Friday, 5 September 2014

Holiday Snaps: Loro Parque, Tenerife

Tripping to another island
The day trip to Tenerife is now a constant feature of my holidays to Gran Canaria where I have the choice of visiting Loro Parque or just doing a tour of the island.
The port of Santa Cruz de Tenerife is just a 70 minute boat ride from Puerto de las Nieves on the north-eastern coast of Gran Canaria, but this all takes a lot out of you.
I felt going to Loro Parque was essential especially for my friend who was having his first package holiday at a seaside resort. At least to prove the point that there was more besides sun, sea, sand and sometimes sex.
We had already visited Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the capital city of the island of Gran Canaria and between fable, legend and truth, gone to the Christopher Columbus house purportedly resided in, which is now a museum. The view is that most trips to the New World as it then known passed through the Canary Islands.
Off to Tenerife
For Tenerife, we got a wake-up call at 5:15AM having been out most of the night, we were somnambulists for the hours that followed. Though we had planned for an early breakfast at 5:30AM, we had no stomach for such.
The shuttle bus to take us to the port arrived around 6:20AM and the sooner that I got in my seat, I attempted a half slumber and for the journey between Playa del Ingl├ęs and the Las Palmas, the chaperone allowed us some peace to catch some shut-eye.
I noticed a few changes to the scheduling, the trip was better planned, we were given hints to what shows to see and the best order to maximise the usage of our time at Loro Parque. The ferry was an hour earlier and it also meant we returned in enough time to make dinner back at the hotel.
Our chaperone was a chatterbox extraordinaire, he switched between 4 languages with ease and repeated his advice in as many ways possible that the stupid would be highly enlightened, yet there were times I wished I had travelled with my ear plugs, for I was on the verge of telling him shut up for a nanosecond and give our eardrums a rest from the din.
The shows
The sea was calm, the journey easy and we were at Loro Parque just before 11:00AM, and we made for Orca World where we were to see killer whales in performance. Though the show as to start at 11:30, the arena was quite full some 15 minutes to the start.
The orca whale is really not a whale, it is a dolphin and yet apex predators. These creatures are huge and could measure up to 6 metres long.
The handlers do not get in the water with the orcas as they do with the dolphins that are much smaller or even the lion seals.
Though Loro Parque was created for parrots, parakeets, cockatoos and birds of that family group, it is essentially a zoo, but one of significance for the rarity of the animals, their conservation efforts and the documentation that accompanies their exhibits.
And then
We attended the orca and dolphin shows, but decidedly missed the sea lion show, at the dolphin show, I learnt something new, how to determine the sex of dolphins and what to do if I encounter a beached or stranded dolphin.
The service at the publicised restaurant for which we had vouchers for a discounted price for a set meal was perfunctory to the point of almost appalling.
The waiters at Patio del Loro looked like if they smiled they might have a terminal cardiac arrest, even I could not wish a smile for them, lest it became an emergency. I left a tip, well the tip was, please find ways to smile. As for the bill, it was not a penny more and not a penny less than what the bill said.
Much as literally every venue in Spain displays the WiFi free logo, nothing is as annoying as to find that the service is poor to the point that you could not connect. My view was that Loro Parque did not add enough capacity to handle the crowds that throng the place. I would rather they did not have the service than have signs everywhere and yet not deliver.

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