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Sunday, October 11, 2009

North shore ramblings

Puerto de la Cruz is the second largest city on the island of Tenerife. It is a picturesque port town on the north shore with cute shops and good restaurants, as long as you wander off the main boardwalk, lined with high-rise hotels and cheesy "handicrap" (as opposed to handicraft) stores.

The further west in town you go, the more authentic the experience. Colorful fishing boats bob in the gentle water of the port protected by a high wall from which the locals will dive into the water for a swim. A few blocks uphill, the main square is surrounded by Spanish colonial buildings that feature intricately carved wooden balconies that are typical of the area.

Just outside of town, you get into the heart of the island's wine-growing district--the Orotava Valley. The town of La Orotava is just a short distance uphill from Puerto de la Cruz, and can easily be explored on foot.

We wandered up the steep cobblestone streets passing the main church with doors that make you feel only inches tall. The Casa de los Balcones is an overpriced store that sells high-quality Canarian products at high prices. However, the building in which it is located gives you the chance to peer inside a historic building with its lovely inner courtyard. Plus, it is open midday when all the other businesses close for three hours for siesta.

It was in this town that we finally found a laundromat to wash our clothes. I can't think of a better place in which to be stranded for a few hours.

We headed back down to Puerto for dinner and finished out the night with sangria and dancing in the streets to the music of a Canarian band.

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