Tuesday, September 8, 2009

The Canary Islands: above the clouds and to the moon


Above clouds at the first stop
Our first stop in the Canary Islands was Tenerife, famous for Teide, the third-largest volcano in the world, in the middle of the nicely-named Las CaƱadas National Park. The park was well inland, so we set about finding transportation there immediately, and while the cabbie we settled on didn't speak much English, his price was right.

Mt. Teide; still 50 km away
I pointed out the volcano when we were still some 50 km away, and no one would believe me! We were so far up at that point, and the peak really did look like it could be three hours away, or three days away; the scale was hard to grasp.

As we drove, a forest that would remind you of any Canadian national park became steppe, and finally a blackened tundra. In this silent, empty landscape sat a cable-car to the summit. Well, 500 metres shy of the summit; you need a permit -- a free permit, apparently -- to hike right to the top. So there we were, some 3200 metres up; it's tough to describe... I mean, we were in short-sleeves, but all you had to do was run a few steps and you knew where you were; winded in a second. They limit your time up there to one hour.

Gran Canaria

After the excitement of the previous day, a beach day at our next stop, Gran Canaria, was in order. The waves were a bit rough -- the yellow flag was out -- but, really, we couldn't've asked for a better day. It's funny: frolicking in the surf, you could be forgiven for thinking you were in the Caribbean, but one glance at the skyline dispels that: Las Palmas is a bustling, developed city. This, in stark contrast with our last stop in the Canaries.

But before I get to that, a few points about that evening on the ship:
  • Stephen and I finally got around to trying the Flow Rider, which is a simulated surfing pool at the back of the ship. Stephen kicked my butt all over the place with a fantastic first run that didn't even turn out to be beginner's luck. I, on the other hand, left with a sore neck (to say nothing of my pride).
  • Later that evening we took in a show with the hypnotist, Christoper Caress. He started off with an exercise for everyone, at the end of which you were supposed to feel like your hands were drawn together; well, he'd barely gotten the words out before mine were clasped. At that point, at his direction, I, and bunch of other folks with 'magnetized' hands, volunteered to be part of the show. Tea, Nancy and Stephen said I did a pretty good job of milking an ephemeral cow and dancing the Riverdance, but I don't remember much.


Finally, we stopped in Lanzarote, not far from the capital, Arrecife. Well, we thought Mount Teide was desolate; the landscape in Lanzarote is often described as lunar or Martian, and it isn't hard to see why. That said, the beach that the cabbie dropped us at was really nice, and we had another good stretch of Frisbee and lounging.

Up next: Oyster Street!

No comments:

Post a Comment