Sunday, December 13, 2009

Thursday, December 3, 2009 – Tenerife, Canary Islands – Partly Cloudy – Drizzly - 70s

Tenerife, one of the six Canary Islands, is a Spanish island located 180 miles off the coast of Africa (best known for having the worst airline accident in history – two 747s collided on the ground at the North airport in the capital city of Santa Cruz).  It is the largest Canary Island (population 700,000; Santa Cruz: 225,000).

Tenerife is a volcanic island – volcanic peaks can be seen in the distance behind the city of Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz from ship 1

We are on tour again today- “Cultural Tenerife”.  The ship is departing early so all tours are in the morning (early wake up call and a very crowded Windjammer Cafe).  Our tour guide is an American woman who has lived in Tenerife for 30 years (she was so glad she was able to use English for the tour). 

After a slow departure from the port, our first stop was to the historic city of La Laguna.  As we took the final turn that took us out of the port, we were able to view “The Auditorium” – this building is similar to the Sydney Opera House and represents a Conquistador’s Helmet.  I could not get a picture from the bus.  I am pretty sure that the architect of this building is the same one that designed the Chicago Spire.

La Laguna was the original capital (and second largest city on the island) and its inland location made it somewhat inaccessible to pirates and any other hostile armies.  The city (circa 17th century) originated the concept of the central square but, since there were no threat to the city, the square was not built around a fortress.  The first stop on the tour of La Laguna was the central square, La Plaza del Adelantado (“those who came first” – usually means the standard bearers but in this case, the priests)

Plaza Adelantado - La Laguna

The fountain – Plaza del Adelantado

One of the most interesting sites at the square was the 200 year old Dragon Tree

P. Adalentado - 200 yr Dragon Tree

Ellen and the Dragon Tree 

You can how old a Dragon Tree is by counting the branch points (each branch occurs every 20 years).

The town has many historic buildings – colonial architecture.  The first one on our walking tour was the Palacio de Nava (ca. 1776)

Palacio de Nava 1776

This structure combines Mannerist, Baroque, and Neoclassical elements.  The facade is bluestone.

The next structure is the elegant “House of the Captains General”

Captain General House 17th cent

so called because it was built by the commander of the Spanish Army in Tenerife.  This home had a beautiful courtyard

Cap House courtyard

The courtyard gave the family and their children a place to be outdoors.  The kids couldn’t use the streets because all of the refuse and garbage was just tossed onto the street making it an unsanitary place to play.

As we continued our walk through the old city, several locals in costume appeared to entertain the tourists – most interesting were the two men engaged in a fierce swordfight


Fortunately, they both survived and no blood had to be washed from the street.

The last stop in town was the Central Market

The Central Market

More examples of fish and other sea food that you wish you hadn’t seen before it arrived on your plate in the dining room.

From La Laguna, the tour headed back to Santa Cruz to visit the Museum of Man.  As we made our way on one of the highways, we noted some of the volcanic hills that are scattered around the island

Volcanic Hills

Volcanic Hills in the distance 

These hills – despite the protests of some islanders – are being mined for their volcanic soil, which is used in building materials.

An interesting work of art, “The Guillotine”, was visible from the tour bus on our way

The Guillotine

“The Guillotine”

I didn’t get any shots of the inside of the museum because of the restriction on flash shots (too dark to shoot without flash).  I did, however, get a picture of us with some kind of creature (maybe endemic to the Canary Islands).

Natural History Muserum

The Museum of Man explains the origin of the Canary Islands and describes its flora and fauna.  The Canary Ialands are a little like the Galapagos Islands in that certain unique species have evolved on these islands.  The museum also has a section devoted to the earliest inhabitants of the islands (1st or 2nd century BC), the Guanches – a tall, blond, and blue eye peoples related to Cro-Magnon.  Mummies of these earliest peoples are display in the museum (the Guanches and Egyptians used similar mummification technology). 

After the museum, the tour took us back to the ship, where we got another look at the Auditorium (again, no pictures possible).

Since we were about to begin a 3,000 plus mile, the ship needed to refueled

refueling for crossing

Refueling barge – getting ready for the crossing

The weather improved markedly by the time we sailed away affording great pictures of Santa Cruz and Tenerife. 

Me Sailaway

That’s me – ready to begin our crossing

Sailaway 1

Sail Away Tenerife 

Though I couldn’t get a shot before, I was able to capture “The Auditorium” as we sailed away

Sailaway w auditorium

The Auditorium is the white structure in the center of the photograph.   As the ship sailed around the southern coast of Tenerife, I tried to get a picture of Mt. Teide (12,195 ft – tallest in Spain) – the peak was hidden in the clouds.

Sailaway SW

Mt. Teide – cloud covered

Before dinner, we spent some time in the Promenade, listening to some a duo playing keyboard and violin

ET Promenade

Ellen and good music in the Promenade

Tonight is the ice show,”Odyssey on Ice” – you need to get tickets for this since Studio B is not a super large venue.  The show was great even though the skaters missed a few of their jumps (in the defense, the ice looked a little wet).  One of the headliners did some amazing thing with hoops – at one time, she might have had a dozen hoops twirling at one time (and still managed to stay on the ice).

Odyssey on Ice

Hoops on ice – she was really moving fast

Odyssey on Ice 2

The Odyssey on Ice Skaters

Odyssey on Ice - Jewish Calendar

Look carefully – that’s a Jewish Calendar in the background

As a tie-in, the Godmother of the Voyager of the Seas is Olympic Skating champion, Katerina Witt

Katerina Witt

I overhead one of the passengers saying that she was chosen because this ship had the first ice skating capability on a cruise ship.

Soon Tenerife is behind us and we are on our Transatlantic Crossing.  Smooth seas, please.

1 comment:

  1. Great review of this wonderful island. We were there for our honeymoon. I recommend you to use pre-booked taxi, because there are some problems with public transport. You should try to find something similar to this company