The musings and misadventures of a girl unprepared

Friday, 30 August 2013

Madeira and the Canary Islands

Our first four port days were spent in Madeira, an autonomous nation of Portugal, and a few of the Canary Islands: La Palma, Tenerife and Gran Canaria. 

Madeira was our first port of call and a welcome venture for someone who isn't used to staying in one small space for days at a time. Although there are hints of the tourist industry creeping in, as in most Islands with a tropical-esk climate, it has not yet completely taken over. Whether pottering around the more central area or exploring a little further out, you could really get the authentic Portuguese flavour of the region. New builds are sandwiched between older constructions and it is easy to wander from one of the bright and spacious main squares into the higgledy-piggledy maze of winding side streets, giving the whole place a rather homey feel, as opposed to the common clinical and uniform feeling that is slowly encroaching on many major cities.

I just love this pic :)

The fish market that Stephen insisted on visiting... ew ew ewwwwwww!

Chilling with the Aurora.

My favourite street was a little way out, on which each resident had painted their front door with various different images. It seemed to be in celebration of something, since they were all signed and dated around the same time, but unfortunately we couldn't work out what it was. Here are my top three...

Oh and I don't know if you were watching the news around 15th August, but Madeira was actually on fire on that day we visited. It was kinda crazy actually, I couldn't help worrying about the locals as we watched the flames growing and spreading throughout the day.

Pretty scary eh?

The siblings, Grandad and I spent very little time on shore in La Palma because we're massive wimps and just couldn't take the intense 38 degree heat. All we could manage was a little while on a volcanic beach with BLACK sand (which was kinda cool but extremely hot underfoot!) before heading back to the ship to cool off in the pool. Dad and Stephen did report that it was quite a lovely little place, less touristy than the other Canaries and insanely cheap. I also got told off by a good friend for not exploring the volcanoes in the area at all, apparently they make for some really interesting excursions.

My one picture from the beach in La Palma, not too shabby really.

My absolute favourite day of the entire holiday was the day that we spent at the Siam Water Park in Tenerife. I'm a big fan of water and swimming anyway, but this park was just fantastic. There was absolutely no stone left un-turned when it came to attention to detail and the slides were perfect for an adrenaline junkie such as myself. There was even one where you went under a shark tank in a dingy! And the wave pool was EPIC. My only complaint was that we didn't get long enough there, which really isn't much of a complaint at all.

Aren't we just the coolest?

It was SO BIG. That slide in the background was literally like 40ft high!

I think I'm correct in saying that Gran Canaria is my Dad's favourite place in the world. It's where he and Stephen want to retire to and I can see why. It wouldn't be my first choice, it's a perfect spot for people who just want to chill out in the day and party at night. Plus although the new part of town isn't particularly unique or exciting, the old bit really is beautiful and the weather is apparently fab all year round.

We went to visit the Cathedral and paid just €2.50 to climb to the top of the tower. The view of the city was pretty incredible and really colourful. I like me a good view, so we spent quite a while up top taking pictures, though the top of the tower was rather a tight squeeze, so maybe plan your visit before a meal time ;)

This picture doesn't really do it justice, but you get the idea.

'Let's do a silly one!'

After that we strolled around a few of the shops, spending a little too long in a children's toy shop because the air conditioning was just that good. Us Brits really aren't built for extreme heat. Honestly, I found myself praying for rain at this point, much to my Dad's disapproval. I don't even burn like my ginger relatives - heh heh heh - I'm just not a big fan of skimpy clothing (see above) which makes for some difficult compromises on extra warm days.

I rather enjoyed all these taster sessions, it gives me an idea of where I'd like to revisit in the future. On to another sea day before the day I am most anticipating... our final stop in Lisbon!

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