March 5th – 19th, 2018
Our first day was a whirlwind of a day but we were able to cover the highlights of this majestic city; Plaza Mayor, Puerta del Sol, Gran Via (the shopping district). We spent the last few days scouring the area for the local experiences incase someone wanted to sink their teeth into the Spanish Culture. Tapas, Vino (Tino e Blanca), Mercato’s and yes even the Famous Calamari Sandwich. Let’s leave nothing on the table and have a blast – Live le gusta que no hay mañana.
Some key Spanish words:
Buenos Dias – Good Morning
Buenos Tardes – Good Afternoon
Buenos Noches – Good Night
Cerveza Por Favor – Beer Please
Vino Tinto Por Favor – Red Wine Please
Vino Blanco Por Favor – White Wine Please
Gracias – Thank You
De Nada – Your Welcome
Bano Por Favor – Washroom Please
On day 2 we departed for a Toledo full day excursion. Toledo is one of the Spanish cities with the greatest wealth of monuments. Known as the “city of the three cultures”, because Christians, Arabs and Jews lived together there for centuries, behind its walls Toledo preserves an artistic and cultural legacy in the form of churches, palaces, fortresses, mosques and synagogues. This great diversity of artistic styles makes the old quarter of the capital of Castile – La Mancha a real open-air museum, which has led to it being declared a World Heritage Site. Not only did we see a majestic city we all learned a bit or Spanglish :), which really contributed to a wonderful day. We could not of asked for a better team in Carlos and Jose.
Some of our highlights:
The morning coffee with the magnificant view from the Parador
The tasting of the Marzipan – wow that was sweet
Oh did I mention there were some zipliners too :). What a blast!
Did 7500 plus steps (walking steps)
The quickest lunch ever – the soup was yummy…yes it had an egg inside
Loved to be able to be part of over 2000 yr old history
Watching Carlos Squirm for about 20 min before he had to make a quick stop – apparently Jose thought it was funny
Some of us went to the Prado, which hold the most important Art Libraries in Spain, would love to know more…
Walk like a Duck, Quack like a Duck, must be a Duck…..Yummy
Today we said goodbye to Madrid for now and made our way to Las Islas Canarias. Located just 100km off the shores of Morocco this archipelago is made up of 7 islands with Tenerife being the largest of them all. It’s dominated by Mt. Teide, a dormant volcano that is Spain’s tallest peak. Tenerife may be best known for its Carnaval de Santa Cruz, a huge pre-Lent festival with parades, music, dancing and colorful costumes.
Here are some fun facts of the island:
During the Middle Ages, the Canaries were explored by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, and the Carthaginians but it was the Romans who named the islands: Nivaria(Tenerife), Canaria (Gran Canaria), Pluvialia (Lanzarote), Ombrion (La Palma), Planasia (Fuerteventura), Iunonia (El Hierro) and Capraria (La Gomera
When the Europeans began to explore the Canaries during the Middle Ages, they encountered indigenous people. Known as Guanches, the Berber-related aboriginal inhabitants of the Canary Islands are thought to have migrated to the archipelago around 1000 BC or earlier
While the yellow-green bird with brown streaking on its back is native to the Canary Islands, the islands’ name is not related to the bird.
The name Islas Canariasthought to come from the Latin name Canariae Insulae, meaning “Islands of the Dogs.” This name was applied to the islands because they had “vast multitudes of large dogs”. These so-called “dogs” may have been a species of seals as “sea dog” was a Latin term for “seal.” Or, the Canaries dog-association might be from the islands original inhabitants’ practice of worshiping dogs
There is only one Starbucks in all of the Canary Islands.It is located at the Gran Canaria Airport on the island of Gran Canaria. Since the Starbucks here is located inside of airport security, only arriving or departing flight passengers can visit Starbucks in the Canary Islands. The location only carries Starbucks Spain mugs
Day 4 was very educational and a real down to earth (no pun intended) explanation of how a farmer tends to his crop and how he manicures it to ensure he gains the maximum yield. Domingo was so pleasant and had a real passion of his craft; you could see it in his explanation. For those who made it down to his living quarters it was also another treat to see the fresh herbs, roses and all the various fruit trees in which he lives off of. Question: Why are plantaions called plantation and orchards called orchards? A nice touch was to taste some of the local wines from the Puerto Del La Cruz area. After the Plantation we made our way to a local Guanchinche, Casa – Lito, nestled in the village of Santa Ursula. Here we were treated to a local lunch including their Vintage Wine, Salad, Tenerife Poutine, Delicious open fire Meat, Chick Croquets and a nice dessert. Oh, we also found out how much Chicken and goats love French Fries and they have a terrifying pet Cat.
This day we headed east towards to of the Islands main cites, La Laguna & Santa Cruz.
We started off in the main square of La Laguna where we learned of the historical significance of why towns and cities had the main squares near the most noble family homes. It was the place of entertainment, justice, commerce and what ever else kept them occupied. We also learned of a very sad story of the Son of the noble family and one of the Nuns in the Cloister monastery; what a tragedy.
