Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Tenerife, Canary Islands - Part 3 - Loro Parque

Loro Parque. That was our goal for the second day of our "island exploration mission". We ordered an early breakfast at the hotel and headed off to Puerto de la Cruz. It took us about 1.5 h. It’s quite easy to get to as you take the southern highway first, then the northern highway and just look for the logo of Loro Parque on the road signs. Not possible to miss it. It’s good to be there as early in the morning as possible (it opens at 8.30). First of all, there aren’t that many people at the entrance yet. Secondly, it’s a bit colder then. And finally, you have more time to enjoy your visit to Loro Parque ;)

What is Loro Parque? It’s a place where you can see various kinds of wild animals, especially hundreds of parrots. There are some shows organized as well – performed by sea lions, orcas, dolphins, parrots… Very spectacular, really nice. I enjoyed the sea lions show. Or, even more, what happened before it. There was one tiny sea lion that was yet too small (too young?) to take part in the show itself. But before the show started he (or she? Let me refer to it as he) started climbing up the stairs, sliding down and swimming around. Then, during the show, he was sitting behind the scene all the time watching his mates carefully. We saw this show twice that day. The second one was a bit different. Well, there were two main differences – one intentional and one not ;) The first one was that they took one of the sea lions to the public so that people could sit next to it and touch it. The other one was that the little cutie one was messing the show. He was stealing the balls and ringos and trying to join in ;) That was sooo sweet to watch.

What we really enjoyed in Loro Parque was the Katandra Treetops. That was a place where birds were flying freely all over you. Of course, not totally freely. Somewhere high above us was a net protecting them from escaping, but that was really really high above us, lots of trees inside.

There were, of course, places to eat inside. Both restaurants-bars and picnic areas.

We had a chance to observe a baby two-toed sloth when we were there.

It was definitely a day that we enjoyed a lot!

Sea lions show

Parrots show
Dolphins show

Orcas show

The Katandra Treetops

Every car in the parking spot got a Loro Parque sticker

The baby sloth

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tenerife, Canary Islands – Part 2 – Los Gigantes, Icod de Los Vinos

First day of our “around-the-island” tour - Thursday. We got the car right after breakfast, so it was already too late to go to Loro Parque. We had our Pico del Teide access permits scheduled for Saturday. So we decided to visit the western part of the island first. 

We knew in general what we wanted to see there. And we were aware that we might have problems seeing it all. First of all, we wanted to see the cliffs of Los Gigantes. Second, we wanted to go on a boat trip to see dolphins. Third, we wanted to visit Icod de Los Vinos, but we didn’t know when to do it (combine it with Loro Parque? Are we gonna have enough time?). Four, we were open to any other suggestions. 

We chose a company we wanted to go on a boat trip with – Flipper Uno. We chose the time of the trip – 2.30 pm. (the other option was 11.30 am but because of the power of sun on the open ocean we chose the later hour. We thought it was much safer for our skins, or especially my bright one). The trip was to take 3 hours. We knew that we should buy the tickets earlier in order to get them. So right after getting the car we headed off to Los Gigantes. Wow, that was spectacular! You drive along the flat coast most of the way. Suddenly you get so high above water that it’s soooo unbelievable. The cliffs are breathtaking, amazing, spectacular… No words can describe that. You just have to see that. They’re up to 600 metres tall. It’s really amazing when you look at them from a distance seeing boats sailing next to them – so tiny, so vulnerable… But it makes even greater impression on you when you’re sailing right next to them… Wow! But I’ll get back to that later. 

So once again, we got to Los Gigantes – first the viewpoint on the top, then down to the centre. We bought the tickets for the trip and decided to head off to Icod de Los Vinos. We thought that we have 4 hours to go there, see the town and get back for the boat trip. We thought we had sooo much time. Boy, how wrong were we ;) Yet, we made it. But, first things first. We looked at the map, thought that the distance is not that far. Of course, we knew that the road goes through the mountains so there are lots of turns and twists ahead of us. Still, I had no idea it’s gonna be that tough for me… Nevertheless, it was all sooo worth the pain. The views on the way were… wow! And the northern part of the island was so totalny different from the southern part!

Icod de Los Vinos is a small town right behind a tunnel. You drive out of the tunnel and you’re almost right in Icod. What can you see there? Well, it’s most famous for El Drago Milenario – the oldest dragon tree said to be a thousand years old. In fact it's about 600 years old, but that's still impressive. 

Drago Milenario - see the tiny people next to it?

There is also a butterfly museum, haven’t seen one before, but we didn’t get in, we didn’t have that much time and weren’t that eager to see the butterflies ;) “Nobody ever suspects the butterfly” as Bart Simpson said it, so we didn’t take that risk ;) 

After the short walk around the centre of Icod (if I can call it like that), we got back to the car (very nice and quite cheap underground parking – I fancy it a lot for the fact that when we got back to the car it was nicely cold inside. Well, not Arctica or anything, but wasn’t Sahara either). 




We moved back to Los Gigantes for the BIG BOAT TRIP!  

There were already loads of people waiting to get on the boat. We got something to drink – one could choose from juices, water, beer and wine. All like settled in the “pirate style” (like the whole trip). We sailed off. Quite soon we got to see the first dolphins swimming around our boat. 


We could also see the island with Teide from the distance. After the so-called whale-watching, we started sailing along the cliffs to the place where the canyon from Masca ends. We got dinner on the way – paella, as far as I remember. We stopped there, but not at the coast. A couple of hundred metres from it. And another part of fun began. Whoever wanted to could jump into water from the ship. Of course, I did it. A couple of times really ;) That was a lot of fun. Me being the first girl to do it (one of two, as it turned out). All we were doing was keep in our hands a rope with a metal triangular bar at the end (I have no idea what it’s called, even in my own lg) and jump. Then, being as far away from the ship as possible, let go and dive into the ocean. Sounds a bit scary but was totally brilliant. And safe. After some time spent around there we headed off to the harbour. When the trip finished, we got to the car and drove back to Costa Adeje. A lovely day. Tiring. Still worth it.


