2014/01/13 – Christmas and New Year’s holidays

I went back to France for a part of my holiday… but not only!

I started with going ice skating in a hall with my godson, eating foie gras and  baking a “bûche au chocolat de Noël” (Christmas chocolate log)…

Ice skating!

Ice skating!

Bûche au chocolat de Noël

Bûche au chocolat de Noël

Then I flew to the Netherlands, to spend a little time with Suzan.

I am here!! THE "A" from google maps :-)

I am here!! THE “A” from google maps 🙂

Breda, city park

Breda, city park

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk

Onze-Lieve-Vrouwekerk

The Aussie restaurant in Breda

The Aussie restaurant in Breda

Four X beer! Like in Brisbane :)

Four X beer! Like in Brisbane 🙂

After that, I flew again, 5 hours, in the southern direction… Ready to practice Spanish… Landed in Tenerife!

The flight got delay, so I couldnt catch the bus that I planned to. Then I had to wait 2 hours before the next one… so I decided to ask around the car rental companies if I could get a car… maybe last minute chance? As I couldnt get one on internet, I decided that I have to take a chance.

…and that worked out! Got an Opel Corsa for the week. Then I met with Irina at the hotel, and holiday were starting!!

my car for the week

my car for the week

the holiday team! (ok, it was raining the first evening...)

the holiday team! (ok, it was raining the first evening…)

Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz

The first drive lead us to a nice peninsula up north:

Punta del Hidalgo

Punta del Hidalgo

Then we had to try the tapas, and local specialities !

Tapas!! and of course the famous papas arrugadas con mojo

Tapas!! and of course the famous papas arrugadas con mojo

Local Ronmiel, served for dessert in almost every restaurant...

Local Ronmiel, served for dessert in almost every restaurant…

Then, it was time for me to explore further away with the car, and decided to explore the whole northern peninsula.

First eye contact with the Volcano Teide, behind me!

First eye contact with the Volcano Teide, behind me!

The Pico del Teide is 3718 meters high. This is quite a bit, being at its feet less than 10 km away from it, at the sea level…

My drive lead me to a really really steep and really really windy road, that I enjoyed driving through. Finding a spot with a clear view and a possibility to stop on the side of the road was a challenge… there weren’t many!

The southern view

The southern view

The forest, very strange to find in an arid environment!

The forest, very strange to find in an arid environment!

The north side view

The north side view

The windy roads

The windy roads

After driving up to 1000 meters high on the steep roads, I ended up down again on the north side, at playa de Benijo, where I could hike a little on the side of the montains, above the ocean, and were there is a black sand beach with rough waves.

The black sand comes for the volcanic activity of the island. It is nice and interesting, put it gets everywhere!!! They stayed for 2 days between my toes, it is so thin!

Roques de Anaga at the back

Roques de Anaga at the back

Playa de Benijo

Playa de Benijo

Then, I decided to have a look at the other side of the peninsula. So I got on windy roads again, went up again, and down the other side, where it was around 7 degrees warmer, and I found a gold sand beach (playa de las Teresitas) and a pier that was built to be able to swim without the waves. So I had my first deep in the ocean!

But all of that was of course artificial, the sand was brought from the Sahara desert for the purpose of the beach… that was a little sad for my point of view.

The way down on the west side

The way down on the west side

Playa de las Teresitas, fake...

Playa de las Teresitas, fake…

This full day of discovery was over… it was time to head back to Puerto de la Cruz, to go out and have dinner!

The following day, it was a west side expedition, where we stopped along the coast and found Garachico, where a dip in natural pools (made by the lava from the volcanoes) was obviously a thing that had to be done there.

It is only after 20 minutes observing and complaining about the big crabs and fishes in the pool that I eventually got into the water, that was suprisingly quite warm for winter (especially on the north/west side of the island)!

Piscinas naturales

Piscinas naturales

In the water!

In the water!

Natural pools, beautiful water (but a lot of crabs....)

Natural pools, beautiful water (but a lot of crabs….)

In the afternoon, we walked around, drove to other small towns…

Church in Garachico

Church in Garachico

Icod de los vinos

Icod de los vinos

This was a quiet day, just to be ready for the next evening… it was new year’s eve! So we left the hotel with 12 grapes each in our pockets, found a good restaurant, had a lot of fun with the old people at the next table, drank enough to stay up until midnight, when the people started getting packed on the main square. People were waiting for the church to ring the 12 times, to eat the 12 grapes at the same rhythm. Which is quite difficult when you have a drink in one hand, the bag of grapes in the other, and the camera in between to try to take pictures of this moment… well, we more or less made it, so I guess now luck is with us for the year!

