Through the eyes of a tourist – South Tenerife

Following our Tourist in Tenerife series, most people looking for sunshine, beaches, luxury hotels, and stunning scenery come to Tenerife. It is what brings tourists to the busy southern resorts. So let’s look around …Starting with Los Cristianos.

The town has a history that predates the tourist boom of the 1970s and 80s. For many years, it was a quiet fishing village and evidence of its humble origins can still be seen in the typical Canarian architecture of the older buildings. The town centres around the harbour, ferry port, pretty promenade and its superb beaches. Some black sand others, if you prefer, golden and those where you can enjoy swimming, practice fly-boarding, scuba diving, and windsurfing.

It is a popular resort with everything you need for a fun filled holiday close to hand, a charming, friendly place recommended to families or the more mature traveller without the raucousness of Las Américas.

Playa de las Américas purpose-built at the height of the tourist boom sits next to Los Cristianos and stretches west to Costa Adeje. The resort is the centre of nightlife with its bars, clubs, restaurants, attractions, and beaches. You can also find some of the best water sport opportunities in Europe here all by the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Today our exploits starts at Monkey Park. Less than 5-minutes’ from the above resorts. Described as the “Biggest little zoo in the World”, it is an international breeding centre for endangered species. Where it differs from others is you can walk through the monkey cages and feed them. You quickly learn each animal has its favourite food, so make sure you buy a box at the entrance.

There are a great collection of monkeys, lemurs, birds, and guinea pigs within the park. On a sunny day, it is fun to watch the ring-tailed lemurs sitting with outstretched arms, heads back “sun worshipping”. The time needed at Monkey Park is about 3 to 4 hours, which gives us enough time for our next adventure a Submarine Safari.

This excursion is out of the ordinary, and quite memorable! A chance to explore the depths of the ocean without getting wet. With your own porthole, once down, you’ll be joined by a whole variety of marine life – stingrays, eels, barracudas, even shipwrecks.

The next excursion will each fill a whole day – Siam Park. If you bought a twin ticket that includes Loro Parque then providing you remember to take your passport, entry is painless and far quicker than waiting for the free buses to offload numerous tourists that arrive throughout the day. Then, a quick look at the map to decide where to start.

Perhaps the Wave Palace with its beautiful white sand beach and wave pool. Young ones can splash around a separate area and toddlers can safely enjoy themselves in the Lost City.

Try the Volcano, a four-person slide with a flashing dragon. How about the Naga Racer, a six-lane racing slide or the Tower of Power that plummets you down a 30m vertical drop, ending in a transparent slide through shark infested waters, or the Singha, a water slide with four tunnels, and speeds up to 18 meters a second

If you are not brave enough or tall enough to go on these monsters you can sail on the Mai Thai lazy River: the world’s longest lazy river. There is so much to choose and Siam Park delivers thrills and spills for everyone.

Now let’s get ready for a new adventure tomorrow

While not as well known as Loro Parque, Jungle Park is an awful lot of fun. Set in a lush jungle it is a joy for young and old. Stroll through the beautiful scenery and check out the animals and birds of prey or scramble across rope bridges, and fly through the park on an 800m toboggan.

The southern resorts may be man-made but they provide the unforgettable experience most want on a holiday. Whether you go Off-Road in a 4×4, ride a camel, hit the golf courses, watch whales and dolphins, take in a show or if you want a calm, relaxing time it is all here in the south of Tenerife.

For news updates  check Queenies Daily Snippets everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog  

 

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Whirlwind tour of Santa Cruz

I’m sometimes asked, particularly by folk taking a cruise, what there is to see in Santa Cruz in a short time. Continuing our seeing Tenerife as a tourist theme, we continued back from our trip to the north via way of visiting the capital. Since time was not on our side, we decided to look around the city by car, but those who are visiting for the day can spend more time at each location.

As with any city, Santa Cruz has rhythm and style, a vibrant, bustling, place offering an endless variety of things to do from cultural and retail experiences in its narrow streets to havens of relaxation in its gardens and parks. Yet it is compact enough to explore on foot.

Situated in a large bay that reflects its maritime past, locals are referred to as Chicharreros and a statue of a Chicharrero (little fish) can be found near the Plaza del Principe.

