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Canary Islands - Tenerife

Northern Coast exploration - our last day


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It was with a heavy heart that we awoke early on our last day in Tenerife. We had a late day flight out to Amsterdam where we would spend a couple of days before heading back to the states. We hired a driver to show us around the north part of the island away from the hub of tourism in the south. With a limited amount of time left in our stay we decided to focus on Los Gigantes cliffs, Masca, and the area around Garachico.
We were supposed to trek in this area earlier in the week but the tour company cancelled the trip the night before, saying it was due to a guide calling in sick. Such is life, however, you would think the largest operator on the island would have a back up plan. So we took this part of the island on with our private driver, Ivan. Ivan came from the Baltic states about 10 years ago and speaks 5 different languages. Amazing! We also found out that Ivan, while on a student visa to the US actually worked in the Atlanta Hartsfield International terminal (back before the new one opened), ‘E”. Small world indeed.

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The lookout for the cliffs was a nice pull off area, but I can imagine a much better view from the water, since that is the only way to get up close. Many tour operators run boats out to view. It was still very interesting to see these gigantic volcanic mountains drop off so dramatically to the sea. We were told by one of our guides this week that these mountains, and the small tips around Los Cristianos were all part of bigger rim of the volcano millions of years ago, and when it erupted it formed the island as we know it today.
After our brief stop at the viewpoint it was onto Masca via one of the windiest and narrow mountain roads I have ever been on! Up one side to the summit and down the other into this sharp sloped ravine with the little mountainside town carved out of the side of this volcanic rock.

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One lane road made out of chiseled rock, barely wide enough for one small car to make its way down to serve the small number of residents. A definite must see while on the the island. So I thought the worst part was over regarding the road, but we had to actually back track back up and over the same road we came down on. As I understand it, we could have continued on the road but it was much worse, and would take an extra hour to get where we were going on the north side of the island. Glad we didn’t continue, but we met several cars head on coming around the switchback corners on our way back up to the summit.

On to the seaside town along the north coast that was the site of a huge lava flow that destroyed the largest trading outpost on the island back in the early 1700’s. It has been told that ships from all over the world came to this port city to trade spices from India, silk and linens from Africa and many other items from England and Spain. It was even rumored that pirate ships lurked in these waters to reap treasures from afar. In fact just down below Masca the little harbor was said to be one of the favorite hiding places of the pirate ships. I wonder if there is any buried treasures undiscovered in the many small caves one sees carved into the side of thes slopes? Still many curves along this two lane road down the mountainside into blue sea ahead. If its a clear day you can look back towards the mountain and get a much clearer view of the summit of Tiede, the tallest mountain in the islands. It is home to the national park and you must register far in advance if you want to hike up and take the summit.

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Once we got down along the coast and headed into the village, it became abundantly clear that we had made the right choice with our driver by picking this quaint little town. So very different that the tourist side of the island, and a visit that we won’t forget for a very long time. We stopped along the rugged coastline to snap a few pictures of the azure sea crashing along the bulkhead created for the road into the small village town of Garachico. No beaches, just little terraces made of rock and concrete for the locals to sunbathe on in the summer. Way too cold for that this time of the year. A constant Northwestern breeze blew while we were there making it very pleasant.

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A number of little cafes, bars and restaurants lined this little town all facing the sea. We stopped at one of then and shared a typical Canarian lunch with our guide Ivan. Sole and Sardines with a fresh garden salad.

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One other point of interest in this little town is tucked back off the main seaside road, just in back of the 1st row of businesses, is the largest manual wine press that came from the early wine making cooperative in the area. Here some of the vineyards would bring their grapes by cart down to be pressed using this manual crank wooden tool. Just look at the wooden screw and the size of those timbers! When I get home I plan on looking at some of the winemaking history of the region and I will update this blog to provide additional information.

As the afternoon sun slowly started to retreat into western sky, it was unfortunately time to head back to the airport in south Tenerife for our journey to Amsterdam. I know this trip far exceeded our expectations as just a sun-filled time to sit by the pool. We got out and enjoyed some of the most beautiful sites this island could offer.

Until next time - See the world and share! -Ray & Shirley

Posted by rorndorff 01:58 Archived in Spain Tagged north tenerife norte

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