. We’ve been enjoying the stereotypical Spanish way, exploring in the morning, spending the late afternoon in our private haven reading, watching random YouTube videos, and napping (I do love a siesta!), before heading out for food in the evening. I thought I’d write lots of blog posts, do some planning for future trips, get all the holiday photos edited each day, but this is the first time I’ve written any words and all my photos are still on my phone and camera. Rest assured, there will be blogs featuring a couple of hikes I really enjoyed, and another featuring my top tips for places to go in Tenerife (which won’t mention Siam Park or Loro Park…), hopefully in the not too distant future.
If this was a weekly vlog rather than a weekly blog you’d have seen lots of views of the sea, stops for Fanta Lemon and toasted sandwiches, footsteps along dusty and rocky paths, more sea views, and the odd history lesson or random fact when we spot something we wanted to know more about. And that’s exactly how we relax; we move, we relax, we eat, and because our minds have had opportunity to switch off a bit from the normal stuff, we also learn.
You’d also have heard my poor attempts to converse with people in Spanish, which is embarrassing in all honesty (especially considering I’ve now been to Spanish speaking countries three times in the last 12 months), and is something that I genuinely want to do something about. I even downloaded Babbel before we came away but didn’t get a chance to start the first lesson because the last couple of weeks were so full on. I’ll get on it as soon as I’m home, I promise! Any suggestions for the best way to learn Spanish from home? Is Babbel the best option (I’ve seen a lot of sponsored vlogs recently so it was the one that came to mind first), or are there better alternatives.
Don’t Buy a C4 Cactus
As we did in Gran Canaria last February (blog posts here and here), we chose to hire a car for our stay in Tenerife, so that we could get out and about (and away from the crowds) without worrying about public transport. We booked ours through Auto Reisen, which was super easy to book and collect and felt like good value, apart from the fact that we found ourselves in a Citroen C4 Cactus for the week. This is what you get when you opt for the cheapest because then you can splurge a bit on food during the week!
Apart from the fact that it looks like, in the words of my good friend Sarah, it’s got plastic padding on the outside for people who might bump into things a lot, the C4 Cactus is a terrible car to drive. The three-cylinder engine has absolutely no go (ours was the non-turbo-charged version), especially on mountain roads, you have to turn the steering wheel three times to make it around a roundabout, and it rides like jelly at anything above 40mph. We barely made it into fifth gear the entire week as it had no torque, and I still don’t know how to choose the radio station I want to listen to on the overly complicated touch screen “infotainment” system. Sorry Keith, I know I promised you years ago I’d never write a car review on my blog because they were yours and I could have everything else, I just couldn’t let this one go. What an awful car! I wondered if it was just because this particular example is a thrashed hire car, but reading some other reviews they don’t fare well from new either. You heard it here – don’t buy one. For the same money you can get a much more spritely Suzuki Swift, a very reliable Ford Focus, or even a nice looking used VW Golf, all which would be infinitely better.
Retiring Some Old Shoes
How do you know when it’s time to retire and old pair of shoes? For me the answer is two-fold; either they are so worn out that they are no longer fit for purpose – they have holes in the bottom, have worn through at the toes, or they are thread bare at the ankle, or (and) they have simply become uncomfortable to the point that I simply don’t want to wear them anymore. And that’s where we are at today, my old and very trusty Merrell Moab FST (read my review here) have got to the point of painful, which is a real shame. I brought them on this trip as I knew we’d experience some rough and rugged terrain, and I wanted something with a fabulous outsole that would keep me upright (they managed that 99% of the time…), but my toes were not happy in the process. I realised when hiking in Teide National Park that I’d not worn them at all since I got my Lowa Locarno over 18 months ago (read my review here), and it seems that in that time my feet have changed shape enough for these to pinch and press in all the wrong places. Sad times! To be fair they are very well worn, they’ve done their miles and I have nothing against the shoes themselves, they’ve just come to the end of their useful existence.
With my other walking shoes, those Lowa Locarnos, getting to the wearing through stage (the reason I didn’t bring those on this holiday), I’m now very much in the market for a new pair of walking shoes. I need something nice and light, a bit flexible but with super grippy control underfoot (at least as good as the Merrells please), and that will serve as my one-pair-of-shoes when I need to pack light. Should I stick with proper hiking shoes, try some dedicated trail shoes such as those made by Altra, or go for some thin and flexible trail runners? Answers in the comments below – please!
