Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Some winter warmth

Fed up of this wet, winter weather? Tired of the mud, puddles and endless drizzle we seem to have no limit to in the United Kingdom? Well why not slip away for a few days of warmth and sunshine. I'm a great believer in lots of small, inexpensive holidays throughout the year rather than one big holiday.
Regular bursts of sunshine increases your Vitamin D intake and helps to combat osteoporosis and depression. It is a myth that sunshine is bad for us and gives us skin cancer. Sun exposure is necessary for our health and longevity. The danger from the sun is when we allow our skin to burn. Equally however wearing sunscreen can be just as dangerous to our health as it blocks the production of Vitamin D. The best approach is to have regulated time in the sun with no sunscreen and move to the shade before burning.
As the sun in the United Kingdom very rarely has the intensity to give us the required amount of vitamin D, I have a recommended holiday destination which can be done cheaply and with limited time off work.
When I mention the word 'Tenerife', try not to switch off but read on and discover what the non-tourist parts of the Island have to offer. Tenerife is a Spanish island in the Atlantic with warm winds from the Sahara desert and a flora and fauna to impress even the most esteemed botanist. Tenerife was a very popular holiday destination back in the 80's and 90's but fell out of popularity in the new millennium. Some of the resorts in fact look like no one has been there since the 90's and have an un-kemp feel. I would recommend you steer well clear of the usual resorts of Los Christianos and Playa de las Américas in the south of the island but instead venture to the north of the island. Northern Tenerife has never been a tourist hotspot and as a result has maintained an individuality the south has long since lost. The north of the Island has a much greener, lush environment and I can recommend a truly tranquil place to stay. Villa Maspalmeras is ten minutes drive from Peurto de la Cruz and is set in two thousand square metres of stunning gardens. Flying into Tenerife south airport gives you a very simple 45 minute car drive to the villa. I would recommend that you hire a car to give you the freedom of seeing some of the sights of Tenerife.
If relaxation is all you want then sitting by the clothing optional pool with it's spectacular views across to Mount Teide is all you will need. National Geographic magazine, a bottle of Evian, a pair of aviators and an all-over tan! Should you manage to rouse yourself from a state of complete tranquility offered by this place then you may like to hop in the car and take a short drive into Peurto de la Cruz to visit the Jardín de Aclimatación de La Orotava. This is a garden of acclimatisation from the 1700's where plants from across the world were brought to acclimatise them to the weather of Europe. Plants that survived, had their seed harvested and were then cultivated across Europe. This is the origin of many of the palms and tropical plants we see across Europe today. The botanical gardens are well signposted on the Island and costs just 3euro entry.


Another absolute must is Mount Teide National Park (Las Cañadas). Mount Teide is a volcano and offers some truly unique landscapes. The road through the national park is quiet at this time of the year and you can take your time to admire the views as you ascend through diverse layers of ecosystems. A good idea is to stop off for a picnic at one of the many picnic hotspots as you travel through the pine forests on your way up. Eventually you will emerge into a landscape which could easily be confused with the planet Mars.


At 2000m above sea level the weather is usually clear as you are generally above the cloud level and on very hot days its can offer a slightly cooler atmosphere. Admire the views, enjoy the restaurant at the top, take photographs, have a gentle stroll around the basalt rock formations but probably avoid the funicular to the top of the caldera. Its expensive and offers little more interest than you get from being nearly at the top by walking. If you are a bit of a geeky gay guy you may enjoy seeing the Izana Astronomical Observatory from a distance as it makes an interesting photography subject. You can visit the observatory but it offers group bookings which must be pre-booked via email.


A three night stay at Villa Maspalmeras staying in one of their apartments set in stunningg gardens, time to relax in the sun by the pool and some short but unforgettable excursions and you will go back to work with a refreshed outlook on life.  Suddenly January wont seem so depressing but don't forget as you return from one vacation its time to plan the next.......
For superb value gay accommodation with stunning surroundings: Villa Maspalmeras
Book flights early and look out for flight sales for the best deals: EasyJet
A fascinating afternoon stroll through plants, some of which are unique to Tenerife: Botanical Gardens of Acclimatisation
For some different photo opportunities use the observatory as a backdrop: Observatory

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