Archive for December, 2009
Watch the birdie, and the penguin, and the Orca…

Phwoar there I was surrounded by birds, I was charming them out of the trees and they were nearly eating out of my hand – ok I’m not fooling anyone, these birds were of the feathered variety and they were in the new Katandra tree tops aviary at Loro Parque.

Todays main mission was to see the Special Orca Show at Christmas (directly from the USA) at Puerto de la Cruz’s famous park, and I was kindly extended a press entry. The 343 Titsa (strike over now) from Los Cristianos whisked me there in just over an hour, giving me time for a stroll in the town and then a walk along the seafront to Loro Parque. The weather may have behaved at football in Santa Cruz last night, but dark clouds were hovering and the sea was wild and lashing the shore.

It’s been just over a year since my last visit to Loro Parque and I was desperate to see the penguins, I have always been fascinated by them. Planet Penguin is a great setting with imitation ice flows and light settings that mimic the seasons, all my favourites were there stood to attention, waddling, grooming and diving into the water. I’m sure they find the constant stream of visitors fascinating, we must look very peculier to them through the glass.

As their little wings waved goodbye, I headed for the Oracarium, eager to see how the whale show had been updated for this special 2 week run. The show was wonderful, but the same wonderful as always, the only concessions to christmas were on the giant screen where the music was overlaid with carols and animated snowflakes decorated the film. Everyone lapped up the majestic jumps and tail splashing from these huge beautiful creatures, but I was left a little let down.

Never mind, I had yet to see the new Katandra treetops aviary that was opened in September and took the chance to plug that gap in my knowledge. Loro Parque seems bigger than it is, due to very clever design that sees it twist and turn on several levels, this skill was also employed on the design of Katandra. A large pool is enveloped by a small jungle of trees and wooden walkways that take you up among the branches where the many colourful birds flit between their feeding bowls and nests. They are all quite tame and are quite willing to preen themselves and chatter away at close quarters. It’s a great addition to the park, a real squawking, screeching, whistling paradise.

The menacing clouds decided to do their worst just as I went to leave the park, thankfully they have a nice “Noddy” train that snakes through the streets of Puerto de la Cruz back to the seafront near the town centre, and with the protective covers strapped down, it proved pretty waterproof. I’m sure I will be back again and again at Loro Parque, the rain and time restrictions meant I didn’t get to see all of my favourites this time but I can sleep easy knowing that my penguins are cosy and cold.

CD Tenerife draw in christmas cracker

It was so close, CD Tenerife matched Athletico Madrid all the way in an exciting clash in Santa Cruz, but they will look back on the 1-1 draw as a great opportunity missed. Nino was buzzing and caused the visitors loads of problems but Asenjo was the star for Madrid, crowning a fine goalkeeping display with a penalty save from Nino.

The north put the south to shame for once, dry and no sign of the heavy rain we left behind  in Las Americas, a near full house only had to wait 2 minutes to rejoice. Juanlu’s free kick found Alfaro and he flicked the ball on to Nino who placed it perfectly for an early lead. That sparked some great creative play from both sides, Mikel Alonso was bag pulling the strings in midfield for Tenerife, and Athletico had 2 sharp forwards in Jurado and former Man Utd player Diego Forlan.

Alfaro hit the post after 10 mins, Forlan flashed a shot past the CDT goal shortly after, and the fabs were lapping up a feast of football. Jurado and Forlan combined after 21 minutes and opened up the Tenerife defence, beating Bellvis down the left, and ending with Jurado hitting the equalizer. Just before half time Tenerife were gifted a penalty when Dominguez handled the ball, Nino hit a weak shot and Asenjo saved it with some ease.

The second half saw both sides chase the game, Ayoze, Nino and Alfaro created plenty of chances but found the visiting keeper a tough barrier to beat. Both sides tried to spaice up their attack, Angel came on for Tenerife and former Liverpool front man Pongolle left the bench for Madrid. Kome, having one of his quiet games, went close on the counter attack after 86 minutes, but the best chance came in injury time. The ball came across to Nino in the area and he tried an overhead kick that just missed the target, what a finish that would have been.

If pre season you had asked offerd Tenerife fans a 12th place for the festive break, they would have gladly settled for that. The transfer window flies open in January and a couple more key players would be very welcome, but we know that money is tight at the club. A strong end though to a mighty year in the history of CD Tenerife.

Battle of the Belens in Santa Cruz

A few weeks before my first christmas in Tenerife, my editor asked me to cover an event where the mayor would be unveiling his bell end. What sort of debauched island had I come to? then I saw it written down and realised it was a belen, a traditional Spanish nativity scene. Well today I headed to Santa Cruz to see more of these traditional scenes.

