We left Gran Canaria for Tenerife on Friday, 20 February 2015 aboard a ferry on very rough and choppy seas. It was an hour and half voyage. I was fine; Martin, the tour leader, and Howard, my friend, not so much. Upon our arrival in Santa Cruz, the capital city of Tenerife, Martin fought off his sea sickness with a McDonald’s sausage egg McMuffin. Howard had dry toast.
Tenerife is the largest of the Canary Islands and highest in population. It is also the most populated island of Spain and is the largest and most populous island of Macaronesia. By contrast, Gran Canaria is the third largest of the islands and second largest in population. Tenerife was formed by volcanic action with the central mountain, El Teide, as its central feature. At 3,718 meters (12,198 feet 1-61/64 inches – approximately) El Teide is the world’s third largest volcanic structure and is also the world’s second largest former troglodytic settlement in the northern hemisphere. El Teide is, however, dwarfed by the largest volcano in the solar system which is Olympus Mons on Mars. Didn’t know that did you? See, you learned something today.
Having ridden the in the Canary Islands for the past week now, I have learned some things about the drivers here: 1) They drive the speed limit. Period. There is no discussion or any negotiation on this matter. 2) They are extremely courteous to other divers on mountain roads; pulling over to let faster traffic pass. 3) They are absolutely terrified to pass bicyclists on the road, and there are a lot of them. They will only pass when there are 300 to 400 feet of straight road in front of them with no oncoming traffic. It’s as if they assume the bicyclist will spontaneously fall over next to them whilst being passed so they need to be provided with a lane of their own. On numerous occasions, traffic flowing at 40 to 50 miles an hour has come to an immediate screeching 5 miles an hour as the front vehicle encounters a bicyclist on the road. We then creep along at the bicyclist’s pace until the front driver is brave enough to pass. On to the next vehicle in line: Creep along, finally pass and then on to the next vehicle in line. It is absolutely maddening to us motorcyclists who are forced to do slow speed maneuvering (for no apparent reason). It’s even worse when the bicyclists are riding two abreast, and there are a lot of them.
Tenerife hosts one of the world’s largest carnivals, Carnival of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The carnival is very well attended, especially by men who enjoy dressing in women’s clothing, make-up and wigs. It’s like one large island drag show. Bearded men in tights and tootoos, garish make-up and Texas style big-hair wigs. Bad drag. Be afraid. Carnival was in full swing during our visit to the island. I was afraid: Very afraid.
The picture of the weird building is the Tenerife Auditorium. VERY cool building which would probably violate every building code in the United States. The picture of the mountain is El Teide. Howard and I took the cable car to the top observation area. 3 degrees C (38 degrees F) and 50 KPH (30 MPH) wind at the top. Kinda chilly. We could have hiked to the rim of the volcano if we so desired. Both of us were fine just looking up at it from the observation deck.