Journey to Mount Teide in Tenerife

Our favourite drive tour was our winding journey out to Mount Teide, the largest mountain in Spain.

I expected the drive to include hair raising turns and tiny roads with sudden drops but the experience was a snapshot of breathless views through scented pine and eucalyptus forests

The TF-21, that cuts through Teide National Park, is beautiful road that is well maintained. The roads rises on a steady pace.

The forest ends and roads opens to unique landscapes of colorful rocks interspaced between wild grass and brown barren land.

We stopped to grab a cup of coffee at the restaurant at the foot of the gondola. We starred through the panoramic windows as tourists braved the ride into the blue sky.

The 25 Euro gondola ride takes 7 minutes. The cable car arrived at a rocky perch where we wandered along the mountain pathways to admire the lofty views.

Mount Teide is a great family attraction. If you don’t want to splurge for the cable car the lunar landscape is perfect for hikers of all ages.

Tips for Driving in Tenerife

Let us start with the basics. In Tenerife they drive on the right hand side of the road with the steering wheel on the left of the vehicle (as in most of Europe, except the UK and Cyprus).

The main motorway, the TF-1, is smooth driving, and runs from the south of the island, to the capital Santa Cruz, and all the way out to Puerto de la Cruz. Use this highway when you can.

The most challenging area to drive in Tenerife is on the northwest of the island. the hairpin bends, steep drops and fogged in mountain roads require your constant attention. This area has some of the most beautiful natural sights. The coastal town of Garachico is not to be missed.

Once you leave behind the TF1, and TF5 cruising along Tenerife’s country roads is an enjoyable experience, but the key word is “laidback”. The locals, Tinerfeños, travel slowly and look for every opportunity to stop suddenly and socialize.

We rented a Hyundai Accent for five days. The total cost per day, including taxes and insurance, was $30 Euros. At the time, a GPS was not available. The island is small, and we managed okay after our first trip.

Our most scenic drive tour was our trip to Teide National Park. I will blog about this next Monday.

Pyramids of Guimar

teneriff 169As I stare out the window at the chilly rain my mind drifts back to the tropical island of Teneifife. The island is fondly referred to as the Island of Eternal Spring.

Pyramids of Guimar are located in the town of Güímar, on the eastern shore, about 40 kilometres south of the capital, Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The ethnographic park opened in 1998, which offers six step pyramids on display. It is also home to to the museo Casa Chacona.

The museum is relatively young, and offers some innovative ways to learn how the excavations to the pyramid complex were carried out.

We wandered along a well worn pathway past six pyramids of different sizes. Each section included informational signs. The audio guide tells the story of Tenerife and the Pyramids, in a exciting way.

The sight is off the tourist track and the museum was almost empty on the day we visited. We stopped off the cafeteria for a ice cream for a reasonable price.

Only one disappointment, the research to date could not pin point the age of the pyramids.

The sight is still well worth the visit for tourists who want to more about the Eternal Island of Spring

Malta after Dusk

Travel to Europe

Here are a few paragraphs from night tour article

Malta is a sunny island in the Mediterranean, just between Africa and Sicily.  When the beautiful golden beaches empty, stone palaces close up and the throng of tourists head back to their hotels, the island lights up. The stillness of the night turns the island into a glimmering, even exciting place.

In Mdina, once the capital city of Malta, the narrow streets and passages fade into the darkness as I stare toward the fortifications.  The illuminated St. Pauls Cathedral almost floats in the middle of Cathedral. The silent city is ghostly at night, I was relieved to be on a guided tour.

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Our last stop of the night, Mosta Cathedral, was where the miracle of Mosta took place.  In the evening the religious statues that stare down from the building facade seem larger, their facial expressions more severe and more determined…

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Malta after Dusk

Here are a few paragraphs from night tour article

Malta is a sunny island in the Mediterranean, just between Africa and Sicily.  When the beautiful golden beaches empty, stone palaces close up and the throng of tourists head back to their hotels, the island lights up. The stillness of the night turns the island into a glimmering, even exciting place.

In Mdina, once the capital city of Malta, the narrow streets and passages fade into the darkness as I stare toward the fortifications.  The illuminated St. Pauls Cathedral almost floats in the middle of Cathedral. The silent city is ghostly at night, I was relieved to be on a guided tour.

IMG_4109

Our last stop of the night, Mosta Cathedral, was where the miracle of Mosta took place.  In the evening the religious statues that stare down from the building facade seem larger, their facial expressions more severe and more determined to save the world.

Mdina’s Fontanella Tea Garden

Mdina’s (Silent City)  history can be traced back 4000 years.  It is one of Europe’s finest examples of an ancient walled city with an extraordinary mix of medieval and baroque architecture.

