It is the shortest climb of our week in Tenerife…
That’s 100 steps up the Iglesia de la Comcepcion church tower in the World Heritage site of San Cristobal de La Laguna.
But my calves are begging for mercy.
I’ve been stretching them past their limits all week.
On long treks through rain forests, volcanic parks and up the sides of mountains, and all in the midday sun.
But this is the last climb of the week.
Ring the bells!
I do, only I’m not meant to.
It’s five to three and Lizzie informs me that I might just have thrown the whole town off kilter. I know I am.
The largest of the Canary Islands at just 2000sqkm, Tenerife has 11 different climates and a range of topographies.
Which means that here inland in La Laguna, it can be 10C cooker in the winter han 10km east in the capital Santa Cruz, on the coast.
This week in early September, those 11 temperatures range from hot to burst thermometer.
In fact the only refuge from the searing heat is oddly enough in a natural pool hewn out from volcanic rock in the town of Garachico.
The good news, though, is that you’ll not be walking in the height of a late summer.
During the clement Canarian winters we have become accustomed to lying on beaches on Tenerife’s south coast.
But CanariaWays,com don’t want to show you that, though: they want to show you this, the more diverse and dramatic north and west.
It’s like a different world here in the Teide National Park away from the sun-worshippers,
And, if it feels like you’re going back in time, it’s because you are.
One Million Years BC to be exact.
With Raquel Welch (think a pneumatically enhanced Kim Kardashian) vying with dinosaurs.
Anf scavenging across expanses solidified lava in the Sixties B-movie of that name.
I did say it was hot.
This is a stark beauty: the ancient natural rock sculptures, the dusty paths, the slithering lizards and desert plants.
And, of course, Teide, the largest volcano in Europe at 3,718m, framing it all.
You can even take a cable car up to the crater which the indigenous Guanches people believed looked down into the fires of hell.
Go early in the morning to beat the heat, and the crowds.
Three million of whom traverse its 37 official trails a year, making it Europe’s most visited national park.
Stay late, preferably at the Paradores de Canadas del Teide Hotel, and you’ll see a spectacle that’s truly out of this world.
Juan Vicente, clad in a NASA-patched jumper, is on a different planet.
He shines his long-range torch beam at the skies and conducts the stars… and us.
And throws in a rendition of the Lion King for good measure.
The Plough, the Bear, Castor. Or is it all Pollux? No, it actually is. The rings of Saturn and Uranus (stop it).
I can’t recall if I dream of space but I am spaced out when I awake the next day to the site of a volcanic vista.
I will need to have my wit about me today, though.
Because it will be one giant leap after one giant leap for this man as I tackle the longest trek of the week.
Through the rainforest across the cliffs, down to the black, black beach and then up, up to the ravine to Afur.
Whoever mapped out this route which his wee wheely thing has a lot in common with Irish country folk.
If this is 11.7kms then I’m a Guancho.
Where there’s a Will
Climbing to the stars is hungry work.
And thankfully the Tinerfernos have supernova appetites. Half a chicken anyone?
And with my own home-made sauce, mojo rojo, crafted from our cookery class in Teide.
The Bard was a great fan and refers to the ‘perfume of the blood’ in Henry IV.
Will’s was a sweet tooth and ‘measure for measure’ I find Malvasia nutty and spicy, forsooth.
A niche tincture methinks, and why Will’s side business Merchant of Vinos didn’t take off.
Tenerife, being a Catholic island, there is no shortage of churches,.
While every coach driver and restaurateur displays holy pictures to curry favour with God and the saints.
To guard against rumbling volcanoes.
And hence hy Christ is wearing a skirt on the cross in La Laguna cathedral. Obviously.
Tasca El Obispado restaurant http://www.tascaobispado.es, where we have our last supper, seems to be in competition with the nearby church for holy relics.
The last supper
Our supper, I’d hazard, is more substantial than the watching Christ and his apostles.
A Canadian stew with, I dare say, the ubiquitous rabbits who swarm the island, the speciality wrinkled potatoes and sticky cakes.
Fat as a monk, and my soul and spirits lifted after my three days’ walking through this miraculous island, I collapse into bed.
It may be more than three days, though, before I rise again.
Packages include accommodation in hand-picked hotels including boutique properties and paradors.
Guided tours are also available for groups.
*Four nights – Teide walking
From €570 per person sharing including airport transfers, accommodation with breakfast and two dinners, transfers to trail and/or to hotel as required.
Holiday pack with practical information and 24/7 support number. More details at http://www.canariaways.com/ways/tenerife/teide-short-break.
*Seven nights – Volcanic landscapes
Walking in Villaflor, Teide National Park, Santiago del Teide and Garachico.
From €1,040 per person sharing. Including airport transfers, accommodation with breakfast and three dinners, transfers to rail and/or to hotel as required.
Includes holiday pack with practical information. 24/7 support number.
*Grand Tour of Tenerife (tailor-made, nine to 12 nights)
Walking in Villaflor, Mount Teide National Park, Montanas Negras, Garachico, La Orotava and Amaga Rural Park.
From €1,017pps for nine nights, including accommodation with breakfast, transfers to trail and/or to hotel as required, holiday pack with practical info. And 24/7 support number.
Juan Vicente – Teide Astro (stargazing). firstname.lastname@example.org.
Aer Lingus has up to seven flights a week form Dublin to Tenerife and up to two a week from Cork during their winter schedule. Fares start from €66.99 one way including taxes and charges.
For more information visit http://www.aerlingus.com