Since my marriage ended I have indulged in quite an amount of travel, for it is one of my primary interests, along with photography which to an extent goes hand in hand with the travelling… so now that I am living full-time as my true female self that has to continue… and for those few people who haven’t yet accepted me I can only point to this attitude and say that just because I look different, and am living in a different gender, many of my big interests remain.
Up until the end of October I have only ever spent a maximum of about 10 hours on one of my walking group Meetup events; this was a day to the Giant’s Causeway, which I wrote about some months ago in my blog… and so to embark on a five-night walking holiday abroad with 18 other members of my group was a first for me, spending nights away and evenings out with them as well as several full-day walks; before I left home I did wonder a bit whether my voice would hold out, or whether I would fit in with them… though of course, as usual, my worries were unfounded.
Two nights before I left for this holiday I had a bit of a worry in that, at 3.30 in the morning, my car alarm went off… for no apparent reason. Hoping that it was a one-off I went to bed the following night only to be woken up once again in the middle of the night, and so once I arrived at Dublin airport on Sunday November 1st I reluctantly locked the car with the alarm switched off; on the journey I did have not one but two little moths fly out of my air conditioning, which I swatted, hoping that they were the cause of the alarm issue.
I killed two hours at the airport battling through security, buying food and trying perfumes, then walked to the gate… where I bumped into a number of my happy group, 18 girls and one somewhat ageing guy! Three hours later we landed in Tenerife!!! It was lovely and warm as we stepped off the plane compared to a chilly start at home… but it soon became clear that the holiday was not organised that well, as the guy who was supposed to be looking after us was flying in from Gatwick after a rugby-jolly (rather than already being on the island to greet us) and was delayed by fog, and we ended up standing around for about an hour until he turned up. On our journey to the northern, more lush, side of the island it started to shower with rain and I wondered whether the weather was going to be good.
Checking into the hotel at Puerto De La Cruz revealed the second organisational issue… there was no room reserved for me! This appeared to be because I had booked my own flights (for reasons that will become clear in another post), and so even though I had paid for the hotel stay a room was not assigned to me; however, as the hotel was not full I did thankfully get a room… though characteristically I soon found it not to be to my satisfaction and so changed it for another, quieter one. Dumping bags in the room I changed out of walking boots (which I had travelled in as they were my heaviest footwear) into black summer pumps and rushed down to an agreeable enough buffet dinner, with some nice chat and a glass of wine while we were briefed about the forthcoming days on Tenerife.
I had a pretty good night of sleep and woke on the Monday… to grey skies!!! Aggghhhh!! What happened to the renowned Canaries weather??? I showered, put my make-up on, and peering out the window as I dressed revealed a lovely blue sky and a sunny morning; that’s better! Breakfast was a huge spread of pretty much everything one might think of, a good set-up for the day, and after popping back up to the room to finish packing bag, I walked to the bus for our first organised walk, a well known local walk in the Anaga forest towards the coast with a local guide called Xavier, a rather nice, gentle-natured young man. The bus journey took about an hour, after a while passing impressive coastal views, for a short while on either side of the bus as we travelled along a ridge. At a stopping point we hurriedly exited the bus, adjusted walking poles, I donned my sunhat, and off we went, ascending several hundred metres with excellent views… although our progress was hampered by a lady who alas did not feel well, and after a while we rested for some time until she felt better. Then our long descent began… alas through much forest with no views at all for at least two hours; I soon ended up getting on well with the rear-guard of the group, a guy called Barry who travelled much in his early retirement, partly because I stopped for the occasional photo but also because I had a couple of loo-stops crouching in secluded parts of the path when he walked slowly on waiting for me to catch up. Eventually we all emerged from the forest… and soon were delicately walking down the path towards the coast which had been overcome by a stream of rain water from previous days water-logging the way forward. Eventually we reached a pretty old village called Taganana where we had a rather later afternoon snack at a local restaurant… with rather basic toilet facilities where, for some reason, the inner door to the ladies toilet had a hole like a cat-flap! We returned to our hotel with a couple of hours available for getting ready… and shopping! It soon turned out that our city was full of cheap perfume and electrical shops… as well as numerous tacky souvenir shops (to be expected) and clothes shops selling attire exclusively suitable for one’s mother! Our enjoyable evening out was to a local restaurant where I had a very tasty fish dish, seated at a table with five other women.
The next day was our second walk… which was a total waste of time, it was a circular forest trek above the city with NO views of any scenery at all!!! It could have been anywhere! Even worse, although the coast was lovely and warm, and sun could be seen in the distant heights of the islands volcanic peak Mt Teide, in the middle a layer of cloud had settled and it was pretty bloomin’ cold as we walked… though I was determined not to don my raincoat!!! We ended up at a forest café where I indulged in a piece of scrumptious apple tart for a ridiculously low price along with tea to warm up. The afternoon saw a moderately interesting visit to a local winery of some considerable size – I say “moderately” because, firstly, it was rather an automated and mechanised place, secondly at the end the wine on offer for tasting was pretty ropey (although we had a nice relaxing sit out on their terrace with views of Mt Teide in one direction and the coast in another), and thirdly, and worst, was towards the end of the tour it descended to the basement where a rather nauseating selling theme became evident… “wine and sex”, which I am not going to elaborate on, I just don’t want to remember it in any detail.
In the evening, after going another shopping jaunt during which I bought my first perfume while away, we went to a restaurant near the hotel where I had a reasonable fish dish, a tasty-enough dessert served very cheaply in a plastic cup, and my first ever mohito at the end! Alas during the night I suffered a severe diarrhoea attack at around 4.00am (which I was able to resolve with medication), though it turned out that I was not the only casualty and in fact one lady was bed-bound with vomiting for three days!!!
After that rather disastrous day, the holiday righted itself again… as I will detail in another couple of posts.