Thursday, April 5, 2012

Tenerife - Canary Islands 

Traveler Al's "Almost a Last Hurrah' Voyages

Display at the Pyramids of Guimar Museum, Tenerife, Canary Islands

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Sea Day - Thanksgiving

November 24, 2011- Thanksgiving Thursday was a sea day. We went southwest down the coast of Africa to the Grand Canary Islands.  The Constellation’s itinerary had been changed away from the Madeira Islands, part of Portugal due to labor unrest all over Portugal.  Today would have been that stop, but we stayed at sea instead.

Every dinner in the Constellation’s San Marco Restaurant, the main dining room. was very elegant and special. There were some of the traditional American Thanksgiving dinner items on the dinner menu such as turkey and cranberry items, but all the meals in the dining room were very special and noteworthy.


Map of Tenerife Island in the Canary Islands.

The ship docked early Friday morning November 25th, 2011. Our tour group was off the ship and out to the tour bus by 8 AM.  There was a band  and local dance group on the dock to greet us. They were wearing the local folk costumes.  We drove through the city to visit the mountains and to a National Park to view the active volcano, Mt. Teide.  

Greeted by a folk music band and local dancers

The Canary Islands are formed from volcanic activity much like Hawaii. Tenerife had its last eruption in 1906 on one side of Mt. Teide. Grand Canary Island has had several more recent eruptions.

There is a theory that should a major eruption occur like at Mt. St. Helens in Oregon, that might cause half of one of the Canary Islands to collapse in a massive landslide into the Atlantic Ocean, the resulting mega-tsunami would cause gigantic waves on the coasts of North and South America and into the Caribbean that would reach as far as 16 miles inland from the seashore.  This theory is in dispute and there is no historic or geological evidence of a mega-tsunami ever occurring in the Atlantic Ocean.

The location of the Canary Islands (Spain) and Madeira Islands (Portugal) in the Atlantic Ocean

The Canary Islands are 200 miles east of Morocco, in North Africa. Christopher Columbus and his 3 small ships stopped on the Canary Island of La Gomera (the next island south of Tenerife) for provisions and fresh water as he started his voyage east to find the new trade route to Asia’s spices and other riches.

Early morning, Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Canary Islands are named based on the Guanche indigenous people who called the islands – the Dog Islands due to many packs of large dogs that were said to have been there in pre-history.  The indigenous people were said to have a religion based on reverence for the Dog God.  According to Wikipedia, this may have been due to ancient contact with Egypt where there is a Dog God – Anubis.  Anubis is usually represented as a human figure with the head of a black dog like a Doberman. 

The word "dog" in Spanish is “Cano”, hence the Dog Islands became “La Islas de Canos” and eventually as “Las Canarias” or as we call it in English – The Canary Islands.

Early morning driving through Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Santa Cruz de Tenerife as the tour bus begins to ascend the mountains

Graffiti near the university in Tenerife

The early contacts and attempts to win the Canary Islands away from the Guanche people to Spain started in 1409 and were completed by 1469.  The future Admiral Lord Nelson lost his arm after being hit by a cannonball during an unsuccessful British invasion of Tenerife attempted in 1797.
The islanders survived by marginal agriculture growing sugar cane and malmsey wine as the principal exports until modern times. Now bananas are the primary export of the islands.  The bananas are grown under roofs of plastic sheeting on the level and less steep slopes of the mountains.

Acres of plastic sheeting used to cover bananas growing on Tenerife

We continued to climb up the volcanic mountains into the "zone of eucalyptus forests" and then into the chill damp air of the high, pine forests.  The sun was bright but the air was cold and damp. 

Looking to the east from the volcanic mountains of Tenerife

The prevailing winds and the high pine forests are a major source of water for the islands.  The trade winds push the moist air up and over the mountains causing large, moisture laden cumulus clouds.  The moisture, even if it does not fall as rain, condenses on the pine needles and drips down to the forest floor or seeps along the tree trunk into the volcanic soil.  The islanders have created a network of canals and water tunnels that to collect and bring the water down from the mountains for use.  The islanders call the clouds, “The Cumulus Farms”.

Looking to the west from the view point near Mt. Teide, an active volcano

Another unique feature of the Canary Island pine forest is that after a fire sweeps through, the trees will regenerate. Fire does not kill this species of pine or,  skilled forestry practices may allow low undergrowth on the forest floor to be burned off periodically.  Evidently, conditions for forest fires in the Canary Islands do not promote fires that burn up and through the pine tree tops as happens in American forests.  


Our advertising campaigns against forest fires and forest management practices  have allowed 40 year, 50 year and longer accumulations of undergrowth and scrub wood in our forests. These fuels create conditions for the flames of a fire to to reach into the tree tops, creating extremely hot firestorms that push through the forest by the strong drafts created by the firestorms.

End of Editorial

Looking south towards Mt. Teide and its slopes. The last eruption was in the early 1900's

We stopped at a view point to see 12,200 foot high Mt. Teide and to look down to see the west side of the island.  I was surprised to see  how quickly we had climbed and returned to almost the 10,000 foot level after being at sea level. It was cold and damp outside even though the sun was bright.  

