Ok, I've been boasting that whenever I go an all-inclusive holiday I come back lighter. Now the proof will be in the pudding. Or maybe the breakfast chocolate doughnuts. It's going to be food verses exercise for the next two weeks.
We're back in Tenerife, back in the Marylanza. It's nice coming back to somewhere you've been before as you don't have that nagging anxiety that the place is going to be terrible. The Marylanza was great last time and so we expected to enjoy it this time.
The flight got us in around 9pm so we weren't sure whether we'd get anything to eat, but the receptionist opened the luggage room for us and sent us all down to the restaurant to catch the end of dinner. That was definitely a good start. After dinner we had our wristbands put on and settled into our room. This year they gave us a room at the back of the complex, facing on to the golf course. We had a great view every morning of how much water it takes to keep a large lawn looking green. A lot!
Most days followed the same pattern: breakfast, sun lounger and pool, lunch at the pool bar, sun lounger and pool again, showers, dinner and either a walk into town or mini disco and bingo. The restaurant was as good as we remembered, with loads of choice, especially fish dishes, plus the added extra of chocolate coated doughnuts for breakfast. This was going to be a tough challenge. I managed to get out before sunrise each morning for a bit of a walk, and tried to do at least 50 lengths of the pool each day. Cate took part in lots of activities during the day, including table tennis, shuffleboard, darts, pool and water polo. I had a shot at the table tennis and found out how mediocre I am. Over and over again.
The walks were quite useful, not just for exercise but to find out a bit about the area. I got down to the beach, up towards Siam Park and along to Los Cristianos. The one day it didn't turn out too well was when I tried climbing the hill between Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. I got part way up to find a couple of chairs and a collection plate. Then some dogs came barking and growling out of a shelter and chased me away. I won't mention what happened on the next morning's walk except to say it was surprising to find some of Tenerife's night workers still trying for work at 7 in the morning.
A note on the Marylanza. We came back because we loved it last time and they didn't disappoint. The pools were a bit busy at times, but the staff were excellent. The cleaners set out Cate's toy animals on the bed every morning, the waiters were friendly and smiling all the time and Dana's still doing the chu chu wa at the mini disco. Not forgetting the bingo of course.
We also didn't spend quite as much time at the mini disco as we did on our previous visit, so we managed to get a few walks into town in the evenings. The main strip in Las Americas was being done up, but the gaudy shops were just as we remembered. And the sunsets were lovely.
We had twin tickets for Siam and Loro parks, and visited Siam on the Friday. We didn't get there as early as we should have, so it was very busy and queues were big. We gave up on the new Singha ride and also the Tower of Power, as they've changed the rules from purely height based to also over 14s only. Boo! Anyway, we still had a good day and enjoyed the Mekong Rapids, the Dragon, the Giant and of course the wave beach. We got cheap tickets for a return journey, so were up early next time. On Tuesday we made it in at 9.30 and got on the Singha (good fun, like a water bobsleigh). We also met some friends there and got to show them around a bit, like we were regulars.
The local market, down near the front at Los Cristianos, is on a Sunday morning. We took a taxi down and had a look round, picking up a few presents. Cate bought a Rubik's snake, so I got to show her how to make the ball shape with it. Ah, the good old days! The man with the wooden animals that made various noises when blown into or hit was good. We avoided the parrot man in case he remembered me refusing to pay for a photo 3 years ago.
Some of the folk from our church are regular visitors to Tenerife and had recommended a church to visit while we were there, so we walked up the main street in Los Cristianos to the South Tenerife Christian Fellowship, for their morning meeting. The speaker was from Queens Park Baptist, so it was just like being back home. Apart from the heat. And the lack of Irn Bru.
Cate generally finds a friend on holiday and for the first week she paired up with a wee boy from England called Daniel. She also spent some time chatting to an Icelandic girl. Not sure what they spoke about but I'd be asking if they could arrange for the volcano to go off again.
