On Top of Mount Teide
Those of you worrying that I’m about to embark on my biggest weather-related rant ever: relax.
Actually, I probably could work some “complaining about the weather” into this post if I tried, because a) I always do, and b) I woke up to snow again this morning, but as it happens, these photos were taken last month, when Terry and I took the cable car to the top of Mount Teide, in Tenerife.
Well, almost to the top, anyway: you need a special permit to go right to the summit, and as you can probably see from the photos, given the amount of snow that greeted us when we got there, we’d also have needed crampons, snow suits and… I’ll stop pretending I have the slightest clue what people use to climb snow-capped mountains now, m’kay? The level the cable-car stops at, however, was more than high enough for me, because, if you’re a long-time reader of this blog, you might recall that I was not-so-secretly hoping the cable car would be closed, as it had been the previous two times Terry and I had tried to reach the summit. I’d taken the trip once before, as a teenager, and had found the cable car ride pretty terrifying (I should add here that I find most things pretty terrifying, so don’t mind me…): Terry, however, had missed out on that particular experience, so one morning in the first week of our holiday, we got into our hire car and off we went.
Teide, as I’m sure many of you know, is an active volcano, and the highest point in Spain, with a height of 12,198 ft. Even on our previous visits, when the cable car was closed due to high winds, the drive alone was well worth doing: the road takes you up above the clouds, and past some amazing rock formations, en route to the crater itself. I was pretty nervous by the time we got to the cable car (Which cost us 30 EUR each, which seemed a bit steep – no pun intended – at the time, but which turned out to be worth every penny), and my stomach was churning a little as we lined up to have some cheesy tourist photos taken in front of a random white wall in the terminal building. “Do you think they just did that so the mountain rescue teams will know what we look like when they’re searching for our bodies, later?” I asked Terry, but no, it turned out they were just going to Photoshop us onto a ‘Mount Teide’ backdrop and try to sell the resulting photo to us later. Because there would’ve been no other way to get that shot, what with the ACTUAL MOUNTAIN being right there in front of us, you know?
(I didn’t actually realise they were taking our photo until the last minute: I was so busy worrying that the cable was going to snap, sending us plunging to our deaths, that I wasn’t paying attention, and thought they’d stopped us because they were going to search our bags or something. The resulting photo shows a smiling Terry, accompanied by me, wearing my sunglasses indoors, but still managing to look like a rabbit caught in the headlights. No, we didn’t buy it…)
(I remember having similar photos taken when we visited Alcatraz, but in that case they made us stand in front of a PHOTO of the island. The island that was RIGHT THERE in front us. Seriously, WHY?)
Anyway! We all crowded onto the cable car, then more people crowded onto the cable car, then MORE people crowded on, then, finally, when we reached the stage where no more people could possibly have crammed themselves on board, a few more people got on, and we were off. I had, as I said, been really worried about this, but you know what? It was absolutely fine. And no, I’m not just saying that, and I promise I haven’t been drinking: it was really fine. Well, other than the whole “sardine” thing, obviously, but we didn’t fall to our deaths, and that was the main thing. Instead, we reached the top, got out, and… WHOA.
I’ll just quickly address the most obvious thing first: no, it wasn’t cold. Seriously. We’d known there was going to be snow on the summit, so I’d actually brought another coat with me, but I honestly didn’t need it: I had a couple of sweaters layered under my leather jacket, and although my ears were starting to nip a little by the time we got back into the cable car, the sun was warm, even all the way up there (as you can see, Terry had to roll his sleeves up at one point.). This was quite surprising to me, as the previous times we’d visited Teide, it had been really cold, even much lower down, so it was quite surreal to be surrounded by so much snow, and not be freezing!
(Yes, we were wearing sunscreen.)
The last time I’d made it this high up the volcano, I was 16 years old, and it was the middle of summer, so there was no snow to be seen. Surprisingly for me, though, I actually much preferred seeing it in winter: all that snow gave it this surreal, other-worldly feel, which was just amazing to experience. We followed the path around the crater, admiring the view as we went, then headed back to the cable car for the ride down – which was ALSO surprisingly non-scary. So far, so good, right?
Well, we got back to the car, and started the drive back to sea level. Our plan was to drive down the north side of the mountain, and visit the town of Los Gigantes, at the bottom, but not long after leaving the cable car, we got distracted by this:
The first photo shows two of the other Canary Islands (La Gomera and La Palma), looking like they’re floating on the clouds, right next to the road: the other is the view of Teide itself, right opposite them. This side of the volcano was particularly stunning, with the green of the trees looking so vivid against the volcanic soil, and the snow-covered mountain, that we had to pull into a handy car park to take some photos. When we got out, we discovered this wasn’t just a view point, as we’d assumed: it was a fairly large car park, from which people were leaving to hike up a nearby crater, and take in the views – well, we were there anyway, so it would’ve been a shame not to take a look, wouldn’t it?
We walked for around 20 minutes before heading back to the car. As we reached the car park, I was walking slightly ahead of Terry, so I was the first to see this:
Yeah, that would be our hire car, and that’s what USED to be its window.
This photo was taken after we opened the door: the car was still locked when we reached it, and although the glass was completely shattered, it was all still in the window – it instantly fell out when we opened the door. Whoops. As for what happened: we’ve no idea, really. Our immediate thought was that someone had tried to break in, and I guess that’s still the most logical explanation, although the car park was a busy one, with people coming and going all the time, so it would’ve been pretty hard to break the window without someone noticing. As soon as we opened the door, a small crowd gathered around us, all ooh-ing and aah-ing at the sight of our poor hire car: no one had seen anything suspicious, and there was nothing in the car to steal, so I guess we’ll never know what actually happened, much to my annoyance. I mean, you all know how much I hate an unsolved mystery, right?
What I DO know is that we then had to drive all the way back down the mountain with one missing window, and let me tell you: it may not have been cold on top of the volcano, but it was absolutely FREEZING driving down again with the wind blowing right into the car. Needless to say, our plans for the rest of the day had to be put on hold, while we dealt with the insurance etc, but oh well: I guess it could’ve been worse. For instance, I could have spent the duration of the trip lovingly filming every last second of it with my GoPro, in order to preserve the precious memories, only to then lose the memory card as soon as I got home, and… oh no, wait: that DID happen, didn’t it?