During the winter in Europe, the Canary Islands are more like late spring than the tropics – in December the temperature was around 23°, half of the time sunny. The wind gets crazy sometimes – when we arrived I thought the surrounding palm trees were preparing for lift-off, they waved in the wind so much. The air there has a strange, sweet-salty flower-sea scent. I haven’t experienced anything like that anywhere else.
Tenerife is a volcanic island and so it is, although small, very mountainous. According to the altitude and position in relation to the mountains, you can within short interval enter various microworlds with completely different weather and plants. The north coast is quite green because the mountains in the center catch rain clouds. The south used to be a desert, warmer and sunnier. Gradually with the arrival of tourism, the south has been covered with seaside resorts which, thanks to the planting of new trees and plants, has changed the climate of the island so much that the difference between the north and the south is not as big any more.
We stayed in the north at Puerto de la Cruz because when I had seen Tenerife pictures I stated that I would be dragged to the south only in a body bag. Concrete box-hotels with concrete box-bars and discos, in between to break it up concrete and tarmac. Beaches covered with rows of deckchairs and white sand imported from the Sahara… Otherwise, the beaches here are black, which seems to me to be much more interesting. They say that most of the tourists visit the south. I don’t understand them…
One of the best things about our stay was the locals. The local Spaniards are the most amiable and cordial people I have ever met. Everything is: “Relax, it’s ok.”, “No problem!” everybody smiles, they are laid back and don’t get worked up. This is a sharp contrast to the Brits who come here to spend the winter. Many of them, mostly retirees, seem to have forgotten how to use their faces because through the whole stay I didn’t see them use more than one expression. All the time I was wondering if they were enjoying themselves or not – it is impossible to tell. When they started to speak I realized that some of the Brits were in reality Germans – all without an exception carried poker faces. Simply, two contrasting worlds.
The north of the island has one disadvantage for enthusiastic swimmers – because of large waves and strong undercurrents you cannot swim in the sea much. The beaches are used mostly by surfers and the occasional daredevil. For those who don’t want to be battered by the rocks, there is directly on the sea coast Lago Martiánez, a complex of ‘lagoons’ with seawater. Although it was built fairly high the waves breaking on the coast spray even higher so the sunbathers are lightly showered with water. When somewhere the showering becomes too intense the guards close the area and banish the people. Like the neighboring Atlantic, the Martiánez lagoons are fairly cold so longer bathing is only for winter swimmers.
BTW I asked Ben if I can say that the waves here are like houses but because the height of waves is measured on the open sea, my always very exact boyfriend agreed only to ‘waves like small houses’. 🙂
We found a beautiful restaurant sunk into a cliff, from where you could watch the waves like little houses over lunch (sometimes you also get splashed). If you’d like to go there and sit on the terrace, it is called Pomodoro.
Overall everywhere was calm and mostly empty – the time before Christmas is outside the main season when Brits (and Germans) start coming en masse. There must also be quite a few Czechs, though the only place I met some was in the botanic garden. One tourist beater who attempted to sell me (with the appropriate surcharge) tickets to Loro Park, bowled me over. After few sentences, he suddenly declared: “Are you French? No, no, wait… you are Czech!” When I asked how he figured it out, he said that he recognized my accent. WTF! They recognize us even on this small piece of land in the middle of the Atlantic. Czechs are really a wayfaring nation.