Las Teresitas, Where Santa Cruz Goes To Play

Even cruise liners rubbing shoulders with fishing boats, and a multi coloured meccano bridge,  couldn´t compete with Playa de Las Teresitas beach, just north of Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz. Eyes are drawn to the majestic spread of orange sand that gives way to turquoise and blue bands of sea becalmed by a long concrete side arm, and a knobbly ridged dyke peeping out of the water.

Who cares if its a fashion mix that could hint of a teenager on a first date. It works wonderfully and recent upgrades have banished the ramshackle economic shadow of a botched commercial development. Stylish blue and white changing huts and gastro club food bars back stop the beach as lycra wrapped cyclists whizz by below the imposing cliff face. Fishing village San Andres clings to the mountain side at the southern end, and from the far end, the ferry port of Santa Cruz is visible on the horizon.

The gently shelving beach makes it a family favourite and a wonderous discovery to those venturing up from the southern beach resorts, adding about 20 minutes to the motorway journey.The regimented clusters of the tall lean pine trees offer shade, and showers and spacious and abundant along the rear of the beach. Peace of mind is under lock and key with several banks of lockers to save swimming from constant backward scanning of the sand.

The squeezing  out of the long established fishing sector to a remote corner is a bone of contention. This important part of local culture, and the crumbled remains of the San Andres defensive tower will probably not be noticed by many visitors, and that´s a missed opportunity. Las Teresitas lures big chunks of the Santa Cruz population across, it is so visually pleasing and offers space for all to stretch out.

For cooling down back in Santa Cruz, there´s always the outdoor Parque Maritimo pool complex, next to the hook nosed auditorium. Open daily from 10 am to 7 pm, it has a selection of pools and chill out areas plus snack and drink outlets. Prices start from five euros per day but they have lots of deals for groups and regular users.

No Almond Blossom, No Snow, Just A Classic Santiago Del Teide Walk

Hot lava carving a path down through the pine forest. Even 111 years later, cold and dormant, the sight was still powerful and invigorating. Chinyero, the Santiago del Teide village where the last Tenerife volcanic eruption halted is forever frozen in time.  the placing of the statue of the virgen fom the local church put on the red light and ensured the status of miacle. On previous February walks over the popular route, snow has capped Mount Teide and pink and white blossom dotted much of the landscape. This time a 20 degrees start from Santiago del Teide church plaza met with warmer air as mother nature showed off her summer collection.

Clearly indicated on route boards, the low stone walls guided me out along the compacted and uneven trail. Summer plants bloomed in sheltered corners and the trees chipped in with charred sculptures and coatings of moss. Rising quickly, the path squeezed by a half full reservoir and an old water channel. Big clearings of almond trees were taking a back seat in their plain clothes attire while a welcome chilled breeze marked my cresting of another hill.

Tell tale twitches and rustles hinted at cautious birds and other wildlife. A large rabbit stood tall in a clump of grass, my heavy footfall had heightened its senses. The wise bunny  turned and bounded powerfully away after one whiff of my trainers. Nearly half way on the 9 km  stroll brought me to the clearing where the abrupt halt of the 1909 eruption attracts pilgrims and history buffs. Flowers are regularly replenished at the shrine and its a good spot to take a breather.

Moving on the lava rose into a high ridge, help was at hand in the form of guide signals. Basically it was a curl around the ridge before taking some roughly hewn steps onto a clear path picked out between the wave of pine trees and the large mounds of ash and stone. The contrasts were amazing to contemplate, dark brooding boulders, perky green pines, and a clear blue sky as natures components battled for supremecy.

The walk wraps around in almost a complete circle, so Santiago del Teide began to appear in the near distance to one side below.  Reassurance of taking the correct path came from yellow and white lines daubed on rocks at key points, a similar two coloured cross was clear advice not to go forward on false trails. The mountain plateau above Arguayo was another good indication of progress to the village finish, and what a wonderful backdrop for the local football stadium. Resting in the spread roots of giant, thick trunked trees was a good chance to cool a little before the final push and a choice.

The undulating nature of the walk left a big descent still to tackle, sign posts indicated two differet routes, past experience had told me they both ended in the same place but presented their own challenges of shifting loose dirt and tufted grass as they meandered between parcels of private land. Arguayo is a small village and I missed the solitary afternoon bus back down to Santiago del Teide (a taxi would be a cheap option) and had to close the circle with a carefull slog down a spiralling main road, adding another hour to a very satisfying day.

