Archive for February, 2008
Wait for it, wait for it!

Patience is a virtue, especially in Tenerife. The Cabildo (Tenerife government) proudly announced that the revamped Plaza de España in Santa Cruz will finally be ready on March 17. A few days later, the architect of the new look plaza, Virgilio Gutierrez cast doubt on their optimism by saying it would be more like May.

Plaza de EspañaEither way, it shouldn’t be long now and judging by the plans and what I have seen so far of the completed work, it will be excellent and a great new focal point for the capital city. Wells have been sunk into the ground and the sea water in them will feed a central lagoon, trees will line the perimiter and modern fibre optic lighting will set it off a treat.

While digging out the walkway under the square, they found the old battlements of Santa Cruz, and they will be on show as part of the finished project. There is a great website that shows some of the history of the plaza and how it will look when finished. With the tram system now well established, Santa Cruz is looking the part as a modern capital city.Â

In praise of Puerto de la Cruz

Overlooked and under funded, that’s how Puerto de la Cruz is feeling these days, tourism seems to be passing it by, even Loro Parque visitors tend to be coached in and out without seeing the city. That’s a great shame as Puerto de la Cruz has loads to offer.

Playa Martianez

Even the direct Titsa buses from the south and west tourist centres stop at La Paz, a great place to start a visit, so i did. The mirador gives terrific views over the city and down onto Playa Martianez and the Costa Martianez swimming complex just beyond. The small plaza at the mirador has the new bust of Agatha Christie to commemorate her stay in the city that inspired one of her short stories. Walking down the narrow streets, lined with bars and shops, I soon came to the black sand beach with the Martianez cliffs towering to my side.

Facing the sea are a restaurant and a cafe/bar, these are the latest target of a crackdown by the Spanish coastal authority against illegal buildings. The 1988 Law of the Coast, states that buildings must be at least 106 metres from the shoreline. Many commercial buildings, like the Hotel Medano in Granadilla, were built long before the law but Costas have identified 600 buildings in Tenerife alone, that they want to demolish. In the long running El Medano saga, they now want to knock down the bars alongside the hotel, the cost of “expropriating” the land is put at 8.4 million euros. The Puerto beach buildings now have the wrecking ball hanging over them, but maybe the slow process of the law and legal protests will at least buy them some time.

Back to our tour, and a walk along the seafront past the large and recently renovated swimming complex, Costa Martianez. It’s an inviting area with bars and kiddies pools all at a constant 72 degrees, that’s 22.4 centigrade. Open from 10 am, it’s just 3.50 euros or 1.10 € for kids up to 10 years old, and there are residents and season discounts.

WaterfallFeeling energetic I headed up hill again, this time for Parque Tauro. Taking the steep zig zag path past the palms and waterfalls, I soon arrived at Parque Sortija, a smaller park within the main network that includes the botanical gardens. Some may prefer to get a taxi up to the casino or Hotel Miramar and take in the park before enjoying the water cascades while walking downhill. Sortija had been abandoned and become overgrown but 500,000 euros of Cabildo money 2 years ago restored it to the delightful green and pleasant land it is now. Cyclists, walkers, joggers and many wild birds and insects have really taken to the park, there’s even a pond which makes a nice focal point. Today was a bit grey and overcast but I bet in the sunnier weather, there are more picnic hampers than even Yogi Bear could imagine.

Parque Sortija

A nice slow wander back and a few soft drinks and snacks around the charm filled old city, and I was back at the bus station. Now here is a job in need of doing, an upgrade of the station has been promised for years, it shudders as buses enter and smells of piss and diesel-even Jade Goodey wouldn’t want to promote that fragrance. So pay a visit some time, hold your nose, get out of the bus station and explore.

Fish n batter at Los Cristianos Carnaval

The sardine is dead, he is no more , all that remains is a few ashes blowing on the breeze. Don’t be too upset, the sardine in question was the huge papier mache version paraded through the streets of Los Cristianos to it’s cremation down on the beach amid a cascade of fireworks.


Lessons were learnt from last years event but sadly some bad feeling also carried over. Last years sardine was supported on scaffold poles and so heavy that it had to be dragged through the streets with the help, or hindrance, of some small castor wheels. This meant it was slow and frequently dived on by an enthusiastic crowd. Seeing the scope for danger, the organisers had the sardine on a motorised trailer this time and it worked well, the fish was higher up and easier for the crowds to see, and it moved at a better pace to it’s eventual demise.