I was sent a link to some spectacular photographs of the Milky Way Galaxy taken from Tenerife - some with Mt. Teide in the series of photos.  These are well worth a look.  My hat is off to the Norwegian photographer, Terje Sorgjerd  who created these magnificent time lapsed photos.

The Milky Way from near Mt. Teide in the Canary Islands

Our tour bus twisted and turned back down through the forest on our way to see the Pyramids of Guimar.  

A closer look at Mt. Teide, an active volcano on Tenerife, Canary Islands

We arrived at the site of the pyramids in the town of Guimar. The museum and park around the pyramids is rather unique in that it is owned by a private company, Fred Olsen Company of Britain. Fred Olsen started in the early 1900’s shipping bananas from the Canary Islands to the UK by wooden ships and in time, modern steamships.  The company now is involved in cruise ships and cargo shipping.

The Fred Olsen - Pyramids of Guimar Museum

Mr. Olsen had a great interest and passion for finding out why certain ideas and methods of doing things spread through the world in pre-historic times.  He asked questions like: 

”Why do the Pre-Columbian Mexicans and Peruvians make effigies and carvings of men with facial hair (mustaches and beards) – when they do not grow facial hair themselves?  Why are there large mounds and step pyramids found all over the world – all built before there is any record of contact between widely disbursed people?  Did the Egyptians influence the Guanche people before any Europeans arrived?  Did the Ancient Egyptians build large, ocean going, papyrus reed boats capable of reaching the Atlantic Islands and North and South America?”

Replica of Pre-Columbian figure found in Mexico or Peru

Replica of a carving found in Pre-Columbian Mexico or Peru

A beautifully detailed display model of Christopher Columbus's flagship, the Santa Maria

Pyramids of Guimar Museum - details of the display model of the Santa Maria

Pyramids of Guimar Museum - details of the display model of the Santa Maria

Pyramids of Guimar Museum - rear view of the display model of the Santa Maria

Model of the theory of Ancient Egyptians constructing a large papyrus reed boat

Wall map showing the distribution of similar Mounds (blue) and Pyramids (Red) in the world.

The museum's photo display of pyramids and mounds in verious locations world wide

At Guimar, the company has built a beautiful museum as well as preserved and rebuilt several step pyramids and some sort of ancient ceremonial grounds that seem to honor the Summer Solstice.  The alignment of the pyramids is in synchronization with the movement of the setting sun that creates a “double setting” of the sun on the mountain ridge above the site only on the evening of the Summer Solstice. 

One of several step Pyramids at Guimar on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Step Pyramid and ceremonial grounds, Guimar on Tenerife, Canary Islands

Pyramids at Guimar, Tenerife, Canary Islands

The Summer Solstice and the pyramids all align with the "L" shaped notch in the mountain ridge above Guimar.  See detail photo below.

Detail of the "L" shaped notch where the double setting of sun occurs  in alignment with the Pyramids of Guimar on the eve of the Summer Solstice 

The tour group had adequate time to wander the grounds of the museum and the exhibits as well as a complementary glass of wine.  I kept to my diet cola with ice though.

Our tour bus passed the municipal auditorium in Santa Cruz de Tenerife as we returned to the ship.

We returned to the city and the Constellation.  There was time for those passengers who wanted to go back into the city for shopping or sight seeing on their own to do so.  The ship was late leaving port that afternoon due to the late arrival of one of the tour groups back at the dock. 

And so began our full week of sea days as the ship headed back to the New World crossing the Atlantic Ocean. The distance from Tenerife to Ft. Lauderdale Florida is 3,443 nautical miles.

Sea Days and Photos of the Interior of the Constellation

I will just copy my notes from each of the seven sea days as we crossed the Atlantic interspersed with my photos and comments about them.

Saturday, November 26th, 2011 – Sea Day. Clocks turned back one hour during the night.  Partly cloudy with rain squalls at times. Following wind and temperatures in the 80’s F.

The builders of Constellation - Alstom a French company

The Constellation was designed and built in France. The ship has elegant, clean and a very sophisticated beauty every where your eye looks.

My very comfortable stateroom.  There is a small refrigerator next to the desk at the left.  My breathing machine is on the side table at the head of the bed to the left in this photo.

The other side of my stateroom - bathroom entry at the left, two closets to the right.

I decorated my cabin door with a Turkish flag I picked up in Istanbul. Decorating your door to easily find your stateroom is a custom many cruise passengers follow. View is to the stern of the ship.

Sunday, November 27th, 2011Sea Day. The clocks were set back 1 hour during the night. I slept in until Noon!  Weather in the afternoon was warm and perfect.  There was very little ship movement. Beautiful clouds in view.  I watched 3 hours of TV in the stateroom.  I won $10 on the video poker machine after dinner.

