Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Enjoying the sea breeze at Garachico

May has been quite a crazy month! It started with a week of holidays on my home island, then I had to prepared for an oral examination and right now I'm almost packing because I am moving to a new country in less than a week. If you read this blog regularly you might be thinking, what?! Moving again? But hadn't you just moved to a new apartment? Weren't you supposed to stay in Switzerland for good? Well, yes and yes but life can be this capricious and for good can be way shorter than expected, at least in this case. 

Anyway, only a couple of weeks ago I was far away from all my worries enjoying some fine weather and stunning views right in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. I was in Tenerife for only one week, which felt like too little time, but one of the days I did a small road trips with my parents and after spending the morning in La Orotava, we then drove further to Garachico, a small village close to the northwest end of the island. Garachico was once a mighty port but nowadays it is no more than a small fishers village and few tourists venture this far. Those who do will be rewarded with a genuine historical village away from the crowds and the brave ones might even enjoy a bath in the sea, though there is no real beach in the town, only a few rocky pools by the shore.

Garachico Tenerife

Garachico and her port were almost totally destroyed after a violent volcanic eruption that took place at the beginning of the 18th century. However, some buildings dating as far as the 16th century survived the tragedy and have been carefully restored. Nearby the main square there are some old churchs worth a visit but the most scenic views are those of the ocean bathing the coast of Garachico. A quiet promenade walks the coast and there are several cafés to stop for a while. At one of the ends there is a small fortress built on the 16th century, Castillo de San Miguel. It looms over the sea and the surrounding paths walk almost into the water. Garachico is a tranquil place to enjoy a pretty sunset and on clear days, it is even possible to catch a glimpse of La Palma, another isle of the Canaries.

Castillo San Miguel, Garachico, Tenerife

Castillo San Miguel, Garachico, Tenerife

Castillo San Miguel, Garachico, Tenerife

I never thought I would say this but I actually miss the sea. It had been almost a year since the last time I had been to Tenerife and I hadn't seen the sea ever since. There are plenty of lakes here in Switzerland but as beautiful as they are, pristine lakes are totally different from the ocean. Deep blue and rough, always moving and waving. I am moving in less than a week and I am moving to another island. Hopefully I'll get to see the big ocean more often. Curious about my next move? I'll tell you more about it soon!

Garachico Tenerife

Garachico Tenerife

Garachico Tenerife

Garachico Tenerife

Garachico Tenerife

Have a lovely week!

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

La Orotava

Last week I returned from my holiday in Tenerife. I was there for only one week and it felt like the shortest holiday ever - and the shortest week in my life as well! I tried to see all of my friends, I did some pending paperwork, I enjoyed some cosy family dinners and a big getogether on Sunday to celebrate Mother's Day - in Spain it is usually observed on the first Sunday of May, so we were one week ahead of most European countries - and I also did a small daytrip around the northern coast of Tenerife with my parents.

May 1st is always a bank holiday in Spain. It is the International Labour Day and in Spain it is celebrated by not working, as paradoxically as it sounds. Though the weather forecast had predicted a cloudy and cool day, we jumped in the car and drove along the North Highway. Our first stop was the town of La Orotava, known for its colonial mansions with carved wooden balconies and steeped cobbled streets. I had probably been to La Orotava a couple of times before but I didn't really remember much about it. My only early memory was being there once with my two best friends when we were doing an acting course for the midterm play, which was held in the local auditorium (oh my, this sounds just crazy. Me? Taking acting lessons? Those were the days ... I was young and bold).

