Captivating Experiences Around the World 2015 – Tenerife, Canary Islands, SPAIN

Tenerife, SPAIN, October 25-28 – It’s all gone bananas … and so much more!

Especially when from a great banana plantation, Abama, grows a magnificent manicured Ritz Carlton resort hotel overlooking the beautiful sea and in the distance La Gomera Island – one of the smallest of the Canarias, where Christopher Columbus set sail on his great voyage to discover the Americas. It is subtropical island paradise … with a towering central extinct (perhaps dormant) volcano; and our rather gorgeous, temperate weather Atlantic island home for 3 days.

1jeepDSC00228 (2)Tenerife, known as the ‘island of eternal spring’, is the largest of the seven Canary Islands, all African by geography but European in culture today. Originally settled by native populations, these islands were captured and enslaved by the Spanish from the late 1400s. As these were fertile islands with high volcanic mountains, the Spanish soon moved their sugar cane plantations from the nearby (relatively speaking) island of Madeira to the Canary Islands after using their newfound slaves to clear the native pine forests (Canary Pine). Other European nationalities followed (Portuguese and Italian). Later wine grapes and plantains (it is one of the less sweet cultivated varieties of the genus Musa whose fruit is also known as the banana). were introduced, due to the island’s perfect growing climate.

Today, Tenerife attracts tourists from all over the world. It is our perfect final destination by private jet … as there is simply no commercial air service between the USA and Canary Islands. (And there is certainly no such commercial air service from the Masai Mara, Kenya to these Atlantic Islands).

We spent a glorious sunny day discovering the impressive towering Mt. Teide volcano in the center of the island. We set off from our luxury seaside Ritz Carlton resort in 4×4 Jeeps. So, we are off again with our excellent Canarian guides… this time on winding paved roads up through hillside villages, bananas abound, and plenty of vines too. We also learned that Tenerife grows plenty of other fruits, nuts, and vegetables. Above the agriculture we headed into the cooler climate pine forests. These are unique Canary Pines, a slightly different variety from their European cousin pines. As we climbed out of the pine forests we traveled over lava fields and entered the national park. It all becomes dramatically barren – lava rock moonscape – 1jeepDSC04021 (2)vast valleys of rock and rock formations and ahead of us was the towering conical silence of Mt. Teide. This is the highest peak in Spain … reaching to almost 13,000 feet above sea level (often snow capped) and the third highest island volcano in the world. Impressive sights. We enjoyed a delightful high-elevation luncheon at a local Parador, a government run hotel that is a popular concept in Spain. On our return drive we stopped at the Los Gigantes cliffs for a photo opportunity … It was here that the British also attacked and tried to capture the island but again were repelled by the fiercely protective Spanish islanders.

In the evening our group enjoyed an exclusive 2-star Michelin fine dining dinner at the very best restaurant, MB, specifically opened for us during our stay here. Rave reviews by all for Chef Martin Berasategui, a renowned Basque chef in Spain.

This paradise is rather too enticing to leave for most. Understandably so! So, On our 2nd day most guests opted to stay and indulge with all the wonderful ‘treats’ the Abama resort has to offer … exceptional Spa, world renowned golf, snorkeling and scuba diving, gigantic lagoon pools on cliffs above the ocean, and even a beautiful cove beach (with all the soft sand imported from Morocco). A few of us headed out, driving through the banana plantations to the nearby Playa de las Americas shopping area, a thriving place of souvenir shops and boutiques. We continued to a nearby banana plantation where we were met by Francisco Gonzalez Chavez, the owner of one of the longest standing and largest banana plantations in Tenerife. It was such an interesting introduction to banana growing and cultivation and harvest. With present international competition, almost all of Señor Chavez banana crop (90,000 kilos per annum) is sold throughout mainland Spain. Señor Chavez welcomed us to a tasting of excellent and unique local wines and delicious cheese. It’s such a happy day again!

This being our last evening here, it was time for our finale farewell dinner. Our party had a Carnival theme 6DSC06485for which Tenerife is famous, and as our guests arrived a variety of masks were available for them. Cocktails and canapes were served on a gorgeous ocean view terrace, as the sun was setting across the sea and behind La Gomera island out yonder. We all shared stories of travel and there was anticipation of getting home to family & pets. During dinner, the Carnival theme came alive for us, with a parade of three gorgeous Carnival Queens. Festive carnival music from our live band and everyone was up on their feet for photos with ‘Las Bellas’. Dinner was a fine dining feast of lobster salad, beef tenderloin, Hake sea fish, and a ‘death by chocolate’ gateau. Our tour director, Jan, led us through a lively fun recap of our trip … we all remembered personal highlights and enjoyed each other’s memories of various places. And, it was time to dance to our lively and enthusiastic band. What a great finale to a great trip!

On board our private jet our Icelandic crew greeted us in Flamenco dress. Bright red, yes! Delicious sangria and champagnes were served and it was a jubilant atmosphere on board. Our Captain’s Luncheon was a delicious experience as we headed on to Boston, our ‘sky lounge’ dining room all booked up. In Boston, we landed at a small private terminal well away from the busy commercial terminals.

We’ve made good new friends along our journey. We’ve all enjoyed captivating experiences and respectful cultural connections throughout our trip together. With such an easy going good group, our travel by private jet has certainly put the FUN back into travel … mostly effortless and with no jet lag. We’ve visited extraordinary places and stayed in magnificent hotel suites. We’ve dined royally (or is that ‘over dined’?). We have learned so much along our way. Such a trip of a lifetime. We’re among the most fortunate and we acknowledge and respect our good fortunes. These adventures of a lifetime, never to be forgotten, will long be cherished. Happy Homecoming to All. Thank you for such a wonderful trip around the world!

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