Archive for May, 2015
Anthem Of The Seas Hits The High Notes On Tenerife Visit

Talk about making a grand entrance, the newest quantum class cruise liner from Royal Caribbean glided majestically into Santa Cruz dwarfing a Fred Olsen ferry and almost causing the mountains of Anaga to wolf whistle. The Anthem Of The Seas is something special, and it knows it, the Tenerife capital is used to naval giants but at 168,367 tons, and 16 decks high this ship is the second biggest in the world and boasts state of the art technology that puts everything at the 5,000 passengers finger tips.

As it moored at the far dockside I raced round to joint the press pack just as passengers began to stream down the walkways. Traditional Canarian musicians and dancers were on hand to add a little flavour and coaches were lining up for pre booked excursions. As well as shuttle buses to take passengers into Santa Cruz I counted 20 pre booked  excursion coaches, about a third were off to Loro Parque but there was a nice diversity about the others, volcanoes, Teide, Puerto de la Cruz, cultural Tenerife, and Tenerife city sights.

Most of the those on board were Brits, this maiden cruise set sail from Southampton. It was amusing to see a couple of Union Jacks draped over high balcony rails and quite a few familiar football shirts on the crowds leaving the 10 day voyage. Cruise holidays are much more informal these days and this trip had attracted lots of families, I chatted to a few people and they were full of praise for the ship and its facilities. With the dignitaries gathered it was time for our on board tour to start, checked in and taken to the second deck esplanade our group assembled in the plush Boceros bar where champers and nibbles were served.

The Captain, Claus Andersen of Norway, made a speech about his joy at being in charge of such a ground breaking vessel and the President of the Tenerife port authority, Pedro Rodriguez Zaragoza offered his welcome with a book and a bottle of Malvasia wine. My feet were itching to explore and one of the crew led our party out into the esplanade where several of the bars and restaurants were. Upstairs I was eager to see the Bionic Bar with its robot cocktail waiters, just send an Ipad request for any drink and they mix and serve it, when the DJ is playing some hot tunes they join in the dancing – and are probably more graceful than I am.

The ship was packed with focal points, light, colourful, and amusing works of art are scattered around the decks to encourage a relaxed mood, thee Wonderland Cuisine restaurant had a large hand pointing the way in, and a shiny trombone sculpture was a real eye catcher in a communal area. I couldn’t resist the Pulse Spiral chandelier, by placing my palms on a pad it recorded my heart beat and used that as a rhythm for the individual lights to sparkle to. Even the background music was to my taste, I caught whiffs of Peter Gabriel, and OMD from the 1980’s. Taking the glass elevators we visited the beautifully laid out Teatro Royal with its views out to the port and the city beyond.  Bristling with hi tech and with seating for 1,300 on split levels, it cost a cool 36 million dollars, the standard currency choice on the ship.

Skirting around the bumping cars and thee full size basketball court we popped out on the top deck for the viewing platform and the Rip Cord para diving simulator. Sport is big on the Anthem, a running track laps around the 16th deck circling the clutch of pools below a giant screen tv and more bars. The other big attraction up top is the North Star pod, a clear glass booth like the ones on the London Eye, attached to a crane arm it swings out to be suspended 300 feet over the sea.

There were so many other notable features to please passengers, of the 2,090 rooms, 1,571 have balconies, and 148 of them have outside views, another 375 have virtual views, think of the back projection behind news readers and apply that to views from the top deck projected onto a blank wall. Disabled passengers are well looked after, I noticed that all the bars had some lower serving sections and there are 34 wheelchair friendly rooms on board. Access to all services is simple and quick, passengers can wear an interactive Wow band to order and record food and drink sales and pervasive Wi Fi is streamed on board at 115 megabytes a second, even with so many users it outstrips most peoples home coverage.

Our final call was lunch at the self service buffet in the Windjammer Marketplace, the choice was incredible and there were lots of little touches to make the Brits feel at home, like Tetley tea on tap. On the way out I had a further nose around and found the Music Hall with stylish décor for a good old fashioned sing along night out. Anthem Of The Seas is an amazing ship and it was fitting that its first big voyage brought it to Tenerife as the Seatrade Cruise Med has chosen Santa Cruz for its September 2016 trade convention. The Canary Islands were historically an important hub for sea trade and exploration, it’s good to see that it’s shaping up nicely as a must stop off point for holiday cruisers.




