To get to the Canary islands is taking way to long no matter where you are coming from. We had to fly from Bucharest, through London and Madrid and no matter that we left for the airport in Bucharest at 6:30 am, with some delayed flights we ended up in Tenerife Norte around 10:30 pm with one luggage less, the photographic tripod, that somehow was lost in Heathrow. We tried to send the luggage directly in TFN but the check-in lady from Bucharest told that is not possible being two separate flights, but for sure she did not want to try. Having to report the lost luggage in Madrid plus the time spent to recheck-in gave us only a very short time to take the bus into the city, (E2, 30min, every 15 minutes). We took a bus and went to Plaza de Cibeles and we took a breath in the nice city, enough for one of our backpacks to get opened and grace to the attention of a Spaniard that saw it, nothing was lost or stolen.
Tenerife has two airports, the one in the north TFN serving “the peninsula” as Spanish people called it and the new one in the south for international flights. The island is long, only between the two airports being more than 1 hour drive on the highway. El Teide volcano from the middle of the island creates a different climate in the north, cloudy and wet in comparison with the south that is desert and completely dry many days with blue sky. This north climate made the airport more difficult to be used and after a air crash involving a PANAM and a KLM the southern airport was built. The climate of the island is mild on both sides, its location on the same parallel with the southern tip of Morocco making a perfect destination for winter trips.
We finally booked the accommodations about 2 weeks before and to my utmost surprise I could not find ANY rent-a-car from the major agencies. After an entire day of trying I finally found a local agency that did NOT operate in the Northern airport but for a higher fare sent the driver with the car to TFN. So Jeremy waited with a sign and off we went to the island. We drove for about one hour and he gave me an introduction to the islands’ less known facts, one being the political move that all Canary islands want to secede from Spain on their extremely strong economy based exclusively on tourism. Finally we arrived at a McDonalds were he drafted the papers and Jeremy gave us the car and left home wishing us good luck in finding the apartment.
This proved to be more difficult to do that planned. We arrived in Los Gigantes, another 40 minutes drive, around 12:30 pm but there were no street signs or numbers. Nobody knew where the address is and driving by the Police station in Los Gigantes we asked for assistance. They told us where the address is but they were completely confused about the number and told us to come back if we cannot find. A thing that we did right away and they obliged themselves by getting in a police car, two of them and coming with us. Their attitude was impressive and confirmed again my excellent impression I built in many years about the Spaniards. With diligence they did all that was possible, phone, internet, calling around, speaking with people close-by to locate the place and in the end they found it and spent almost 60 minutes going everywhere to locate a key. After about more than an hour of searches I gave up and wanted to go to find a room for the night, so they drove around with us and showed us two hotels, the last one Hotel de Los Dragos Sur (E51) having an apartment available. Only than, around 3 am, they left not before answering to my many thanks that they just did their duty. Probably they did only their duty but with such dedication, diligence, friendliness and distinction that I doubt that I can find in many places in the world a similar behavior. In any case the advice is never come by night because is not easy even for locals to find a location….
Next morning after an excellent and surprisingly inexpensive buffet breakfast (E6) in the hotel I called the owner of the apartment and I went to see if is anybody there. In front I found a guy, Javier who waited till about 12:30 am for us, who was also owner for some of the units. He apologized for the confusion and in no time we transported the luggage to the apartment that had a fantastic view over Los Gigantes, so nice that you wanted to sleep on its terrace and we left to visit Los Gigantes and Puerto Santiago, two connected resorts. I asked Javier to check for my tripod but from London was still no response so I considered the tripod as a lost cause. In our rush we missed the harbor with its lighthouse that no matter that was very close to us we never been able to see.
The Spanish coast, as its Canary Islands are overbuilt but what we saw here is beyond belief. Entire mountain slopes were covered in apartments, all units to be rented or sold to sun-starved north Europeans who are coming here in hordes. La Arena beach, made out of black volcanic sand, was covered by Brits, Swiss and Germans few topless enjoying the end of December sun, still hot during the day. In many building sites the construction was stopped, a sign of the current lack of financing connected with a drop in demand. After we walked for about an hour on the beach and on the maritime avenue we drove all the way south to Los Christianos. Originally all locals were living in the north, the south being a desert with nothing on it where some were buying plots of land to have a cottage. Now-a-days the south is covered by concrete, apartments, houses, malls, high-rises, bars and restaurants creating a jungle of development that spreads on the entire coast. Los Christianos and Playa de las Americas are two of these sprawling communities, the second having the allure of glitz and kitsch of Las Vegas buildings with spas built as Cleopatra temples….
The beach in Los Christianos is central to the community surrounded by a nice promenade in its middle palm trees circled by serpentine of lights. After taking the view and shooting the beach we walked on the promenade and we bumped into a guy, Vasea, who was selling trips around the island and surroundings.
Vasea together with his partner Adrian are the owners of Hera Travel, on Paseo Roma and they proved to be an extremely reliable source of information with whom we booked several trips, all very good.
After a first sunset in Canary we left to Los Gigantes were we had a good dinner on a restaurant right on the beach giving us some time to rest on the magnificent terrace of our apartment.
2 days latter we returned to the Southern part to the island. The last full day in Tenerife we woke up late and enjoyed a great breakfast on our gorgeous terrace overlooking La Gomera paradise in front and Los Gigantes to the right. Finally we left directly to the Jungle Park, Parque de Aquilla, a place that I would not mention if I did not find it way better than many others we visited.
Built on a smaller than imagined land, the park is decorated in African style with gates and statues all over it. The habitats can be viewed by ground walks but also by some interesting suspended ones. But what is really impressive is a birds of pray show where bald eagles and many other birds are mingling with the audiences and fly on top of their heads touching occasionally their hats with the wings. I know that this is a déjà vu activity in most of the islands but we found this place to be exceptional and it is worth every penny.