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Tuesday, July 12, 2016

UK & Canary Islands Travelogue | Teide National Park

Iberostar Grand Hotel Mencey has got to be one of the most fancy hotels I have ever stayed at. Even during breakfast, I felt like I had to dress up to the nines just to fit in with how grand the dining room was. We didn't of course, but I really felt like I had to. The selection of food they had in this hotel was probably the best we had. 

If you ever want to stay in a fancy hotel with really good service and food then be sure to check this one out! It's in Tenerife by the way.

Our main itinerary of the day was to head up to Teide National Park and spend the day there.

Teide National Park is the biggest park on the Canary Islands and is one of the great wonders of the world, with the advantage of being easy to get to and relatively close to European countries. 

The entire park is a unique geological treasure in which the volcanoes, craters, vents, lava flows and different materials, form an impressive array of shapes and colours. You will be surprised by the diversity of Las Cañadas del Teide, taken aback by its huge rivers of petrified lava and impressed by the eroded rocks and colossal dimensions of this mineral chaos. In contrast, in spring you will be delighted by the wonderful flowers and gentle aromas, unique in the world. 

Mount Teide dominates the landscape. This imposing volcanic edifice looks quite different depending on your exact location and the actual season. Its changing looks are a never-ceasing source of delight for onlookers. At its feet lies a sea of volcanic rocks that formed so recently that erosion has not had time to wear them away, and they offer a wide-ranging catalogue of volcanic forms and materials contained in the great amphitheatre defined by Las Cañadas escarpment. 

The wall surrounding it extends across 25 km, reaching heights of up to 600m in the area known as Guajara, its highest point. This natural cut affects what was a former volcanic edifice, which partly disappeared 198,000 years ago, when the current Las Cañadas depression was formed by a giant landslide that uncovered some of its roots in Los Roques area, revealing conduits and volcanic vents that fed past eruptions. In the cross section of the escarpment you can observe three million years of complex geological history in which the cycle repeated itself several times, with landslides and the formation of “a Teide”. The National Park, located in the centre of the island of Tenerife, is the largest and oldest of the four national parks on the Canary Islands. From its surface area of 190 Km2 (18,990 hectares), Mount Teide rises up to a height of 3,718 m, which makes it the highest peak in Spain. (Credit: x)

Despite the fact that it was a really sunny day, the temperature was pretty low and being high up in elevation made the day pretty chilly. I actually whipped out my down jacket after a while because it was so chilly especially when we were in the shade and not directly in the sun.

I wore hiking clothes because I expected to hike but well, it was way too cold for what I was wearing. On hindsight I probably should have brought a scarf and a hat but who knew it would be so cold even though it was nearing summer time?

This was the first glimpse of a snow capped mountain I had this year. Coming from an extremely sunny and hot little red dot, snow capped anything is a huge rarity in my life so I always stand at awe at such sights.

The higher we drove up the mountains, the more the landscape and vegetation changed and slowly instead of trees, we came across little shrubs (is that what those little bunch of vegetation is called?) This reminds me more of what I would expect to see in a desert (I've never been to one although I would love to do so!) and I was amazed to see the different coloured soil/rocks/ground. Again, another thing we don't have the opportunity to see in our sunny island.

Whilst driving up the mountain, we were passed by a lot of motorcycles and when we reached one of the food stops, the whole carpark was filled with motorcycles everywhere. I was in awe literally because I have never seen this many bikes in one area at any one time, and the bikes weren't small ones but most of them were expensive sports bikes.

I only took one picture because I didn't want to whip out my camera and snap pictures of everyone's bikes just in case the owners didn't like me doing so but I did take sneaky little videos so check out my vlog (linked below) if you are interested in seeing just how many bikes there were!

It was so crowded at the food stop but we did manage to grab a sandwich and a cup of coffee and we shared a table with another couple so that was great. I seem to be eating a lot of sandwiches whilst I was in the Canary Islands and that's because it's the easiest and most fuss-free kind of food there is. Also, with queues extremely long every where, we just grabbed food from the shop with the shortest queue and it happened to be from the sandwich shop.

After lunch, we slowly made our way down the mountains and came across this look out point. When we first got there, the whole place was super clear and we were higher up than the clouds so we had a decent view.

After a few minutes though, the wind blew the clouds towards the mountain and up the side of it and it was really amazing to see the clouds coming towards us and enveloping us. I feel like a total sua ku some times when I feel amazed by such sights. Then again, I comfort myself in the fact that I find joy and amazement in the littlest things.

If anyone is interested in coming to Teide National Park, be sure to drive slowly especially if you aren't familiar with driving on winding roads. The roads here are of decent breadth but can be exceptionally winding with consecutive hairpin turns. 

The locals who are used to such roads can be impatient some times so if you aren't comfortable with them tailgating you, be sure to let them pass whenever you can unless you want them using their horns at you if you go too slowly.

On our way down, we also stumbled upon the friendliest little pony. He spotted me across the clearing and came over to say hi and he really is the cutest one ever. I'm scared of horses because they are huge but ponies are the perfect size and he even allowed me to rub his head.

We also came across this little stables where you can ride on ponies, camels or even a donkey if you pay for it. We weren't interested in riding on any of them but the animals were so cute. I felt kind of sad that they were tied up and couldn't roam around freely but they look clean and decent so I believe they weren't being mistreated although they didn't have freedom.

We then drove to Puerto de la Cruz and checked into our hotel, the Sol Costa Atlantis Tenerife. This hotel was also a little expensive if I remembered correctly but it is right next to the beach so we had an amazing view of the the beach and the sunset every night we stayed there.

They only allowed 2 people in one room so we had 2 adjoining rooms and I had a whole room to myself which was great. Our rooms had tiny balconies as well and it was really calming to take a seat, hear the sound of the waves crashing onto the beach, and smell the sea breeze. I truly am happiest when I am by the sea and this hotel was just perfect.

Since it was still pretty early, we decided to head out to take a walk and explore the area around our hotel. This hotel is located conveniently near the beach and near shops and a lot of food places. There were so many tourists out and about and we were spoilt for choice because we didn't know what to have for dinner.

The views here were amazing as well. Walk past the stretch of hotels along the beach and you will be greeted with the most incredible views. There were so many shades of blue and it was just so perfect. If the weather was hotter, I am pretty sure I would love to have a swim in the blue waters.

For dinner, we stumbled upon this little diner called the Cafe Berlin which was tucked in a little street (not along the main food street but slightly off it). The food was so good that we came back a second time the next day. We wanted to try something local so we opted for the Canarian food on the menu.

I opted for the Canarian styled chicken and it was flavourful but not too much so and the amount of spices used was just right. I thoroughly enjoyed every single mouthful I took. The Canarian cod fish was also pretty fresh and lovely.

Tea (1.30€)

Coke (1.95€)

Canarian Cod (11.50€)

Chicken Canarian Style (8.75€)

Daddy and I spotted a frozen yoghurt stall when we were exploring the area and decided that a froyo was what we needed to finish up our dinner. It was sooo good by the way!

I still have so many travelogues to do and I apologise that they are taking such a long time. I hope that you enjoyed this post and thank you so much for reading! x

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