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Hidden Jewels of Tenerife

 

The olive skinned man sitting with me puts down his glass of wine and gestures towards the ocean just a few yards away where huge foam crested waves break against a jagged row of rocks.

Taganana
photo credit: cortto via photopin cc

He is the owner of the place we are now sitting, Casa Africa, a delightful café in the small fishing village of Taganana on Tenerife.

‘Just right for this kind of weather’ he grins, tapping his glass. ‘Made here you know, in this very village’.

Although still before midday, I decided to sample some.
The taste was just as rough as the sea and similar to a crude sherry with its bite.

After a short while, plates of polpette, cooked patiently in oil, red peppers and garlic that the squid melts in your mouth are served, accompanied with the local goat cheese which is salty by tradition.

There is only myself, the café owner and a couple of other locals at this spot.
No other tourists have found their way here yet to sample this delightful treat.

As I sit here in my wind buffeted bliss, it’s hard to imagine that the south, with all its bars and clubs, is just a short drive away.

The north east of the island where Taganana lies hidden, is a rare delight.

Even the drive from Tenerife's former capital, La Laguna, is a real adventure of sights and sounds.
To get here, you navigate through the twisting El Bailadero mountain road, which is swathed in mist and dotted with the cave dwellings of the Guanche tribe.

Bailadero Mountain Road
Bailadero Mountain Road Courtesy of arkimia.wordpress.com

With its Lord of the Rings type landscape; you often wonder if the road will reach a dead end.
Peering through the occasional gaps in the dark shrouds of laurel trees, you can just about glimpse the incredible seascape over 900 metres below.

Then, as if from nowhere, the village appears in front of you.
A sparkling cluster of square block houses dressed in white with terraced vineyards, beautifully etched into the mountainside, spilling down towards a deep blue sea.

Taganana only became electrified a few years ago and as you can imagine, phones are relatively new also.
There is a small local shop which sells groceries, one chemist and a handful of places to eat.
It is one of those places where time stood still.

It's another place where very few visitors on Tenerife ever get to see. This is one of the many hidden pockets of unspoilt charm on the most touristic of all the Canaries.
If you prefer the typical holiday of sun, sand and sea, then it’s best to choose the south, but for those interested in historic towns and villages with dollops of atmosphere and a chance to interact with the locals, then the north should definitely be your choice.

The town of Garachico sits about 40 miles west of Taganana and it is easy to warm to its atmosphere.
Instead of noisy quad bikes and construction noises of the south, this place is an oasis of serenity.
Looking out of the window of my room, a middle aged man sweeping the steps of the Iglesia San Fransisco stops to greet one of his friends.
The church bells welcome the new hour and a young mother hurriedly drags her reluctant child to the local school.

Garachico
When dusk arrives, the adjoining park bustles with children chasing one another, shaded by the towering palms, and old men while away time by playing cards at a kiosk bar.

This is the core of Garachico life, the much used Plaza Libertad that carries former noblemen’s houses and inspirational convents.

The Hotel San Roque also shares the same grand designs, just around the corner of the plaza. It has to be one of the best historic inns situated in the north, a converted Canarian mansion from the 18th century surrounded by two colonial styled courtyards. The colours grab your attention and the staff, very friendly and obliging.

This postcard pretty town with its whitewashed houses lined along the cobbled lanes is certainly an incredible scene.

Another 30 minute drive from here is the truly photogenic town of La Orotava.

La Orotava

 

The centre of this town is from Plaza Patricia Garcia to the Calle San Fransisco, home to the doce casas; the historic mansions that make La Orotava's such a magnet.

The mansions have the most ornate balconies you could imagine, and with their blissful, plant filled patios, it makes them truly exquisite

If you visit this town, make the effort to stop for lunch at Sabor Canario, the restaurant of Hotel Rural Orotava, which has tables set out on the patio.
They serve authentic Canarian dishes like lamb stew accompanied with papas which are a salty potato served with a spicy sauce called mojo.

Get a taste of Tenerife and as a friend always used to tell me; ‘You haven’t visited Tenerife unless you get Mojoed’!

 

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2 comments

  1. I have always wanted to visit Tenerife. Such a lovely place. The hidden jewels are often missed by the tourists. Thanks for highlighting them. Love to get Mojoed.

    • Thank you Shalu.:)
      It certainly has its gems and as with so many destinations, the carefully kept secrets are rarely experienced by the regular tourist.
      Perhaps one day you’ll get the chance to visit.