Hermano Pedro, The Saint At The End Of Tenerife Airport

Walking down from the TF! motorway and skirting the perimeter fence of Tenerife South airport, an oasis of quiet reflection awaited me cave of Hermano Pedro, the only Canarian to be made a saint. It sounds like an unlikely junction but the modern surroundings wrapped themselves around the sandstone series of caves many years after the 11 year old took his goats to the spot of a well, a good hike south from his Vilaflor place of birth in 1637.

The descendant of a French knight , one of many historical figures to lay claim to Tenerife, Brother Pedro took on the shepherd duties to pay back a family debt. It did seem like a comfortable enclave as cars continued to buzz by just above the level of the sandstone structures in the ravine. Pedro had a lot on his plate very early but was already thinking of helping others and when the chance came to search for a new life in South America, he set off via Hondura and Cuba before settling in Guatemala where he became a missionary.

Setting up a school and hospital was just the start of Pedro´s good works, he also helped the hungry and down trodden in the streets. Dying at the age of 41, Pedro had already acumulated a huge wealth of respect and admiration for his work, and that revernce only continued to grow after he was gone. By 1980 the clamour to canonize him as a Saint had become too much to ignore and the order was made. Plans didn´t fully fit together until 30 July 2002 when Pope John Paul the second was due in Guatemala and able to perform the ceremony. Thousands of Canarians made the pilgrimage to see the historic act.

The El Medano shrine attracts a steady flow of devotees and the curious. As I wandered around, a lady added a lit cndle to his wall inside the main cave amid stacks of religious artefacts and gifts. There was even a small pile of crutches, legend says they were left by thnkful visitors whose rliance on them was removed after a prayer to the great man. It´s a working tribute to Hermano Pedro, regular services are held at the pulpit. There´s a gift shop for those wanting a tangeable  reminder of their visit, and staff are always willing to discuss the life and times of Tenerife´s famous son.

 

There´s no charge to visit the caves, and facilities are on hand for those who come to learn more. There´s even a religious touch to the wash areas of the toilets. Benches and seats scattered around the dircular site encourage reflection and restful contemplation in this important part of Canarian history and culture.It´s a 30 minute walk down from the San Isidro roundabout or up from La Tejita beach at El Medano. There´s a small parking area for drivers as well.Look out for Hermano Pedros statue around Tenerife, at the entrance to Vilaflor, the town of Granadilla, and even on the beach promenade between Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas.

 

 

Puerto De La Cruz Is Aching For Awakening

From La Paz mirador I could see a scattering of bathers relaxing to the slow crunching drag of pebbles at Playa Martianez. All around the coast of Puerto de la Cruz people were easing into the sea fom every launch point. Lago Martianez bucked that trend, the spray of the big fountain, the only active part as the large swimming complex awaited its re-opening on 26 June.

The statue of two old time tourists at La Paz was a reminder that the north of Tenerife was a magnet for tourists long before the first package tours hit Playa de Las Americas. The town of Puerto de la Cruz was its usual alluring mix of sprawling shadey plazas, tight streets loaded with cosy cafes and bars, and artistic flair taking a bow where least expected.

The core of Puerto de la Cruz was quiet, chomping at the bit for the return of tourism in the post Coronavirus normality. In historical terms, Puerto was taking a moment to adjust and move on. The canon strewn battlements above Plaza de Europa spoke of stability, and the compact fishing port beyond championed pride in tradition. Further on the vast sweep of Playa Jardin would have been preparing stacked bonfires to mark the Night of San Juan, a symbol of rebirth and renewal.  The loss of one fiesta will be compensated by street entertainment featuring clowns, art, and music during the coming year.

If your into street art, you´ll find some fine examples diverting your gaze as you browse the intersecting streets that seem to always funnel you back to he sea. Some urban redevelopment plans have dragged their feet, so it was good to catch up with the new neat and compact bus station next to the site of the rickety old dungeaon. I have to admit I liked the way the old home used to shudder as buses plunged down the entrance ramp. Down by Playa Jardin, the outdoor swimming pool has been empty and covered in graffiti since 2015, but a new 11.8 million euro plan  has just been published for a replacement with a 2022 completion.

Agatha Christie, a famous past visitor to Puerto, was a mistress of twists and turns but even she could not have forseen the trials and tribulations that would hit the world in 2020. Puerto de la Cruz is a surviver and always offers new delights for returning visitors. A new chapter is about to begin.

 

Spreading The Praise To Las Caletillas

Twelve beaches spread from Las Caletillas to Candelaria, the spirital heart of Tenerife. It´s a mixed bag of small shingle bays, modern excercise zones, and charming designer bathing areas. Candelaria has the history, the stunning basilica church, and the nine Mencey King statues depicting the leaders of the original guanche inhabitants of the island, The old power plant below the TF! motorway approach to Santa Cruz is prominent on the skyline and tends to prejudice peoples impression of Las Caletillas.