The 1rst of January, it was sunny, a perfect day to go to the beach and enjoy the simple noise of the ocean, of the waves splashing on the rocks or rolling on the sand…

Big waves were there, for sure… sometimes a little too big, that people got soaked!

The waves on the pier

The waves on the pier

not that dry behing the rocks...

not that dry behing the rocks…

Pebbles rolling with the waves

Pebbles rolling with the waves

Everyday, some fog and clouds appeared in the afternoon, bringing a cold wet air from the montains, and transforming the surroundings to a strange ambience… This happens on every side of the mountains, everyday.

The daily clouds/fog

The daily clouds/fog

I choose one full day (from 7 :00 in the morning to the night) to explore the mountains: Pico del Teide was my target, but unfortunately, I already knew I could not reach it completely: the track from the cable car station to the top was closed because of snow and ice. But there were other tracks leading to view points that were opened (or supposed to).

First I had to drive up to the National Park (2000 m high). I left Puerto de la Cruz when the day light started. Then I already had nice  view on the Teide while going up, and NO TOURISTS!

Pico del Teide, with the rising sun

Pico del Teide, with the rising sun

Getting cold...

Getting cold…

Looks like I could be on the moon!

Looks like I could be on the moon!

The National Park El Teide

The National Park El Teide

I made it to the cable car early enough to be in the firt cabin driving to the top… But unfortunately, my plan to go walking around to the view points and walking back down were cancelled, because all the tracks were closed because of snow!

As you can see on the picture, there is a LOT of snow 😦

After being disappointed by the Spanish guides that did not understand that people equipped with hiking shoes and walking sticks and warm clothing could go without problems, I went down again.

Gran Canaria

Gran Canaria at the background

El Teide, the closest that I have seen it!

El Teide, the closest that I have seen it!

Then I drove to the visitor/guide center to get advises on tracks and small hikes to do alone. I got advised on 3 tracks that I could hike. I drove again to the first start. I ended between buses of tourists, stuck on the car park for half an hour without being able to drive, reverse, or u-turn 😦 I was getting a little angry…

No parking spot was free, and there were too many people around, so I decided to go to the next track and skip this one. I drove a little more through rocks and old lava, witch was quite impressive, and there were eventually less and less tourists! I stopped at the next track.

Driving in the middle of the rocks and dry lava

Driving in the middle of the rocks and dry lava

It was a dry track, making a loop, going up to the volcano Samara and down along the dry lava “river”, still with a great view on the Pico Viejo and the Pico del Teide!

It was really resourcing to hike a little, with an amazing view down on the ocean and the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro and La Palma.

The black dry lava

The black dry lava

Volcan Samara, Pico Viejo and Pico del Teide

Volcan Samara, Pico Viejo and Pico del Teide

La Gomera and La Palma

La Gomera and La Palma

After that, I decided that a dip was needed! I decided to go down on the south side of the National Park, and try a natural white sand beach: El Medano. This was nice! Small coves, and then a long long beach where people trained for surfing, kite-surfing, wind-surfing… and where the waves are not too violent! So I had my third swim of the week in the ocean.

Playa El Medano

Playa El Medano

I still had some time before the sunset and the night, and I was on the other side of the island. I didn’t feel like driving on the highway without seeing anything special, so I went to the south west side, and had a stop at Los Gigantes.

Los Gigantes

Los Gigantes

I drove through a lot of bananas plantations , windy road like I have never ever seen before, steep roads… I also had always a view on the Teide, so I have seen it from (almost!) every angle.

Bananas!!!

Bananas!!!

Canarian Cocktail

Canarian Cocktail

I stayed around Puerto de la Cruz the last day, to enjoy the beach, the town, the waves of the ocean that were quite big…

Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz

Puerto de la Cruz

Crabs along Puerto de la Cruz city walls

Crabs along Puerto de la Cruz city walls

Pebbles beach in Puerto de la Cruz

Beach in Puerto de la Cruz

Then, it was already time to fly back home… where I spent more or less a week, driving around the area and seeing family and friends! If I did not see you during this trip, I am sorry! But I will make it back to you next time!

Now, I am back to Finland… where winter eventually arrived (snow and -15 degrees)!

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