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Testimonials from SARM 2010 group La Palma and Tenerife

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Question 1: How did you like the apart-hotel services? How about the restaurant? The apartments? The location of the hotel? Did you prefer another location, taking into consideration the places visited on the island?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: Excellent location, very beautiful hotel and great services overall. Tenerife: Since we had only one day in the end it was OK, through Puerto de la Cruz seems more like an industrialized tourist location that I don't really appreciate, especially after coming from the very relaxed La Palma location :). Since we wanted to see Loro in such a short time I guess it was a great choice, but if I were to come again to Tenerife, I would rather be in a location that has more of a paradise feel rather than a crowded city feel.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: The hotel was above expectation, and the location is pretty good.

Catalin Paduraru: Congratulations for the initiative and especially for your involvement! You seem really passionate about what you do and will keep fingers crossed. Once again thank you for your help, implication, etc. And now let's come back to the subject. From my point of view, everything was OK. I think the only disturbing thing was the air travel but anyway this did not have trouble our rest time. Lodging and meals were of grade 10+ and the beach very near to the hotel + bus + rental car + Scuba center, so I think it was super OK.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: Gabriela and Ovidiu, our regards from the much colder Romania! We felt great in the Canaries, time passed so quickly and here we are trying to get used again with the considerably lower temperatures... Regarding the questions, we will try to be quite brief and to incorporate two feedbacks for our family: Radu and Catalina. The ideas are mostly the same, so we distinguish only where necessary. La Palma: excellent services, excellent accommodation, good ranking - very good and close beach. We consider there is a very good area. Regarding the location in respect to the tourist objectives, it was pretty good. In a word, flawless! Tenerife: acceptable service but drinks were not included with dinner at the restaurant, even water was expensive; good accommodation, location acceptable considering the short time we stayed there (faraway beach, attractions - Loro park very small distance, Siam Park far from the hotel).

Question 2: How about the rent a car transportation option? Entertaining and flexible? Tiring? Would you prefer the transport by bus and more strict stops, taking into consideration that you were a group?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: Well... I believe in the end renting cars is the best option, you just need to make sure that the travel does not get overwhelming. Sitting in a car for a full day can be excruciating.... and most of the time not the best way you would like to spend your "relaxing vacation" on a paradise island. My recommendation is to reduce the number of visiting locations to a minimum (just keep the "no miss" locations), impose a strict program (don't stop every time someone sees a nice view), and always estimate it will take you more time to get from point to point b because we are in a group. Given the weather patterns in La Palma, I would recommend to leave the mornings free for the tourists and organize max 4-5h excursions in the evening for the important sites such as caldera, volcanoes, Roque de los Muchachos, etc. This way the tourist can sleep more if he wants, go to the beach or go shopping in the morning without missing out on the main attractions. To note, if you have a group like ours, with mostly people that have traveled a lot, you can assume they will make it on their own to the town to do shopping, or to go on their own to the beach... they don't need to be guided for this. Tenerife: we dealt OK with taxi rides ... no comments here.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: For us it was an interesting alternative to car hire but better organization would have been by bus.

Catalin Paduraru: I say it was the perfect option. I loved to car hire which gave us more freedom than a bus. But you should keep in mind the fact that we were not a "normal" group. Maybe for a group that is homogeneous, a bus would be better.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: La Palma: each option has advantages and disadvantages, but we appreciated more the rental car option (so that the program and the routes could be the more flexible, given that there were a wide variety of preferences even in small group). Maybe it was more tiring for the drivers. Tenerife: We didn't rent cars.

Question 3: How did you feel the sejour? What about the traveling companion services?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: I want to congratulate you on a very good job! I know we were a very complex group to handle, and overall it was great. I really felt that a lot of passion and care was put in the overall preparation and I am sure that you have the skills to provide to any group great services that make a vacation memorable.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: The organization was very good and the services as well!

Catalin Paduraru: I think the program could have been a bit better balanced.. I mean to dedicate the mornings for visits and more relaxed in the second part of day, for the beach or free. The only day I did not like was the second when after La Caldera, it took us very much to reach Las Fajanas. After we visited the banana plantation, it would have gone well a swim. And leave Las Fajanas for another day, including the city.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: La Palma: very good organization (we have visited all would be able to visit in a very short time; services, accommodation and food were excellent, very flexible program, etc. The services were excellent. Just an idea for future programs: if you need a significant number of rented cars, then it would not be bad maybe to wear some accessories like walkie-talkie so that the group of cars could remain compact and we could avoid confusions. Tenerife: good organization, unfortunately we could not visit the Teide, there is nothing, we'll come back!