Promotion Dream Crumbles For CD Marino

It will take all the saints and lots of divine intervention for CD Marino to progress in the Tercera division promotion play offs after a 0-2 home defeat to UD San Pedro. The Marbella side lethally exploited two home errors in the first half and Marino wasted too many chances in front of goal.

After dominating their Canarian group in the first half of the season Marino have suffered from internal conflict and the loss of some of their more experienced players. It all started to go wrong in the 6th minute when left back Javi Marchena was tripped and limped off, a lengthy delay in replacing him allowed San Pedro to exploit the lack of cover down that flank to set up Juanfri for the vital first goal. Eslava eventually came on and had a great game in the centre of defence as Aridani moved to left back.

Balduino was leading the line up front but Nacho and Jose Carlos couldn’t give him the support he needed. When Marino did break through they found goalie Munoz in top form. San Pedro had switched their attention to their left wing with defender Mauri supporting and overlapping well with the speedy Pedro. Eslava tried to support the attack and sent a strong header over the bar but Pedro was always ready to test the Marino rearguard. On the half hour Pedro robbed Jose Carlos just inside the home half and sliced open the defence before releasing Juanfri to slot the ball past Sergio in goal.

Eloi got into the action setting up Pedro who floated in a high cross that Sergio took well at the top corner of his goal. Jose Carlos closed the half with a soft shot that cleared the bar, there was little half time cheer for the crowd of 250, it looked comfortable higher than that official figure. Changes had to be made after the break, Lamine was brought on for Jose Carlos, Marino had their most creative spell as the visitors looked to settle for the two goal lead, Balduino screwed a side on shot over the bar and there was always hope that a home goal could at least offer some encouragement for the away leg.

Juanfri couldn’t quite get his foot to a clear chance in front of the Marino goal, the let off spurred Marino on and first half sub Kevin Castro combined well with Airam Garcia to force Munoz to make a low save. Javi Jerez found himself through for the blues, Munoz reacted well and made another neat stop. The game was slipping away as Marino ran out of ideas, it could have been worse if Sergio hadn’t denied Eloi late in the game. San Pedro were well organized and took their chances but were only third in their group, an early Marino goal in Marbella could still extend the season but it will be tough going.


Point Leaves Relegation Threat Pending For CD Tenerife

Plodding and predictable CD Tenerife failed to cash in their get out of jail card with a 1-1 home draw against Alcorcon who were down to ten men just before half time. Once again pre match talk of attack, attack, attack wasn’t matched by the squad selection, and I was dismayed at the lack of striking options on the bench.

Alcorcon hadn’t read the script and crashed in a second minute goal thanks to some weak defending, a cross in from near the right corner took out three defenders leaving Nagore to head the ball into the goal. That left a huge mountain to climb with Diego Ifran out injured and Abdon Prats taking his place alongside the industrious Maxi. In defence Hugo Alvarez covered for suspended Carlos Ruiz but the visitors, with faint hopes of a promotion play off place, decided to employ spoiling tactics to try to sit on their lead for 88 minutes. It was the most cynical display of diving, rolling, and time wasting that the Heliodoro has witnessed.

Having said that, it was down to Tenerife to grab the game by the danglies and make things happen, the 8,771 crowd did their bit with a constant wall of noise. Juan Carlos had another poor game, he lost the ball in a threatening position early on and just faded away. Suso was fired up but the Alcorcon defence, especially Nagore were crudely effective. Maxi made some good breaks, the goalie came out well to deny his best chance, and Vitolo looked through on goal when a harsh offside call hauled him back.

The first half was draining away when Abdon lobbed a lovely ball into the box, Maxi tried to chest it under control but was clattered by Verdes, he went off for his second card and Vitolo converted the spot kick to add hope to the half time break. That’s when a look at our subs told a sorry tale, Aridane was the only other forward, Cristo Gonzalez had scored again for the B team the day before and would have been an obvious choice in our perilous position.