We then took a nice stroll into the town of La Laguna and had the opportunity to taste the Barraquito. I had this the last time I came to La Laguna and I knew you would like it. What is in the Barraquito you ask?
In a small and short glass, we pour the coffee condensed milk.
Add the Liqour 43.
We make milk foamy. At any café they’ll do it with the coffee machine.
Add the lemon peel.
Add the condensed milk
Decor with some cinnamon on top.
Next we made our way to Santa Cruz the capital of Tenerife. Here we visited the Mercato and were impressed with the fish market and the amount of Fish on display. We then made our way over to the main part of the city, passing by the Library and the Tenerife Space of Arts. The rest of the afternoon was on our own and some chose to take in the local flavours of a Santa Cruz restaurant and others chose to wonder about.
Days 6 & 7
We headed south towards the island of La Gomera. First, we boarded the Fred Olsen ferry from Los Cristianos Tenerife. We boarded this vessel at 09:00am for an arrival at 10:ooam. we were amazed with what this island had in store for us. You can already feel the magic the moment we arrived. We traveled through palm-filled valleys, deep ravines, black sand beaches and prehistoric forests.
The highlight of the Garajonay National Park is its laurel forests, a green mass of prehistoric vegetation unique to the Macaronesian region. It covered the tropics millions of years ago and now survives in La Gomera thanks to its exceptional, temperate climate. It truly is a natural paradise, home to species that have disappeared everywhere else.
During lunch we were yet again astonished with the views provided from Midador de Abrante (aka glass bottom floor). Here we enjoyed a nice lunch and we also had the opportunity to learn about the pre-Hispanic language the locals used to communicate to each other between the vast and deep valleys on La Gomera – called Siblo. The other highlight of the day was when we stopped at the Los Roques viewpoint. Here we learned of the 5 blocks of rock forms from Magma that never reached the surface. They stand at the entrance of the Garajonay National Park. We ended our day with a light stroll through the village of San Sabastian.
Days 8 & 9
We witnessed a very unique evening. We were educated about the Teide and the various volcanic formations found within the National Park. As we climbed over the 1000 ft mark we began to break the clouds and we enjoyed a nice sunny evening. The sunset experience was quite memorable. Waiting at the Chiro viewpoints, with all other nationalities, watching the sunset with La Gomera, La Palma and El Hierro was something else….not to mention the sparkling wine and hot chocolate to top it off.
After the sunset we made our way to the base of the cable car for some Canarian Delicacies and accompanied with of course local wines and cervesas. It was nice to have the private function as this is not the normal case for them. After dinner we all gathered outside for a light astrology; Nonetheless it was a really pleasant experience and something to remember.
We arrived in Lanzarote where you will find that the island is much more volcanic than what we witnessed in Tenerife and in La Gomera. It is much different but a masterpiece it her own way.
We had our first full day on Lanzarote. This is a much different island than what we have witnessed over the last two weeks. We met Angela first thing in the morning and we made our way to Timanfaya National Park. We were amazed what we were introduced too when we visited this coveted land. Before we headed into the park we took part in some experiments to show you how much heat these “Dormant” volcanos still give off.
We headed into the park and learned of the various formations and Volcanos that covers 52 square KM’s.
We then made our way over to El Golfo to have a look at the Volcano with the green lagoon. It is quite the phenomenon whereby the sea water has been trapped in this lagoon and then turned green due to the algae build up. This was a nice walk to the point as it provided some great camera shots. We did a Video with some cameos from Bryan and Mate. After there we stopped at the cliffs for a quick photo shoot before we headed for lunch.
This was quite the surprise and quite nerve racking for us as we were hoping that this unique experience would go over very well. Great food, exceptional wine, great host and most of all great company.
Today was all about going up North. We started by driving up to Orzola where we caught the ferry to La Grociosa; it was a little rough, but we made it through. Once we arrived in the village of Caleta Del Sabo which seemed like the metropolis of the island and we were met by our Land Rovers which would take us around the island. Our first stop was the village of Pedro Barba it is was a very isolated village where you can really “get a way from it all” for €200 pp per night. It was very tranquil and a spot where you can guarantee privacy. We then made our way over to Bajo Del Corral which truly is paradise; you can see why the locals do not want any development on the island, but it would be a nice return visit with some vino and a few sandwiches and enjoy the afternoon. That concluded our rumpity bump bump ride as we made our way back to Lanzarote.
We headed over to a seaside village Caleta Del Campo to a local restaurant named El Lago. The appetizers right through to the main dish were very tasty; a return visit for sure. We then made our way to the natural wonder of Jameos del Agua; the natural cave formed from the lava flow from La Corona (no not the one with the lime in it). Everything from the theatre to the natural cave to the blind crabs…it was something to see, but it did create some nice memories. We topped of the day with a short sharp visit to the Cactus Garden…over a 1000 difference species of cactuses…..seriously…YUP.
Today / tonight was our last night on Lanzarote. Signing off...
Wendy and Steve Griffin
Your Maxima Tour Directors