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This was a short break to get a bit of sunshine and warmth into our bones after all the excitement of the last few months. We stayed in Puerto de la Cruz, on the north side of the island. Our apartment was conveniently situated just far enough from the town centre to be quiet but not so far that getting into town was awkward. It is generally cloudier and damper but as we had a hire car for a few days then we could escape to sunnier areas. The island is volcanic and is dominated by the 12000ft high Mount Teide, as you can see here. Although the island is off the coast of Africa the mountain still gets covered in snow. From Puerto de la Cruz we could drive straight up Mount Teide. The road was good but there were a lot of hair pin bends as it twisted its way up the side of the hill. You climb approximately 7000ft in just over an hour and then drive over the crater rim and into the caldera.
In the caldera you are well above the main cloud line and so the sun is very strong, particularily in the middle of the day. The caldera was formed after an earlier peak of the volcano collapsed into itself. This scenery is therefore all sand and red volcanic rock. Sometimes this forms isolated rock. At other times it forms intricately patterned rock with a multitude of different colours like the one shown here. We took the cable car up to the summit, or at least as close as we could get. The path for the last little bit was shut due to snow and ice. After this we went for a walk around some of the rock outcrops. Each outcrop is different and towards sunset, as the light comes in at a low angle, then the shapes that are formed are fabulous. On the last night we went on an excursion up the mountain to see the sunset. As the sungoes down the colour change is very exciting. We were also lucky and the sea of cloud was in. There is a photo at the bottom of the page of the sunset, sea of clouds and the moon.
Puerto de la Cruz has the Botanic Gardens in it. The warm and damp climate means that these are superb. They have a wide range of plants and are layed out beautifully. Aswell as all the plants there were a large number of beautiful lizards patrolling the undergrowth keeping the insects and pests under control. We also visited the pyramids at Guimar. These were "discovered" by Thor Heyerdahl, of Kon-Tiki fame, or at least he convinced people that they were pyramids rather than just piles of stones. The theory after all the excavations is that they are evidence of a link between the people who built the Egyptian pyramids and those who built the South American ones. After visiting these we went for lunch and had one of those holiday moments. We drove to port of guimar and found an restaurant to sit outside, eat paella and look at the view. It was dancing light on the water, noisy locals, good food and cold wine.
On the western side of the island is a small 'lost' village, Masca. The village is something like 1000ft above sea level and at the head of a very steep sided valley. It is only recentl that a road has been built to the village. As a consequence the village is very pretty and set in a very scenic location. The road is exciting to drive as it is very twisty and rather narrow. Two cars can pass but if you meet a bus full of tourists you need to find a slightly wider piece of road. On the way up there is a parking area and a view point. Looking one way you get a good view La Gomera, the next island across, sitting in a sea of cloud and looking the other way you get a different view of Mount Teide.
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