First stop was the Caja Canarias bank in the Plaza del Patriotismo, they hold regular art exhibitions and the belen was suitably impressive. This one featured the main castle residence of King Herod, some 13 kms south of Jerusalem, set in the rolling hills, complete with trickling streams. The sprawling hillside had the usual shepherds and of course the manger complete with animals, as carols played in the background, and the lighting faded and flared to show day and night. It’s open until 5 January from 11.30 am to 3.30 pm and 5 pm to 8.30 pm, apart from Sundays when it’s open 10 am to 1.30 pm.

Moving down into the Plaza de España and the Cabildo (government) building, and they had an interesting twist, the nativity was mixed into a traditional Canarian setting, with old farm buildings and houses surrounded by figures performing ancient crafts. The baby Jesus was being serenaded (above) by timple playing visitors. All the belens were free to view, but as always the Cabildo had a voluntary collection point to donate for local charities. The times to note here are 9 am to 3 pm, and 4 pm to 9.30 pm, except Christmas and New Year Eve’s 9am to 3 pm, and Christmas and New Years Day’s 4 pm to 9.30 pm.


At this point, with thoughts of a few new art expositions in La Laguna, I jumped on the tram and whizzed up there to have a look. The street decorations showed a bit of flair, especially in the side streets (above) , noone had resorted to a Blue Peter advent crown made with coat hangers. The former church and convent of San Augustin is now the Cabrero Pinto Institute and a great art centre, I found an interesting display of work by Ernesto Valcarcel in the main hall. Called Jugetes del Tiempo (games of time) it features deep rich textured painting on wooden backgrounds. Next door in the open air Patio de Los Cipreses, there was an unusual work , called Patrimonio, featuring life sized dummys addressing graffiti and other impromptu art. While in the main hall, a downpour had soaked the patio adding an extra quality to the work.

Time was pushing on, so it was tram time again and a return to Santa Cruz, getting off at Plaza Weyler. Heading down the Calle Castillo shopping street, I was suddenly surrounded by Shakin Stevens singing Merry Christmas Everyone, he seemed to be everywhere, finally I noticed the small speakers tucked in with the decorations strung across the street at various points, that’s good, I thought he was haunting me. At this point I noticed another belen, inside a disused shop and thought I might as well add it to my list. Another variation on the main theme awaited me inside, the scenes were all set in Santa Cruz, moving along the display I could pick many landmarks among the more biblical scenes. This one opens 10 am to 2 pm and 5 pm to 9 pm daily, except 10 am to 5 pm on the 2 big Eves and 4 pm to 9 pm on Christmas and New Years day’s.

Maybe I could just squeeze in one more stop, the ferry building is always worth a visit to see what ships are in, todat though I was lured downstairs by another art exhibition. Paintings and sculptures from the Tenerife Siglo XXI group (21st Century) had a more contemporary feel and were certainly providing a welcome distraction for waiting ferry passengers. This was one of my favourites, they were all for sale, some at outrageous prices, but good to browse.

With my camera and notebook bursting, it was finally time to head south, passing the dockside I could see the huge stage and tiered seating taking shape for the 25 December FREE classical concert with the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra from 10 pm, that will be a pretty impressive way to end Christmas Day. More details on that and other festive events at

Dear Santa…

…it’s been a few years since I wrote to you, but I thought I would drop a line this year. What I want for christmas this year is peace and goodwill between all people, an end to all war and bloodshed, no more famine or droughts, and love and understanding between all nations of the world.

BUT failing that, I will settle for a CD Tenerife home win over Athletico Madrid this Sunday, and a crate of Dorada!

New pleasures, old errors in Madrid

I’m sure the girls room was all sweetness and lavender, but in the lads Madrid hotel rooms there was snoring on the richter scale, so I did well to hear the early morning knock on the door. I was just at the dream stage where Sue Barker was about to ravish me, and a glance at my watch showed it was 10am and all thoughts of an early start had evaporated.

At 30 euros a night our rooms didn’t include breakfast but a nice coffee and bakery cafe next door did the job. Sluggish was the word of the morning, so as the girls hit some more museums, and The General chilled out, 4 of us walked up into the city centre, braving the cold. It took us just over an hour but we took our time and savoured the delights of the city. Atocha station (above) proved to be very distracting, a huge indoor garden included turtles playing in the pond and a few suitable statues for us to pose with. Heading up the road, we saw the Villareal team out for a stroll in their team tracksuits, they were playing Athletico Madrid later that night, but with the TV cameras following them, we couldn’t resist showing our colours and singing a few Tenerife songs, hope we made the news reports.

