Teida Mountain, National Park & Masca Tenerife Day Trip

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This day trip from Sandos San Blas was a tiring journey through winding roads, with Ruby asleep for much of her time on the stuffy coach.

Teida mountain was the highlight of the day and produced breathtaking views, as expected. The environment in this area resembled something like Mars, or perhaps a North American national park with rock formations caused by previous volcanic explosions.

Rock formations in Tenerife

The other mountainous areas on this trip were in the north of Tenerife, where the weather is more changeable and rain brings greener vegetation. The guide compared the region to Machu Picchu, though I haven’t been there yet so can’t compare the two.

Mountains around Tenerife

It was great to finally get up close to the mountain having seen it from various angles during the holiday. From La Gomera it was most beautiful and we also had a great view of it from our hotel. It’s size ensures that it can be seen from almost any part of the island.

Masca was a small village in the depths of mountainous Tenerife and an incredible location, with exotic vegetation, much wildlife and winding roads making this a key destination in the trip. It is only recently that this place could be visited by anything else other than Donkey.

La Gomera Day-Trip from Tenerife

We took a 50 minute ferry from Tenerife to La Gomera for our second excursion and I was a little apprehensive having been sick two days earlier when on our search for dolphins and whales. The ferry was much larger and therefore i was not hanging over the side this time! A comfortable trip indeed, also very popular with long queues and also passport checks, which surprised me.

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We were first pickup for this trip, so it was an early start at 7.35 going through to 7 at night when we arrived back at the hotel. There were not so many on our own tour because this excursion is available around 5 days a week, whereas some of the sold out ones occurred just once or twice a week.

La Gomera was much less developed than the likes of Lanzarote and Tenerife with few hotels and attractions, sticking to more traditional industries such as agriculture. This was part of the island’s charm.

The strangest aspect of the island had to be the old language which is still being taught in schools right across the island. Whistles form the words of a sentence and it is the sort of thing i might expect to find in the amazon rainforest rather than a European island.

Talking of rainforests, the island of La Gomera has a slightly different climate to nearby Tenerife and as such there are some African plants growing here that you will not find on any of the other islands.

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Sandos San Blas Tenerife Holiday

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Sandos San Blas Tenerife

Our first trip to Tenerife, having grown very fond of the Canary Islands over the past two years. Having completed several contracts in a row, and with nothing lined up immediately after my time at Cambridge Audio, it made sense to fit this 10 day trip now before picking up some more work in March.

The Sandos San Blas hotel is beautiful and I am relieved with the choice after going through so many hotel profiles before deciding upon this one.

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Around the hotel there are things to do, and a walkway along the coast but we didn’t feel we were seeing the best of Tenerife whilst wandering either side of the hotel. There were marinas, local seafood restaurants and all else you might hope for, but very few people and a slightly tatty environment which maybe needs more tourism to force an improvement.

It was after several days of popping in and around the hotel that we realised we would need to pick up some excursions in order to see the best of this island, which we were visiting for the first time.

We have a preference for all inclusive at the moment because it can save a lot of money so long as the hotel food is of a good enough standard. We tend to then eat out towards the end of the trip as the hotel food starts to become monotonous.

Thankfully, the food in this hotel has been great, and also varied. It has also been better than some of the local restaurants that we have been to for lunches during the holiday. Veal is not something I have enjoyed before, but several dishes here have changed my mind towards Veal and I will certainly try it again in future.

The guests in this hotel seem to come predominantly from Spain, UK, France and Germany, approximately in that order. All Inclusive buffets, therefore could be meat and potato heavy but thankfully the stylish salads and fish dishes are more greater in number here.

Ruby has been stocking up on all the seafood, as usual, and has enjoyed octopus kebabs, various grilled fish and a selection of melon.

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One downer for the Sandos San Blas must be the wifi, unfortunately. Our room was a good distance from reception, and this is where I suspect the main wifi hub is. As such, even with pretty new iPads and phones we were struggling to get a consistent signal from our room.

For this holiday, the idea was to get away from it all, including technology, and so it hasn’t actually bothered me that much about the flakey wifi in our room – if there were any important emails I could always sit closer to the reception for a better signal.

Talking of small issues with the hotel, we have found the staff to be fantastically friendly and helpful but during dinner there often is not enough of them. I felt to see them working so fast to make up for the lack of staff providing table service, with some customers even resorting to self-service out of frustration.