Here’s the history for those not up to speed. Carnaval is based around Lent when the church would enforce fasting on the peasants, but at the same time their members and wealthy friends would ignore the guidelines and eat heartily. The peasants were reduced to catching the sardines that were easy to find in the sea, and the funeral of the giant sardine is a defiant 2 fingers up to the church. This is why the funeral procession is accompanied by “mourners” in widows weeds, pretending to howl with tears and throw themselves to the floor in mock grief. Many of the “widows” are men in drag.

This years parade was grander and more colourful than ever but there were some outbreaks of rock and bottle throwing at the police by local youths. Last year police rounded up some rowdy youths in the early hours after the funeral and, according to parents and neighbours, gave them a bit more than a clip round the ear. This prompted a demonstration a few weeks later, and it seems all was not forgotten at this years event.They were isolated incidents and only one youth was detained but the organisers will want to avoid any more of that next year.

A tram trip to Mars from Santa Cruz

Having neglected La Laguna of late, I headed up to Santa Cruz on the Titsa bus and changing at the bus station, finally made my first trip on the fairly new tram system. Time to hold my hands up here and admit to being a bit of a critic of the expensive tram but I was very impressed. All journeys are a mere 85 cents but one of the little extras you get from a Bono bus ticket is free or reduced fares when you take 2 journeys in quick succession – so my little jaunt registered nil when I clipped my ticket in the reader just inside the tram.Â

TramJust a quick update on the tram, the first rail for the second line, was laid in a special ceremony a couple of days ago and the La Cuesta to Tincer run is expected to be open for early 2009 with 4 stops, 6 trams, a 10 minute trip over 3.6 kms. The government has also confidently predicted that 4 lines will criss cross Santa Cruz and it’s nearby suburbs by 2015.

Anyway, one very smooth ride later, it even goes past the Dorada bottling plant – how nice, I got off right outside the Museum of Science and the Cosmos in La Laguna.


You can’t miss the building due to it’s huge satellite dish on the roof. The Bono ticket again proved it’s worth as entry is 3 euros or 1.50€ if you pay with a Bono, children under 8 are free and just 1.50€ above that age, Sundays are free for everyone. It’s worth paying the extra one euro at the door for the Turismo Cosmico – the trip to Mars – I will let you discover that pleasure for yourself, very good and great for the little ones. There are always special exhibitions on at the museum and until March 31, you can discover about living in space and see space suits and a history of launches.

Back on the tram for the 2 stops to the terminus at La Trinidad, bang in the centre of La Laguna, a quick walk along the main back street and I was at the Plaza del Cristo, new home of the local traders market.This was built in record time at the end of last year after the ancient market further along, started to collapse and slide into the barranco. You can find all your home grown produce and crafts here every day from 8am till 2pm. In the same plaza is the new ice rink, don’t get too excited, it’s not real ice and not very big, but it is good fun for the kids.

Ice rink

All in all, La Laguna is in good form and with the handy tram link, it’s definately a place worth exploring for it’s historic buildings and traditional charm.

CD Tenerife soar as Granada dive

The last day of Santa Cruz Carnaval was a good time for CD Tenerife to break their run of 4 draws with a 2-0 home win over Granada 74. The Carnaval Queen was one of 12,000 fans in attendance and there was a good sprinkling of butch hairy “women” among the supporters. Woman fan

The first half was pretty poor, not helped by a weak referee, who bought it every time a Granada player hit the deck after hardly any contact. Several of their players would have been better off in London at the BAFTA’S, chasing the best actor award.

N’Diaye had the first real chance of the game, firing wide for Tenerife after 28 minutes and Saizar did similar for the visitors a few minutes later. The ever improving Oscar Perez fired his shot into the roof of the Granada net after 39 minutes, after good work from Martinez and Nino, to delight the home fans.

NinoThe second half was better, Martinez and Ayoze both shot wide soon after the restart and Nino forced a good save from the Granada keeper. New signing Jesuli came on after 61 minutes and showed some promising moves including a goal chance late on that went wide. Crespi was the main threat for Granada but the Tenerife defence held firm. Nerves were stretched when the referee added 5 minutes of injury time but Tenerife responded well and an Oscar Perez cross was met by Nino for his 12th goal of the season and the decisive goal on the night.

The win leaves CDT in 9th place, and with the teams above, all looking very even, they are only a few points of the promotion pace.