Most of our time was taken up by and in the pool at the hotel, but you can't stay near the beach without visiting it. Playa de las Vistas is just a 10 minute walk away, so we packed a bag and headed down. We had a swim in the sea, spotting lots of fish once we got far enough out for the water to clear; Cate made a sand sculpture of Toothless the dragon; and we also tried out the water assault course. This is a series of floats, some like see-saws, some with trampolines and one giant iceberg at the end. This was a real tough climb and a scary jump from the top, especially when your daughter gives you a push as you jump, knocking you sideways for a very sore landing in the water.
We had a bit of a mix up with the bus tickets to get us to Loro Park, and the bus was about half an hour late (or took half an hour to get to our stop, the last pickup) but we made it to the park with plenty time to see everything. The three big shows are the dolphins, sea lions and orcas (watch out if you're in the Splash Zone) and we enjoyed all three. We didn't go to see the parrot show and there was a Rio 3D thing that we avoided too.
The main attractions otherwise were the big cats. We got a fairly short view of the white tigers, but when we got to the jaguar enclosure the normal jaguar was having a good wander around, so we had a great view of it. The black jaguar climbed a tree and went for a sleep.
The penguin building was good too, not least as it takes you out of the heat of the sun for a while. Since it's winter just now in the Antarctic, the place was darkened, the penguins looked to be having a good time, whizzing about underwater.
There is also a pretty decent aquarium at the park, and an area next to the whales specifically for jellyfish (my old friends). And also a treetop walk which gets you up close with some of the colourful birds.
All in all it was a long day with the bus rides but a good one.
In a fit of adventurousness, Claire thought it might be a good idea to try parascending. I thought it would be a good idea to take the photos. We booked up with Parascending Tenerife, who took us out from Puerto Colon, strapped Claire and Cate in and sent them up. Claire thought being up in the air would avoid the seasickness she always gets when on a boat. She was wrong.
Jungle Park is much closer to Las Americas than Loro Park, and a bit smaller. We had a late departure on our last day and a whole day to play with so we decided to try this out. There's a free bus that picks up at various stops in the area, so we just had to pay for our tickets. And for a photo session with a seal. And a couple of very expensive drinks. And an ice cream lolly. And a shot on the Bob. And a cuddly toy. Oh, and Cate was too tall to be allowed a child ticket.
Anyway, the place is a bit smaller than Loro but still a decent walk around. It's made like a jungle with lots of trees so there is some welcome shelter as you walk about. Apart from the animal enclosures they had three shows on. The first was a bird of prey show. We sat in what looked a bit like the set from a spaghetti western (and the music agreed) while the keepers brought out various birds and either let them fly back and forth across the circle or let them fly high for a while before calling them down. The commentator was pretty good ("The eagles are flying free") and the only downer was we were too late to get a shady seat and it was roasting hot.
Another seating area was used for the other two shows. It had some roofing at the back but again most of it was out in the sun. We watched the sealion show, which was decent if a bit long (the dancing section seemed a bit unnecessary).
The other show was a bird show, with parrots, hornbills and so on. The audience were given a chance to feed them fruit from their hands and get a bit closer than they did to the birds of prey.
Our main reason for going to the Jungle Park was that they seemed to have more big cats than Loro. They had lions, a white tiger, leopards, a jaguar and a puma. They haven't made it easy for photographers though, with the most reflective glass you can imagine.
There were also the various birds we had seen in the shows, plus meerkats, howler monkeys, chimps, urangs and some crocodilians. And they have an extra attraction as a break from the animals, in the form of a bobsleigh-type ride. You sit in a little plastic tray with wheels and a brake handle while shooting down a long slide. The guy told us to brake at every corner and I didn't have the courage to see what happens if you don't.
The first bus back from the park was at 4, so we just had a couple of hours to kill before the airport bus, and we decided to eat out for the first time in our two weeks. We found a nearby Italian place called Dolce Siesta, which had pretty low prices and we didn't expect too much from. They surprised us though with delicious pizza and pasta, which set us up for the journey home.
The plane was delayed by an hour, but an otherwise uneventful journey saw us back home at 3.30am, to a freezing cold July night in Scotland.
Oh, and the food vs exercise challenge? 4 lbs lighter!
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