Canary Islands

There are the classic wine-making regions: the Rhône Valley, Chianti, Douro and many more. Prestige has often dictated that the most famous and respected vineyards lie within a relatively small corner of Western Europe, with notable exceptions. However, grapes are being grown in some seemingly inhospitable climates and strange locations all over the world. These regions also happen to produce some of the most flavoursome wines: read on for the most unusual tasting tour you could ever take.


The Canary Islands

The mass of grey-black volcanic soil which characterises the islands might suggest that wine crop would be the last thing you’d find growing here, but grow it does and in many cases, has done so since the 15th century. Green crops burst from the middle of grey, alien-like craters in an unreal demonstration of nature’s micro-climates at work. Tenerife produces fine reds from Listan Negro varieties, whilst La Palma’s Fuencaliente region works wonders with young whites. It’s certainly something to think about if you find yourself on a winter break here.


On the Niagara peninsula between Lakes Ontario and Erie, lies a cold-climate region which produces 70% percent of Canadian wines. With plenty of mineral enrichment and temperatures as low as -7, these so-called ‘ice wines’ are rare and subsequently expensive. Hand-picked and yielding only a drop per grape, the white wine varieties developed here definitely qualify as the most unusual Chardonnay or Riesling you’ll ever drink.

Patagonia, Argentina

Gaining notoriety not least because it’s one of the world’s southernmost wine regions, this desolate desert landscape is 400 miles away from its more famous neighbour, the Mendoza region and receives just seven inches of rainfall per year. The windswept, dry terrain is great for battling mildew and the crop here is slow to bloom on account of extreme swings in temperature. But the Merlots and Cabernets from Bodega del Fin del Mundo have won awards and you’ll also find white varieties abundant on the Rio Negro plantations.


Astounding as it may be to learn that this Eastern country is one of the biggest wine-producers in the world, its beautiful rolling countryside has been home to vineyards for over 4000 years. Since the fall of Communism, Romania has steered away from cheap export and concentrated on top quality production. Wines from Transylvania, contrary to its bloody reputation, tend to be white, whilst reds in the form of Syrah and Pinot Noir are found in Murfatlar. And it’s hard to turn down the chance to taste some of Jidvei Winery’s best at their magnificent, turreted fortress in the Târnave.

International vineyards are growing in strength in a whole host of other unlikely places, from the floating vineyards of Thailand, to the reputable Chateau Musar winery in Lebanon. Whether through lack of distribution or a propensity to undervalue them, wines from such places are largely unheard of. Indeed, with many not exporting outside the immediate area, it may be necessary to do some travelling yourself. It’s true that these underdogs of the wine world are well-deserving of more notoriety however, so it would be a shame not to give them a try.

Photo Credit – Dave Morrison Photography

Tenerife is not the kind of place you would associate with going on a city break but the largest island in the Canaries boasts the stunning city of La Laguna. A UNESCO World Heritage City since 1999, it has undergone extensive work in the past few years to become a lively, cultural, modern city that has not lost its historical charm, making it well worth a visit if you are planning to holiday in Tenerife. The city is well worth a visit and a great way to add a completely different dimension to a sunshine holiday.

Regarded as the cultural capital of the Canary Islands, San Cristóbal de La Laguna, as it is officially known, sits in the northern part of the island, right next to the island capital of Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The two centres of population are linked by the modern local tram system. Indeed, from the outside the city looks like many a Spanish urban sprawl but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll be rewarded with a beautiful old town.

At the heart of La Laguna’s old town is Plaza del Adelantado, a great place to watch the world go by, and the perfect place to start your exploration. From here, the city’s narrow streets stretch out into arms of beautiful buildings, churches and grand old villas from the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries that spoil you with influences from architectural movements from across Europe.

The Convento de Santa Catalina dominates one side of the square while the nearby Catedral de Nuestra Señora de Los Remedios used to be one of the largest cathedrals in Spain. Unfortunately it was left to fall into a state of disrepair and is now closed while a lengthy refurbishment continues. Luckily, it remains impressive from the outside.