A night of magic in Santa Cruz

I have never seen so many suspender clad legs, skimpy dresses and lavish hair do’s-and that was just the men! It could only be Carnaval night in Santa Cruz, the capital of Tenerife, where celebrations were in full swing, with this years theme of Magic, vaguely kept in mind.
I went up with 2 mates and the first hurdle was catching the Gua Gua, the public service Titsa bus, extra buses were put on through the night for the hours drive up north. The scrum down of bodies at Los Cristianos, all dressed to thrill and loaded up with clinking carrier bags and glasses to mix their drinks, started to pour onto the bus but disaster struck, the machine reading Bono tickets (advance multi journey savers) packed up leaving the driver to pull his hair out and try to coax cash only clients on board. After half an hour of heaving bodies and a quick repair from another driver, we lurched off into the night and the party cranked up a gear.Bus
Anything goes at Carnaval time, and the bus was stuffed to the rafters, with singing, drinking and dancing in the aisle, at one point I had a scantily dressed cat woman pressed up against me – but I was the one purring. Just past the Las Galletas turning on the motorway, another bus swung out in front, equally packed and with bodies writhing in the back window. At various remote stops up the motorway, the bus shelters were full of fancy dressed party goers and we even managed to squeeze a few more on but those left behind seemed happy to party in the dark.
Pulling in to Santa Cruz, the sea of bodies became a tidal wave and we were happy to be swept along grabbing a few beers on the way and admiring the weird and wonderful costumes being worn, there was even a pair of fancy dress doorman cheekily minding the doors on one of the hotels.Doormen

 Carnaval is well organised chaos, with a make shift hospital, police units at little huts scattered along the streets and an army of cleaners on standby to restore normality in the morning.
WheelThe fair along the harbour road was doing a roaring trade but we resisted the lure of the gut churning, fling em here, fling em there rides. The floats from the big parade were parked up past the ferry terminal so after a quick look round there we cut into the main shopping area of the city.
Plaza de España is still partly closed for renovation so the crowds streamed around it and up the main shoppinfg street towards Plaza de Weyler – then it got seriously crowded. It’s easy to get confused at Carnaval as nuns, angels, schoolgirls and queens squeeze by, some with hairy legs and arms – eat, drink and be Mary is the order of the night. There were plenty of “amateur” nurses, doctors and police, in uniforms that reveal much more than you get on the NHS. Side streets are transformed into a mass of dancing bodies as sexual barriers are pushed to the limits – some sights would make Russell Brand blush. Local neighbours have complained in recent years about excessive street noise, but this is one beast you can’t muzzle, I can see that they might be a little upset at the rivers of urine running from their doors and shop fronts but the clean up squad will squirt, brush and tidy everything in the morning.
GirlsFuelled by more beer, we pushed on through the throng, and several thongs, stopping for some tasty white bait at one of the stalls and a whizz round on the dodgems. We eventually made our way back to the bus station at 5am but the crowds were as packed as ever, only daylight would stop this party. The queues were long and wobbly for the bus and some strugglers had to be practically carried past the security guards and onto the bus for the slightly more subdued trip back south. A great night of fun, music and spectacle, many will return to do it all again over the next week or so but for me, sleep was calling.

Go Ahead Punk – Make My Day

Dig out those shades, that black leather jacket and the jeans with the ripped knees, it’s time for some punk action from Marky Ramone, the ex drummer of New York rockers The Ramones.

Marky Ramone

Marky Ramone and Friends will be playing between Santa Cruz and La Laguna at the Plaza Tranvia, La Cuesta on Sat March 1. Tickets are 15 euros from El Corte Ingles and the Caja Canarias cashpoints. Marky is promising to do a full tribute to the great Ramones with classics like Sheena Is A Punk Rocker and Sedated.

More music coming up. Chuck Berry will be playing in Santa Cruz on Thurs. March 27 at the Santa Cruz sports hall, that’s the Pabellon Deportes not the basketball arena. The 81 year old legend will be travelling light and recruiting a band when he gets here – class eh.

Then on Sat. May 24, supergroup Asia will be playing the Santa Cruz Auditorium. Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood may not be with the group these days but drummer Carl Palmer is and it’s a home coming for him as he lived in La Orotava for a few years.

And finally, news is seeping through about Aquaviva 2008. it’s expected to be late June again and Keane definately wont be getting an invite after their late pull out last year. First name announced is French band, Blackstrobe, a complete mystery to me but at least it shows that they will be looking at getting an interesting mix again for the music.