by the Bentham family
John, Karen, William (9), Robert (8) & Jack (6).
morning flights from long distance airports are not top of my wish
list, but with three small boys the prospect is terrible - so it
was with a great deal of smug satisfaction that we set off for a
lunchtime flight from Blackpool Airport - only three miles from
home. Just four hours later we touched down at Tenerifes' Reina
Sofia and made our way towards the West Coast resort of Puerto de
la Cruz - the youngest of our party still clutching a federation
of small plastic wrestlers and a talking trash can.
de la Cruz is a modern resort full of apartments, hotels, restaurants
and all kinds of shops, but in the old quarter you'll find stately
homes, convents and churches - so there is a nice contrast if you
like a bit of culture with your sunshine.
I were to say 'Surf's Up' it would perhaps give an indication as
to the astonishing vista of the sea. Never before have I seen crashing
waves like these - all under a cloudless blue sky with not a hint
of a breeze.
in Puerto de la Cruz are few and far between, so the Canary artist
Cesar Manrique came up with the idea of creating a huge artificial
lake and several sea water pools where tourists can swim and sunbathe
in a tropical paradise known as Lake Martianez. It was a little
too cold for me to be practising my front crawl, but not so for
the intrepid threesome William, Robert and Jack who have an eerie
compulsion to fling themselves into pools and oceans - usually when
all we have is a packet of kleenex to dry them with.
far , so good - sun, sea, very black sand and plenty of food and
drink at reasonable prices.
short drive away from Lake Martianez is Loro Parque, which houses
the largest collection of parrots and other endangered birds in
the world. Bred and reared in captivity, many can fly freely around
the park which has a distinct tropical theme - once again designed
by the Canary artist Cesar Manrique.
removing most of the water from our hotel pool with some far from
perfect diving displays, the boys decided that Loro Parque might
be a 'Lorra' fun, and much to the delight of the other hotel residents
we set off for the day.
three musketeers weren't disappointed, but thrilled to find gorillas,
tigers, jaguars, dolphins and alligators as well as the parrots
after which the park is named. Fairly new to the park is 'Planet
Penguin' - the largest penguin enclosure in the world, which allowed
us to see the penguins living in recreations of their natural habitat,
complete with a constant fall of snow and chilled seawater.
enthused Robert, mentally adding penguin to his Christmas wish list.
a whole days entertainment on offer at the park, with plenty of
restaurants and watering holes to relax in between shows in the
largest dolphinarium in Europe, an aquarium with an underwater walkway
and parrot shows, where the birds ride bikes, use vending machines
and wow us with their adding-up skills.
next day we decided to venture a little further afield, strapped
ourselves into our horrid little rent-a-car (not top of the pops
on the MOT front) and set off to try and find the small village
of Candelaria some 23 km's away from the capital of Santa Cruz.
Legend has it that the tide washed ashore a statue of the Virgin
onto the beach where the Basilica de la Candeleria now stands, and
that it was found by the Guanches (eary settlers) who took it to
a cave and worshipped it, until Tenerife was conquered by the Spaniards
and the statue was lost. There is a copy, made in 1827, but unfortunately,
whilst the boys re-fuelled on juice and goats cheese toasties in
a cafe across the square from the beautiful cathedral, they 'closed'
said beautiful cathedral for the rest of the day.
and I sighed as the boys threw themselves into the sea. Fully clothed.
Canary Islands are the result of volcanic eruptions which has meant
that they have grown higher and larger with time - the highest peak
being El Teide, which at 3,718m is also the highest peak in Spain.
Being a compulsory visit for all tourists, it was decided to put
horrid little rent-a-car to the test and 'will' it up the mountain
to look for the cable car that takes you to the very top. As the
car whined and our ears popped, we all pulled on jumpers as the
temperature dropped. At over 2,000 m trees gradually disappeared,
along with most signs of life. Planet of the Apes was filmed in
this National Park, and with the amazing lava rocks, peaks and craters
it felt quite spooky. In olden times it was believed that the tip
of the mountain was the column upon which the vault of Heaven stood
, but this legendary point was to remain as far away as next Christmas
- 'Cable car closed, due to high wind and ice'
need a wee" said Jack.
Puerto de la Cruz and driving Northbound along the coast road, surrounded
by banana plantations and vineyards, we headed towards the Village
of Icod de los Vinos. The main attraction in this little village
is the existence of a millenary dragon tree - about 3,000 years
old and to which medicinal properties were attributed in ancient
times. The three wise men thought the tree was boring and shuffled
off towards a dusty playground. John and I thought the tree was
great - maybe because it was the first thing we'd found that wasn't
closed - and marvelled at its great twisted trunk dating back 3,000
next day took another cultural turn as we embarked on a journey
to discover the ancient Piramides de Guimar. Resplendent in new
plastic sandals (the Atlantic having embraced - and ruined - all
existing footwear by now) the boys hunched together in the back
of grotty rent-a-car as we shunted our way through the back streets
of Puerto de la Cruz towards the Valley of Guimar.
Heyerdahl was the first scientist to recognise the cultural importance
of the six Chacona Pyramids at Guimar, which were brought to his
attention by some amateur observers. The main pyramid complex was
found to be astronomically oriented to sunset at the summer solstice,
suggesting that there must have been contact between early civilisations
on both sides of the Atlantic. Interesting stuff.
we parked up, the boys jumped out, glad to stretch their legs. "Why
won't you let me watch Hellraiser Two?" whined William. I ask
saw us hurtling towards Los Gigantes on the Southern coast of the
island, where 500m high rocky walls overlook a modern resort dominated
by the cliffs of Los Gigantes. White water was the order of the
day, so it was off to the the neighbouring beach of Playa Santiago
for some serious fun in the sea. By 5.30pm my three little fishes
showed no signs of tiring as they jumped wave after wave to a backdrop
of a glorious sunset.
came as quite a shock when we realised it was Christmas Eve - but
what a Christmas Eve - better than trying to re-light the boiler
in your frozen semi, or rowing with the in-laws over where to go
for Christmas lunch !