Question 4: What places have impressed you most and where would you want to come back another time from the places already seen? Would you want more time for observations (ORM, Tacande etc)?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: i believe the "no miss" locations are caldera, Roque de los Muchachos and the observatory, the volcano, banana plantation :), one meal at a Canary specific restaurant. The rest are nice to have, and you may organize separate optional rides for some or just let the tourists go alone to visit things like towns, winery, etc. Now, if the stay in La Palma is longer, then you may consider to include more things but the main goal is to make sure at least 20-30% of the quality time in La Palma is left for "free time" otherwise the tourists will make their own free time by simply not coming to the organized events... It's very frustrating to have to chose between a good rest and beach time versus a visit at a volcano... so try to make sure the program is relaxed enough to eliminate the need for such a choice. Tenerife: Loro is no miss, Teide is also a no miss although we missed it... [OUR NOTE: due to unexpected cable closure for maintenance].

Cristina & Victor Neagu: We can say that all that we saw was impressive and we would like to come back. Since we are not passionate about astronomy...... maybe after a second experience, we'll became.

Catalin Paduraru: From the astronomical point of view, I would have liked more time up there. But I am super happy with what I got. From the travel point of view I would have liked to swim in Las Fajanas in a sunny day and have enough time for this. Otherwise I think I have visited quite enough for this vacation.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: La Palma: Well, this is a very difficult question! Well, we would want to revisit all the places where we've been and more! From what I saw there are attractions, magnificent color waterfalls and foot trails, etc.. And clearly, as amateur astronomers we would like many observing nights at observatories in the area. In fact, until we fall down of tire. At the apart-hotel from our balconies we saw a superb sky and I made some observations right there, using our personal equipment.

Question 5: Generally would you like to visit other cultural, landscape or scientific objectives? How much of each? If you know some of them, please mention it.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: We prefer about 40% cultural objectives, 40% landscape and 20% science.

Catalin Paduraru: I would have liked more sky observations. But I could not do it because I was so tired, after a day of "running" on the island.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: La Palma: Here, we are slight different: Radu: cultural objectives 10%, astronomical objectives (scientific) 50% and landscape objectives 40%. Catalina: cultural objectives 15%, astronomical objectives (scientific) 15% and landscape objectives 70%. Tenerife: landscape objectives 50% (especially the volcano Teide) and recreational 50% (Loro park, Siam Park, beaches, etc.).

Question 6: What did you dislike about this trip?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: There was nothing to dislike about this tour! I would definitely recommend something similar to my friends. Just try to balance a bit the activity vs. relaxation time and it will be a genuinely incredible experience for any visitor regardless if it's an astronomer, an explorer or a regular "paradise island" tourist. Tenerife: As said, the city is not really impressive but if you keep this as a 1-2 day stop it should be fine.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: Sometimes the cloudy weather and hours of waiting between flights.

Catalin Paduraru: Radu Gherase..:) Just kidding, I honestly liked everything. I even don't have any criticism. The only thing they were flying less, but that's it. In the future we know what we gonna do with them.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: The time which passed too quickly...

Question 7: Do you consider that was enough time for your stay? Did you want a more free time?

Andreea Calugaru: La Palma: see above :)

Cristina & Victor Neagu: Maybe an extra night and more time for the beach.

Catalin Paduraru: Because La Palma is extremely beautiful, I would have stayed another week. But perhaps the 1-2 days plus were sufficient, especially for beach and the night sky.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: Initially I thought that a week is enough, but we realized that rather then two weeks (10 days La Palma + 4 days Tenerife) would be ideal. In our opinion the program was flexible for a group of people (this also because we rented cars).

Question 8: How did you find the ration price / quality for your package tour?

Andreea Calugaru: The prices were excellent and accessible given the services we received. The main challenge will always be the price of the air travel... but there is not that much you can do about it.

Cristina & Victor Neagu: Pretty good.

Catalin Paduraru: Super good for me.

Catalina & Radu Gherase: Price over quality was good.

Question 9: Would you want to come back in La Palma and/or Tenerife in the next five years or even next year? And if so, what other islands of the archipelago do you like to visit?

Andreea Calugaru: I am definitely coming back to Canary islands, I really want to climb Teide and to get the chance to visit some more of Tenerife. Also, I heard that Lanzarote and Gran Canaria have nice things to offer, so I would be interested in making a combined tour. This being said, I wish you the best of luck with this mission. Once more, thank you for your dedication!

Cristina & Victor Neagu: We would come back in La Palma and to visit the entire Canary archipelago. Thanks again for your attention group! We appreciate your way of trying to reconcile all tastes.

Catalin Paduraru: I want to come back but I can not give other details now. I'll see what dictates our future in terms of future holydays and islands. For sure I want to climb Teide!

Catalina & Radu Gherase: Obviously, we want to return the next year! Other islands visited, probably should include: Gran Canaria and La Gomera. How about a cross by boat La Palma - La Gomera? I understood that there are playful dolphins in the area. Thanks again for your hospitality and wonderful holiday and hope to meet again in the Canary Islands soon!

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