Tenerife, a great place for an alternative Christmas
Updated: Apr 11, 2020
So yes I know its the beginning of April and the world has gone crazy! We are currently in lock-down in the UK for the COVID-19 pandemic and have to stay indoors. It has taken me over 4 months to get round to writing a blog and making a vlog about my family holiday to Tenerife. I am always a bit late with writing blogs about my travels, but I am constantly remembering the memorable times I have exploring somewhere new. It feels extra special since we are not able to travel or even leave our homes at the moment. The later I leave it, the more precious and amazing it is to look back remember and reminisce about the good times, especially during this time, it make me truly thankful for the experiences I get to have. Once all of this uncertainty is over, it makes me want to plan and think where I would love to explore next.
So over Christmas in 2019, my family and I went to Tenerife from 22nd December-27th December. I was really looking forward to getting away from cold, rainy England and to swap it for warmer weather. I feel I was definitely made for warmer weather, I get very easily and it takes me ages to warm up. So I was definitely excited to go somewhere where I would constantly feel warm; and to venture somewhere without wearing a massive coat, hat, scarves and gloves.
I usually spend my Christmas' with my parents and my autistic brother. While growing up we typically spent Christmas at home, opening presents, cooking Christmas dinner, indulging in festive foods and maybe watching a Christmas film . My parents, like me, love to explore new places and experience different cultures. My brother loves to stay in a hotel and enjoys any type of travel. Whether it be plane, train, bus, boat or car, he really enjoys a journey to somewhere. He regularly asks to go on a trip (usually wishing for it to be to Hong Kong). Christmas for all of us is about spending time together and making memories. Over the past couple of years we have decided to spend our Christmas holiday abroad, exploring somewhere new while spending quality time together.
Flying from Birmingham to Tenerife, was easy, unfortunately we weren't able to reserve seats together. We were able to get 2 seats together for my brother, and my dad. Edwin, my brother has severe autism which can make holidays and travel a little bit difficult for us because of his special needs, however we have a sunflower lanyard which lets airport staff know he has a hidden disability. This helps us get the assistance he might need, making all our journeys easier. It was night time by the time we landed in Tenerife, we picked up our rental car, plugged the sat-nav in and got on our way to our apartment hotel.
Our first experience on the roads in Tenerfie was not a good one. They drive on the other side to the UK. My dad has not driven abroad in a while, and with it being dark and not knowing the roads, it took us about an hour to finally get to our apartment hotel in Los Cristianos. With it being past 9pm by the time we had checked in, we quickly popped in to the supermarket and grabbed some things to make a simple dinner of omelettes and salad in our apartment.
In the morning we were welcomed by 25 degrees celcius and glorious sunshine as we opened the shutters on our balcony doors. The good thing about having an apartment means we are able to have relaxed mornings, getting ready in our own time, making breakfast and for me, having time to workout out or practice yoga on the balcony terrace. This makes it easier for all of us with Edwin, who likes to wake up early and make breakfast. Once we are all ready, we spent the morning exploring the area of Los Cristinos.
Los Cristianos is a resort town in the south of Tenerife. It is not usually the sort of place we would like to stay, however with it being low season and only being here a week, it was pleasant enough. It was nice to walk along the sea coast and harbor. Many restaurants, pubs and bars line the sea-front attracting British tourist with beer or advertising karaoke night. Palm trees line the sea front and we join the many others walking along the coast enjoying the sunshine and taking in the coastal views.
In the afternoon we took the car to visit the next town along the coast, Playa Las Americas which is an even bigger resort. I had booked a surf lesson here via a surf school who I contacted through whatsapp prior to our arrival in Tenerife. There were quite a few surf schools in the sea at the time, and the conditions were quite rough. I have surfed a few times in many different places, however this was the first time I had to wear shoes while surfing. The ground was rocky and sharp in the sea which was a first for me. Anyhow it was fun to catch some waves for a couple of hours, be in the ocean and to have some time to myself. I was able to be mindful and to take everything in, exactly what I needed. While I was enjoying the sea, my parents and Edwin went to play on the beach and explore Las Americas.
On Christmas Eve, during the day we went on a trip to visit Tiede National Park. This is where the volcano is in Tenerife, right in the middle of the island. That day, I drove the car which was my first ever time driving abroad. To be honest, it was a little scary since:
1. I have never driven in a foreign country before
2. Which means I am sitting on the left hand side
3.The car is a massive BMW while I'm used to driving a little Peugeot 208
4.I'm used to driving a manual car and the car is automatic, which you think would be easier, but no, no it isnt.
