It look us a few hours to get motivated between the weariness from traveling, the steady drizzle and the prospect of reenacting the path from the previous night. We found pen and paper to take notes as we were afraid the birds would devour a breadcrumb trail. And my nerves did not love the drive down. Road the brake and tried to keep it under 20 km/hour the whole way. And missed the last few turns so we dropped down a steeper hill at the end. We did find the Shell station again to determine the right path. The best part was the discovery of a little café – and my first taste of chocolate and churros.
Today, we headed north east (north would put us in the Atlantic) to Orotava and Puerta de la Cruz. Orotava was a village that I had come across in my research. Puerto had looked full of activity the night before – and had beaches.
Orotava was our first stop, just about the time the sun started to shine (a little bit). We meandered about town going from paved streets to cobblestone, picking up pieces of knowledge along the way. The town has a festival where streets are closed and artists use chalks to paint the plaza and surrounding streets with beautiful murals. Although it was Sunday and many shops were closed we enjoyed the views over the rooftops to the blue of the ocean. We found a ham shop where the staff spoke little English, yet we were able to get ham, cheese and wine to fill our bellies.
Puerto de la Cruz was just down the hill and was so bustling with tourists now that the sun was out, we had to circle around to park. We quickly found the waves. First crashing into the stone walls, then a spot of charcoal black sand beaches were a few brave souls laid out exposing their winter-white skin and other attempted to surf. Shops ranged from food stands and souvenir shops to cafes and restaurants – all geared to tourists. We found amazing ice cream – Bill was foolishly worried before the trip I would go through withdrawals. At times, this stop reminded me of being in Puket. We also found a larger grocery store to plan our evening meal. We needed to use the outdoor kitchen! That night, we feasted on filter, grilled onion, potatoes and an arugula, goat cheese and pear salad. The meal was completed with a bottle of Dusted Valley Syrah.
Our second morning, we were surprised to rise after noon (on my phone). Sometime during the day, we discovered that my phone was an hour ahead of local time. We did motivate faster today as we felt it was late. We had watched el Tiende, the mountain behind our house while preparing to for our day. I had that we would drive the windy roads to the national park and hike a bit to capture amazing views. I wasn’t up for the drive if we would not experience the views.
Today would not be the day. Instead, we turned the car to Garachico, another “must see” on my list. A town build on the seashore, a shore filled with lava flows. And it was in the direction of our evening dinner reservation at Rincon de Juan Carlos. Our afternoon in Garachico hit the spot. First, it was warm enough for a sun dress and sweater, second the sun was great for photos of the water, the lava, and the quaint white-washed coastal town. We took a tour of the town castle, make for people much shorter than Bill, and tried to understand a bit of the history from our limited Spanish. Bottom line, settlers came to Garachico during the time Christopher Columbus was discovering the Americas.
We also had our first real tapas experience in Garachico. We came across a little spot that was honored with the area most creative tapas in 2013. Yet, the menu listed many of the tapas that we had researched as native to the Canary Islands. We enjoyed:
- Tomato Salad with smoked cheese
- Canarian potatoes with green and red sauce
- Fish Croquettes
- Fried cheese
With white wine, of course. What better way to enjoy the al fresco dining experience?
As the afternoon sun waned, we headed up over the pass to get to the southern side of the island for our date-night dinner in Los Gigantes.
There is only one easy way to describe our final full day on the island: etcetera. Knowing that our research showed the south is a very different climate from the north, we headed out on the main highway to venture ‘round to the south side. Expecting warmer skies and lots of tourists. And we were right. It was exciting to watch the car temperature gauge climb to 20C. We had to get the converter app out to confirm we would get out of the car to 70F!
When we headed off the highway at Los Christianos, we ended up staying more to the left and on the beaches of La Playa de Americas. But first, we needed lunch – at another tapas place where we combined Canarian salad, more Canarian potatoes, more Iberian ham and cheese and garlic shrimp with a local bottle of white wine. Bellies full, next stop, feet in the sand! We walked along the sandy beach making sure our feet felt the coolness of the Atlantic Ocean. We saw, first-hand, more women in bikinis and men in speedo-type suits than ever before. Luckily it is low tourist season now! Many women sunbath without tops, which Bill quickly reminded me was the European culture. Made me feel young and youthful! On our trek along the beach, I again spotted the best ice cream shop. Before heading back to the north, we decided to adventure to Adeje. We ended up at the beach there to enjoy a beverage and watch the waves as the sun dropped before heading on our two-hour drive back. This time the drive was so boring Bill got in nap to wake up in Santa Cruz, a little off our intended path.
We stopped in Orotava hoping to find dinner. After wandering a bit around town, we sauntered into a tapas bar. And had the best tapas experience! Not only was it fun to watch a table of locals, but the food was amazing and the price unbelievable! We started like always, two glasses of vino tinto. Then we began ordering:
- Onion marmalade and foie gras on toast
- Cheese and bread
- A stuffed zucchini filled with meat and cheeses (likely a ground pork)
- Pork medallions in a spicy cheese sauce
And we finished with homemade cookies (copied from the “locals” table). Which were served with a taste of dessert wine.
Each morsel was amazing. First, we joyfully watched the chef prepare each plate. And then later poke his head over the counter for our feedback. And the flavors…the foie gras delicious and portion generous. The stuffed zucchini still crunchy. The pork medallions melted in your mouth. The cookies and wine, a great finish. And to our surprise, the bill totaled right at 30 euros.
Icod de los Vinos
On our final island day, we actually got up before 10. And we ate breakfast, packed and headed out before our final descend (Bill recorded the adventure for those who will not believe the story).
Our goal was to see if there was more to Icod de los Vinos than we imagined. And we found it! First, there was the famous Drago tree, and the beautiful plaza. And shops and cafes. And there were more people than we had imagined! We wondered through the streets, found an outdoor café, and then pastries and chocolate. We heard Opera singing from a few men in a tavern as we passed on the street. We found there really was life in what we had previously assumed was a sleepy little town at the end of the major highway.
Then to Playa San Marcos, our original thought for the day. So glad we wrapped ourselves up in the charm of Icod, as this sleepy old resort town was just that. We did get a few great photos of the black sand beach, all 50 yards of it before hitting the road to the airport.