Fortunately, you can enter the Iglesia de la Concepcion and view the font where the Guanche, Tenerife’s original inhabitants, were baptised for centuries. You can also pay a very small fee and climb up the clock tower for a more aerial view of La Laguna.

Still within five minutes’ walk, there is the Museo de Historia y Antropologia de Tenerife on Calle San Agustin. Interestingly, it is believed that the layout and planning of La Laguna influenced the modern planning of many American cities and this rich and fascinating history and the economic and social milestones of it are fully explored in the museum. It offers a real chance to understand the city and the fascinating island as a whole and proves that it is far more than just a package holiday tourist destination.

Assuming you’re staying in one of the more coastal resort centres, La Laguna is an ideal one-day trip. The island’s bus and tram network is fantastic so you’ll have no problem getting there. From the likes of Playa de las Américas or Costa Adeje, the city can be reached by bus in little over an hour.

La Laguna can be a bit wetter and cooler than other parts of the island so you might want to take an umbrella for pounding those gorgeous narrow streets. If you did want to stay over, book a local hotel and enjoy some lively nightlife – particularly during term time when 30,000 students swell the city’s population and further add to the allure of this cultural centre.
Photo by Insight Spain
Photo by Insight Spain

Cruising the Canaries: 7 Stops Along the Way

by Terrance Richardson

Modern doctors and New Age psychiatrists have a fancy name for it. They call it SAD, or (Seasonal Affective Disorder). However, is does not take a doctor or a psychiatrist to tell you the sun does not shine enough in England, and that you have been in an ill-temper and foul mood for the past month because of a severe lack of Vitamin D. Every day you tromp off to work with your umbrella, hat and heavy overcoat like you are a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Do you want to get away from all that? Sure you do.

When you travel to an island with soft, golden dunes and year-round sunshine, you will not be feeling sad, or have SAD, any longer. Forget staring into some sort of hocus-pocus light box. Cruising  to the Canary Islands is just what the doctor ordered. From the whitewashed villages and necklace-like bays of Gran Canaria to the otherworldly moonscape of Lanzarote, the Canary Islands are filled with all sorts of hidden treasures. Here are 7 activities and shore excursions to get you started on your cruise holiday.

1. Las Palmas is the ultra-hip capital of Gran Canaria. After a little sun worshipping, head to Las Palmas and enjoy its chick boutiques and tapas bars. Enjoy a glass of strong, fruity sangria and a sunset; they go together perfectly.

2. The Canary Islands are known for their rugged mountains, pristine bays and hidden coves. The landscape is second-to-none. A perfect example of the type of unusual geological features you will on the Canary Islands is the Bandama crater. This volcanic crater towers 3,000ft in the air.

3. From camel rides to glass-bottom boat trips, Gran Canaria is a hotspot for all sorts of sightseeing activities. In other words, put down your paperback for a few hours, get off the cruise ship and explore. Who has not dreamed of riding a camel across the sand dunes like Lawrence of Arabia? Lanzarote’s surrealistic landscape is the stuff of science fiction. While visitors flock to Lanzarote for its sun and world-class beaches, it’s the futuristic landscape that makes the greatest impression. Timanfaya National Park is a must–see. It is famous for the Mountains of Fire, which are enormous, solidified lava formations.

5. The Playa Grande, which is located in Puerto Del Carmen, is Lanzarote’s longest and most popular beach. Cafes, restaurants and discos line the beach, and once the sun begins to set the Playa Grande really begins to heat up.

6. Try your hand at windsurfing on the Costa Teguise. Of course, the windsurfing is legendary on this part of the coast, so perhaps you will just want to get a front-row seat for a stellar watersport show.