Fontanella is a terrace cafe intergrated within Mdina’s city walls.  With views of terraced fields implemented by the Arabs, and green pastures reaching to the sea this is the place to go for an afternoon coffee and chocolate cake.

Fontanella Tea Garden is one of the most popular cafes on the island. Tourists and locals come from all over to check out the medieval Mdina and enjoy a slice of their chocolate cafe. The locals say that the cafe serves the best  Maltese Ftira (Maltese bread)

The two level stone building is easy to spot with it‘s red and white umbrella billowing in the wind. Through the door the atmosphere is a mix of stone walls, climbing plants and a courtyard with an actual flowing fountain. I headed for the terrace, climbing the narrow stone stairs, uneven in places.

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Hope you enjoy a small portion of my article about this lovely tea garden in Malta.  Hope you come back to see more of my lovely photos from Malta

Gozo’s Timeless Salt Pans

The small island of Gozo offers some of the oldest heritage sights in the world. The Xwejni Salt Pans have been mined the same way since Roman Times.

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Gozo is part of the Maltese Archipelago, and much smaller than it’s sister island, Malta. The tranquil island is much greener, and life is dictated by the seasons.

On the north coast of Gozo, just west of Marsalforn, the 350 year old rock-cut saltpans protrude into the sea. These coastal pools stretch for 3km along the ragged coast. Our full day coach tour around Gozo included a ride on a trackless that took us along the coastal road

Gozo is a small island, 14 km long and 7 km at it’s widest point. There are 12 villages and 1 town. As our coach wound through and along the hilly roads I noticed that the size of the village did not restrict the size of the church. Ghrasi, the smallest village on Gozo, with a population of 560, sits in the shadow of huge Parish Church that was dedicated to Corpus Christi on 9 January 1916

In was mid afternoon by the time we loaded on the train. We travelled, slowly along the coastal road, I stared out at the amazing sight of the rocked carved pools, enjoying the fresh sea and the slight breeze drifting in. Our local guide explained the process as I photographed shot after shot.

The salt mines are surrounding by some rock formations eroded by the wind and rain into unique forms………..

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This is small portion of my travel article about Gozo’s salt pans. Come back next week and I’ll tell you more about our trip to Malta.

Follow in the Footsteps of Malta’s Knights Templar

 Next to the Knights Templar, probably the most well known group of Crusader knights were the Knights of Malta, also known as The Knights of St John.

hallway inside the Grand Master Palace
hallway inside the Grand Master Palace

The famous Knights of St. John left their mark on small island on the Mediterranean, called Malta. To gaze out on their fortresses and wander through their palaces is a dream come true for many history seeking tourists.

Our journey started in the magnificent residence where they made their home. The Grand Master Palace is located on Valletta’s main street, Triq ir-Repubblika.

the ornate ceiling inside the hallway
the ornate ceiling inside the hallway

You can read about the rest of my journey in my travel article.

 

Springtime in Garmish-Partenkirchen

frescoed storefront in Garmisch

Garmisch-Partenkirchen in snuggled in the Alpine Region of Bavaria.  It was a delight to wander past the traditional frescoes on homes and storefronts, called “Lüftlmalereien,”.

The paintings date back to the 18th century when wealthy merchants, farmers and craftsmen showed their wealth and status with colourful frescoes on the façade of their houses. The paintings often incorporated existing architectural structures, such as windows or doors, or took the form of medallions or scenes from the Bible, fairy tales or folk festivals.

The city is the perfect base to explore the nearby palaces and castles. With so much to see Garmisch is a forever destination that I will return to

. another beautiful building

Rathskeller Schnitzel House

You can savour a taste of Bavaria right here on Vancouver Island. The family friendly tavern is located downtown Victoria, on Quadra and View.

Lively music met us at the door when we entered. Small etchings from around Germany lined the walls. Shelves were stacked with beer steins and other local crafts from around the country. Every sight and sound in the German tavern reminded me of our amazing trip to Deutschland

Our server, dressed in a brightly colored dirndl, guided us to our cozy booth. The time worn oak tables reflected the restaurant’s popularity amongst the locals and tourists. Little has changed since the restaurant opened for business 40 years ago.

My mouth was already watering for the potato pancakes that I enjoyed in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, a ski resort town an hour out of Munich.

After much deliberation, I ordered a Jägerschnitzel, topped with onions, bacon, mushrooms sautéed in a red wine sauce. With each mouthful, delightful memories from our exciting journey around Germany trickled back.

My husband and I spent a lovely hour planning our next trip to Bavaria over a tasty meal. The potato pancakes, that I spent a week anticipating, were as good as the reviews suggested. The visit to Rathskeller was my birthday celebration, and our perfect meal ended with a free schnapps.

Our next visit will be on a Friday or a Saturday night when the accordion entertainer plays traditional folk music. I can’t wait for the next family celebration