Next day we booked a trip to visit the island but after we waited for about 45 minutes in front of Princess Darcil Hotel, in Los Christianos, we realized that the buses already passed. We left for the tour on our car and that was probably better because we had the flexibility that a bus tour cannot confer. We went directly in Vilaflor, a place at the entrance in El Teide, a national park around the volcano, a peak of 3714 meters. We drove in the park surrounded by lava flows, impressed by the landscape that looked so close with Arizona only on tones of black instead of the yellow red of the Painted Desert. The park is really impressive and in its middle is the peak of El Teide overlooking the entire island. The roads are well maintained and have lots of places to stop, park and take pictures. We got to the base of El Teide but it was obvious that if we get the cabin to go on top we could not see anything else during the day so we skipped that part continuing all the way, through the park, to La Oratova. The drive was a little stressful because we ran on empty with the gas tank and we were relieved to find a pump in La Orotava. Our target was to get to Garichico but the unplanned stop for gas showed us a charm of a city.
Narrow cobbled streets guarded by houses with balconies some with flowers were everywhere Most of the houses are old having a history displayed on their walls. The entire city looks like a charming living museum, even if inside there are modern offices. The heart of the visit is around Casa de los Balcones and the museum, two old houses preserved beautifully that have inside beside museums and store for traditional artifacts, demonstrations of various trades. Unfortunately the short hours of day light drove us quicker from there than we would have liked to stay and we drove 20 km to Garichico, a place located on the ocean’s shore.
The first things you see in town are the natural pools that are on the promenade, near the fort that once was guarding against pirates. The volcanic rock formed all sorts of pools that communicate and were connected by paths that make for an excellent park on water. On the water front the Cohiba store and the other water front stores make a quick stop till you get on the back streets, aligned with the same beautiful old houses with balconies that congregate in the cathedral square, around a park were locals play a local card game named “embite”, if my spelling is right. In many stores I listened to traditional Canarian music and I finally was able to get a CD in one of them.
Again a short stay and we drove for another 20 km to Masca, a village up in the mountain on very winding and narrow roads that for some reason I understood that scare the locals. The views on the way are stupendously beautiful and even only for the views the trip is worth doing. The village, famous for an organized hikes where you climb down 4 hours to be picked up by a boat and brought back to the hotel, is really charming especially in the dusk light that made the valley golden. Old houses made out of rocks, on narrow paths flooded in bougainvillea and all hanging on the mountain and overlooking a chasm that ends in the ocean. The paths and houses are hanged sometimes to cliffs and the walk continues from one side to the other of the village. We spent the sunset in Masca and the light was fantastic.
From there we drove all the way to Los Gigantes and continued to Los Christianos but the road was traffic jammed and after waited for a while we turned around, had a sangria and ate in a restaurant in Los Gigantes leaving again some evening time for our charming terrace.