So 45 minutes against ten men, surely CDT could take this. The chances came but the finishing was not up to scratch, Suso skinned two defenders but couldn’t get the ball to the waiting Maxi. Abdon Prats poked a chance wide before making way for Aridane, the other predictable change of Cristo Martin for Juan Carlos didn’t offer the key either. Aridane missed out on a rebound, Suso missed from outside the area, and Cristo put a shot into the side netting. Aitor Sanz should have been subbed, in added time he tried to trade up his earlier yellow card by diving into a melee of players. Dani Hernandez raced up the pitch and bear hugged his hot headed team mate away before it could get out of hand. We might be grateful for the point in the final reckoning but if we go down this is the game that many will point to as our downfall.


Cheers For Local Brews In Tenerife

Much as I enjoy my Dorada, I do miss British style ales but a visit to the new Mercado Parque La Reina tweaked my taste buds with a stall full of bottled craft beers brewed mainly in Tenerife. It would have been rude not to try them so I took two samples home (2.50 euros each) for a mini tasting session.

I had heard about Tierra de Perros pale ale from a Los Realejos team, the name “land of dogs” refers to the Canary Islands name, it was based on the wild canines that roamed the islands rather than those chirpy yellow birds that Delia Smith likes. What a nice taste this one had, the dark amber 4.8 % went down a treat, a good session beer. I could see a crate of these launching me gently down a slippery slope until waking up in a skip with a traffic cone on my head – well we’ve all been there – haven’t we?

Even more impressive was a co-ordinated range from Chutney in La Laguna. They had three bottles all named after criminals, Albert Spagliarri chocolate stout was inspired by a famous French burglar, and Willie Sutton American Pale Ale was a tip of the glass to a light fingered American thief. I took home the Ronnie Biggs Brown Ale a 5.5 % bottle based on a classic London Brown ale an jolly nice it was too. Toasted caramel and chocolate made an appearance and even the head shared the pleasing colour.

There were other craft brews from further a field at the market stall. La Socarrada at 6% will draw me back to Parque La Reina at a later date. Brewed in Valencia it’s flavoured with rosemary, and rosemary honey, sounds good. Another reason to return is the 4.8 % El Boqueron, also from Valencia but made using sea water which apparently increases the purity and makes it pretty much hangover free. Mind you if you really wanted a hangover there was always the wine, Cava, and rice liquor on offer.

All this reminds me I must have another trip up to El Sauzal and the Tacoa German micro brewery and restaurant, that’s a real treat for the home sick beer fan but quite a way to wobble back home.

Granadilla Tenerife Sur Have One Foot In The Promotion Final

Womens football came of age in El Medano as Granadilla Tenerife Sur stormed to a 3-0 win over Levante Las Planas in the first leg of their promotion semifinal. The ultimate prize is a place in Spain’s Primera and GTS showed they have the hunger, the skill, and the passion to make it.

The home changing room was bouncing pre game as the ladies sang their inspirational songs and they clattered down the terrace steps to be welcomed by an 1,800 crowd. Granadilla attacked from the start with Maria Jose Perez (lime boots) showing attacking flair that would have made cousin Ayoze proud. Carla Gomez, one of three late reinforcements from Catalan side San Gabriel, gave good support and when Levante managed a break away goalie Pili was sharp with a clean catch of a high ball.

Silvia went close with a rasping drive for the home side and Maria Jose deserved better from a great turn with her back to goal before unleashing a testing shot. The opening goal came after 30 minutes from a raid down the left by Maria Jose who slipped a perfect cross to Reichel to beat the keeper. The crowd around the artificial pitch erupted, the extra few hundred perched on walls overlooking the ground joined in, and even the passengers on the constant flow of low flying airplanes must have felt some extra turbulence.

On the stroke of half time there was a scare with Levante bearing down on goal but Pili punched clear to avert the danger. Reichel opened the second half with a decent attempt on goal and Marilen gave way to sub Ana who added some extra power in attack. Continued pressure paid off for Granadilla after 63 minutes as Ana scored a well worked individual goal. The visitors were visibly shaken and started to wilt, they were clearly struggling with the evening heat and had few answers to a determined home team. Reichel curled in a teasing shot that just cleared the Levante bar but with the away leg in Valencia to come GTS needed another goal.

