Monday, 15 April 2013

The Big 21!

It's 7am, and I'm running the shower, intending to wash off my fake tan from my birthday meal the night before. I look out of my living room window, our street is glistening with a light coat of frost. The thermostat reads 10.5 degrees. Not sure I can be phased however, as it's my 21st birthday tomorrow, and as a present I've been given a week away to the Canary Islands. As mentioned in my previous post, I've never really travelled anywhere so my excitement is naturally through the roof. The kettle boils and my breath, visible due to the coldness, erupts from my mouth like a fire breathing dragon.
I remember being younger, just before leaving for our holidays my Mum would clean the house from top to bottom. 'I don't want to come back to a messy house' she would tell us. We had to make sure our bedrooms were tidy, something I never understood. Now I do. The post-depression of having to come back from holiday is one thing, but having housework to return to is another. Hence me spending some time repeating my Mother's standard ritual before we left.
Boarding pass: check. Passport: check. Hotel booking confirmation: check. We were good to go.
I've only been on a plane twice, once was when I was 6 and then earlier in 2012 when I went to Paris. So I'm not really accustom to the whole flying process as of yet. Every noise makes me jolt in my seat. It's the taking off and landing that I'm not really a fan of. Being mid-air is fine, and having a window seat is a must. Luckily we didn't experience any turbulence, only slight pain from our ears popping upon descent into the islands airport.
Staying in the south of Tenerife, we quickly understood that we were slightly unfortunate in terms of the location of our hotel. 'Laguna Park 2, up Cardiac Hill?' would be people's responses once we told them where we were staying. After a couple of days it became second nature, we called it the daily climb.
The first couple of days were spent lounging on the beach or by the pool. The heat was ridiculous to say that it was January. It managed to reach highs of 28 degrees during the day, and a respectable 17 in the evening. It was odd to see that the locals were layering up during the early mornings. Obviously used to a more extreme level of heat, they found this time colder and less bearable. Tourists could be seen walking around at 8am in shorts and t-shirts, baffled to see people wearing gloves and fleeces.
My fair skin stood no chance against the relentless blaze of the Spanish sun. By day 3 I found it hard to sleep on my back, as I had caught so much sun on my shoulders. The feeling of getting a cold shower at the end of the day, followed by plastering myself in after sun quickly became my evening routine.

My actual birthday was on Monday 14th. Even though it was still humid and warm in the evenings, I had to put a light layer of make up on at least! I had been so good all holiday, but I was determined to have a little bit on. The night started with taking advantage of the all inclusive drinks at the resort. The cocktail of the day changed from Sex on the Beach to Pinacoladas. After a few of these we were well on our way. Alex's sports bar was our next pitstop, to meet up with some people that we'd met in the hotel. It was a popular choice for many tourists as it had free Wifi, oh and pints for 1 euro. After talking to a few people we found out that the place to be in Tenerife was 'The Patch.' It was like a mini Vegas strip, of pubs, nightclubs and strip bars.
The group we had formed made a habit of telling everyone that it was my 21st, resulting in more and more drinks flying my way. By 1am, it was karaoke time. Unbeknown that I was next, I was ushered onto an X-Factor mark on the floor of a British bar, and a microphone put into my hand. 'Thank God she's not shit' the guy commentated as I opened the first line.
A cocktail was waiting for me after I had finished. The DJ had it on the edge of the booth. 'This, has a very special name, for a very special reason.' he warned. 'Its called the Oooh Ya Bastard. Which you will find out is rightly named after you down it in one.' So I did it. In front of a bar of strangers, all chanting 'Down in one! Down in one!' Followed by a cheer afterwards. I do not remember much after that, lets put it that way.
The following day resulted in me feeling extremely fragile, and so not much could be done in terms of activities. It was a day of relaxing in the sun, sipping water and topping myself up frequently with paracetamol.
Siam Park
Coming to Tenerife is all about the water park. Everywhere we went, the air was buzzing with the sound of people talking about Siam park. We couldn't not go. An Arabian theme nursed the park, with warm water and music, the atmosphere was amazing. Everyone, no matter what age, were seen getting giddy and releasing their inner child. Once they had got off one ride, running back up for round two. Due to visiting the island out of peak season, it meant that we didn't experience any queuing for rides. It was great!
The weightlessness feeling when flying down a water slide on a foam board, face first puts butterflies in your stomach. Although it was the Power Tower that defined your bravery. Climbing the stairs puts an airy feeling inside you. When you finally reach the top you are greeted by two instructors. One with a visual board. 'English?' he would ask. I nodded in agreement. 'Okay, lay fully down, legs and arm crossed tightly and head back. Yes?' Again, the only movement I could muster was a nod. From the top you can see the whole park. The feeling of adrenaline, slowly begins to elevate your heart rate. Lying down at the top you are put into position and then gently pushed down using your shoulders. The initial whoosh of adrenaline is incredible! You literally feel a surge rushing through you. Straight down at an impeccable speed, the tunnel goes through a pool of sharks and other sea life. I didn't see any of this, my eyes were shut so tight. The huge build of suspense, the burst of adrenaline was over in a matter of seconds. You come out in a pool at the end, surrounded by the people who only dared to watch those going down.
Loro Park
The other main attraction of the island is the wildlife park. Loro park celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012, and is like a sister park to Siam. The first animal we were greeted by were the gorillas. Three of these magnificent beasts were free to roam around a very generously sided enclosure. Further into the park was the aquatics centre, which was home to penguins. Emulated conditioned allowed them to swim freely and bury themselves in an imitation of their natural habitat.
I recently adopted a meerkat and was scurrying around looking for their enclosure. When I finally found them, I got so giddy! They are my favourite animal and so were photographed twice a much as the others. Nobody else could get a look in!
At regular intervals there were shows allowing us to see just how wonderfully intelligent these animals really are.
First was the dolphin show, a spectacular array of talent from the oceans most clever sea creature. Orca whales and sea lions were to follow, showing how the trainers can develop a truly unique bond with the animals. Sitting in the Splash Zone, we were put up onto the big screen when inevitably we were soaked by one fancy flick of an orca's tail.
The rest of our time was filled with wandering around, stopping every few meters to get a picture in front of something touristy. That's what I love about holiday. Getting dorky pictures, cheesy smiles and not wanting to go home. Meeting strangers in bars on nights out, and bar hopping like you've known them for years. Exchanging stories of what you do, where you're from, where you're staying and who you're with. Going on holiday creates an atmosphere of a whole new you. You encase yourself in a foreign bubble, allowing yourself to let your hair down, and you can't help but feel saddened when it's time to go home.
Our plane landed and it was minus 1, the complete opposite end of the scale. I hadn't had goosebumps in a week, I get off the plane and I'm immediately covered in them!
Oh well, back to normal day to day life. Except for the fact I have an insane story of how I turned 21!

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