Less than five minutes down the motorway slip road, the four star Hotel Catalonia Punta del Rey shows a more inviting face. Just five more minutes walk and the modern pastel shade houses and pedestrian boardwalk are ready to offer surprises. Joggers and cyclists love it and the cleverley laid out  beach outcrops are broken into chunks of charm. Full marks for offering a little extra to beach lovers in the form of a converted mooring point that now serves as a sun lounge with a bridge link to it.

The commercial strip has 29 shops, bars, and cafes. The biggest of the bunch is the Cofradia de Las Caletillas, offering nets full of local fish dishes. A short cut inland will reveal the Commercial Centre Punta Larga, bustling with a spread of food and drink outlets. There was a light touch at work when the Las Caletillas promenade was designed. The sculptured tree and the artistic fish confrontation add to the mood. Once on the edge of the old town of Candelaria, the church rower will lure you across. Blink and you mat miss the two small marinas.

Playa de Candelaria is sometimes sealed off as big waves bark at the feet of the guanche statues in the plaza. Small side roads boast cheery food stops and if you want a souvenir, the main street to the basilica plaza will fix you up with the most wide ranging and at times bizarre items decorated with images of the virgen or her basilica home.

There´s something for everyone on this part of the high east coast. Tourist Information near the main Candelaria car park will load you up with guides to local walks along the coast and up into the surrounding hills. If you want busier and more mainstream nightlife or shopping, your only a 20 minute taxi or bus ride from the Tenerife capital city of Santa Ctuz. Your blessed on all fronts.

 

Reset But No Fast Forward For CD Tenerife

No goals, one point, and two unconvincing, performances marked the resumption of the 2019-2020 season. Nervous and non threatening at Fuenlabrada brought a 1-0 defeat after a defensively suicidal soft goal. Much improved creatively with a combination of bad luck and bad finishing made for a 0-0 home finish with a Malaga side that look odds on for relegation. The overall feeling was of relief to have football back after the three month coronavirus restrictions. The new order gave no room for passion, no fans, no hand shakes, and no close contact celebrations, small hardships compared to lost lives.

An eerily empty Heliodoro Stadium in Santa Cruz was the stage for line up changes following the away defeat. Alberto was dropped in favour of a belated debut for January signing Lluis Lopez who slotted in well to the heart of the defence. American international Shaq Moore (right) and Daniel Asure (left) added width to the stale midfield. Dani Gomez couldn´t convert from an early hard won Moore cross. Lopez dropped a deep ball out to Joselu who fared little better.

Tenerife should have seized the second half after Bare was sent off for two bookings just before the break but it didn´t work out that way. On the hour Tenerife made a double swap, Nahuel for Luis Perez, and Javi Muñoz for Lasure, but still that vital spark wasn´t there for the home side. Dani Gomez was always the best goal hope, his work rate was up to his usual level but his final touch was short of the quality that had made him such a great player before the league lay off. Joselu has been a let down since his initial goal burst when joining in January. Bermejo has struggled to turn back the clock to his pre injury contributions, it all added up to an easier half than 10 man Malaga should have expected.

Forgotten striker Mierez took over from a frustrated Gomez with 10 minutes left, he could have dropped a big hint for a new contract, his header was just off target and no threat to Munir in goal. So a point was all that Tenerife could salvage from the game. Notorious slow starters, Tenerife are clearly going to need a few more of the remaining nine games to find their best form. Standing in 13th place there´s a lot of work to do to ensure they don´t slide into relegation worries. Minds should be sharpened for players like Mierez and joselu whose contracts run out when this season expires. Luis Milla showed plenty of fight in both games, thats going to impress the clutch of Primera clubs that want to swoop for him before the next season gets under way in mid August. The frustration was more intense than usual for the fans, hopefully a proposed July return to the stadium for around a third of the 23,000 capacity will add some much needed vocal encouragement.

 

Corks A Popping In El Sauzal

Perched on the lip of the valley, terraces tumble down to the rocky coast. With the hint of moisture in the air, the Casa del Vino (House Of Wine) in El Sauzal boasts a vintage and character to reflect Tenerife´s long  history of fine wines. The courtyard on the La Baranda estate, between La Laguna and Puerto de la Cruz is dominated by a huge wooden wine press and scattered barrels.

A tour through the rooms revealed the origins and diversity of wine on the island with each growing area hugely proud of their distinctive flavour. The shelves groaned with bottled bliss, and the shop and tasting room were ready to encourage carry outs of a superior kind, The large outdoor patio is a great place to observe the views and enjoy a restaurant meal with the appropriate liquid company.