7. Cesar Manrique is Lanzarote’s most famous artist. His creations are scattered all over the island. Take the time to explore. You will not see anything like his artistic marvels anywhere else in the world

by Terrance Richardson

Royal Caribbean offers cruises to destinations all over the world. Book your next holiday on a ship and see some of the amazing places you’ve always wanted to visit.

Caribbean Cruises

With a name like Royal Caribbean, you know this is a cruise line that knows this area of the world well. With ships that visit destinations like the Bahamas, St. Thomas, St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, Jamaica, Mexico, and more, you’re sure to have the holiday of a lifetime. Bathe in the azure waters, sun yourself on the white sand beaches, eat more seafood than you can possibly imagine, and take part in exciting shore excursions and water sports. It’s all part of the Royal Caribbean experience.


Imagine combining a fantastic beach holiday with city breaks and historical sights. You can with a Royal Caribbean Mediterranean cruise. Visiting destinations like Venice, Barcelona, Rome, Naples, Santorini, Sicily, Split, and Athens, you’re sure to get the best of both worlds.

South America

Indulge yourself and see the sights of South America. This vast continent offers everything from humid jungles to frozen glaciers, as well as beautiful beaches, ancient ruins, and chic cities. Begin your journey in Santos, Brazil, where you can relax on the beaches of this port city. If you’ve enough time, you can explore Sao Paulo, located about 50 kilometres away. Next, stop off in Punta del Este, Uruguay, where the beautiful elite love to party, then head to the thriving, exciting city of Buenos Aires, Argentina. End your cruise of South America in Montevideo, the quaint capital of Uruguay and the perfect place to unwind after the excitement of Buenos Aires.

Emirates and Oman

Dip your toe in the Middle East with this exciting cruise of the Emirates and Oman. You’ll begin your cruise in Dubai, where everything is new and bigger is better. Try everything from skiing indoors to riding a camel in the desert before setting sail for Fujairah, located on the beautiful Gulf of Oman. Next, your cruise will take you to Muscat, Oman’s capital and largest city, before winding down in Abu Dhabi.


If you’ve ever dreamed of a holiday to the Land Down Under, dream no more with this exciting cruise from Royal Caribbean. Choose from 11 to 16 nights onboard the Rhapsody of the Seas while you explore gorgeous Sydney, thriving Melbourne, and nature-filled Tasmania.

Canary Islands

You’ve probably considered a holiday to the Canary Islands, but have you considered taking a cruise there? Royal Caribbean offers a 10-11 night cruise onboard the Independence of the Seas for an ideal beach holiday.


 About the AuthorTerrance Richardson is a keen writer, explorer and musician. He is particularly interested in music in different cultures but is also a big food lover.


In October 2011, George and I were the hosts for Meet Plan Go Los Angeles, part of 17 cities hosting events about Career Breaks, Mini-Retirements and Long Term Travel. We had traveled for nearly a year in 2008-9 and this month we left again for at least a year. Meet Plan Go National recently posted this article about our second career break: NOT WASTING TIME!

Time is now the currency. We earn it and spend it. The rich can live forever and the rest of us? I just wanna wake up with more time on my hands than hours in the day. – In Time (2011)

In Time is a movie that really spoke to me. In the movie, the main character, Will, is falsely accused of murder and must find a way to bring down a system in which time is money. While the wealthy can live forever, the poor have to beg, borrow, and steal enough minutes to make it through each day. At one point, a character gives his time to Will and tells him, “don’t waste my time.

How many times have you been in a pointless meeting thinking what a waste of time it is? So many of us waste time every day. We casually think that there will be time later. One of my strongest memories of seven years working on cruise ships was speaking to a widow who said, “we always planned to come here to Alaska together but there was always something that got in the way.” I heard over and over again, “don’t wait to make your dreams come true” or “you are so smart to travel like this while you are young.” I often felt like a character who had borrowed against time and was running to spend my time wisely traveling.

When my company went bankrupt after September 11, 2001, I thought I would never travel again.