PUERTA DE LA CRUZ on TENERIFE, CANARY ISLANDS, SPAIN — Long byline, short trip. At least that’s how we felt when our plane landed back in chilly Munich on Christmas Eve.
After half a dozen trips to the airport to pick up, drop off or just meet up with friends, we finally had our own destination in mind: the Canary Islands.
These craggy, sub-tropic islands lay in the middle of the glimmering Atlantic, closer to the Moroccan mainland than Spain, whose flag flies in the ocean breeze. More Saharan sand falls here than rain and with temperatures definitely spring-like all year round, it seemed like the perfect interlude to a mild but chilly Bavarian winter.
After an easy four-hour flight that took us over the Spanish mainland and the snow-covered Moroccan Atlases, we touched down on rocky Tenerife. The most volcanic of the dozen or so Canaries, Tenerife is geologically dominated by the Teide mountain, the world’s third highest volcano from its base below the waves.
Veering from my usual M.O., we decided to book this trip through a travel agency rather than exploring on our own — more beach getaway than holiday adventure. But the relaxed plan seemed to work out as the resort shuttle whisked us from the airport in the South of the island along 70km of rocky cliffs to Puerta de la Cruz on the northwest coast.
I expected more of a Moroccan influence, but Tenerife seemed like a little chip of Spain that had somehow floated 1,000 miles out to sea. Locals had their own unique Spanish dialect, often losing the “s” at the end of each word, e.g. “adio-,” “gracia-” and the like. Puerta de la Cruz turned out to be a sleepy resort town, with most of the life centralized around the black sand volcanic beaches or the wide city square in the city proper.
We spent the next couple days exploring and lounging seaside, forgoing the more adventurous excursions up to Mount Teide’s moon-like rock formations. But the relaxation paid off: splashing in the powerful Atlantic surf, enjoying the local wine and discovering possibly the most picturesque little seafood shack outside of Spain itself.
A lazy little break from the (by Tenerife standards) fast pace life of Munich — what better early Christmas present could there be? Gracia-, Santa de la Claus.