An archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean, an Island of stunning landscapes, an old port city in modern times, a beautiful beach…
Looking back from the bridge windows I can see Gdansk until is swallowed by the sea and sky. This colourful polish city on the shore of the Baltic Sea. But today I am to tell you about some another exciting experience, far more south. Unfortunately, to get there, I had to cross the rough and wild Bay of Biscay. And as the ship was light, the captain and me we’re closely monitoring the weather reports, from bad, to worse. The waves were higher and higher, the swell was hammering our starboard quarter, and everyone on board just carried out their daily jobs while bouncing from side to side. At night, moving back and forth from sofa to bed, and trying to crack some sleep. For a couple of days was as bad as it can get, at least if we’d have some cargo. Then slowly, the waves stopped, but the swell, just followed until the very last.
A few days later, an island emerges from the ocean, there it is – Tenerife. We’re slowing down, embarking the pilot on board, and taking her alongside (finally no more rolling) . I am all packed and ready, just a double check with the planner, instruct the crew and run down the gangway and head to the port gate. Funny thing, every seaman knows this, I was still trying to counter the movement of the ship, when seeing the very small waves inside the port. From the gate, across the street, next to a gas station, there is a bus station. Must say, that the terminal is half way between the city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, and Las Teresitas beach. For me the first choice is easy, as I am a beach and swim enthusiast. The bus ticket is cheap, and can even pay with card.
Just a couple of stops, and at the end of the route, the calm and clean blue Atlantic Ocean splashes over this beautiful golden sand beach, while the mountains stand tall behind and shelter the paradise.
As it is end of September, there are just a few other people at the beach, all the beach bars are closed, and not far away in the water, all the boats are laid up, probably waiting for a couple of weekends more before season end. I take my time, and enjoy the quietness of the entire stretch of sand, before taking a seat at one of the few fast-food caravans by the promenade. I think that the best drink one can get by the beach is a well made mojito cocktail. Have to admit, that I was surprised to enjoy one of the best I ever tasted. That made me so relaxed that the enthusiasm just grew bigger. The wind was just fanning a little, the palms barely moving, and the clouds coming from over the mountains were just the perfect pieces of this beautiful puzzle. Upon finishing the drink, and the dreaming, I thank again the girl at the bar, and head towards the water.
I came prepared, swim shorts, a towel, and of course my travel buddies, the ocean-coloured lucky bans. The sand feels so good under my bare feet, warmed up by the late September Sun. My bag, my sun glasses, my shirt and towel they all go falling in the sand while I sprint my way into the water. Nah, I really cannot do this any other way. Is just as I am leaving everything behind, and be a child again. That feel of freedom when you run or jump and dive into the warm water. It is just perfect. Sometime later, end up back on the sand, taking my breath, and relaxing while getting dry. In the meantime, it feels like in one of those hd wallpapers that I was swapping around on my desktop years ago. Definitely one of the best beaches I had the pleasure to see.
My dried shorts tell me is time to go. So I just walk back to the end or the promenade and wait for the bus. One more peek at the beach and there I go.
Some ten stops later, there I am, in the city, Santa Cruz de Tenerife. On the way, could see my ship and got that strange feeling, like I was not even there for work. From the bus terminal (this was actually the last stop) have to walk around and then over a highway tunnel, to get to the auditorium.
This is an impressive building, with modern expression of architecture. Some steps around take me to a like balcony place where an amazing view opens in front of me: modern city buildings on the right, in front of me some old fort with a gardens covered hill in the back, to the left the ocean, and to posterize the picture, this bright blue cloudy sky.
I am just taking a break in order to memorize the view, then go down the stairs to the waterfront. On this side of the Opera is a cafeteria, that would definitely make my day; did I mention that I love coffee? But I don’t have time to lose, got to explore more. Going along the waterfront there is an old fort (Castle of San Juan Bautista), which makes me think a little about those days when the waters were full of sail ships, galleons, and more. While dream-walking, I end up by this amazing big pool park.
If I was to stay in the city for a few more days, this would certainly be on my to do list. Further away the hill that I saw earlier is actually the botanic garden, which, thinking about it, would take me half day to visit. Since beyond this point seems to be the suburbs of the city, I turn back towards the bus terminal. A quick look at the city map there, and I can draw a walking path. Basically going along the shore line, but between buildings, mostly modern built, then here and there spotting some old architecture.Further on there is this bell tower, the Church of Immaculate Conception, and maybe the heart of the town in the past.
While taking the road towards it, I am passing the TEA Art Gallery and the Museum of Nature and Man (wish I had the time to visit them) then end up in this small walking street (Calle Antonio Dominguez Alfonso …yes they have long names), where some cosy small restaurants have their short menu outside. Thinking too much about what to choose I actually decide to go ahead with my walk, to reach the main street (Calle del Castillo).
As expected, getting closer to it, there are more and more shops, and once I make my way on the street, all the big clothing brands are here, as well as the fast food chains. I always enjoy having a walk on this kind of busy streets, to feel the pulse, and of course buy something if it is the case. I am a little disappointed that there are no more restaurants like those next to the church in the small street, so I decide to forget about it, and wait until getting back on board.
Instead, I just bought my must have souvenirs, magnet and coffee mug, then head towards the bus station by the end of the street. Reaching there, there is this big pool-like fountain, which offers an nice view over the modern structures, and a grass covered coffee shop just so you can dip your feet in the water.
A few more pictures, and then the day trip is over. Back on the bus, and towards the port, checking out the ferry terminal and the pubs and restaurants along the road.
“Welcome back, how is out there?” is just the usual hello from fellow crews. Of course I have asked my self this question to others many times, just to have a glimpse of what I had missed for staying onboard. So I happily share my experience and pictures with others. Apart from that, everything goes well, cargo operations as planned, and expected to sail early morning. That means before even sunrise. Yes, everyday is a 24/7 continuous hassle on board, to get the cargo from port to port.
My to do and see list in Santa Cruz de Tenerife:
1. Playa de Las Teresitas – the beautiful beach up north of the city; take the bus and enjoy a full day
2. Auditorio de Tenerife – enjoy the view by the sea with a cup of coffe at day, or find some event in the evening
3. Castillo de San Juan Bautista – a glimpse at a well preserved fort built in 1641; not sure if is ever possible to check it inside.
4. Parque Maritimo Cesar Manrique – saltwater swimming pools, waterfalls, sun deck…mojitoooos
5. Palmetum of Santa Cruz de Tenerife – 120000 sq.m. of Botanical Gardens, palms, sculptures, and amazing views.
6. TEA, Tenerife Espacio de las Artes – enjoy art, what more to say.
7. Museo de la Naturalezza y el Hombre – Nature history, with incredible exhibitions
8. Church of Immaculate Conception – a historic church, from which tower one can have a panoramic view of the city.
9. Calle Antonio Dominguez Alfonso – with a lot of small and cosy restaurants
10. Calle del Castillo – a long walking street with many shops, fast foods, coffee shops and restaurants
11. Plaza de Espana – one of the best places to have some rest after a long walk around the city
12. Parque Natural de Anaga – further north from Playa de Las Teresitas – enjoy the forest, wildlife and the small rural settlements
And there are many more sites to see and things to do.
I would really recommend to rent a car and discover the Island by yourself, so many wonderful places to see, with as much memories to tell later.