We took up several activities in the hotel, of which there are many available. The highlight was our first attempt at kayaking, which unfortunately involved the boat turning over within seconds of us setting sail. After that super soaking, though, we actually did quite well and got a good rhythm up, though I’m not sure Ruby would have been strong enough by herself to make much impact on the direction of the Kayak.

Other activities available at the Sandos San Blas in Tenerife include Beach Volleyball, Tennis, Table Tennis, Pool, Bar Football, Basketball and, of course, Swimming.

There is also nightly entertainment in the discotheque, two floors below the reception. Ruby ended up onstage for a clown’s performance, smashing symbols together as part of an impromptu band. She was actually quite happy up there in front of everybody and was one of the more musically talented of the audience members brought up.

Ruby on stage at Sandos San Blas, tenerife

We have found the out bound excursions to be very popular and normally fully booked when trying to find places the night before. We managed to get several in the end, though, including a full day in a nearby island of La Gomera as well as a trip to a nearby nature reserve and a full day trip of the scenic splendour of various parts of the island.

Prices for these trips seem very reasonable, with La Gomera the most expensive at €64 each, but this included an hour each-way ferry journey from Tenerife to the island, as well as lunch and many other highlights packed into a busy 12-hour tour.

Travel Plans for 2015

2014 was awesome for holidays, with trips to Ibiza, Norway, Portugal, Belgium, Canary Islands, China and Malta fitted in to a brilliant year. 2015 is more about putting away some savings, though, so i will have to be a little more selective with travel plans.

Ruby had been hoping to go on a cruise for many, many years and it was exciting to finally make that wish happen with our trip around the Norwegian Fjords, which was breathtaking. We also enjoyed the cruise type of holiday enough to try another at the end of the year, covering the Canary Islands, Madeira and finishing in Lisbon.

With my contract at Cambridge Audio coming to an end soon, it is time to think about perhaps fitting in a quick trip before my next work comes in.

Russia is somewhere i have thought about recently because of the appaling state of the Ruble, making any trips over there much cheaper than they would normally be. St Petersburg is a city which has appealed to me because of the excellent art galleries there, and that could be one good choice over the coming months. Moscow is then the other obvious alternative. Russia would be a cultural trip, for architecture and art, though the food does not really seem that attractive from the little that i know of it.

The Canary Islands have become a favourite of ours over the last couple of years and we could plump for one of the islands that we have yet to visit. This includes Tenerife, Fuerteventura and we also could return to La Palma which seemed to deserve another visit. Sun at this time of the year is always an attraction for me, which is why i have never been ski-ing yet!

I spent last winter obsessively collecting holiday brochures from the likes of Cunard, P&O and Princess Cruises in order to build some excitement around whereever our next trip will be. During the UK’s long, dark winter nights, it is great to have something to look forward to.

Cunard Cruise to Norwegian Fjords – Bergen, Olden, Stavanger

This was our first ever cruise and a fantastic holiday, all in all. Ruby had wanted to try a cruise for many years but i was less enthuastic, having heard the typical opinions from others about what a cruise would entail.

Itinerary

Sun 20 Jul 14 Southampton, England Embark Ship
Mon 21 Jul 14 At Sea For 1 Day
Tue 22 Jul 14 Bergen, Norway Arrive Morning, Depart Afternoon
Wed 23 Jul 14 Andalsnes, Norway Arrive Early Morning, Possible Tender, Depart Early
Thu 24 Jul 14 Olden, Norway Arrive Morning, Depart Afternoon
Fri 25 Jul 14 Stavanger Arrive Morning, Depart Afternoon
Sat 26 Jul 14 At Sea For 1 Day
Sun 27 Jul 14 Southampton, England Debark Ship

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I was pleased to be proven wrong, in the main, and Norway was a stunning location from which to gaze from our room’s balcony.

Norway Fjords Cunard Cruise

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We were also very fortunate with the weather, too, with our first day there hitting 30C and good sunshine continuing throughout this week-long trip.

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The holiday was made up of a day in each of the four Norwegian locations, each of which we would arrive at in the morning and leave early evening. There was also an additional day at the start and end of the holiday for travelling from Southampton to Norway and and then returning.