Just beyond the wine gardens, a smaller museum, Casa de La Miel /(The House) Of Honey9 paid homage to the prolific output of nature. Just imagine honey with hints of avocado, chestnuts, or the iconic local tajinaste flower. The twin centre is well worth seeking out, my visit was during the coronavirus restriction hours of 10 am to 5 pm, normally it´s noon to 9 pm, but always closed on a Monday. Entry is a mere 3 euros or free for residents, and free parking attached.

 

Don´t hurry home to click glasses, plunge down to the coast and experience the serene nature of the town of El Sauzal. Town halls are seldom just functional in Tenerife, the multi layered facade of El Sauzal´s HQ is modern ans stylish – they even have their own Drago Tree. I had been looking forward to seeing the latest wood sculpture from Luigi Stinga, originally from Napoli but settled in La Laguna. The italians flair and imagination knows no bounds, his peacock was draped down the main steps, at home among the green curtain of surrounding plants.

A short walk up the coast offered a church that showed how basic black and white stone could also make a big impression on the eyes. Along the other direction a nice selection of bars and cafes awaited, lycra clad cyclists were glad of a breather after testing themselves on the big dipper roads. For me it was a good point from which to look out for the La Laguna bus. My glass was running over when I spotted another Stinga figure striding out with a basket on her head.

It had been a good few years since my last call at El Sauzal, it was noticeable that a lot of new development had taken place but it enhanced the overall bright and well looked after outlook of the place. The wine museum is best accessed from the motorway but if you approach from the town, a stout uphill walk will take around 20 minutes.

 

 

North Tenerife Plays To The Gallery

Being away from Tenerife can leave a big hole in your life. Just ask “El Emigrante Canario”  looking out to sea from Garachico. he was one of several welcome artistic intrusions on my latest day out. Los Cristianos to Adeje bus station was a mere blink before catching the 460 Titsa bus to Icod.

Banks of cloud came and went with the rise, and short lived falls from the increasing altitude as i passed through Guia de Isora, and Santiago del Teide. It was reassuring to see the Titsa mini bus waiting at Santiago to offer a transfer to Masca village, but sadly not to the barranco valley, still a long term safety closure. Icod welcomed me with its corkscrew road down the main town so i could make my obligatory nod to the Drago tree from the church plaza. I was distracted by the amusing sight of the gargoyles on the plant bowls, they seemed to be sniggering as they cut across the beauty of the church tower and the lilac trees.

The main shopping street of icod was ticking over nicely, its relaxed, informal feel boosted by the tight winding bricked street. Those seeking refreshment spilled over below the stairs of the town hall, and upstairs love was in the square. The Arbol Amor (Love Tree) by wood artist Luis Stinga was still posing proudly from its arrival in november 2019 and I was looking forward to seeing his latest offering in a few days time.

The coast was calling and a short  hop down and along the coast to Los Silos rewarded me with a walk around the inside of the former monastry. Its balconies were now home to the council, its culture, and the library. Outside the gleaming white facade of the church dedicated to Our Lady Of The Light, domated the skyline. It was a quiet afternooh with many fleeing to the cool embrace of the beach and natural pools. Small groups of hill walkers cascaded down  from the lofty heights above, the coast is a popular area for those looking to take a step or two.

Retreating back a few bus stops.I came at Garachico from the opposite direction to previous trips. The mirador viewpoint with our baggage hanfling stone friend  looked across several deeply sunk rocky bays that lured anglers. The old port promised more tight lines while the bay of Playa de la muelle basked in its newly gained honour of a blue flag for excellence and quality. This was one of seven new flag awards bestowed on the Canary Islands to increase the island stock to 56. Life guards ensured it observed social distancing and safety without spoiling a good swim.

The natural rock pools of the Piscinas de El Caleton were off limits, repair work for the latest bug pounding by waves in 2018 will keep them that way a while longer but El muelle will at least be able to absorb the blow a little. The old fort stood proud and the veteran quayside was happy in its modern use as a gathering point for fishermen and view admireres. Adverse weather has helped to shape and define this corner of Tenerife. Lots of power has  been a challenge but always followed by lots of glory.

 

Past Future And Present Push Santa Cruz Forward

Cleanse your memory of forced museum visits in your school days. Times have changed and Tenerife capital Santa Cruz is a prime example of this. The Museum of Nature and Arqueology (MUNA) fitted the bill perfectly for the first of my months unlimited travel, residents pass,journey with Titsa bus company. The chance to rediscover some old favourites, neglected corners, and overlooked attractions suited the mood of the steady recovery from the Coronavirus lockdown. Phase Two was just about to dilute into the wider freedom of Phase Three across Spain and I´m keen to put Tenerife firmly back in the tourist window. The museums were offering free entry to their Santa Cruz and La Laguna buildings on a daily basis from 10 am to 5 pm until normality returned.