Madrid is a very arty vibrant city, there was a big market on at Parque del Retiro, but we pushed on to near the centre as our beer taste buds were tingling. The Cathedral restaurant bar beckoned us in with its warm historic allure, what a lovely place, big, ornate and grand, we settled at the bar and tucked into the bottles of San Miguel, each round was accompanied by a plate of tapas – hmm we could get quite comfortable here. Time sipped by and we had to head down to Atocha station to meet the others and take the 10 minute mainland train to Getafe, a mere 1.35 euros each. What a dump of a place, like an old industrial estate, with an anoying lack of open bars, we crossed the wastelands and eventually found the stadium to buy our 40 euros (rip off) tickets. Thankfully with 90 mintues to go to kick off and the temperature plunging, we found some other CDT fans and tracked down a nice warm bar with a very welcoming barmaid, honestly I was only looking at here bar nibbles.

Into the game and we joined the 300 CDT fans on the freezing terrace, the ground was very open and we were just behind one goal. The game followed a familiar pattern, Tenerife dominating much of the early play but failing to make it pay, Nino went close on the half hour and Richi put the ball in the net only to have it ruled offside – well it was – just. Of course it came back to haunt Tenerife, a few minutes later Sergio failed to hold a cross and Albin bundled the ball in the net for a home lead.


Another mistake in the second half effectively killed the game, Manolo Martinez tried to take on a Getafe forward instead of clearing the ball and let Albin in for an easy second. Oltra tried his subs and Juanlu, fresh on for Richi, pounced on a home mistake after good work from Nino, to make it 2-1. Tenerife were running out of time but tried hard, the fans continued to spur them on, at least it was a way of keeping warm, but the game was gone.

There were some moments of light relief, when the ball went out of play into a netted moat, a young lad had to fish it out with a net, of course we didn’t make fun of him or give him any abuse – well not much. Trying to get our blood moving again, we marched back to the train station, stopping off for a few beers at a bar, and then on to the city centre again for more beers and the inevitable kebabs. With a view to our 4am taxis to the airport, we headed back to the hotel and indulged in a few late cans while watching the football on tv in our rooms. The early start was tough but we managed it with time to kill at the airport, many of the Canarian lads had crashed overnight at the airport after a heavy session, but thankfully we overcame a 40 minute take off delay as blizzards swept the airport. It was so good to get back to the early morning sun of Tenerife, but I cant wait for the next away game.

Fog, football, and frolics in Madrid

Some offers are too good to miss, pre christmas Ryanair flights to Madrid for 26 euros return, to take in a CD Tenerife away, I couldn’t say no. Sitting on the tarmac at Tenerife South airport, waiting an hour for take off due to fog in the Spanish capital, wasn’t the ideal Saturday morning start, but we eventually got the ok.

I was in a group of 7 fine ambassadors from the Armada Sur,we soon found plenty of Canarian friends from the other peñas (fan clubs) some had made an early start on the booze, before boarding. Putting our watches forward an hour after the 2.5 hour flight, we bundled through Terminal 4 and found the Metro, loaded up on tickets and made a couple of changes on the way down to our hotel NH Atocha (another bargain at 30 euros a night)  near the Pacifico stop. Once we were out in the open, the cold started to bite and on went the extra layers, the remains of the fog lingered in the air, but we soon found our hotel and checked in.

Hey, we didn’t just throw this trip together, The General had sussed out that Second Division Rayo Vallecano were at home early evening, so as Kirstie and Nikki went up town to explore museums, the Freezing Five walked through the run down and strangely quiet neighbourhood, looking for bars on the way. Watering holes were scarce so we ended up at a bar near the ground, previously invaded by Tenerife fans last season. As we thawed out, the beer and tapas started flowing, it was fairly empty at first but a hoard of Numancia fans (above) descended, complete with drums and turned up the volume. We of course proudly uncovered our Tenerife colours and both the home and visiting fans were very friendly and welcoming.

Armed with our 15 euro match tickets, we grabbed a last cheeky beer opposite the entrance and took our place on the chilly terracing. Rayo is a 3 sided ground, flats are built at one end, the 11,500 crowd were pretty subdued, only breaking into song once they were 4-1 up well into the second half. We mingled a bit and tried to stop our feet from turning to ice, the Numancia fans up in the corner of one stand, did their best to life the atmosphere but lost heart as their team lost goals.