After going down a couple of wrong roads, we finally made it on track to the national park through long winding roads taking us up, up into the volcanic terrain. We stopped off at a couple of places to take in the sights of the volcano, before parking up at the tourist hotpot for a walk. We got away from the crowds and into an area where it was just us. The views and scenery are spectacular and like nothing I have seen before. The vast unique volcanic landscape goes on for miles making it feel like you are on a different planet. It is how I feel visiting Mars would be like. After a day of walking, we went back to our apartment to chill, spend time by the pool before going out for dinner in Los Cristianos at a restaurant we had booked via TripAdvisor.
On Christmas day, we went on an adventure into the mountains to visit this tiny little village called Masca. This time dad drove the car, I decided driving these winding roads was not for me; and I feel like I definitely made the right choice as the road to Masca was even more windy and much more scarier than the day before. Masca is located at the foot of the Tena Mountains in Tenerife however there is only one very narrow road to get there. Along this road there are many viewpoints you can stop off at. Everyone taking this road is a tourist, who isn't used to driving this terrain, meaning we all have to be careful of each other. Once we arrived, it was lovely to have a stroll into this very secluded village, There were a few small cafes and shops; however since it was Christmas day they were not open, there wasn't even a public toilet to use! After a good look around Masca, we got back into the car and onto the windy roads out of Masca back to our apartment. It was nice to have time to chill after our adventures that day before having dinner at different restaurant we found using Tripadvisor called Casa Tagoro, a European restaurant owned by a couple. After dinner we went back to our apartment to watch Paddington 2 on the BBC 1 The great thing about Tenerife is that we are able to get most British TV channels with no time difference so we don't even have to miss out on Christmas TV.
On boxing day, we decided take the stress of driving somewhere off ourselves and stay locally in Los Cristianos. We booked a boat trip for the afternoon to go dolphin and whale watching. I was so skeptical about seeing anything as I went dolphin watching in Goa while on my Yoga Teacher Training (which I might need to write a blog about that experience at some point) and we saw only a very few dolphins in the distance. After a bit of a stressful walk around the harbor area trying to find our boat, it was a lovely boat ride out to sea with the sun shining and we could take in the views of the coastline. Once we were out far enough, I was so amazed by the amount of dolphins and small whales we saw and how close to the boat they actually were, the stress of trying to find the boat earlier was forgotten.
On our final day in Tenerife, our flight was scheduled for the evening; we packed our bags, got into the car and stopped off at two places on the way to the airport. The first was Playa Los Abrigos, a small fishing village. This was probably my favorite place we went to visit during the whole trip. The place was quiet and not populated with tourists, shops or restaurants. There was a nice walkway we could follow, taking in the scenery and the natural beauty of the landscape. On the way back we went into the village which had a couple of restaurants to choose from along the coastline. We opted for one which had a large variety of fresh fish to choose from. The menu had pictures of all the different fish that were on offer, with the waiter being able to tell us which ones he had available. Again this was my favorite meal of the trip. After lunch we made a quick stop off at the town of Masca before heading to the airport. Masca was very busy when we visited, however it had a much more local feel to it. The shops and restaurants looked less catered for the tourist and more for locals. We only had time for a quick stroll through the town, however there looked like there were many water-sports on offer here.
Overall this was such a memorable and fantastic Christmas with my family. We had many adventures together as well as time to rest and rejuvenate from our daily lives. I would highly recommend a trip to Tenerife if you like adventure and sightseeing, it is also a fantastic place for active people. With lots of beautiful places to walk, run and cycle it is really easy to get in some daily exercise plus the many water sports on offer such as surfing, diving or kite surfing. By staying in an apartment, I also had the opportunity to do my own workouts and daily yoga practice out on the balcony. In terms of food, having an apartment gives us the opportunity to cook our own food, helping us to make healthier choices. We would prepare our own breakfasts each day and either have lunch or dinner at the apartment. This really helps prevent us from over indulging while on holiday and helps if you are on a budget. It is very easy to overeat especially at a hotel breakfast buffet, or if you are going out to eat for lunch and dinner. When we did eat out for lunch or dinner, it also made it feel more special. When eating out in Tenerife, the portions are of a decent size with lots of dishes on offer. As a family we love to try the food of the country so mostly ate in spanish restaurants, even though there are many restaurants offering indian, chinese and british food to cater for the tourists as well. As a pescatarian, there was plenty of fish dishes on offer in most of the places we ate. The vegetarian options were limited however with most options including large amounts of cheese. We didn't have traditional Christmas dinner, yet the food we did have throughout the trip was delicious and a great experience. As far as Christmas' go, I very much enjoyed this trip and didn't feel like I missed out on anything we would have done back at home. I hope going abroad and exploring somewhere new over the holidays becomes a Christmas tradition for years to come.