Tenerife part 1: the lush north, La Orotava and Puerto de la Cruz

Hola chicas!

Okay, so now I’ve demonstrated the only two Spanish words I know (oh wait – and gracias too), I thought I’d give you a little insight into the gorgeous island that is Tenerife.

I flew with Monarch into the south airport (nearly four and a half hours with a strong headwind from Gatwick), the first time I’ve visited since 1977.  Tenerife is known as the ‘Island of Eternal Spring’, with temperatures in the 20s all year round and is the largest of the Canary Islands, situated off the north west coast of Africa (a little bit further down than Morocco).  Tenerife covers about 2034 square km and has about 358km coastline with more than 4.7 million tourists (and rising) visiting every year.  Crops grown on the island include bananas, potatoes and, with more acres devoted to their production than any other: grapes.

Okay, geography lesson over, we headed to the northern part of the island which is greener and a little less built up than the south, with some beautiful old towns, wonderful architecture and some pretty awesome food – all of which I sampled on your behalf.  I know, right? You’re welcome.

We stopped off at the gorgeous little town of La Orotava.  Once upon a time Puerto de la Cruz was the port for this pretty (and very hilly) town, but is now a resort in its own right, with a lovely harbour and some very high end shops too.  We spent a sunny afternoon ambling around La Orotava. We visited the little mill where they make Gofio, a flour milled from roasted corn (and delicious it is too, but see my post on the food a bit later):

… and bimbled around the delightful public gardens (the tomb you can see is a masonic one – built years ago for the son of a local family who were, so legend has it, banned from burying their child in the local Catholic churchyard, so they did it bigger and better and built a huge tomb which looked over all the Catholic churches in the area. Owned. Intriguingly, the body was buried elsewhere and nobody knows what’s in the tomb):

Also worth a visit is the lush botanic garden behind the town hall, a former convent, but honestly, the whole town is beautiful and the flowers are just amazing:

The Casa de los Balcones (house of the balconies) is a beautiful example of the island’s unique architecture, with canaries tweeting in ornate cages, and lots of traditional crafts, wines and foods on offer in the little shops inside:

So that’s La Orotava.  Next up, it’s the really exciting Siam Park, Loro Parque and the journey up to Mt Teide.