Holidays Revolve Around Food
Aside from walking and looking at the sea, my favourite thing to do on holiday – and any time – is to eat good food. I thoroughly enjoy hunting out good places to eat, trying different cuisines, sampling savoury and sweet treats, and generally eating my calorie allowance and then some (because calories don’t count when you’re on holiday). We’ve had some great meals this week, and I thought I’d give some of the restaurants a mention here in case you are looking to holiday in Tenerife and don’t have access to an all-you-can-eat hotel buffet. I’ll link to the Trip Advisor pages where I can so you can see for yourself, too.
In La Tejita we ate at Bombay Babu, Rock n Hopz, and Restaurante Asian. The Indian was great food – the chicken tikka masala was spicy and tomatoey and delicious – but a little expensive compared to the other places. Rock n Hopz is a laid-back burger and beer bar which was right up our street, you don’t get many fries with your burger but you don’t need them. And the Asian, where we ate from the Thai page on the menu, was fragrant and pleasant and should have cost more!
There are a good selection of fish restaurants in Los Abrigos, a lovely traditional fishing town just a couple of miles down the road. We had the grilled fish and seafood platter at Restaurante El Cangrejo, which was served with Canary potatoes. The fish was fresh and cooked very well, just a bit messy as we (naturally) had to peel our butter-covered langoustine and prawns ourselves.
Tapas n Chill, a British run tapas restaurant in Golf del Sur, was an excellent find. As mentioned above, I do prefer to stay away from the touristy tourist places, but I’m glad we headed here, it was reasonably traditional in its food, but served with a British twist – the portion sizes are a little larger than they would normally be in Spain!
Honourable mentions must go to Zoe’s in La Tejita (I mean, I had to eat there, right?!), where we had a couple of nice (and very cheap) lunches, Hattie’s Tea Room in San Blas, where I had the tallest lemon meringue pie I’ve ever seen (and some good tea!), and Ice Dreams Factory in El Medano, which was an excellent spot for some After Eight Mint ice cream after walking across the nature reserve in the heat of the day. There were lots more places we could have tried – there just weren’t enough meals available in our week!
Learning About the Weather
Back in my 38 things for 38 years list I mentioned that I wanted to learn about the weather, and undertook the free Met Office online course called Learn About Weather from Future Learn and Exeter University. The course was very interesting and I highly recommend the courses over on Future Learn, it lasted just a few weeks and was all very professionally presented and put together (not sponsored, just free and good!). But in that course I didn’t learn about the Calima, which is a kind of weather that doesn’t appear in the normal forecasts.
For some reason I have a strange ability to attract weird weather – remember when we got caught in a sand storm in Death Valley? Well, Calima is a “special weather” caused by warm east-wind from Africa. It doesn’t just bring warm temperatures, but also fills the air with the dusty yellow hue of Sahara sand. This in turn leads the humidity to fall and the temperature to rise – a strange mugginess without the humidity – and the visibility reduces considerably. Also known as dry fog, it’s not entirely pleasant, it covers everything with dust, and can cause breathing difficulties in those susceptible.
We had Calima for a couple of days while we were in Tenerife; thankfully it came in off the sea after we’d already enjoyed some amazing views from Mount Teide as once it hit land the visibility in the National Park was very poor. I’m told it can last a week or more, sometimes leading temperatures to hike right up into the unbearable, but thankfully it dispersed reasonably quickly for us and although we did get an unusual-for-February 27 degrees for a couple of days, it was fine. It was certainly interesting to experience and learn about, I knew the area could get the Sahara sand, but I had no idea what it was called or what it felt like.
This Week’s Question
Now you know how I like to relax when I’m not road tripping, of course this week I want to know:
How do you like to relax on holiday?
Write your answer in the comments below, it would be lovely to hear from you.
If you enjoyed reading this blog, if you think my weekly blog series is a good idea, and especially if you got to the end of this episode, I’d love to hear from you in the comments below. And I mustn’t forget the vloggers’ catchphrase – please like and subscribe for more posts like this in the future! Come on by next Sunday at 6pm for the next in the series.
PS It isn’t too late to join in with my month-long daily photo challenge for February. The Splodz Blogz Daily Photo Challenge is meant as an opportunity to look at the world a little differently. If you’re reading this on the day it’s published, then I’m after your photos with an on wheels flavour. Check out the theme each day and share your daily snaps using #SplodzDPC so we can all see.