The Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are a Spanish archipelago located off the coast of northwest Africa, with a population of 2 million people.  This is the “southernmost point in Europe,” a handy fact for your next trivia night.

During the era of the Spanish empire, ships sailing from the European mainland to the Americas followed a southern route past these islands to catch the transatlantic trade winds.  These days, tourism is a major draw.

Tenerife is the largest island; there are 6 other major islands, one minor island, and several islets.  Google Maps once again helps us to get oriented.

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The islands are volcanic in nature, providing dramatic mountain views, rugged coastlines, and black sand beaches.  We visited two of the islands.  Our first stop was Lanzarote, which has a great national park highlighting the stark volcanic “moonscape” which is reminiscent of the Big Island of Hawaii, but with more cinder cones.

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On Lanzarote, we visited the most unique vineyard and winery we have ever seen.  In this very arid climate, the vines are grown in individual shallow depressions dug into the black volcanic basalt.  Low rock walls protect the vines from the desiccating winds.  No irrigation is used.  The only water the vines get is from rare rain showers and the daily condensation of the morning dew.  We sampled one of the wines and give it a two thumbs up!

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The second island we visited was Tenerife.  The highest volcano in the entire archipelago is Mount Teide, located on Tenerife, with an elevation of 12,198 ft.  Perhaps more impressive, Mt. Teide is the third tallest volcano in the world measured from its base on the ocean floor.  This is a picture of a picture of Mt. Teide, as seen in the Museum of Man and Nature in the main city of Santa Cruz.

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After focusing on the countryside on the island of Lanzarote, we decided to spend our time on the island of Tenerife in the city.  We found Santa Cruz de Tenerife cultured and, not surprisingly, quite European considering the Canaries are part of Spain.  All with the backdrop of those extinct volanic peaks.

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We strolled past tranquil squares, pedestrian byways and sidewalk cafes.

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No visit would be complete without sampling the local delicacies…

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We sailed away from the Canary Islands at sunset, embarking on a seven night transatlantic cruise to Fort Lauderdale.

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We look forward to sharing our impressions of the cruise with you.


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