The three floors of the bright, modern layout before me, covered the birth and evolution of our planet and the Canary Islands in particular.  From minerals and rocks, through plants, animals, and natures volatile interventions, it was all in my face on large video screens, many interactive, and in a choice of Spanish, English, or German.They really pack a lot in to the building, the display halls were a treasure trove of interest and all a far cry from the stuffy presentations of my youth. The most famous exhibits are the mummified remains of the Guanche people, the original inhabitants of Tenerife, The foot in this photo is just a tease, the preserved skeletons are both stunning and shocking and best seen for yourself. Updates of all the museums are on the website along with normal times and charges.

Outside, Santa Cruz wasn´t standing still. The Auditorium had recently played a part in the filming of an advert for the new Porsche 911 Targa 45. A short splash away, the Floatel Reliance, a moveable hotel serving the oil exploration rihs, had just made its own showbiz bow. The long term upgrade of the giant worked out just right for its large kitchen galley to host filming for the new HBO series “The Head” which debuts on 12 June 2020. The Antarctic based mystery series will be shown in 30 countries, the Canary Islands are really striking oil these days as a location for film and TV projects.

Up in town, the La Recova market was buzzing and coping well with the social distancing restrictions. They have a keen sense of history and are restoring the original clock mechanism for the tower which has stood proud since the centre opened in 1943, I might as well name drop and tell you that La Recova was used for the final of BBC Masterchef a couple of years ago. Santa Cruz and La Laguna have an impressive quick link tram, it only seems a blink ago when I first discovered its sleek journeys but this last week it was celebrating 13 years of smooth running.

Down in the port, the Aida Nova cruise ship smiled sweetly, pleased to have found a temporary berth until the worlds ebb and flow regained some stability. Time for me to check my maps and time tables and to relish the prospect of my next excursions.

 

 

 

Unfinished Business For Tenerife Football

Despite finishing third in the Tercera Division, Group 12, CD Marino were declared champions after the season was ended early due to the Coronavirus lockdown. Up there with the infamous Duckworth Lewis method of deciding cricket matches, this decision was based on results between leaders SD Tenisca of La Palma and the blues from the border of Los Cristianos and Playa de Las Americas. Any champagne being spilled would have been soured by a decision that would upset all football purists, and certainly had the Tenisca club spitting feathers.

Marino had a game in hand and had recently beaten Tenisca 3-1 at home to establish a better coeficient but it must have been hard for the La Palma side to take, they brought a small army of 200 plus fans over for the February game, wonderful support at that level. The top four teams now go into promotion play offs for progress from Spain´s fourth tier to a vastly reorganised Segunda B Division (third tier) next season. Atletico Paso, also of La Palma, also felt badly treated as they had a game in hand on fourth spot and in theory could have crashed the play off party.

Even those climax games are subject to clearance from the health authorities and may well be played behind closed doors on the neautral Canary Island of La Gomera. CD Bahia Santiago in Playa Santiago is the proposed venue for the two semi finals and a grand final with the victor getting promoted, if the climax games cant be played, CD Marino will automatically be promoted.There should be plenty of addesd spice to the play offs after the unusual end to the season. The play offs are a much sought after economic boost to the semi pro clubs, even without fans this year, coverage from TV Canaria could offer them the payout that is so vital to the clubs involved. The other two teams for the games are Tamaraceite of Gran Canaria and San Fernando of Maspalomas, Gran Canaria.

CD Tenerife are back in training to hopefully complete the 2019-2020 Second Division, if the governing bodies and players union can hammer out a working plan for the outstanding 11 games. Five players tested positive in the top two divisions of La Liga just before teams restarted training, Tenerife came through their first round of coronavirus testing all clear but there are many worries to be addressed. La Liga wants to play the concluding games at a frantic pace of a amtch every 72 hours and with an option of four water breaks a game as summer turns up the heat.

Tenerife started with individual players training in small separated zones with masked coaches on hand, the idea being to increase the groups through three and then eight players before full open training. The remainder of the season would be followed with a short breat of around two weeks before launching into the 2020-2021 season. the situation would create lots of extra pressure on players, and fans would be kicking their heels away from the stadiums but at least the TV monster would get fed and we could get our beloved sport back. Fingers crossed, its been far too long without any live action.