Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back with a fresh(ish) post on our most recent trip. The second half of last year was exhausting at best as we did not go on holiday from August until December, something that the recent years have proven unusual for us. So before the year ended, we were on our maximum holiday vibe and bid Germany goodbye for the next ten days.
So why Tenerife?
- Tenerife is a Canary Island on the Atlantic Ocean, located closer to the African continental plate than the European and the winters are moderately warm.
- I may have mentioned before that we have been keeping up going to Spain at least once a year since 2015 as part of my studying the language.
- I also may have mentioned before that I work for an airline that is, for the most part, a holiday flyer and among our destinations are 5 of 7 Canary Islands, including Tenerife which we picked because it’s the biggest among the islands.
- Did I mention moderately warm winters? (as in around 25C, full sun and the ocean)
Where to stay in Tenerife
It is important to consider that the northern part of the island is much different than the southern. It is not only because of the wave of tourism that contrasts the two but also the climate. When we were in the north, it got cloudy with some drizzle from time to time especially in the early mornings and it was cold and wet on some days. The south, on the other hand, was warm and sunny, though on some days too windy for a proper swim in the ocean. But it was much quieter in the north, even in the capital, Santa Cruz. Tourists are everywhere on the island even this time of the year but the south is more of a haven for families on all-inclusive holiday packages. I guess it’s all more of a matter of taste.
What to do / Where to go
During the first few days, we were staying in Tacoronte, which is about 20 minutes away from Santa Cruz and Icod de los Vinos, respectively. We spent the days just driving around and exploring the area and the small towns.
Bajamar Natural Pools
Some coasts of the island are not safe for swimming because of the strong waves. As a solution, natural pools were built so people can still get their dose of Vitamin Sea without the danger of getting wiped out. Entrance to the pools is free of charge and it’s open to everyone! Unfortunately, we did not get to swim on that day because the water was just really cold and it was a windy day. But it was relaxing to watch the waves crash against the walls of the pools as they often get really high.
Puerto de la Cruz
There is much more going on in this city since there are also some big hotels in the area. It’s a port city that also has a beach and some shops and restaurants.
Garachico is a quaint little town close to our second Airbnb in Icod de los Vinos. We got out rather late to buy some snacks so our host recommended this town to us since there the other ones in the surrounding area close down early. We found this small café in the town’s plaza and it was beautifully decorated for the yuletide season.
Sitio Litre – Orchid Garden
The orchid garden of Sitio Litre is open to the public for a small fee to satisfy our eyes with a variety of flora of all colours. Agatha Christie used to come to this garden and it inspired some of her works.
San Cristobal de la Laguna
We found this city from driving from one Airbnb to another. Its historical centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and its the most populous city of the island.
Teide National Park
No trip to Tenerife is complete without a trip to Teide National Park. The summit of Mount Teide is the highest point in Spain. We were able to book cable car tickets on the same day for 27,-€ each (roundtrip) so we could skip the queue. Driving up to the cable car station, I was already anxious because I thought we just blew away our money on the cable car tickets. We drove up some hairpin curves with very low visibility and couldn’t see 10 metres ahead of us because of the fog and I was afraid we won’t be able to see anything once we’re up there because of that. But once we were at a much higher point, it was clear and sunny and, apparently, we were high above the clouds. From this point everything around us was just spectacular and a visit was well worth it. Good thing the wife is an amazing driver even if the drive required her hand stuck permanently on the handbrake to start accelerating again mid-steep.
Once we finally got to the cable car station, we noticed immediately how the air was just different. It got harder to breathe because the air was so thin and it was also really cold, something one must not ever underestimate when planning a trip to Mount Teide.
We combined our trip to Tenerife with a day-long excursion to La Gomera. It’s the second smallest of the Canary Islands and it’s pretty close to Tenerife, requiring only a 30-minute ferry ride. We took an organised tour which was a new experience for us. It was just rather hard to go by your own when you don’t really know where to go (also, it’s cheaper at around 60,-€ per person all-inclusive). This way, we were able to see the most important attractions — which were all spectacular. Also, I think it helps in the preservation of the island if tourists are in a more controlled environment.