Heading back to the hotel, the streets had filled up, evening shopping seems the in thing at Rayo, we managed to resisit buying any of the tat on sale at the market stalls. Back at the hotel the girls were happy with their afternoons browsing and ready to join us for night time in the city centre. The metro system is clean and efficient and delivered us quickly to Sol, slap bang in the centre. You can never get enough football, so we found a large lively Irish bar with big screens showing the evenings games and set about demolishing a few cold Coronitas. Hunger was kicking in by this stage, so we found a big kebab restaurant, that worryingly had a huge painting of a horse on the wall-I was assured by those who indulged in a large kebab that the meat seemed true to its menu description.

Madrid is a lively and busy city, especially on a Saturday night, we had a little wander around the main square to take photos and everyone was friendly, enjoying the pre christmas lights , living art displays, and bustle. Three of our party went back to the hotel at a reasonable hour, while we headed to a rock bar, Parada de Los Monstrous, Â a short metro ride away in Iglesia. The beer was reasonable, especially the 6.5 % Yuste, and we even got a seat near the DJ, so we could feed him requests for old classics like New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen,he found most of them. By 2.30am we were flaging, even though the bar was just getting going, so we piled in a taxi and back for some sleep before the big day.

Am I going completely Radio Ga Ga ?

“You had your time, you had the power, You’ve yet to have your finest hour “

Sometimes going through the entrance of the Los Cristianos Cultural Centre is like passing through a space/ time vortex. You never know what will greet you, at the moment there is an exhibition of Scandinavian culture, mainly paintings, but there are also photo displays and talks over the next few days. This is very understandable as Los Cristianos owes its early discovery as a tourist destination to ailing Scandinavian visitors coming to reap the benefits of the sunny climate.

That does little to explain to me why there is currently a small exhibition of some 10 antique radios and radiograms, just inside the entrance. They are the old valve powered type with the big dial type faces that list all the bizarre foreign stations that could be picked up. Sadly they were not plugged in so that eerie glow (if they still work) could not work it’s magic.

“I’d sit alone and watch your light, My only friend through teenage nights”

My parents still have a radiogram (that’s a cunning combination of a radio and gramaphone – record player to you) it’s a huge long wooden cabinet with a speaker at each end, and a radio that received VHM, Long, Medium and Short Wave. It has long since been gutted and now the shell is all that remains, the inside stores DVD’s, talk about rubbing in its lack of modern relevance!

My how times have changed, when I was younger (so much younger than today) I got a hand held transistor radio for passing my Eleven Plus exams (you what?) and I thought I was Mr Cool cos I had this modern technology. It was a more innocent time and I could get away with telling friends I had gone to bed early to cuddle a tranny, or even that I spent many hours twiddling my knob to get turned on – nowadays someone might take it all the wrong way.

Anyway, back to the Cultural Centre, I found a small leaflet that explained that the antique radios are from a collector, Vladimiro Regalado Armas from Calle Las Cuevas in Guaza. It didn’t make clear whether he has a shop or it is a private collection – I wonder how many more he has? So if you pop in to the Cultural Centre, I would ask you mere youngsters not to pour scorn on these outdated relics, and anyone of a certain age, maybe you could lean a little closer and just whisper a few words of encouragement like “Radio, what’s new? Radio, someone still loves you“ I promise I will come and visit you in the little room with the rubber wallpaper.

In praise of nature on Tenerife’s west coast

How many ways can the waves meet the shore, you might as well ask how many shades and hues the sea has, or how many shapes and textures do the rocks have.  All these questions occupied my little pea brain today as I took a stroll along the coastal path from Alcala to El Varadero, on the west coast of Tenerife.

It must be at least a year since I followed this delightful route, so after a refreshing cold drink at the plaza in Alcala, I set about retracing my steps. When I worked for The Tenerife Sun from their office in this small fishing village, I would take a swim in the bay each dinner time. A couple of years ago it was given a spruce up and a protective dyke added to calm the waves, and new easier entry points were added into the water. There was a healthy number of bathers taking a dip today, and a few lone anglers perched on rocky outcrops.

Rounding the first point, the influence of the huge and luxurious Palicio de Isora Hotel is soon felt, the walkways have been widened and made safer, a good thing for walkers, but at a cost of large concreted seating areas added to please the tourists. This last long weekend was one of the major Spanish holidays and would normally have attracted a big influx from the mainland and the north of Tenerife, but this year it was very quiet. The hotel pool was hardly disturbed by a ripple, and only a handful of guests loitered around the edge, given the place a slightly eerie and empty air.

