Tenerife: Los Gigantes & Playa de Las Americas (6/8)

While I was in Tenerife I stayed in Los Gigantes, home to giant cliffs that gave the town its name: The Giants.

I had a lovely time with my family, which included this epic coffee:

Condensed milk, orange liqueur, a little Cointreau,
coffee, lemon, cinnamon, milk!

The sunset from Los Gigantes is a real delight, as it sets behind another Canary Island called La Palma. You can watch the sunset in 360 in this week's Morning Calm Experience! Marvelous!

As well as the sunset, the town has black sand beaches and a lovely parade of restaurants tailored to the many British, German, French, and Russian visitors and inhabitants.

I want to take this opportunity to talk about the nightlife on Tenerife. I came here with a group of lads in 2006 and went to Playa de las Americas. It was a wild shambles full of teenage lust and a lack of respect of the power of alcohol on our 18-year-old bodies! A typical "lads' on tour" vibe with themed shirts and testosterone-fuelled arguments.

It was fantastic in many ways, despite taking five years off my liver. It was the last time all six of us would hang out together and, of course, we did not know that at the time. I guess you rarely do, especially at that age. It was nothing tragic, just one friend dropped off the radar...

Many strange moments and frenzied memories flood my brain - many too esoteric or too embarrassing to share. It was the Inbetweeners before the Inbetweeners. The same awkward energy and naivety expressed itself in all of us at various times. We all had our personal missions: To get laid, to get drunk, to be liked and have fun with our mates…Whatever it was, each of us had our insecure 18-year-old minds and high hormone levels that led us down paths of adolescent cravings.

I find it hard as a 31-year-old to imagine being 18, not too far off half my age. I know myself better in most ways and have reduced or eliminated many of the insecurities I had on that trip.

I remember in 2006 buying cheap drinks desperately trying to get the courage to speak to a lady. Too afraid of rejection, I found comfort in making my friends laugh…I hated how I moved on the dancefloor and this was before I realised how to enjoy dancing. This was when dancing felt like steering a car when you've hit ice. No control of my limbs, my best moves being modifications of my Wing Chun forms (i.e. set routine movements). It was an odd time and I had some odd dance moves.

We had finished school and would all be going to uni. We were all about to start fresh and begin a new life where we could throw away the baggage that school brought with it. 

I had just started writing stories and it was already becoming somewhat of a passion/obsession of mine. I was going to study engineering but why couldn’t I be a sitcom writer as well!? The world seemed limitless, both in experiences and opportunities.

This feeling, thankfully, I still hold. Even with my sarcastic cynicism, I know it to be true. The world is incredible and more open now than ever. It's just a shame that stating the truth just isn't as funny as a sarcastic cynical response. That was one thing I was ALWAYS trying to be the best at…Being funny. 

I was desperate to get people to laugh… Then I knew they liked me (at least in that moment) and wit was my best weapon for the job.

I no longer crave to do this as much. I don’t want to be liked as much as I used to, which I think is a good thing. I listen more to myself and know what I want from life better, rather than seeking approval from others.

However, it means I don’t try as hard to be funny! That's something I should work on. If someone is laughing then everything is fine. Even if it only lasts a few seconds. That's the joy of laughter. And that's what this trip to Playa de Las Americas reminded me of.

There's nothing better than making others and yourself laugh. Until next time.

Eating in a club like a champ!

Tenerife: Garachico (5/8)

I continue on my tour de force of Tenerife with a visit to the port town of Garachico. It was founded by a Genoan banker in the 1500s and became a very successful port, exporting Malmsey wine and other local produce. For many, many years the town was oozing with riches, and even had a street made of marble, that commoners were only allowed to walk on once a week!

But the people revolted…well not really! Actually, there was a huge volcanic eruption in 1706 and this seismic activity brought great devastation to Garachico on a Biblical scale. Lava poured into the town, destroying huge areas including the port, which held the livelihoods and wealth of the inhabitants. It left behind a rocky seafront, which is now dotted with rock pools and is a great place to swim and bathe in, outside of the winter months when I was visiting.

It was much too cold when I was there to have a dip, and a recent flood meant the area was closed off for repairs to the guardrails, etc.

This town really has a history of death and destruction, having suffered plagues, volcanoes, floods, and conquests. But it didn't feel that way when I was walking around the quaint streets.

There's a beautiful park that houses the old 16th century gateway to the harbour; a tribute to its past and a reminder of the fragility of life on an active volcano. There were lots of grand old buildings that had survived the eruption, as well as years of rebuilding and reconstruction.