Our tour guide was a quirky guy who explained everything well. He was so passionate about keeping La Gomera a paradise. He brought us to beautiful, photographable places and also to a small eatery that serves a local specialty, the Gomeron – a mixture of grappa and palm nectar, a local product of the island. Next, he had us walk around a little bit to show us some plants, like this amazingly big Ficus benjamina:
The trip included lunch at a local restaurant where some locals let us hear the Silbo Gomero – traditional whistling language used by the Gomerans to communicate even up to this day.
Lunch was followed by the trip to Garajonay National Park.
Back to Tenerife, we explored some beaches as we were staying in the south in the latter days of our holiday. As expected, it was much warmer and the weather was a bit more predictable on this part of the island.
- Los Gigantes, Masca Bay. Los Gigantes is another port city but this one comes with some adventure. We booked a kayaking tour with Teno Activo that took us to see Masca Bay. Two hours of kayaking did our physical fitness a favour and it helped that we were surrounded by such beauty. Also, we had the chance to go snorkeling, which was a first for me and we took advantage of our new snorkeling gear which I recommend to everybody for they are really great.
- Playa de las Teresitas. It’s a clean and family-friendly, but nonetheless quiet beach in San Andres with yellow sand and a chance to see some fish swimming close to the shore.
- El Puertito. We read somewhere that there is a chance to see turtles here but no such luck for us. Anyhow, there were plenty of other sea creatures to stalk since the floor is pretty rocky but the water shallow and it was so far the best one we snorkeled at.
Spanish cuisine is absolute comfort food for me. I could dive into a tub of jamón anytime. But the Canarian cuisine has a few more specialties that are easy to love. The best way to find local food is to look out for Guachinches. Traditionally, they are small establishments that serve their own wine and homemade food. Today, more and more restaurants across the island tag themselves as “Guanchinche-style” but these are good nonetheless since they also serve traditional food that include grilled meat dishes, seafood, paired with the typical Canarian sauces called mojo. What I especially loved is the Canarian grilled goat cheese. Yum!
This lovely gem is located around the Elbe Valley, just about 45 minutes outside of Dresden and it’s a true gift of nature and history. I had first planned to go on my birthday with a few friends but I found it quite hard to pull off because it’s too far away from the homes of the people I invited and because of unpredictable Aprilwetter. So now, two months later, we finally made it!
My goal was to see the famous Bastei Bridge, but that just wasn’t the highlight of our hike. And here’s why:
There’s no entrance fee to Saxon Switzerland National Park and it’s open throughout the year, 24 hours a day. We started our tour at Kurort Rathen, which may also be reached through a 30-minute train ride from Dresden. We came by car, and a parking lot for visitors was close by (4 € day rate). First thing I did was go to the Tourist Information Centre right outside the train station and ask for tips on where to begin. I told the guy behind the counter that I wanted to see the Bastei Bridge, most importantly. He was very helpful and picked out a trail that he thought was most suitable. He took out a small map and elaborated more on the best attractions along the way.
It began with a ferry ride to the other side of the Elbe river. From there, we walked on and took a left turn, as told by our map, and walked up a flight of stairs.
It was an easy hike, but we made sure that we had enough to drink and took breaks from time to time. It’s suitable even for families with small children and for dogs as well. We were at the summit at probably 45-minutes’ time and it was the most wonderful experience.
Then there was this open air museum that we entered for an entrance fee of 1,50 € each, and from there we had an even better view of Bastei Bridge and of the rock formations of Elbsandsteingebirge.
After that, we headed for the bridge, which was of course full of tourists.
Right by the other end of the bridge, there were restaurants and cafés where you may grab a bite. We shared a small snack and walked on.
The next attraction on our route was Schwedenlöcher. We walked through a forest an then walked down a few flights of stairs, going deeper and deeper into the woods and passing through narrow paths between rocks. It was a perfect cool down from the hot weather that greeted us when we just started.
An optional attraction that was 10 minutes going the other way was the Amselfall (Amsel Waterfall). For 0,30 €, you may activate the torrent, which I wasn’t able to take a photo of because I was just so mesmerised by the sight.
And to end the tour, we walked along Amselsee (Amsel Lake) and watched people on their pedalos and canoes. We found our way out by walking down the road and it lead back to the ferry. There are plenty of souvenir shops there, too.