Our last two ports of call before crossing the Atlantic are in the Canary Islands; Tenerife and Arrecife.
Just two years after Columbus landed in the Americas, the Spanish Castilian, led by conquistador Alonso Fernandez de Lugo, landed on the shores of what is known as Santa Cruz de Tenerife.
Today there are 207,000 residents making it Spain’s most populated island. It is known as the “Island of Eternal Spring,” because of its subtropical and semi-arid climate which is year round.
As the Royal Princess docked I opened the balcony door and was greeted with a warm gentle breeze. I noticed most of the city was at sea level but then it rose gradually because of the surrounding volcanic hills.
We had no tours but there was a Hop-On Hop-Off bus so that is what we elected to do. After breakfast we returned to the room and grabbed our stuff (camera, water, id, money) and headed to the gangway. What we will end up remembering about Tenerife is the 3 mile roundtrip walk to get out of the port and later back to the ship. We did find out (too late) that there was a shuttle bus but never saw it until we were all the way on foot.
We bought our tickets for the bus and settled down to see some of the modern and beautiful city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. We decided to get off at Stop #11, the main market, Plaza de la Candelaria. The many shops were selling flowers, vegetables, souvenirs, fish, baked goods, wine, liquor, even parakeets. I’ll post the photos after I get home.
We got back on the next bus and rode it back to the port where we once again hiked the mile and half back to the ship. Both of us were worn out but Mary Alice was pleased that she got her 10,000 Fit-bit steps that day for sure. In fact she’s had three days of 10,000 steps during this first week of the cruise.
We had a late supper and called it a day. I set my alarm for 1:00am so I could watch the Dodgers-Astros game #3 on the ship’s satellite TV. I got up at 12:59 in time to watch the opening ceremony and the first three innings. The satellite reception went to zero and I had to log on the computer to find out the final score. Way to go Astros, win 2 more!
The next stop on Saturday was in Lanzarote on the island of Arrcife, also of the Canary Islands. We had a birding excursion booked with a private guide all arranged by Mary Alice. She even found another birding couple to join us.
Saturday: The ship docked in Lanzarote at 7:00 AM. The weather was sunshiny and warm. After breakfast we gathered our things and made our way down the gangplank. Our birding friends, Mitch and Pat were already off the ship waiting on us. Mitch is a long time birder from Ohio and I don’t think I’ve ever seen him without his binos around his neck. We had to walk to the port entrance to meet our guide but it was just a half mile this time.
Our guide was waiting and introduced himself as Adolpho. He was driving a late model Toyota Land Cruiser, four wheel drive! Our biggest fear was getting far away from the ship and breaking down being out of cell phone range. He assured us that we would get back to the ship by 3pm. Our next port isn’t for seven days (Ft Lauderdale) so we had to make it back on time. The ship does not wait for stragglers who book independent tours.
We piled into the Land Cruiser and Adolpho maneuvered the streets and headed in a northerly direction toward the “El Jable” Desert. The Island of Lanzarote was formed from multiple Volcanoes. There is no vegetation other that desert scrub brush. The landscape is dotted with small black pumice rocks which evidently came from the many volcanoes surrounding the desert.
As soon as the town faded into the distance, Adolpho turned the Land Cruiser off the main highway and onto volcanic dirt & sand roads. Some of it looked loose and I was glad we had a four wheel drive.
We began seeing birds almost immediately. Adolpho had his honey holes (favorite spots) and knew what birds would be in what fields. We had more fun locating the birds with the binoculars than in actually finding them. After going up and down and through the desert and finding numerous birds, some which are migrants from the European continent, Adolpho, took us to the small town of Soo, that’s right Soo, and he parked in from of the local community center.
He warned us about a local guy who is not “all together” and said “don’t mind him, he’s harmless.” The guy was a giant, 6-5 about 300lbs and he wanted to shake everyone’s hand and hug them. I’m not into hugging strangers and I ducked out of the way.
We had some refreshments at the local store/cafe, goat cheese, bread sticks, fried chicken croquettes, tomato wedges and a coke or coffee. Soon enough we were back on the road and continued looking for more birds. Adolpho took us all the way across the island to the northern shore and turned around and headed back. He had one more stop at a goat farm where we saw a very unusual bird called a Hoopoe.
We drove back across the desert and into town and to the ship. After paying Adolpho and taking the necessary photos we made our way up the gangplank and to our room. Both of were worn out from the bouncing and holding on to the four wheel drive SUV. But going forward we will not get off the ship until it docks in Ft Lauderdale, a week from tomorrow.
This is the last posting for this cruise because the next seven days are “sea days.” There’s not much to say other than it is a relaxing week of doing whatever you want to do….on the ship that is. Besides the internet is totally unreliable at sea.
Here is a bird list from the day’s outing:
1. Stone Curlew 2. Berthelots Pipit 3. Great Grey Shrike
4. Raven 5. Houbara Bustard 6. Kestrel 7. Cattle Egret
8. Cream Colored Courser 9. White Wagtail
10. Barbary Partridge 11. Northern Wheatear
12. Yellow Wagtail 13. Hoopoe 14. Common Lennate
All in all another great day for this trip!