We had no real knowledge of cruise holidays prior to this trip so it was always going to be a bit of a lottery as to which cruise company to go for. We selected Cunard, mainly due to Ruby’s own brief research, and it was a good decision. We found Cunard to be really well organised, professional throughout and had no real complaints at any point in the trip. We have yet to try any other cruise companies, though, so having no-one else to compare Cunard to as yet.

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Lanzarote Holiday at the Costa Calero Hotel, Puerto Calero

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Our first trip to the Canary Islands for some much needed sunshine. I didn’t really know what to expect from Lanzarote but we both really enjoyed the island over the 10 days that we were there. We chose the Costa Calero hotel in Puerto Calero and found this part of the island to be quieter and tidier than other parts that we came across.

The holiday was also our first experience of All Inclusive board, and we found the food here excellent considering that it was already paid for. There were also several other restaurants in the hotel besides just the buffet and these helped to provide a little more variety through the holiday.

Camel Ride around Lanzarote Mountains

Cactus Garden by Cesar Manrique

Typical scenery found around the island

Small local garden around villas

Private island close to Lanzarote

Great Weekend, Longer Holiday Needed!

We had a great trip for the weekend to Oldbury Hill Campsite in Kent for a truly quiet and relaxed time. In fact i walked for two hours before finding a shop that was open on Saturday morning such was our location in a forest somewhere in this pretty county.

There really wasn’t much to do around the site but we did at least locate the Crown Inn, a decent pub with good food and cold cider which tasted even better than normal after dragging our camping gear up a hill for a mile from Kemsing train station.

On the way home we arrived to find the station would have no return trains at all, which is typical for my usual appalling planning which could’ve left us stranded in Kent for the evening. Fortunately i had one bar of battery left on my mobile so could google some local taxi numbers and get ourselves over to Sevenoaks which was on the mainline.

I hadn’t been around Kent at all before and really liked the look of the places that we visited. It also seems commutable to London in some places too. I expect we’ll be back at some point to try another area.

More Camping

Ruby has well and truly got the camping bug now, and we’ll be off again this weekend to Kent for some more of the same. Finding suitable sites has proved a bit tricky as we don’t have a car but there seems just about enough available to pick from that are walkable to a train station.

This trip will be for just the two of us, with little to do around the area we’re in, but im hoping just to sleep and relax in a quiet place outside London for a couple of days which is something we really appreciate at the moment.

Anyone been to Borneo or Sri Lanka?

Maybe a strange question, but i am really hoping to go to one of these next year for our special Asia trip. I am hoping someone out there might be able to give some advice on either to help me make up my mind as to where we go.

I want to go somewhere that is not entirely common, but at the same time is well known enough that we can research about it online before we go. The good old pound also goes further in the less touristy places i guess.

Having said that, if you know of any other places that we might consider then add those in too.

Two Great Trips and Credit Card Paid Off

HSBC clearly hasn’t learnt that debt is a bad thing. I rang up earlier to pay off and cancel my credit card and they told me i can’t do that for a week until the remaining interest is calculated. Sounds like balls to me! They’ll do anything to keep people indebted to their corporate greed, but i will atleast be able to shut down that monster interest card very soon. It will put me fully in credit for the first time since 1999, which is something worth celebrating. Sadly, having done so i’ll be too skint to actually celebrate at all, but once i get through this month we’ll be fine again.

On a positive note, Ruby is really enjoying life at the moment after our two trips away to Shrewsbury and the Isle of Wight and these have helped us to get over the difficulties on living together in one small room. She seems to have caught the camping bug and is adding extra things into my amazon basket ready for our next camping trip, which could be soon. We could do with a decent lilo, a camping stove and also maybe some chairs too.

HSBC clearly hasn’t learnt that debt is a bad thing. I rang up earlier to pay off and cancel my credit card and they told me i can’t do that for a week until the remaining interest is calculated. Sounds like balls to me! They’ll do anything to keep people indebted to their corporate greed, but i will atleast be able to shut down that monster interest card very soon. It will put me fully in credit for the first time since 1999, which is something worth celebrating. Sadly, having done so i’ll be too skint to actually celebrate at all, but once i get through this month we’ll be fine again.
On a positive note, Ruby is really enjoying life at the moment after our two trips away to Shrewsbury and the Isle of Wight and these have helped us to get over the difficulties on living together in one small room. She seems to have caught the camping bug and is adding extra things into my amazon basket ready for our next camping trip, which could be soon. We could do with a decent lilo, a camping stove and also maybe some chairs too.