The Volcano and the Barroquito
We were thinking about some winter sun in one of the Canary Islands but didn’t know which one to choose, but Variety Cruises solved the problem for us and took us to them all (nearly all). Unpack once on their yacht Harmony V and discover 6 of the 7 islands … sounds like a plan.
We were warmly welcomed to this sleek looking yacht and quickly whisked to our cabin where our bags were already waiting. Our cabin was comfortably sized but compact, as you would expect of a vessel that hosts an exclusive 49 passengers in 25 cabins. Sufficient closet and drawer space was available for our 7 night stay and the smart casual theme on the vessel. The bathroom facilities (with relatively spacious shower) are supplemented by fridge, safe, hairdryer, tv and dvd player in the room. The huge bowl of fruit and bottle of wine was a nice touch, welcoming us as returning guests to Variety Cruises. The cabin proved to be a comfortable base for our discovery of the Canary Islands.
Before dinner there was time to have a brief exploration of our port of embarkation, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. The sign at the port says Bahamas 5877 km but you don’t need to travel that far for some winter sunshine. It was a beautiful day and pretty normal for a group of islands that usually enjoy year round warmth. Should you be unlucky enough to arrive in inclement weather the Museum of Science and Technology is only a short stroll away from the port. Spend a few hours taking the controls of a supersonic fighter or ride the Robocoaster. For us though, no such issues, and we headed on through to the Playa de las Canteras. The promenade that runs alongside the 3Km sandy beach is perfect for a gentle stroll in the sunshine and grab a coffee, beer or ice cream at the many cafes and just indulge in a spot of people watching. Energy to burn? Sign up to learn how to surf in the modest waves.
The beauty of a small ship is that you get to know the other passengers very quickly and that element of the fun started in the comfortable bar/reception area (one of the two areas of the ship you can obtain complementary drinking water). We then took dinner in the dining room which is broken up into comfortable little horseshoe shaped booths and tables. Beautifully presented and served by attentive staff, the lovely four course meal and delightful company meant our day was completed in the most satisfying way.
An overnight sailing brought us to Tenerife, the largest and most populated of the Canary Islands. During our morning excursion our guide enlightened us on how the island changes as the height rises. Sea level is largely given over to tourism, which accounts for 80% of the islands GDP, but as we climb higher (well the bus does) the landscape changes to Canarian pine forest. Ultimately we reach the base of Mount Teide and admire the volcano that is, at 3718m, the highest mountain in all of Spain. El Teide sits in the most popular national park in Spain, the massive and craggy Parque Nacional del Teide. The air is so clear and light pollution so low, it’s an amazing place to see the stars and also home to an important observatory (noted for our next visit). Our guide took us down a lava flow cave and talked us through the history of this sometimes desolate, rugged, almost lunar landscape. It’s astonishing how life finds a way though, and randomly the seemingly lifeless blackness is broken by an eruption of little yellow flowers. To add comedy value to our day, our coach gasped its last breath, conveniently, right outside the cafe we were stopping at anyway in the picturesque village at Vilaflor. By the time we had sampled the local Barroquito, a brilliant blend of coffee, condensed milk, cinnamon, lemon and Licor 43 that you won’t find at Starbucks, our replacement bus was here. Fortunately this one was robust enough to get us through the rest of the exclusion and back to Harmony V for lunch. The Sun Deck, as well as the place to spend some lazy down time on the loungers provided, is also a beautiful area for al fresco dining. A sumptuous feast was provided for us to sit under the deck canopy and discuss the events of the morning, including where we could get our next Barroquito.
We were docked in Los Cristianos at the southern end of the island. We used our free afternoon to walk off lunch and follow the terrific sea wall murals that lead you along the sea front and eventually into Playa de Las Americas (some might say party central of the island). Along the promenade, as well as wondering if we had room for an ice cream, we admired the huge and brilliant sand sculptures on the beach.
Next stop La Palma.
Silver Travel Advisor recommends Variety Cruises