We called at Gran Canaria, Tenerife and Santa Cruz de la Palma. Shamefully, I had no idea that the Canaries were so volcanically fascinating! Wonderful, bleak, scenery, fantastic rock formations, calderas, massive lava flows frozen for all of time, so the highlights for me were the trip to the Teide National Park in Tenerife, and the expedition mentioned below, to Fuencaliente on La Palma.
In each port, we did a guided tour, not always wonderful, but usually with luck, some really interesting high points and, in the Canaries, even death-defying!! The volcanic nature of the islands makes for bus trips that carry a special warning to those afraid of heights or who suffer from vertigo. The roads are precarious, to say the least, winding up and up – narrow, with plunging cliffs falling away to the crawling sea below. In La Palma, we bussed to the area known as Fuencaliente and climbed (walked, struggled, staggered,) around the rim of the crater of Volcan San Antonia, less than a meter in width in some places, loose scoria slipping everywhere and a howling gale coming in off the ocean.
Our guide was very concerned that we were a bit too old to do the walk, ( I cannot believe that I am saying that,) but we rather thought that if we didn’t, we had really reached the end of our liveable life. So, we gauged the calibre of the other walkers and decided that if they could do it, we certainly could, and we plunged onwards. This was our baptism of fire, so to speak, the first holiday challenge. Thankfully, all was well, although it was no gentle stroll and I was relieved to get back to solid ground. At the “top” where we were most exposed, I practically crawled on my knees, clutching at the rocks which the Fates had kindly placed for my convenience, praying the the wind would not suddenly gust and send me flying through the air. The panorama, of course, was stunning and we had a clear view of the newest arrival on the volcanic scene, Volcan Teneguia, which erupted in 1971. The walk back down and around the rim seemed much easier and we climbed back into the bus feeling very good indeed. I do not think that our over-protective Health and Safety in NZ would have allowed it !! They would have insisted on hand-rails.
From there, we went to the Teneguia Bodega, where we took a glass of Malmsey, a drink familiar to anyone who reads English literature from previous centuries. It is a madeira-type wine, of varying sweetness and there is not really much to be said other than that. The wine is made on the premises and is popular locally, we were told. Really could not get excited about it one little bit.
Got back to the ship at four-ish and by five, were tossing back some modern cocktails, which were far more attractive.