Terra Firma in Tenerife

When we got up this morning the Arcadia had just about docked and we looked over our balcony at the familiar sight of the port in Santa Cruz. This is the fourth time we’ve arrived in Tenerife by ship; the other times were Queen Mary 2 (2004), Black Prince (2008) and Queen Elizabeth (2010).

No matter what time of year the climate in Tenerife is always idyllic, and even though it wasn’t yet 8.00am the sun was attempting to come out from behind the clouds and there was already a gentle warmth in the air.

We enjoyed some breakfast in the Belvedere buffet then got our cruise cards and disembarked the Arcadia for terra firma and our excursion into La Laguna, the old capital of Tenerife. We boarded bus number nine and met José, who was our guide for today.

As it was a week day the streets were quite busy as the bus wended its way up the hilly terrain for our first stop. We were shown a convent as well as other large buildings that had once been the private homes of rich people; the architecture was typically Spanish. We enjoyed the feeling of the sun on our backs as we walked through the little streets, full of character. One of the buildings we went into had originally been a banker’s dwelling but was now a type of museum and contained a pleasant leafy courtyard with some orange trees, their branches heavy with the luscious fruit.

To the rear of the building were a couple of original (but restored) horse-drawn carriages with steel-rimmed wooden wheels; they would have to have good, well-sprung suspension to avoid the bumpy ride caused by the lack of pneumatic tyres. The carriages were fairly ornate and evoked the era of bygone times.

Once again we exited into the warm sunshine and walked up the street to a hotel, where we enjoyed a cup of coffee and some home-made biscuits. Then it was back onto the bus and on our way again, as we continued to climb up the winding road; we stopped for a short while to allow us to take some photographs of the fantastic views, over cultivated fields and vineyards towards the sparkling sea in the near distance.

Our next stop was to a place called Oratavo, a pretty little town with charming old buildings and more orange trees and small manicured gardens. We went into a shop which had once been a private dwelling but now sold local handicrafts as well as locally-produced wines and liqueurs and hand-made cheeses. We browsed their wares for a while but didn’t purchase anything. There was a bit of consternation in our coach party as one lady claimed that her purse had been stolen. She turned her handbag inside out but there was no sign of the purse and she was unable to say when or where it had gone missing, just that it was gone. A bit of a dampener when something like that happens to you when you’re enjoying yourself on holiday.

We took a different route walking back down the winding street on our way down to meet the bus; once back in our seats the bus took a different way back to the Arcadia. We decided, however, not to go back on board but to take a walk along the shops and bars that boarded the sea front to have a cold beer and look for an off-licence to buy some Cava for consumption on our balcony. 🙂

We found a nice pavement café/bar which had a bonus – a free WiFi connection. Over a couple of ice cold beers I was able to access the Internet, check my emails and do some of this blog. It was so pleasant sitting there in the sunshine and looking across the harbour to where the Arcadia was moored up, her white paintwork and yellow funnel gleaming mellowly in the sunlight.

After our beers were went along the street and found an off-licence, where we purchased a two-litre bottle of diet cola and three bottles of the local Cava; a brut, a demi-sec and a rosé dulce.

Then it was back to the ship; where we dumped our purchases in cabin C149 and had a quick wash and brush up before going up to the Aquarius Pool deck at the stern of the ship for the sailaway party. As we are Portunus club members (P & O’s loyalty programme) we had a voucher which entitled us to a free glass of champagne each. So there we were, sitting on the edge of the pool with the sun in our faces and a glass of cold champagne in our hands. What could be more perfect than that? 🙂

We stayed there for another drink and enjoyed the lively music before going back to the cabin to get ready for dinner. Tonight was smart-casual dress code so it didn’t take too long. Then, after an excellent meal as ever, we took our ‘usual’ seats in the Palladium theatre for tonight’s performance, which was the Macdonald Brothers, two Scottish singers who had come fourth in the X-Factor in 2006. They really were very good and we enjoyed their show a lot.

Then it was along to the Rising Sun for the quiz as usual, before returning to our cabin for the night. Tomorrow would see the first of another five full days at sea.

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