The Customer Service area on the Promenade Deck

Promenade Deck next to the Grand Staircase made of translucent alabaster stone sheets.

Looking up the Grand Staircase from Promenade Deck

Looking down the Grand Staircase from the Plaza Deck - Note meeting rooms, bars and lounges on this level.

A small meeting or card room

Monday, November 28th, 2011 – Sea Day. Sea is very smooth and warm weather, no wind.  I read and watched TV most of the day.  No luck in the casino after dinner.

One of the ever present hand sanitizer stations.

The Internet Cafe and classroom.

Buffet dining area on Deck 9 - The ship is docked in Haifa, Israel I believe

A small lounge area near the Future Cruise Desk - Promenade Deck

Tuesday, November 29th, 2011 – Sea Day. The clocks were set back 1 hour during the night. Overcast sky with some white caps on the water. It was warm and humid outside in the evening.  We are more than halfway now.  On the TV map of our progress the Bahamas, Cuba and Florida are now showing up on the left side of the screen instead of the line marking our progress with nothing on the left side of the screen.

The ship's progress was shown on a map on the closed circuit TV system in each stateroom.

Inside the men's public restroom near the ship's theater in the bow.

The Celebrity Theater from the Balcony on the Promenade Deck Level

The slanted, brushed copper paneled wall is just outside the Cinema - Conference Center

Wednesday, November 30th, 2011 – Sea Day   Rain on and off today with the sea moderately rough.  Temperature outside is warm. I took a nap from 1 PM until 6 PM  I missed dinner in the San Marco Restaurant dining room and had a late dinner in the Seaside Buffet on Deck 9.  Sea is calmer now.  I lost $20 in the casino tonight.

Art work is everywhere on a large ocean liner.  A statue near the Celebrity Theater

A sculpture in the public area.

A sculpture in the public area.

A sculpture in the public area. This is near the Seaside Grill on Deck 9

A metal wall sculpture on Deck 2 - my stateroom was down the passageway to the right.

It is easy to get lost inside a large ocean liner - these plaques near each elevator bank help. 

Thursday, December 1st, 2011 – Sea Day   
Beautiful weather today. Temperature was in the low 80’s.   Formal dinner tonight with special desert paraded through the dining room.  Baked Alaska!

Steaming out of the Strait of Gibraltar looking back at North Africa from the Sunrise Deck.

Departing Gibraltar - view from the Sunrise Deck

Beautiful weather in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean - Sunrise Deck

Short video of what it is like to be out on deck on a beautiful Mid Atlantic Ocean Day.

Beautiful weather in the Mid-Atlantic Ocean - looking down at the Resort Deck, Deck 9.

Promenade Deck on a beautiful afternoon - Mid Atlantic Ocean

Safety equipment.

Evening on the Sunrise Deck below the ship's funnel (smokestacks)

Elston parading the Baked Alaska on the last formal dinner in the San Marco Restaurant

Friday, December 2nd, 2011 – Final Sea Day   Strong winds from the northeast. Warm, temperature is in the 80’s, partly cloudy.  I packed my large piece of luggage to put out in the hallway tonight at 8 PM.  I passed out my envelopes with extra gratuities to various staff members.  I will truly miss Elston, my dinner waiter, who has given me attentive, excellent service for the past 28 days.

There are 3 cruise ships on our port side keeping us company – all heading into Florida cruise ports.  One of them is another Celebrity cruise ship.

Mosaic tile work in the lobby of the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant.
China and silverware from the historic ocean liner - Ile De France - lobby of the Ocean Liners specialty restaurant

Detail of entry mosaic work - The Nightclub - Sunrise Deck forward

Entry mosaic work - The Nightclub - Sunrise Deck forward

Dance lessons - The Nightclub - Sunrise Deck forward

The Night Club - Sunrise Deck forward

The Night Club - Sunrise Deck forward

Pool side entertainment - Resort Deck

Pool Grill - Best hamburgers, hot dogs, fries salads, fruit and nacho chips at sea!

Health and beauty Spa's enclosed pool - Resort Deck forward

All good things must come to an end - Almost to Miami !

Saturday, December 3rd, 2011 – Arrival at Fort Lauderdale, Florida cruise port.  I got up at 5 AM, packed my small carry-on bag with my breathing machine and medications and one change of clothing. I had breakfast on Deck 9 and waited until my group was called and disembarked the Constellation at 7:15 AM.

I took a shuttle van to the Ft. Lauderdale Airport at a cost of $11 and a tip for the driver. I needed to catch my short, 9:30 AM Southwest Airlines flight to Tampa, Florida where I will board my next cruise on the Carnival Inspiration.

Next – Boarding Carnival Inspiration, Culture Shock and Grand Cayman Island

Please click the colored link to view my other blog about living in Hawaii "Life in the 50th State"

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Thanks for taking the time to read about my travels.


  1. Wonderful photos, I just looked quickly but have saved your page on favourites to come back again! Happy travels!

  2. I shared your pyramid photos ;-) Thanks for your interesting blog.