I woke up comfortably to a sunny morning in Tenerife, though it was still unseasonably cold due to an Artic blast from Canada. At least we weren't in the 20-degree New York weather. After a delicious breakfast at the Iberostar, the 7 of us piled into our mini bus and headed up to island to the Piramides de Guimar.
On the site of the pyramids, there is a museum dedicated to Thor Heyerdahl, a Norwegian explorer who hypothesized that the pyramids in Giza are linked to the pyramids in Mexico and Central America. He theorized that both societies were able to reach each other by sailing across the Atlantic. The Canary Islands were used as a stopping point between the two destinations, thus the presence of the terrace style pyramids here. Using papyrus and traditional boat building methods dictated in the pharaoh's tombs, Heredahal successfully crossed the Atlantic, proving that it was indeed possible the societies could connect.
Other historians, however, believe that the Tenerife pyramids only date back to the 19th century and were used to irrigate crops. The pyramids are made from the volcanic rock and none of the other materials suggest any specific creation date.
As we were pressed for time, we were not able to go tour the pyramid park itself, but the grounds also held a fascinating poison garden, which we did see. A gate closed off the garden and pants were labeled by toxicity.
Tenerife is known for its' wine, so naturally our next stop was the Brumas de Ayose Winery. Here, we took a tour of their sparkling wine factory. The brut was processed in the traditional French method and goes through a second fermentation. I found it interesting how they rotated the bottles at different angles. We were then allowed to take one of the bottles, which was closed by a bottle cap and "birth it" (open it.) What a pop! The vineyard also makes other delicious wines and we enjoyed several in their tasting room overlooking the ocean. Our hostess at the vineyard did an excellent job of pairing the wines with different cheeses and chocolate.
We piled back on the bus and drove about an hour to the south side of the island, traditionally the touristy spot. We had a delicious lunch at the Hotel Gran Bahia del Duque, a luxurious 5-star resort and one of the Leading Hotels of the World. The resort was beautiful, peaceful and right on the water. I felt like I was on Hawaii. The beach was white sand, which is rumored to have been taken from the Sahara desert in nearby Africa. As Tenerife is a volcanic island, most natural beaches have black sand. The resort had rooms and villas and each villa with its' own pool. The property, like most in the Canary Islands is not all-inclusive, though it does offer partial board. Tenerife is really a doing island, and the hotels want clients to experience local restaurants.
After the tour, we drove another hour up insanely windy road to the highest point on the island, which is also the highest point in Spain, Teide National Park. The national park is breathtaking. It is atop a volcano with many beautiful rock formations. It was dusk by the time we arrived, which created a spooky, misty scene. I felt like we were on another planet. The smoky weather, however, cut our visit short as our driver felt it was unsafe for us to descend the mountain if we waited too long.
I had mentioned earlier that the Parador chain builds locations in historical buildings, however there are a few based in national parks and other exotic locations. This Parador had a lodge feel and welcoming fire. We ate a delicious dinner, which I was too full to really enjoy, and then made the descent down the mountain. The long, incredibly windy descent made me glad to have reached the Iberostar.