Despite all the hiking we were doing, we definitely weren't losing any weight here in Tenerife. And that didn't surprise me, considering the hearty food, and the outsized portions in which they serve it. But we loved the island's cuisine, which is quite distinct from that of the Spanish mainland.
This is the most historic and culturally significant of any city on Tenerife, and its casco antiguo, or old town, is replete in majestic palaces.
Generally, any whale-watching trip comes with a massive disclaimer: there's no guarantee that you're going to see whales. But the guys from Third Element were either recklessly confident, or the sightings between La Gomera and Tenerife are just that dependable, because they said we'd "definitely" spot some pilot whales, along with bottlenose dolphins.
A time-worn path brought us from the village of Afur, along the coastline to Taganana, and then back to Afur through the forests and hills of the Anaga natural reserve. With perfect weather, a well-marked trail, glorious coastal views, an evocative forest, the surprise kindness of strangers, and just the right amount of challenge, it was one of the best hikes we've ever done.
With its unique collection of aboriginal mummies, archaeological finds, and focus on endemic flora and fauna, the Museo de Naturaleza y Arqueología is one of the premier museums on the Canary Islands. We made it one of our first stops in Santa Cruz.
Any exploration of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is likely to begin in the Plaza de España, an expansive open square near the ocean. At least, that's the first place we headed. We spent a wonderful Saturday morning hanging out in the plaza, and getting a feel for the capital city, which is in turns beautiful, garish, charming, and strange… and definitely has an atmosphere all its own.
Santa Cruz is the largest city on Tenerife, and joint-capital of the entire Canary Islands. The city lies in the northeastern quadrant of the island, at the base of the Anaga mountain range, and is the center of industry and tourism. We took an initial tour shortly after arriving.
The history of Tenerife is tied closely to that of the entire Canary Islands. This is the largest of the seven islands in the archipelago, and has assumed the cultural and political lead throughout the years. Let's take a quick look at the most important events in Tenerife's history.
We encountered gofio on our very first night in La Gomera, when the proprietress of Imada's lone restaurant set down a bowlful next to our soups. And we've encountered it every day since. Gofio is the most Canarian of foods, used in soups, breakfasts, desserts, main dishes, candies, and drinks. We suspect that some eat it by the spoonful. The people of the Canary Islands just can't seem to get enough. Tito from our local Gofio Mill…
Jürgen and I are definitive city guys. We met in Boston and lived for years in Berlin, before moving to Valencia. We ride bikes, use public transport, and don't even own a car. But for whatever reason, we wanted our stay in Tenerife to be more rural, so chose a house in a small village. Las Mercedes: are you ready to entertain us?
The Casa Lercaro is just one of many historic homes found in the old quarter of La Laguna, though it might be the largest. The palace was built in the late sixteenth century for a powerful family of commercial magnates from Genoa, and a visit to the museum is almost as fascinating for the tour of this ancient home, as it is for the exhibitions themselves.
The historic capital of the Canary Islands, San Cristóbal de La Laguna (more commonly shortened to La Laguna) is still considered to be the archipelago's cultural heart. We'd be spending a lot of time here during our 91 days on Tenerife, since our home village of Las Mercedes is just up the road, about five minutes by car.