Plaza de España is a good starting point, originally the site of Castillo de San Cristobal that was replaced by what is now the heart of the city. Bordered on one side by the ocean, on another by offices and on the remaining sides by cafés and tree-lined avenues the square is set against a stunning backdrop of the Anaga Mountains. It is dominated by a shallow lake that spurts water every now and then. There are a couple of plant covered buildings, that from some angles don’t look like buildings, one is the tourism office, another, a tunnel that takes you to the remains of the castle. At the edge of the plaza a huge Memorial to the Fallen.

From the Plaza head up to Plaza de la Candelaria, or under the Serrador Bridge to the delightful Calle Noria, where there are plenty of bars, shops and restaurants with lots of ambience. When darkness falls this along with the Marina is where you’ll find the city’s vibrant nightlife.

Next, saunter in the Parque Garcia Sanabria taking in the flower clock and the numerous sculptures. It’s not the largest of parks but it is enchanting, an oasis in a concrete jungle. Its paths lead to hidden delights like sculptures, water features, and the fountain surrounding the Fecundidad (she of voluptuous boobs and thighs).

Visit a museum, there are several, each offering a different view of Tenerife. Those interested in archaeology can visit the Museum of Nature and Man, the stargazers can check out the Museum of Science and the Cosmos and my favourite the Tenerife Espacio de las Artes, (TEA). Bear in mind the museums close on Mondays. (Except the Military Museum closed Sunday) and, entry is free on Sundays.

After the culture, it’s time for some shopping and nowhere is more popular than the African market (Mercado Nuestra Senora de Africa) easy to find as the clock tower dominates the skyline. Once through the arched entrance you can buy almost anything. Not tacky souvenirs but fruits, herbs, sweets, wine, you name it, they have it. Follow your nose and the aroma of freshly ground coffee, and sit in the courtyard café before facing every manner of sea creature on the fishmongers stall. The market is open every day, and is a short walk from the bus station.

From the market, amble back to the Iglesia de la Concepción. The city church dates back to 1500, and replaces the small chapel where the area fell to the Spanish Conquistadors.

Ramble along the Rambla del General Franco, the main road that runs the length of the city. Lined on either side by shady trees, you will find restaurants, cafes, and sculptures by artists like Miró and Moore. If this is your thing then check the mask at the Guimerá Theatre.

Next stop, the magnificent Auditorio de Tenerife, one of the most recognisable example of modern architecture in the Canary Islands. It looks like a huge white wave, sparkling in sunlight by day or dramatic at night. Lots of musical performances take place here, even the rocks surrounding the building have the pictures of world famous artists.

Finally when the limbs are complaining of too much activity, spend an hour at the César Manrique Maritime Park soaking up the sun among the lakes, fountains and gardens while hearing the buzz of the city in the background.

One day to check out Santa Cruz is just not enough, but it is finally time to be homeward bound. Taking the motorway and under the ever present eye of el Teide we head south. Ready for the final stage of our journey as a tourist.

NB: Images that do not say Red Queen Musings are taken from the Internet
For news updates  check Queenies Daily Snippets everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog  

 

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Through the eyes of a tourist – North Tenerife

I thought it might be fun to see Tenerife through the eyes of a tourist rather than a local. So let’s start with the north of the island.

This adventure is too much for one visit so it is probably best, if travelling from the south, to stay over. We like the Monopol Hotel because they are happy to take our dogs and two nights is about right to get a feel for the area.

So off we go… the sun is out and breakfast over. The world is always a better place once you’ve had that first cup of coffee.

After driving for an hour, we arrive at Loro Parque. Zoos are not everyone’s cup of tea, certainly not mine, but their logo says, El “must” de Canarias and many agree.

Loro Parque on the outskirts of Puerto de la Cruz was originally built for parrots (loro being Spanish for parrot). Since 1972 and with more than 40 million visitors it is now home to over 350 different species of parrots as well as a diverse range of animals including gorillas, tigers, and sea lions. Tickets are sold at many outlets, including the gate but it is easy to buy from the comfort of your armchair using the WEBSITE. This speeds up entry, as the prepaid queue is often shorter. Now I’ve said that, the line will be endless.

Once inside, you step into the largest Thai village outside Thailand. Even if you are against animal shows, the surroundings are stunning. Each show runs several times a day, and the time between can be spent viewing the animals. Top things to see are Orca Ocean, Dolphinarium, Aquarium and Planet Penguin, real snow, a huge iceberg and hundreds of penguins.

You can easily lose a whole day in this people-wowing oasis.

The following morning, set off from the hotel for Icod de los Vinos. It won´t be a long visit, just an hour to see the famous Drago Tree then back to base. Icod got its name from its winemaking tradition, but its reputation is mainly due to the famous El Drago Milenario said to be over 1000 years old.