It is a very pleasant place and I loved this 15th century fortress perched by the seafront.

It was at this point that I realised how varied the island of Tenerife is and how many cool things there are to see and do. Luckily for all you readers and VR explorers out there, we have captured the essence of the Garachico in this week's 360 experience.

Enjoy that and enjoy the photos! And come back next week for more!


Tenerife: Santa Cruz (4/8)

My Tenerife adventure continues with this short post about the capital of Tenerife, Santa Cruz. It's also the joint capital of the Canary Islands. I was unaware joint capitals were even a thing until I researched Santa Cruz.

This city is home to 500k people and has a mix of culture that is not entirely Spanish or African. It's Canarian, loosely described as mostly Spanish with some Guanches influence. The Guanches are the first known human inhabitants of the Canary Islands, around 1000 years ago.

The issue with busy itineraries like the one I was adhering to in Tenerife, is the lack of time to observe and absorb the culture. I only had a week and change on the island and was more focused on capturing 360 video than exploring local customs. Some might think of this as a shame, but I love filming!

I love the process of exploring and finding the shots that I want to share. I love editing the clips together and then taking Katie on a virtual adventure, as we narrate the videos for others to enjoy. I also know that this will paint a picture of Tenerife that my future self will appreciate as well! Hopefully others appreciate what we're trying to do with our 360 vlogs as well!

That's not to say I wouldn’t have loved to learn more about the culture. But as we say, always leave something undone so you have a reason to return. And in the words of Arnold Schwarzenegger… I'll be back.

The shopping and museums in Santa Cruz are a big reason tourists and islanders visit the capital. Neither enticed me there. I was going to see the architecture, principally the "Auditorio de Tenerife". This beautiful structure was built by Santiago Calatrava, the same man responsible for the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, as well as the Oculus World Trade Center in New York.

As you can see, this building is a work of art. It was simply incredible to walk around the auditorium and see the paintings on the rocks nearby of famous and mostly dead musicians. A stark reminder that even the greatest humans can't escape the ultimate fate.

The city didn't do too much for me but it was very much a flying visit. As I said earlier, I hope to return with my partner in crime and eat all the local delicacies. I barely ate out at all, favouring pack lunches. Part of the reason is cost, but also not having the excited and knowledgeable Katie whispering the culinary delights we have to try meant I missed out on the food. I'LL BE BACK.

Next week I'll tell you about a seaside town that impressed me with rock pools and grand plazas. For now, go watch our 360 video on Santa Cruz. We'll see you next week!


Tenerife: La Orotava (3/8)

I'm continuing my tales from Tenerife with a little bit about the town of La Orotava.

I remember getting back to my Uncle’s place after a long day of exploring and waxing lyrical about this town. There was something distinctive and prestigious about the feel of this town that seemed to permeate my time there.

Perhaps it was something to do with the history of writers and artists that have set up shop in La Orotava to create and explore their art in this island haven.

Perhaps it was the clash of this cultural epicentre with Tenerife’s extreme natural beauty.

Perhaps I just happened to be in a good mood due to a good night's sleep or having some food drugged by a friendly spiker…

Perhaps the town just emanates prestige… Who knows?

The big sights in this small town are the church, the main square, and some historic buildings. They were all beautiful in their own right and it was a welcome change to see some man-made beauty after already exploring Teide National Park and the mountainous region around Masca.

The architecture was fantastic to marvel at, especially against the backdrop of the non-man-made, natural beauty of Tenerife! I especially enjoyed my encounters with Dragon trees, which are huge and plentiful in this town.

If you’re close by, I’d take a few hours to check La Orotava out and explore the quaint streets.

As night fell on this town, I realised I was several hours from where I was staying and already worn out from a day of exploring. It was one of those realisations that makes you wonder why you ever leave your house… Or why they haven’t got round to inventing teleportation yet?

I kept myself awake by listening to obscene podcasts with fresh air blowing in my face while concentrating on the curvy mountain roads that made this such a driving challenge. It was a tough slog and I took refuge in the wise words of the many motivational speakers that I listen to on YouTube. This encouragement got me through, despite arriving back in a manic and unintelligible state.

Perhaps it was this mental state that had me singing La Orotava’s praises from the hilltops. The joy of being alive had transferred to the joy of seeing La Orotava.

Well that makes a bit more sense…

So enjoy the photos of the town and don’t forget to watch our 360 VR experience as well, to fully immerse yourself in this town. Ciao for now!