Archive for June 5th, 2010
Tree Cheers for Icod de Los Vinos And The Long Road Home

That wise old sage Jeff Beck once sang “Your Everywhere And Nowhere Baby” maybe he had heard of my excursions into the nether regions of Tenerife. Another scorching day was setting out its stall as I made the short hop from Los Cristianos to the Las Americas bus station, a quick coffee upstairs reassured me that after a few years of neglect the cafe is back to its best with a good choice of snacks and a cool breeze blowing through from the roof terrace. Downstairs the 460 TITSA bus to Icod de Los Vinos was waiting and a 90 minute climb up through the twists and turns of Guia de Isora and over the tight high bends of Sanatiago del Teide brought me into Icod bus station with its wonderful wall mural bringing a smile to my face.

I have only made fleeting visits to Icod before so was glad to spend some time exporing, the main road leading out of town is a dull mix of old and new buildings including an awful modern white block church. Thankfully on the way back towards the station I found a small old church in the Plaza del Calvario, well worth a short detour to appreciate the amazing statues and decor crammed into such a tiny area. Just across from there the pedestrianised Calle San Agustin led me into the old quarter of town and a tight array of shops snaking down to the Ayuntamiento (council) building. A fine building like this would make you want to pop in and shake your councilors hands every day, the stone steps to the plaza flanked by statues and its setting at a corner junction gave it the look of a benevolant provider smiling down on its people.

Following the old lane past busy cafes and restaurants I arrived at another plaza and the church of San Marcos Evangelista. This was clearly a focal point for fiestas as a small stage was still in place and the sprawling plaza included a central cafe and a convenient viewpoint looking down over the famous Drago tree in its walled garden. There are many other smaller Dragos around the north but this one is probably the oldest and its knarled trunk and branches are full of character. Looking back at the lane I was equally impressed by stacked wooden balconies on the nearest building, a fine example of another great tradition. With a little time to spare before my bus, I found a nice restaurant just down from the bus station and enjoyed a ice filled cold drink and a snack. In the bar they had a shelf full of beer bottles from around the world, my eyes were instantly drawn to a bottle of Bishops Finger, a real ale treat that I have quaffed back in the UK.

My next selection from the map was San Juan de la Rambla simply because I had never been there before, jumping on a 363 bus for Puerto de la Cruz I had to be alert to get off at the side of the motorway 15 minutes later. Taking the rat run tunnel under the road I took the steep descent down towards the sea, to say it was quiet was an understatement, there was hardly anyone around and certainly no bars, shops etc. Arriving at the Las Aquas part of town I was greeted by a rugged rocky coast and just one restaurant at the far end, there was a small spit of rock out in the sea, a scaled down version of the Garachico bolder propelled into the sea by a huge volcanic explosion. Puffing back up the hill I took a right turn and found a closed tourist information centre, a church plaza and a roadside plaza that was more like a layby – all of them were deserted. A quick wander turned up no signs of life in the street beyond so I back tracked and found a cultural centre social club for a much needed cold drink. There were a dozen or so people in there and it was quite impressive, like a very basic and old fashioned gentlemans club with a restaurant, and games room leading off the bar.

With unusually good timing I turned up at the bus stop just as my Icod bus pulled off the motorway, and was back in time to stretch my legs before catching the 460 Playa Las Americas bus, but only as far as Guia de Isora an hour away. Breaking off for an hour I had a wander into the historic centre of Guia and the leafy church plaza which was pretty well deserted - I was starting to think I had trodden in something. Of course most people with any sense were hiding indoors away from the scorching sun but a mere 30 odd degrees isn’t going to stop me exploring. Guia is a lovely unspoilt place and as I walked back down to the main road I looked out to Playa San Juan and the Atlantic in the heat haze below. Thankfully I found an open cafe/bar, my thirst and my bladder were keeping about even pace. I noticed that the cafe had a cards competition coming up with bottles of spirits for third and second place but “a pig” as the first prize, good for several meals or if you are sqeamish, a new and unusual pet to share the sofa when you watch the World Cup.

My Bono bus ticket was flexing in my pocket, must be bus time again so back to the neat little Guia station and a short 10 minute hop down to Tejina de Guia to meet some friends that live there. As this was the last stop off I was able to spend a relaxing evening enjoying the sunset in good company outside one of the bars with a few Doradas quenching my raging thirst. With a constant eye on my watch I was able to get the last 417 bus back to Los Cristianos at 10.45, a smooth hours run before heading home to bed. What a great day of travelling and my Bono bus ticket had amazingly only clocked up just under 10 euros.

What The Blazes Was That?

There I was just walking out of my apartment block the other morning and a large yellow plane skimmed overhead coming over Montaña Guaza. A bit of digging and I now know it was a hydroplane, just arrived to help fight any forest fiires we may have in the Canary Islands this summer.

The recent scorching temperatures are a timely reminder of the previous fires here in the north of Tenerife and more so over on the islands of  La Gomera and La Palma. Last year when fires broke out on La Gomera, every old fire engine possible was dragged into service in Tenerife and headed to the port for the ferry trip across to our near neighbour. These hydroplanes are a much more effective and fast solution when it comes to dousing the flames.

Two hydroplanes are now stationed at Los Rodeos airport in the north, on loan from Canadair, part of the 43 group. Originally they were loaned to Torrejon airport on the mainland but they will be looking after us until September. Each plane has the capacity to hold up to 13,500 litres of water to drop on any raging inferno. In football type emergencies they could probably transport large quantities of Dorada to fuel the Armada Sur.