Friday, 20 January 2012

Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain – Part 1 – Costa Adeje, Playa de Las Americas, Los Cristianos

I didn’t want to go to Canary Islands in the first place. I’ve always associated them with nothing but lying on the beach or at the swimming pool. How wrong was I. But let’s start from the beginning. How did it happen that I changed my mind and decided to go there?

Everything started at the beginning of 2011. We had our winter holidays planned in Egypt. We were to go on a Nile cruise and then spend a week near Hurghada. Nice, huh? Thought so too. Already prepared for the holidays, we were just waiting for the day to come. And suddenly, less than a week before our planned departure, the revolt started. We had information that cruises were suspended and we didn’t want to travel there in such uncertain times (although we knew somewhere deep down inside that nothing would happen to us as the tourist places were safe). That is why, when three days before the departure we got the offer to change the destination, we took it. Long story short, we chose Tenerife in March. 

When we first decided to change the destination, I sat down at home and searched for the information about Tenerife, as I honestly knew nothing about it. Boy, how shocked I was when I found out that there are so many things to do there. Of course, before we left for Tenerife, I have already planned everything we were to see there, booking all the necessary tickets or permit cards. 

But let’s move on to our journey. March was quite cold in Poland when we left, so we were really delighted to feel the warm sun on our faces when we finally landed. The flight took about 6 hours, but we managed to see Gibraltar, Marocco and three other Canary Islands from the air (Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and Fuerteventura). The bus took us to our hotel – Esmeralda Playa (now they changed the name to Luabay or something like it… and the hotel looks a bit different – shocking what they can do in half a year…). The hotel was great. Located in Costa Adeje near Torviscas Playa. We could see the ocean from our room, well from the balcony really. The windows were on the eastern side, so we could see the sunrise every day. The food was really delicious and the stuff was great. Luca – you were amazing! So much positive energy!

The hotel was only a three minute walk from the shops, cafes, restaurants and, most importantly, from the beach. The view was breathtaking. From the restaurant, during supper, we could observe the marvelous sunsets behind La Gomera. From the beach we could see the summit of Teide, the volcano and the highest peak in Spain at the same time, all covered in snow. That was a bit freaky really. Lying in a bathing suit on a beach and observing snow… Or walking in flip flops on snow because it was that hot – yup, that happened there as well. 

Apart from lying on the beach and sunbathing, which we do not fancy that much (I get sunburnt very quickly due to my light skin colour), we decided to walk around the neighbourhood. It was so many choices. One day we took a walk north, by the coast of course. There are promenades facing up and down the island from the place where we stayed. In fact, Playa de Las Americas, Los Cristianos and Costa Adeje is a one big tourist centre. There are a couple of beaches there, with different sand colours, some black, some gray, some yellow and some almost white. Some beaches are totally rocky. On some, there is loads of grass and not that much sand. So there is some diversity in that matter. There are really loads of hotels there. In fact, the map that we got when we arrived did not include any street names, but only the hotel names. And it made it very easy to move around, as the hotels and their names were visible from a distance. So that was quite smart.

There is a great park in Costa Adeje (or is it Playa de Las Americas already? I still have no idea where the borders between these are) that we visited and that really worked for raising our adrenaline levels and made us feel like kids at the same time. It’s called Siam Park . It is quite new and quite well thought through. There are attractions both for adults and for kids. It gave me a chance to experience the high waves in a safe environment (well, we don’t have that high waves on the Baltic Sea). I loved the Dragon, although a couple of times I felt like I would fall off. But that made it even greater ;) In Giant you can choose from two ways – one of them is slow and you have to start pushing yourself with your hand which makes it annoying (the right one is slow. Or was, when we were there). The Snakes gives you 4 paths to choose from – two are totally dark (freaky, cause if the tiny little lights inside the tubes are broken you have no idea when the turn is and to which side), two are open, on three of them you can ride with somebody, one is only individual. They were pretty safe, not that fast, but yet we managed to fall off the lilo in the pools at the end ;) But hey, that’s just us ;) Mekong rapids is located on the side and you have to walk all the way up on the hot concrete without any shoes, so it’s quite challenging as well. But loads of fun, especially if you’re the lucky one to go backwards, so you can’t see the turns in advance but only the horror in your partner’s face ;) Tower of Power, their so-called biggest attraction – well… pretty amazing when you’re standing up there before the slide… the slide takes just 3 seconds, though. Not really worth the fuss… The Volcano – the ride was fun, we could see some illuminations inside, but that wasn’t what I’ve expected after watching the prospects on the web. Nagaracer was full of kids all the time, but that was fun to go… a couple of times. With your face first you take a race with others on a flat mat.  The Lost City is for kids, but looks amazing from the outside. Made me feel like paying a visit to the Flinstones ;) I really wanted to take a ride on Mai Thai River, but unfortunately it was being renovated while we were there, so no chance for that. The Wave Palace – waves up to 3 metres high. Great experience. And funny as well. We knew the “waves show” was about to start when we heard the gong. Then all the people lying on the beach, like mindless zombies, started moving towards the Wave Palace. Funny, really. Generally speaking, we spent there something like 5 hours and that was enough for one time for my husband. Well, I’m the crazy one in this relationship so I could stay longer. But I would love to get back there one day. I’m just waiting for our kid to get older (or taller) so that he could enjoy all that fun with us.