The newly sanitised area soon gave way to the more rugged path as shingle and stones guided me down the crescent bank and along the waters edge. The waves were mighty and rolling in majestically, the hot sun and blue sky meant clear views out to La Gomera, interupted only by the odd passing boat. There is a point where the shore line plunges down a little into the rock pools and I had to clamber around the edge to pick up the path again, it has a reassuring wildness to it and I could see that since my last visit some of the path edge had subsided, but there are plenty of variations to mix and match with some careful footwork.

Coming up the other side and back on wider walkways, I was in the area where campers used to descend in vans every holiday, it’s strictly illegal but enforcement was always a bit half hearted, in recent years there has been a clamp down but the tell tale tyre tracks showed that at least a few had pushed their luck. This stretch leads to Punta Blanca, a wild stretch of coast favoured by surfers, and sure enough there were a few bobbing like corks out at sea, gripping their boards and waiting for the big wave.

The land along here used to be filled with banana plantations but as prices dropped and foreign competition rose, the fields were abandoned but the sturdy plants are still standing firm in some quarters, and the old border walls are crumbling but just about holding their own. The views here are wonderful as the cliffs of Los Gigantes appear in the distance. The coastal path and the main road start to converge but there are still a few twists and turns before surfacing in El Varadero. The walk took me about an hour, going at a leaisurely pace and stopping to snap photos at every new natural wonder.

Win a week at Pearly Grey, Callao Salvaje

Keeping christmas tucked away at the back of my mind, I’m out and about looking for new stories for . As well as bringing you all the best articles from Tenerife we also have some great competitions, we’ve just given away a weeks holiday at Sands Beach Resort in Lanzarote, and have now lined up a week at Pearly Grey Resort in Callao Salvaje, on the west coast of Tenerife.

Pearly Grey is a lovely place, perched on the cliff top looking out to La Gomera, and they have a great range of restaurants, bars, a gym, a sauna and a sun trap pool area. The prize is a one bedroom 5 star apartment with a sea view, on a self catering basis. It couldn’t be easier to enter, just join the Tenerife Magazine Facebook group ( many of you are already members) and we also need you to sign up to Pearly Grey’s Ingane Yami charity page This is a special project to build a village for AIDS orphans in Durban, South Africa.

After those 2 little clicks you can sit back and wait to see if you are the lucky winner, and you will also be settled in nicely into our Facebook group for future competitions. The draw will be made on 11th January 2010, and is for a one bedroom luxury self catering apartment for one week. The prize is valid for one year, subject to availability, and is not exchangeable for cash. Good luck, and don’t forget to spread the word about it’s the only way to keep me out of mischief.

Win boosts CD Tenerife to 12th place

Life doesn’t get much better, CD Tenerife back to winning ways, Nino looking sharp and scoring goals, and CDT up in 12th position in La Liga, hmm wonder why my head hurts this morning. Coach Oltra surprised many people by recalling Hector to left back to replace the suspended Bellvis, but he played a strong part in this tremendous 2-1 home win over Sporting Gijon.

The game was just 2 minutes old when the 19,281 crowd erupted as Tenerife seemed to take the lead. Sicilia headed the ball at the goal and it looked to have crossed the line before former Tenerife goalie Juan Pablo clawed it back, the referee was having none of it and waved play on. Within a minute Sporting took the lead, Diego Castro beat Juanlu and fired the ball past Sergio for an early lead.

Tenerife reacted well and fought hard to control the game, Mikel Alonso was having another great game in midfield and Ricardo was on top of his game, spreading intelligent passes to pick out his team mates. Nino had a couple of chances but couldn’t quite convert them, it was clear that he was feeling more confident and looking like the player that led the scoring charts last season. Oltra got banished to the stands after 19 minutes, the referee said afterwards that he was shouting and screaming too much – sensitive soul.

Tenerife dominated the second half, Ricardo beat his marker and unleashed a goal bound strike from outside the area to level the scores after 54 minutes. Angel was brought on for Kome to add to the attack as Tenerife went in search of the winner. It soon came when Nino shrugged off the defence and fired a hard shot past Juan Pablo from an acute angle to make it 2-1. There was only one team in it now, Sporting couldn’t match Tenerife’s hunger and hard work, Angel had 3 decent chances to increase the lead, the nest just before the final whistle.

The several hundred Sporting fans went home empty handed, but for Tenerife fans it was another convincing victory. Next Sunday is Getafe away, I will be in Madrid for the weekend with a large selection of hand picked ambassadors for our island, confidence is high, even if the temperature will be chillingly low.