Posted by: Gary Guertin | November 14, 2011

4. Atlantic/N. Africa/W. Med. Cruise – Port #3 Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

Hi All,

We finally made it to the Canary Islands after a wonderful 7 day crossing of the Atlantic.  The weather was great (in the mid-70’s) and the water was calm.  Yesterday (I’m starting to write this on Thursday, Nov. 10th, but there’s no telling when I’ll be able to complete and post it) we docked at Santa Cruz de Tenerife and were fortunate enough to be met by Yaiza Martin Curbelo and her mother Monica Curbelo Calero.  Yaiza was Gigi’s work mate at Microsoft and some of you may remember her from our last year’s Xmas boat parade party.  She happened to be back in Tenerife visiting her parents and when she heard we were coming volunteered to show us the island.  

Before we get into the wonderful day we had, let’s cover a little history of this island and the Canary Islands in general.  The Canary Islands, although being very close to Africa, are Spanish.  Yaiza and her mother stressed that they were Spanish, no doubts.  The name Canary Islands (there are no canaries in the Canary Islands) refers to indigenous dogs reported by ancient Roman scribe Pliny the Elder.  The Canaries were known as the “Fortunate Isles” because of the pleasant climate until the 15th-century conquistadors took possession-one at a time.  Columbus and many other explorers stopped in the Canaries on their way West.  Spain finally took control when Ferdinand and Isabella united their kingdoms and reclaimed Iberia.  The Canaries were perfect military shields against the defeated, but threatening Moors.

Santa Cruz today is a city of 220,000 inhabitants, co-capital of the Canary Islands, a role it shares with the city of Las Palmas on Grand Canary (our next port, today).  Tenerife’s most important industries are trade, tourism, and fishing.  Because of it’s gentle climate (you can swim year-round) it is a major holiday destination for European’s.  Of course, it is a volcanic island, with one of the highest mountains in Spain, and the beaches are mostly black volcanic sand, but one long beautiful beach in Santa Cruz is white sand imported from the Sahara Desert (where else?).

OK, let’s get going.

When we woke up in the morning, the skyline and port of Santa Cruz, laid out before us:

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We got off the boat and passed through the port’s entrance:

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I don’t know if you noticed the time in the photo, but it was really 11:17 AM, a decent hour as established between Susy and Yaiza. (an Argentine and a Spaniard, no American influence).

We found Yaiza and her Mom and started the tour by driving around Santa Cruiz.  You are struck immediately by the mixture of wide modern streets/highways and the old narrow streets/walkways of this historic island.  The island is a mass of green against the black volcanic rock, most of the trees being palms, but also an indigenous tree called a “Drago” tree (Dragon tree) appears everywhere:

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Probably the most famous of Santa Cruz’s “must stop and see” places is the Plaza de Espana, which you see below as we approached it:

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Now I have to show a photo we took at the plaza or my women companions might lightly protest, in any case here goes (Yaiza and Susy with the great warrior statue):

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As we traveled through the city streets we saw many large building, either museums, or presidential houses like this:

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Our last look at Santa Cruz I got on the way back to the ship, but I want to show you now so you can see it with the other views of the city:

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This beautiful opera house, “The Auditorio de Tenerife” is patterned after the Sidney Opera House but on a smaller scale.

We now headed out almost straight west along the islands northern shore.  It didn’t take long before we caught site of “Teide” one of the highest mountains (volcano) in Spain, reaching 11,664 feet.  It is normally snowcapped, but today it didn’t appear to be from a distance.  Here are two shots as we approached and then passed by this scenic spot:

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Our destination that afternoon was Puerto de la Cruz, years ago a tiny fishing village in the center of Tenerife’s northern coast.  One of the most interesting architectural structures carried over from the 17th century is the balconies on the homes and stores of the island..  These balconies are made of typical resin-rich old pine that is native to the area.  It seems as if there is/was a contest to see who could build the most beautiful ornate balcony.  Here’s Yaiza pointing out the balconies and some other examples:

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As we stopped in Puerto de la Cruz, we parked the car and had our first refreshment in a local café.  Here are my three escorts enjoying our first stop:

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We walked toward the ocean and took in the sites of the little village, which has turned into the main tourist center of the province:

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We passed a old church, typical of the island’s past:

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As we approached the ocean, we came across one of the most beautiful sites Susy and I have experienced in our years of cruising.  What you see below is not a painting, but someday it might be as Susy took it:

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Now to show you we were all there, here’s the proof:

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Hey you all, that’s me.  I get to get photographed every 300 photos rather I like it or not.  As you know my traveling mate has a much better ratio.

With all the touring, it got to be about 3:30 PM, even late for the Spanish to eat lunch (which is their major meal of the day), so we stopped at one of Monica and Yaiza’s favorite restaurants “El Campestre”.  Here’s two final photos of our day with them, one of our wonderful hosts and one of this traditional restaurant (by the way the meat was the best we have eaten since Buenos Aires):

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As Yaiza and Monica returned us to the Maasdam, we couldn’t thank them enough.  We were only sorry that Yaiza’s father, who was traveling, couldn’t be with us.  We had just spent one of our best port days in all our years of cruising.  We saw why these two where so proud of their home, truly an island paradise.  Today we walked the second island of the Canaries we’re visiting (Las Palmas, Grand Canaris) and it could not compare with Tenerife.  I will cover Las Palmas in the next blog.

Again I want to thank Yaiza and Monica for the wonderful day, and;

Love You All,

Gary (alias Gagu)


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