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|Puerto de la Cruz - Tenerife 2017 - part 2|
The next day we were ready for a walk and the weather continued fine and we decided to walk along the coast, beyond the Hotel Semiramis. This walk was inspired by Sunflower Walk 1a and is a good start to walking. After the Hotel Semiramis we passed a landing platform which is used as an alternative by the parapenting pilots. The path begins as a tarmac narrow road, then descends under the main road through a tunnel. There are banana plantations on both sides of the path and stone walls which support the terraces. The path descends to the Barranco de la Arena and climbs up to a minor road which goes along the cliff top to the Bollullo Restaurant, padlocked closed when we walked past, but its (pay) carpark was still open. The path continues along the cliff top with good views down to the Bollullo Beach and soon reaches the path down. There is a viewpoint and then the path clings to the walls of the banana plantations and is hemmed in by trees. It is not easy and we learned from 2016 and were wearing our walking boots. There are steps down to another beach and more spectacular views. The next path down is closed and the steps have disappeared down the cliffside; our route turns away, climbing towards the main road at El Rincon and the San Diego Restaurant. The restaurant was full and the food looked excellent, especially the fish. We bought an icecream and continued our walk. The complete Walk 1a can be continued up to the Cafe Vista Paraiso, far above, but we continued along the road towards the Barranco de la Arena on a path parallel to our outbound path but closer inland. It was easy to rejoin our original path to the Hotel Semiramis and then down to Puerto. The roundtrip walk was 7.5kms
Today was Friday, and the usual special Canarian buffet dinner on Thursday had been postponed. There was a special charity event with dinner in the hotel at 2200, so our evening meal had been brought forward to start at 1815 instead of 1900, and the food was canarian style. We had opened a bottle of Tacaronte white wine, from Listan grapes, before dinner. So we were ready to follow that with typical canarian food.
The next interesting walk is Sunflower Walk 1b, from Puerto de la Cruz to the Mirador of San Pedro. The walk is also suggested in the free Tenerife On Foot pamphlet. Leaving the hotel we first passed the bus station where we bought our BonoVia card, and then to the Castillo de San Felipe and the Playa Jardin.The walk continued along the coast and passed the Loro Parque. Originally famous for its collection of parrots it has expanded to include an animal portfolio which includes a penguin house with real snow, a subterranean aquarium and dolphin and orca shows. Families can easily spend a whole day there, and for people who don't want the coastal walk there is a little free tourist train from outside McDonalds at the Hotel Las Vegas at Plaza Reyes Catolicos. Having done this walk in 2016 we knew the route and we could see our next target, the blue Hotel Maritim, ahead. The promenade then continues as a coastal path, with views down onto water channels, and once again we were glad we had put on our hiking shoes. Once we reached the Playa de los Roques we turned off to the viewpoint, then climbed to the La Romantica II development. The cafe in the row of little shops on the left was open, but had no icecreams left after the weekend. We promised ourselves we would stop for a beer later. We continued along the road until reaching the coastal path again.
The path is high and there are more good views of the old water channels and there is a (closed) path down to the ruins of the Victorian Gordejuela pumping station. The pumping station was built to power a flour mill and to pump water from the springs in the Gordejuela area to the Oratava vineyards and banana plantations. Descending to the bridge over the Barranco el Patronato there was a steady climb on a concrete track, and then a steep drop to another bridge and into the Barranco del Agua. There are then many options to reach the Mirador and we chose to follow signs to La Casona, the old manor house belonging to the de Castro family. Other detours went down to the sea and other remains of waterworks. The Mirador de San Pedro has a popular bar and cafe, and busy at the weekend. We were not planning to eat and had our picnic which we ate in the picnic area below, at the Madre del Aqua, near the source of the water. It was then a pleasant walk all the way back to Puerto de la Cruz. In 2016 we had caught the 363 bus from San Vicente, which stops near the tunnel. The return walk was 8kms from the Castillo de San Felipe, and a comfortable walk of just over 4 hours.
There was plenty of time to walk back slowly to the hotel and we noticed a number of houses had been decorated with large wall paintings. There are 13 wall murals which had all been painted in 2014 as part of an artistic and cultural project of Puerto Street Art, and more have been painted since.
The next day we chose an easier walk, to the Sitio Litre Orchid Garden. It is close to the steps which we had climbed to go to the Botanical Gardens, and is reached by a steep road on the side of the small park just beyond the Mercadona.It is a small garden, but a nice shady place. The garden has a large pond with very plump tame fish and a large green lizard. It is generally famous for its Orchids.
There is also an aviary, a large dragon tree and cafe. There was a small gift shop in 2016 but that was closed. The famous physicist Alexander von Humboldt visited for tea on 28 June 1799 and this was recognised by erecting a monument in 1999. Agatha Christie visited the garden and she is said to have written a book here; there is a display of copies of the book and mannequins representing her and Mr Quinn. Marianne North, the artist, spent time here painting and copies of her pictures are on display.