La Orotava, Tenerife

We parked in the street and walked towards the city centre. We stopped first in Plaza de La Constitución, a lively square with a kiosk in the middle and several terraces of adjacent bars. We entered the Iglesia de San Agustín, a simple yet beautifully ornated church dating from the 17th century. Then we walked to the Liceo Taoro and its surrounding gardens. Liceo Taoro is a cultural society located in an impressive mansion, which can be visited at times for exhibitions and concerts. The entrance is adorned by a terraced garden which was fully in bloom during this time of the year. But this is not the only pretty garden in La Orotava. Just to the right of the Liceo Taoro there is a larger terraced garden which overlooks the whole town and valley of La Orotava. The Jardines Victoria, as it is called, is a beautiful garden with many different types of roses, geraniums and several other flowers. It is slightly reminiscent of French neoclassical gardens and there is a marble mausoleum on top. It is worth a visit just for the impressive views but the pretty gardens are a delight themselves.

dragon tree, Tenerife

Iglesia San Agustin, La Orotava, Tenerife

Liceo Taoro, La Orotava, Tenerife


Liceo Taoro, La Orotava, Tenerife


Jardines Victoria, La Orotava, Tenerife

After oohing and aahing in those wonderful gardens we resumed our stroll to the city centre. First thing outside the Victoria Garden was yet another garden, but this one was closed, as it was a bank holiday. Named Hijuela del Botánico, it is a smaller branch of the botanical gardens in the neighboring town of Puerto de Cruz. The Canary Islands, and especially Tenerife, were a favoured destination among naturalists of the 18th and 19th century because of their distinctive flora and mild climate, which served good to many plant species brought from faraway British, Spanish, French and Portuguese colonies. The fertile valleys of the north became home to many of these new species and the botanic gardens of Puerto de la Cruz and La Orotava were founded in 1792 to help acclimatize new species before introducing them in Europe. 

La Orotava, Tenerife

We continued walking along many a steep street, in awe of the outstanding colonial architecture. La Orotava has one of the most important historical heritage of the Canary Islands. Some of the mansions date back to the 16th century and they have been perfectly preserved. Their carved wooden balconies are their most distinguished feature but many of them also have an inner patio and tiled floors and walls, in a Spanish colonial fashion. Some of the mansions can be visited, as they now house museums or restaurants. The most remarkable are the Casa de Los Balcones and Casa Lercaro.

La Orotava, Tenerife

La Orotava, Tenerife

La Orotava, Tenerife

On our way to La Orotava we stopped at a fancy cafe in the Mirador Humboldt, which offers superb views of the valley. At the entrace there is a bronze sculpture of Alexander Von Humboldt, a renowned German naturalist of the 19th century who spent a week in Tenerife before heading to the Americas and once said that the Orotava Valley was by far the most beautiful sight he had seen in the world. And even today, with so many houses scattered around, the views are truly outstanding. And even more when glimpsed from the coast, where the whole green valley rises till the clouds and if the sky is clear the magnificent Teide volcano will show on top of the lush Orotava valley. Apparently, even the Greeks believed this valley to be their Hesperides Garden!

Mirador Humboldt, La Orotava, Tenerife

Have a lovely Wednesday!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A photo a day in April

Another month is gone and we're already in May. It's been a while since I last wrote here but there is still no internet in our new appartment and I'm currently enjoying a week of holidays in my home island. Tenerife, that's it. A week of sunshine, a week of friends, a week of fine Canarian food, a week of family gatherings, and I've even been lucky enough to glimpse some snow on top of El Teide volcano. Snow! In May! In Tenerife! I don't believe it myself but this winter has been incredibly cold in Tenerife and even spring brought some late snowfalls.

Anyway, back in April I was taking a photo a day again. This time I focused on my baby plants. I had never done this before but when I moved to our new appartment I decided to start a small city garden and I have some herbs and cherry tomatoes. As I had never planted anything before I didn't know what to expect. I had no idea on much water these plants needed, how much sunlight or how long they would take to grow. And I was totally amazed when just in a couple of weeks my coriander and basil pots were already grown with big fragrant leaves. If you want to take a peek, here are some photos of the cherry tomatoes - see how much they've grown in just a month!




But the same plants everyday can become quite tedious, if photographed day after day, so I also went out and took some pics of many of the blossoms in town. After a very mild winter, spring started with glorious weather, more like summer than spring. The sun was shining everyday and temperatures were unusually high for that time of the year. Only in the second half of April did we have some April showers and more springy weather.





I hope you enjoy these pics. You can view the whole month here.

Have a lovely weekend and a happy May!

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