A Bit About Tenerife Island
It is the largest and most populated island in the Canary Islands and boasts the most number of tourist visits annually. It has the highest peak (often covered in snow during the winter months) in all of Spain, Mount Teide. The last time it erupted was in 1909. Mount Tiede can be seen from Gran Canaria on clear days.
Many of Tenerife’s resorts are in the South and West Coasts, and for good reason. This area is the sunniest, warmest and driest part of the island.
Tenerife is an island of micro climates, something I discovered when I visited Santa Cruz, in the North, the capital of Tenerife, and nearby La Laguna 12 kilometres away. These two municipalities experience quite different climates—La Laguna gets twice the amount of rainfall as Santa Cruz and is considerably cooler. Interestingly, “laguna” means lagoon in English. I sure felt like I was in a lagoon when I visited La Laguna—you’ll see why when I explain my visit there.
Gran Canaria to Tenerife
This should be exciting, I thought, a trip from Gran Canaria to Tenerife on a catamaran! So, I’m up by 5:45 am to be picked up by a bus to take me and several others to Agaete. Agaete is the port on the West cost of Gran Canaria where we board the Fred Olson catamaran, a catamaran that seems very new and modern. A bar on board supplied some much needed coffee. We leave at 8:30. The one-hour and fifteen-minute crossing wasn’t particularly rough, but I was still glad to have taken a gravol before boarding. I sat at the front of the boat for the view, but it’s here that one feels the impact of any rough seas the most, there were a few good waves, but on the whole it was a smooth crossing.
Once in Santa Cruz on Tenerife Island, I stopped at a tourist kiosk for information on Santa Cruz, and how to get to La Laguna, described as a charming and historic town with many pedestrian walkways.
I started my adventure in Santa Cruz, armed with a map and a suggested route that would take me to the Museum of Nature and Man, a museum that was a must-see for me, since it has an extensive collection of artifacts and information on the culture of the Guanches, Tenerife’s indigenous peoples. Along the way, I passed Plaza San Francisco, pedestrian walkways, visited the local market with a wide array of fruit, vegetables, take-away food and lovely flowers.
And just in front of the market were two sculptures, one honouring the local fisherman of Tenerife, and the other of a woman carrying a basket of jugs on her head. Sculptures appear to be a Canarian tradition, as they are seen in many towns I’ve visited. I passed the iconic Opera House, then on to the Museum of Nature and Man. It was very impressive indeed with many artifacts and much history related to the Gaunaches, but explanations were only in Spanish. A lunch break at the museum was a real find: a coffee, freshly squeezed orange juice and ham and cheese sandwich was only three and half Euros.
Now on to La Laguna. I was quite eager to do this trip because I particularly enjoy visiting charming, historic towns. La Laguna’s historic centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1999. Its history goes back to the Guanches, the indigenous people of Tenerife; the site of La Laguna once belonged to one of nine Guanche kingdoms before the Spanish conquest in 1494.
A fun and scenic way to get to La Laguna from Santa Cruz is by tramway, a ride that takes 45 minutes because of the many stops along the 12-kilometre route. I bought my ticket, but once on the tramway you’re supposed to validate it, of course being new to this I couldn’t get the machine to accept my ticket. Oh well, I thought, at least I have a ticket. They do spot checks on the tram to ensure ticket validation, and it wasn’t long before a conductor asked for my ticket. Luckily I had kept it. When he noted that it wasn’t validated, I explained that I had tried to do it unsuccessfully. “No problemo,” he said, he validated it for me and handed it back. Whew…first hurdle crossed.
Well, I got to La Laguna and it was pouring rain and really cool! The micro climate in Tenerife in action. I had just left Santa Cruz where it was cloudy but warm and now just a short distance away, the climate is very different. Luckily I had brought my umbrella, a fairly warm jacket and walking shoes rather than the open toed sandals I usually wore while on Gran Canaria.
I started out to find the historic core of the town. Have you ever felt, well, vulnerable and confused as a traveller in a foreign land? This is an instance where I have to admit I did (okay, it’s not the first time). You’re in an unfamiliar place, with limited knowledge of the local language, chilled from the cold, and there’s heavy rain threatening to soak you through, and a wind strong enough to pull your umbrella inside out. I’ve come all this way to see the historic centre, and by gosh that’s what I’m going to do, it’s what travellers do. Finally, I have in my sights a local police car. Well, I thought, I’ll ask them, they must know the area. I must have looked quite a sight because they immediately invited me into the police car and to take me there! The kindness of people still exists. I find it more often than not.
So in the pouring rain I found the historic centre and took a few photos as proof of it and the pouring rain. I got back on the tram and headed back to Santa Cruz to walk around the central commercial area, purchase a few souvenirs and have a hot cup of coffee.
Interestingly, back in Santa Cruz, it had rained a bit, but not nearly with the same intensity as at La Laguna, and by the time I was back the sky was already clearing—proof yet again of the micro climate, but one where cows use umbrellas.
On the way back to the port I was greeted by the most beautiful rainbow and a clearing sky. The journey on the catamaran back to Gran Canaria was a smoother one. Back at Eugenia Victoria Hotel in Playa del Ingles I arrived just in time to have supper.