The next day I offered myself a really nice café cortado (an expresso with a dash of milk) in the café next door, and then took at taxi to El Pilar, a place in the middle of the island that is the starting point for many walks. I was intent on doing the famous hike “La Ruta de los Volcanes”, an 18km walk up and down a few of the smaller extinct volcanos that make up the backbone of the southern part of the island. First the path ran through a pretty forest, where the smell of white flowers mixed with a heady scent of pine,
with views to the north to the huge volcano Cumbre Vieja that makes up the bulk of the island.
After a while the path left the shade and headed up in bright sunshine through a typically volcanic landscape –sharp red and black rocks covered in black sand, with a few small trees struggling to recolonise the land.
The terrain was striking and very austere, with the contrasts of bright blue sky, green trees and red rocks and black sand.
It was hot, and after a few km I was wondering if the walk would provide a bit of variety to this imposing, but stark, landscape. When I reached the top of the first volcano, I got my reward – a view of the east coast of La Palma. A short way out of from the land, the sea was covered with dense, bright white fluffy clouds. In the distance, looking as if they were floating on this cloud bank, rose two other islands – little La Gomera and larger Tenerife with its mighty volcano Teide towering over the clouds.
The path continued up and (mostly) down like this for another 10km, offering slightly different perspectives of the same impressive view along the way.
Then it dived into a pine forest for the last few km down to the southern tip of La Palma, before arriving at Fuentecalientes, a small town on the main road running around La Palma’s coast. I was hot and thirsty, so found a small local bar and drank two Schweppes Limon before taking a local bus back to Santa Cruz. Walking back to the hotel from the bus station I treated myself to a huge ice cream in a cone, which started dripping down my paws in the heat of the late afternoon.
Back home, I had a much-needed shower and short siesta. Then I headed off for an aperitif at an outdoor café and dinner in a restaurant I’d spotted the day before. It was located in an old town house, and its walls were made with beautiful wood panelling. In a room next door, but clearly visible and audible through big glass windows, a choir of local men with lutes, guitars and drums were practising for a concert.
They sang beautifully and added a great atmosphere to my meal. I ordered local seafood – cod, octopus and shrimps. Maybe due to language difficulties my main courses arrived first and my starters last – but who cares, they were all tasty. I washed down my food with some local wine. The Canary Islands have some unique grape varieties, not found anywhere else in the world, and their wine is very interesting (in the positive sense of the word). After dinner, I walked home slowly, happy in the knowledge that my day’s walking had given me the right to a little seafood feast and a rich Canary Island desert of “bienmesabe”(made with almonds, eggs, sugar and a little alcohol).