Following lunch, tour the Botanical Gardens. Created in 1788 by King Carlos III of Spain, the gardens are home to some of Tenerife’s most beautiful tropical and subtropical plants. Then round off the day in Puerto de la Cruz’s main square, Plaza el Charco. The plaza is surrounded with restaurants, cafes, a playground and souvenir shops. You can buy all kinds of knick-knacks including some that say Paris and New York and hundreds depicting the male appendage – I really can´t figure out why. Then a decent meal in a waterfront bar before bed.

Last day and Hola! Puerto. The plan is to take in the best-known sights.

Walking through the town the difference between the old part, with narrow picturesque streets and plazas, and the modern district filled with apartments and hotels built for tourism is noticeable.

Start at Playa Jardin, it is black volcanic sand, which many aren’t used to but a bit of playing in sun, spiced up with the breath-taking view of Teide is enjoyable. Swimming here is not always an option since the waves can be strong, but the surfers enjoy it.

After the beach, Lago Martianez. The pool complex really is a “must”. It is on the main costal walkway and close to a whole bunch of coffee shops and restaurants.

Once again visit the Plaza, this time in daylight, on the way take a quick look at the church, Nuestra Senora de Pena de Francia. As you walk around, you won´t go far without passing somebody busking or doing a bit of entertaining.

Having conquered the north by filling our days with sightseeing, beaches, churches, lakes and squares, it is time to head back to the south by way of the capital Santa Cruz

For news updates  check Queenies Daily Snippets everyone’s favourite Tenerife Blog  

 

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Lavender Lemonade

Last week I read on a social media networking page about a Prosecco Lavender Cocktail that sounded delicious and would be ideal to serve during our hot summer months here in Tenerife.

There was only one problem, I don´t drink. But that is neither here nor there as the non-alcoholic version I made during the blistering heat of our calima on Monday using sparkling San Pellegrino was delicious.

Ingredients

100ml water
2 or 3 drops of food grade lavender oil
100gm sugar
Juice from 4 lemons
1 drop purple food colouring (optional)
Cold sparkling water

Instructions

  • To make the syrup, combine the sugar, and water in a small saucepan and simmer for 15 minutes. Allow to cool.
  • Combine lemon juice, syrup, and 2 or 3 (depending on taste) drops of lavender oil.
  • Add food colouring if desired.

To serve, fill the bottom of each glass with a measure of lavender lemon syrup, and top with sparkling water. Serve with ice and lemon slices.

Of course there is nothing to stop you substituting the sparkling water with Prosecco 🙂

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Verona, then Arrivederci Italia

Our recent trip to Italy presented me with so much to see that it meant one, even two posts were never going to tell it all. Hence, you have heard about our chill our days around Lake Garda and our whirlwind tour of Venice and now it’s the turn of Verona.

We like places with history and Verona oozes it, getting there from Lake Garda, is easy, and once you have arrived the city centre is easy to stroll around. Of course, the Roman Arena commands and impresses with its sheer scale, but there are also ruins you can stumble across in the middle of the street. There seem to be treasures almost everywhere you look, if you keep your eyes open.

Of course, there’s no way you could visit Verona and miss that famous balcony. Yep! We had to see Casa di Giulietta, despite knowing the balcony was only added in the 20th century. It also didn´t stop the girls try to capture the eye of their own Romeo or the thousands of love notes left on the wall as you enter the courtyard.

Time for a coffee break in Piazza delle Erbe where we admired the elegant buildings and stood under the whale rib that will fall on the first ‘just person’ to walk beneath it. Despite plenty of us standing there, it remained intact and the final part of our culture tour was to take in the Piazza dei Signori with its famous arches and monuments.

Then it was time for some retail therapy in one of the most elegant streets in Italy, Via Mazzini. This is a wonderland of luxury brand shops such as Prada, Gucci, and Valentino so it was more gazing than spending.

We liked Verona, a nice mix of old and new, modern and traditional. The more places we go, the more I realise my favourite sights are not always on the must-see list.

Many times, I don’t know what I’m looking at, but dramatic scenery, picturesque towns, old-world charm, sunlight on honey-coloured stone, irresistible food, and classical ruins. I just know that I like it. Then it’s over until the next time, but Italy, you never cease to please.

Check Queenie’s Daily Snippets for Tenerife news & for daily weather updates Everyone’s Favourite Blog
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