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Day 1: Home to Tenerife

We had lots of fun last November when we went away to Rome for a spontaneous weekend and we said at the time that it would be a fun thing to do again if we could find cheap flights. As November approached again this year, Tim announced that he had booked some cheap weekend flights as a birthday present for me, but the destination was going to be a secret. Or rather, he told me that the flights were to Derry, and I spent a lot of time hoping that that was a joke xD

As of this morning, all I knew was that we were flying with Ryanair and needed to be at East Midlands airport for around 05.30. That meant it was a fairly early start, but not as extreme an early start as we have had on some of our other holidays this year. We got to the airport for the appointed time and it was only when we were about to go through security that I was handed my boarding pass and able to see where we were going.... Tenerife!!! Tenerife???! :o  That sounded like a long way to go for a weekend!

Our flight was due to take off at 06.45 but as we left the terminal building to board the plane, I realised that it had unexpectedly begun to snow. It wasn't sticking to the ground, but as we stood in the queue to get onto the plane it was coming down thick and fast. Snow and UK airports are not a good mixture, and sure enough we ultimately ended up with a 45 minute delay to our flight as a result of having to wait for the aircraft to be de-iced.

Once we finally took off, the flight to Tenerife took 4.5 hours and was an 'interesting' experience. Despite the fact that it was a 06.45 flight, the passengers in the row across from us had nevertheless already managed to get drunk before boarding the aircraft and proceeded to spend the flight getting progressively drunker, to the point where one of them was barely able to get down the aircraft steps at the other end.  The most positive thing was that we managed to outwit the new Ryanair seating algorithm, which had placed me in 10E and Tim in 11B. When we sat down, however, Tim realised that he was sitting next to the husband of the woman I was sitting next to, so we managed to do an unofficial swap :)

It was midday when we finally landed in Tenerife South. First impressions were that it was very warm and humid, but not particularly sunny; there were a lot of clouds in the sky, and it looked like it might have been raining earlier. Passport control was very quick and soon we were in the queue to pick up our rental car. Renting a car is definitely a holiday first for us and we weren't sure how it was going to go, but it all seemed very straightforward... at least until the point where Tim had to actually start driving on the wrong side of the road :D

The plan for the weekend was to try and explore as much of the island as possible. Tenerife is the biggest of the Canary Islands but it's not a huge island, so Tim thought we would be able to see quite a lot. We had soon left the airport behind us and were driving on one of the island's main roads, towards the northwestern part of the island.

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I had expected Tenerife to look quite dry - which it did - but I was surprised by how mountainous it was even around the airport.

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We followed the main road for half an hour or so until we reached the village of Santiago del Teide.

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The village has a really pretty church...

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...as well as orange and lemon trees blooming in the street.

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We had a little stroll around to stretch our legs and could see that the landscape behind the village was quite mountainous. We were on our way to a place called Masca, which is supposed to be the most beautiful village in Tenerife, and the road signs indicated that it was somewhere in that direction.

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Masca was only supposed to be 5km away so we thought we would be there in a few minutes. We were wrong! What happened next was rather a baptism of fire for the rental car, as we made our way up an incredibly steep mountain road, full of hairpin bends. I didn't take any photos on the way up as I was too busy holding on for dear life, but once we'd got over the top of the ridge and started to descend, Tim managed to pull over into a viewpoint where we could take some photos.

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This might be the steepest road I've ever been on!

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The scenery was really beautiful though :)

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Once we'd got a little bit further down towards Masca, we were able to stop at a second viewpoint. The landscape was a bit less extreme here....

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...and the road was a lot more manageable too.

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We were able to follow a track for a little way...

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...and get some more views down towards the sea.

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Masca was down there somewhere but we ended up not actually stopping in it, as it's a tiny village and there wasn't anywhere obvious to park.

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Instead we followed the road onwards, down towards the sea.

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We soon reached the small town of Garachico.

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Garachico is situated on the northern coast of the island, so we'd already covered quite a bit of ground.

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The sea looked pretty fierce here today; not like the sort of place you'd want to go swimming!

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From there we were driving on faster roads again, travelling towards our ultimate destination for the evening of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife and the biggest city in the Canary Islands.

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Tim had booked a hotel for us in the city centre and we thought it would be relatively straightforward to find, but we had reckoned without the city's complex one-way system. Over the course of an hour, we got progressively closer to the street we needed, only to have to drive past it and do another big loop around the centre when it inevitably turned out that to get to the hotel would have involved having to drive the wrong way down a one-way street!

Eventually we made it though and were able to check in, before setting out to explore the town.

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The central square, Plaza de España, is quite unusual because it features a small artificial lake. 

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There's a nice view from the square of the mountains behind the town.

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Darkness was starting to fall by this point and so we got our first experience of Tenerife's Christmas lights.

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I was very impressed by the concept of Christmas lights on palm trees xD

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There was also a huge nativity scene already up...

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...and lots of other pretty displays.

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I really liked this street, where there were stars hanging from the trees.

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Although it was dark, it was still incredibly warm and when we stopped to have dinner shortly afterwards we were able to sit outside in short sleeves and feel just the right temperature.

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On the way back to the hotel we took a slightly different route and came across the most colourful Christmas lights of all :)

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It's been an exciting day, and I certainly wouldn't have thought when I woke up this morning that I'd be going to bed in Tenerife xD I'm looking forward to exploring more of the island tomorrow!

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