The Canary Islands, and particularly Tenerife, have been high on the “must visit places” section of my bucket list for years but with only an inkling as to the cause of this yearning.
The reasons began to unveil themselves soon after my arrival when I had the opportunity to visit the group of volcanic island outcroppings west of North Africa for the opening of the Hard Rock Hotel Tenerife.
After watching a magnificent sunset, cocktail in hand, from the hotel’s rooftop outdoor lounge, The 16th, followed by dinner at Ali-Olé featuring Spanish dishes infused with local flavors such as Iberian ham and pork skewers marinated in a spicy mojo sauce from the Canary Islands, it was time to retire to my room for my next day’s adventures. Along the way I ran a gauntlet of priceless music memorabilia from an outfit worn by Lady Gaga to John Entwistle’s bass guitar.
A morning drive brought me through a volcanic landscape to the crown jewel of Tenerife, Mount Teide, Spain’s highest peak at 3,718 meters (12,198 feet). While some attempt the summit on foot from a parking area far below, most, including me, head for the cable car which brings visitors to a series of viewing platforms and a relatively short trail to the top of the dormant volcano.
After exploring other surreal landscapes within the UNESCO World Heritage site of Mount Teide National Park it was time for gastronomic explorations at Alma de Trevejos in Vilaflor, a winery established in 1950 famous for its white wine.
The history of Canary wines has its roots in the 15th century. The number of grape varieties, the island’s climate and the peculiarity of its volcanic soil – encapsulated in the wine term terroir – creates wines of unique personality to its continental and New World relatives. A visit to the Wine Museum in El Sauzal gives visitors a deeper understanding of the Tenerife’s viticulture history.
After a day of exploring Tenerife by bus, foot, cable car, and wine glass I treat myself to an Aloha Huna Massage at the Hard Rock’s Rock Spa followed by an Asian fusion dinner at Narumi.
My final day includes pool lounging and an impromptu jam session – part of the Hard Rock’s “Sound Of Your Stay” music amenity program – capped off by the hotel’s official opening night concert at their Beach Club featuring C+C Music Factory, Blackbox and the Village People.
On my way back to the US via Europe I indulge in a bit of contemplation. It was from Tenerife’s neighboring island La Gomera that Christopher Columbus and his crew made their last port of call en route to America. These days sun worshipers and adventure seekers can reach The Canary Islands in two to three hours by plane from its motherland Spain or other areas of Europe. With an average annual temperature of 72 degrees and mild weather conditions year round, I wonder how many of his crew were more than a little tempted to jump ship in this island paradise.
All Photographs and Text Are © Mark Edward Harris
Mark Edward Harris Photographer Bio
Mark Edward Harris’ assignments have taken him to 93 countries on six continents. His editorial work has appeared in publications such as Vanity Fair, LIFE, Time, GEO, Conde Nast Traveler, AFAR, Wallpaper, Casa Vogue, GQ Thailand, Money Magazine, Architectural Digest, The Los Angeles Times Magazine, and The London Sunday Times Travel Magazine as well as all the major photography and in-flight magazines. His commercial clients range from The Gap to Coca-Cola. He is the recipient of numerous awards including a CLIO, ACE, Aurora Gold, and Photographer of the Year at the Black & White Spider Awards. His books include Faces of the Twentieth Century: Master Photographers and Their Work, The Way of the Japanese Bath, Wanderlust, North Korea, South Korea, and Inside Iran. North Korea was named Photography Book of the Year at the International Photography Awards. Mark’s latest book, The Travel Photo Essay will be released by Focal Press in the fall of 2017.
Website: Mark Edward Harris
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