April 19th, 2023
Santa Cruz de Tenerife
Land again! We had booked a tour to ride the cable car up Mt Teide, a very tall volcano on the island. I was very excited as I love cable cars and volcanoes. It sounded like the perfect way to spend our day ashore.
We took the shuttle bus from the ship to the downtown area
It turned out that our tour had been cancelled due to a “lack of interest”, so no volcanoes for me. Instead, we decided to take a taxi to see the botanic gardens in Puerto de la Cruz.
This turned out to be a great alternative. Although our taxi driver spoke very little English, and my Mexican Spanish is very rudimentary, we were able to spend a wonderful day with him driving us around.
On our way to Puerto de la Cruz we stopped at a view point so we could view Mt Teide. This was not going to happen today. The mountain was shrouded in thick clouds, and although we thought we had a brief glimpse of the volcano, basically all we saw were clouds. Brian pointed out that we wouldn’t have seen much on our cable car ride today, so that made me feel a bit better about our change of plans.
We looked down at the vineyards and banana plantations below. It certainly looked like a very fertile island.
Next stop was the botanic garden, which did not disappoint. Officially known as the Acclimatization Garden of Orotava, it was created by a Royal Order issued by King Charles lll in August of 1788 as a result of the need to acclimatize species brought from the tropics with the idea of them eventually ending up in in Spain. Well, that’s what the pamphlet we were given says. The gardens are full of ficus trees, palm trees, bromeliads, and orchids. We had a great time looking for familiar plants from Africa, and marveling at the root systems of the huge ficus trees. There is a large ficus tree in the courtyard next to our house, that our neighbors feel needs to be removed due to the concerns about the roots. Well, they are right. Those roots look very nasty, and could certainly do major damage to the sewer and gas lines next to the tree. The trees were filled with beautiful birds who were singing away most tunefully. It was a magical garden.
Then we were driven to Puerto de la Cruz itself. This a wonderful seaside town with the most amazing series of swimming pools along the water front. We walked the length of the promenade listening to the buskers and enjoying the sea air.
On the waterfront is the historic chapel of San Telmo. We read up all about San Telmo on the sign outside the chapel, as there is an arroyo near our house called San Telmo, and we thought it was probably the same saint. Well apparently San Telmo has only been beatified, and isn’t really a fully fledged saint yet. He seems to have quite a number of things named after him, so his lack of true sainthood doesn’t seem to matter.
There was a man playing the built in guitar on a rather strange guitar bike which you could apparently ride and play the guitar at the same time. It looked like a lot of fun, but we didn’t try it out.
Away from the promenade, many of the buildings in the older part of town have beautiful wooden balconies, quite unlike anything we had seen before.
There were the usual souvenir type shops, but also some lovely dress shops. I was tempted to go and look for a red dress for tomorrow night so I don’t have to hem my current dress myself, but I could see that Brian has had enough with me searching for the perfect red dress on 3 continents, so I had to content myself with the well-stocked Clarks shoe store.
After exploring Puerto de la Cruz, we drove to the village of Orotava, high up in the hills, stopping at a view point on the way. There was a great view down the valley to the sea below. And a statue of Humboldt, he of the penguins and current I assume.
Orotava is a very pretty village, with many buildings with the beautiful wooden balconies, and strange trees.
We stopped by the cemetery. There were lovely fresh flowers everywhere, and as cemeteries go, it was a very beautiful place. We weren’t sure if the remains of the inhabitants were in the walls behind the memorials, or elsewhere in the cemetery.
We asked our driver to take us to a local restaurant for lunch, wanting to avoid tourist traps. Well the Casa San Antonio certainly was local. The staff didn’t speak much English, and there was no menu. Our waiter tried to describe what was available. I had always thought I was fluent in Mexican restaurant Spanish, but clearly my expertise in Tenerife restaurant Spanish was lacking. We were able to establish that beer and white wine were needed. They both appeared immediately, the beer in a glass, and the wine not in a glass, but in a carafe. Well. I thought, I can always sleep in the car on the way back to the ship.
We ordered several mystery dishes, but our waiter didn’t think that would be enough for us, so he had more suggestions. So we ordered those as well, clarifying that the cheese dish was made from a cow not a goat by making mooing and baaing sounds.
A feast for at least a dozen people arrived on our table. It was all delicious, although we weren’t sure exactly what some of the dishes were. We asked our waiter to explain – but only got the answer that I assumed was that they were Canarian specialties.
We did our best, and our taxi driver was very happy to take the left overs home for dinner.
Back in Santa Cruz we did some shopping to replenish our supplies of sodas and snacks, and decided to walk back to the ship rather than take the shuttle bus. It is about a 10-minute walk, and you walk past the cruise terminal and duty-free shop. They both looked abandoned, and I must admit it was somewhat strange that they were not in use with 2 ships in port. Maybe they are only used for embarkation and disembarkation.
Nestled in the breakwater were several little shops selling souvenirs, towels, and casual clothing. I was tempted to stop by, but we really already have too much stuff. The we came to a very interesting shop selling SIM cards and doing money transfers, but also selling Indonesian noodles.
We were back on board in good time, and were thinking of going on deck to watch us sail away when we heard that familiar plea for guests ungently to call the Pursers Office. The pleas were repeated, but then I heard clapping and cheering. There were people running to the gangway. Finally the gangway was removed, and I thought we would be off. But then there was the announcement that due to a medical issue, a guest would be leaving the ship, so we had to wait for the arrangements to be made. Then we were delayed by a ferry arriving. Then we were delayed by a ferry leaving. Finally we were off! It was not an easy task squeezing Queen Mary 2 between the passenger terminal breakwater and the cargo terminal breakwater, but our very maneuverable liner was able to do it with grace. We headed off into the Atlantic again. As we bade farewell to our pilot we sounded our wonderful whistle. I love that sound. It was 8:00 PM and time to get ready for dinner. As we went down to the stateroom Brian and I started out usual argument as to which whistle was superior – QE2 or QM2. QM2 is my favorite of the current ships in service, but QE2 is totally the winner as far as I am concerned. No doubt about it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z0_M_wDFXNg&pp=ygULc2FtdWVsczU3MzE%3D
Halfway through dinner that familiar ding sound was heard. It is never good when the captain interrupts dinner. This time it was a request for the response team to go to the Princess Grill restaurant to deal with a fire. Ah ha, a flambe has gone terribly wrong I thought. Stephen Payne leant over and said that he was sure the issue was smoke in the air conditioning ducts in the ceiling and nothing to worry about, although he did start making references to the Poseidon Adventure.
Then Captain Hall announced that there was smoke in the Princess Grill and it had been evacuated. Stephen said “see I told you, it’s the air conditioning duct”
Finally, as we were discussing which lifeboats we preferred, Captain Hall said that the smoke was from the air conditioning ducts, and the problem had been resolved. Everything was back to normal again. It does pay to make friends with the designer of the ship.
I was relieved that the problem was solved. I hate to think that anything awful could happen to this beautiful liner.