We now felt able to start our proper hiking, and our next trip was to Icod and then into the hiking area which is around La Montaneta, San Jose de Los Llanos, Erjos and Los Silos. The footpaths are all marked in the Sunflower Walk 16 maps. We planned to go to Icod using the 363 bus with destination Buenavista, which departs Puerto at 1000, but we were early and caught the 0930. This gave more time for our connection at Icod. Icod de los Vinos is a busy bus interchange town which is famous for its giant dragon tree, said to be more than 1000 years old. To visit it is only 5 minutes walk uphill from the bus station. The tree is now contained within a private Park with entrance charge but there is still a good view from the Plaza de la Inglesia de San Marcos. Unfortunately the church in the Plaza was still closed due to repair work. We had arrived one week later than in 2016 and the festival was over but the decorations were still in place there and at the Ermita del Calvario. The nearby Plaza de la Pila, with its fountain, is overlooked by the Casa de la Familia Lorenzo Caceres. This fine 19th century palace contains permanent and temporary art exhibitions, and was free to visit. There was plenty of time to see the exhibitions before the departure of our 360 bus at 1140. The route to the bus station passed the Town Hall. and the church of the Convent of San Agustin which was closed.
In 2016 we described a roundtrip walk from La Montaneta to the Montana Negra. This years walk aimed to see more of the Montana Negra by starting the walk from the village of San Jose de Los Llanos, just a few miles beyond the church of San Fracisco. The 360 bus was very full because there was a hiking tour group as well as a number of local people who had gone to Icod for their shopping. The hiking group all got off at the stop after the church of San Francisco and we joked that we would meet them, walking in the other direction, later. Our bus stop was just after the camping/recreation area and before the centre of San Jose de Los Llanos. The path was along TF43.1 and signposted to Chinyero. Continuing upwards along TF43.1 only one hour and 2.9kms after the bus stop we reached the canal and turned left. The Galeria Vergara Alta and the canal are said to be responsible for a large supply of water since the early 1950s. The Montana Negra (Volcan Negro) 1401 metres was ahead and would be passed on our left hand side. It is not allowed to leave the path to walk onto the volcan, so we had to be content with a series of photos framed by the local trees. As its name suggests, it is a black, or very dark brown, volcanic small mountain. The path continues along the concrete water trough until the TF43 junction to the left towards the picnic area of Las Arenas Negras. Ten minutes later and we stopped for our lunch. The TF43 is a good walking track and we followed it all the way back to the bus stop at the church of San Francisco from where it continued north to Garachico. There are only 5 buses each day and we needed to be sure of catching the 15.45 back to Icod. There is real time information about bus arrival times so we were ready to leave the seat at the bus shelter and leap into the road when we knew the bus was just around the corner. We misjudged the walk and were actually half an hour early. The distance was 7.6kms
The next trip was more challenging. There are many possible walks in the area between the village of La Montaneta and the towns of Los Silos and Buenavista. In 2016 we did the roundtrip Walk 16 from La Montaneta which was described as "fairly easy" with only just over a thousand foot of climb! The previous walks were "easy". This was a new walk. Again we caught the 363 bus at 1000 which went to Buenavista, and got off at Icod de los Vinos to catch the bus 360 to the Church of San Francisco on the far side of the village of la Montaneta. Our walk was downhill all the way to San Juan del Reparo and onwards to Garachico where there would be a frequent bus service back to Puerto de la Cruz. This had the advantage of not being concerned about catching (or missing) the 1545 bus from Buenavista as it passed through La Montaneta. The total distance was 7.8kms, downhill.
It is a walk of two halves, along the PR TF 43, so a continuation of the footpath from yesterday. The first half is along the forest path, downhill, to San Juan del Reparo. It is very well signposted but the path starts badly with signage indicating a very narrow footpath with waist-high brambles and other viscious wild plants, running alongside a nice road marked with Private, KeepOut signs. It became obvious later that only tourists obey these signs. Fortunately the path was only bad for a short distance and Pauline was wearing trousers so she volunteered to explore while Pete watched from the road. The path got better quickly and there was a junction with another path from the south. The path was dry but slippery, due to the carpet of pine needles, but the scenery was pleasant. The later half of the walk was very rocky and lumpy. The park outside the 17th century church of San Juan Bautista in San Juan del Reparo had seats for picnic. Unfortunately the church was closed, else it would be interesting to view the statue of Nuestra Senora de la Nieves which also dates from the 17th century. There was a bar opposite. As we sat and ate our lunch a bus 460 came through
The second part is a steep wide path from San Juan del Reparo which zig zags down a very steep ancient path with fantastic views of the coast and of the town and port of Garachico. The town of Garachico is named after the rock offshore (gara = island and chico = small). The Tenerife On Foot pamphlet describes it as Low level of difficulty, with a height difference of 500m, and only 2.7kms and 1.30 hours as a roundtrip from Garachico. The pamphlet is wrong. It is 2.8kms and 1.30 hours each way, not roundtrip. The path is well signposted from the church and the first part, along a road, is steep but easy. The views down to Garachico are spectacular and with good knees and no tired muscles it is probably enjoyable. After an earlier downhill hike we were tired and there was the extra concern of the rough and slippery stones. In wet weather it would be really difficult. The path descends along the route of the lava flow of the Arenas Negras Volcano which destroyed Garachico in 1706. The views were truly superb but we vowed, when we reached the road and houses below, that we would never do the walk again. Some walks we enjoy and will do repeatedly; this was not one of them. This part of the walk was just over 1.5 hours and we reached town just after 4 pm. There was no time to explore. We just had time to get to the Fragiola waterfront ice cream counter, and consume our purchase, before the bus arrived soon after 1630 to take us back to Icod and continue to Puerto de la Cruz.
The story continues in part with some further walks only accessible by bus