On Friday we drove North West around the only corner of the island that has no motorways. It is a jungle of hills and valleys formed by massive ancient lava flows and for the most part you’d be better off astride a mountain goat. Parts, such as the road through Masca, are inaccessible to normal sized coaches so only minibuses can make it round the cliff-hanging tight bends. It is nervous stuff for passengers.
Masca itself is in our opinion not worth the time it takes to get there. It is usually described in glowing terms such as “awe-inspiring picturesque village nestling in a stunning gorge” but, whilst it is pretty, it is almost as overrated as the “La Estancia” restaurant. It is a small village tumbling down a gorge a hard drive from anywhere else. It has no other especially redeeming features. Let’s be honest about it, the journey there is more exciting than the village itself.
After Masca we made our way to Buenavista del Norte whose only saving grace was the banana plantations that allowed us to show Zosia how bananas grow on trees. We quickly moved on to the town of Garachio and stopped for a late lunch.
We liked Garachio, a town that was almost destroyed by lava in 1706 but thankfully it only blocked the harbour and ruined the port. The Plaza de la Libertad next to the church is a lovely place to get a drink and is also where you will find the restaurant “Aristides”. If you are ever in Tenerife then we recommend this place wholeheartedly. Nice simple atmosphere, extremely friendly and knowledgeable service and great food. We went for two fresh fish, one grilled and one Canarian style, Canarian potatoes with mojo sauce and a mixed salad.
The Canarian style fish is boiled or baked and is served with the stock from the cooking process as a sauce. The waiter first poured a mixture of olive oil and vinegar over the fish then chopped some green chili and then the stock. The Canarian potatoes are essentially small “jacket potatoes” but with a very salty skin, one can be seen next to my fish in the picture. They are served with two “mojo” sauces the spicy red and the more relaxed green. The recipes vary but the red is with cumin and paprika and the green with coriander or avocado or green pepper. Both have olive oil, salt and garlic.
We finished the meal with one of those coffees we like but don’t know how to order. Its name begins with a C or a G and it’s not a con leche or an espresso. (See picture)
After Garachio we moved on to Icod de los Vinos, another overrated town. Icod is “famous” for its Dragon Tree. They claim the tree is thousands of years old but the most optimistic scientific age is about 650 years. Dragon trees have no age rings so you can only estimate age from height and number of branch forks (flowering episodes). However old it is, it is possibly the most boring tree you’ll ever see!
Not far from the boring tree is a butterfly zoo and this, although small, is worth a visit while you are there. The main attraction is a large room kept at tropical climate conditions that houses many surprisingly active and very colourful butterflies.
The days attractions complete, we wound our way up the vertical streets out of Icod via a sat-nav diversion into a farmers back-yard and across the hills and valleys to our villa.