It was fitting that the games outstanding player Maria Jose Perez grabbed what could prove to be the decisive goal in the tie. As another wave of pressure pinned back Levante Maria Jose left the defence in tatters to bury the ball in the net. The celebration of the home players showed how much that three goal margin meant to them. It’s not all over yet, the return fixture in a weeks time needs to be treated with caution if Granadilla Tenerife Sur are to go one stage further than last year. It was a job well done and with confidence on their side few would bet against GTS making it through to a glorious two legged final.

To Market To Market At Parque La Reina

There’s something very appealing about food as naked as the day it was born, grown, or uprooted. I can’t resist a dig around a traditional market and in Tenerife we have some lovely farmers markets selling fresh produce direct to the public. Meet the newest addition, Mercado Parque La Reina, just a short bus ride from my Los Cristianos home.

The near 40 degrees heat wave was making the whirling ceiling fans work overtime in the large hanger type building, only opened a few months ago. Tucked away near the Titsa bus garage and just shy of the Karting Tenerife track it was well laid out in tidy rows but not very busy on my mid morning visit. A large fish stall just inside was piled high with my much needed brain food adding a nice whiff to the air. At the other end a big butchers stall was equally loaded with enough cattle to start a stampede.

The full range of local fruit and veg was laid out along the main aisles but I was looking for a few surprises – and found them. Moringa and Maqui stood either side of red beetroot in packs of powdered raw and organic superfoods, and black allium garlic promised high contents of potassium and zinc.  A glorious spray of mushrooms was growing off a large off cut of branch and was being lovingly sprayed with water to keep it perky – well it works for me.

There were some fine blooms of flowers and a table groaning with jars of flavoured teas like Ginseng, Green Wakame-Ginkgo, and Gunpowder tea – not to taken after a curry. I was glad to see chocolate almonds out in force, always a favourite, but most of all I was impressed with a stall full of bottled craft beers from Tenerife and beyond. I bought a couple to road test at home – they will get their own blog post to do them justice. There was a stall over the other side of the hall offering Cava, and rice liquor.

I had a chat with a few of the stall holders, all were helpful and keen but a little frustrated at the lack of customers, that’s where you all come in. They have free Wi Fi and a kids play area, free parking, and open 8am to 3 pm every day except Monday. It’s a worthy addition to the growing trend of direct selling and is of course helping local producers to fight back against the pile it high, sell it cheap, supermarkets.

Stage A Play In 10 Days On A Fun, Creative Journey

After performing, directing, and choreographing with Circo Soleil, Italia Conti, and the cream of UK theatre, Mandi Ashwood is ready to share her secret with Tenerife youngsters. The performing arts are fun, and as diverse as the imagination, that’s why she is mixing elements of all the stage crafts in a series of summer performing arts schools for just 20 euros a day.

There’s no star culture, no rigid formats, and no competing against your new friends and performers. The Best Tenerife hotel in Playa de Las Americas is the venue and it will be transformed into two stages, one inside and one in the open air as flexible daily sessions from 9 am to 5 pm lead up to a performance in front of family and friends. Separate age groups featuring 7 to 10 year old, 11 to 13’s, and 14 years plus will give everyone the chance to realise their potential with full professional teaching, props, and 3,000 costume choices.

Mandi has been involved in the big high profile shows at top venues like the Royal Albert Hall and her passion and knowledge will see her draw on music, acting, mime, circus and all other aspects of stage work. The key to it all is enjoyment, developing skills, and awakening new interests. The full four star range of leisure facilities at the Best Tenerife Hotel will be available for the young performers under responsible supervision.

Flicking through Mandi’s career CV and photos on the website is like a tour of the most innovative and exciting aspects of theatre, music, and dance. Using her passion for performance and decades of practical experience Mandi has built several theatre groups in her native Birmingham and taken them to perform on big stages like the Royal Albert hall.

The Summer Performing Arts Schools begin on 13th July and run through until 21st August. The Monday to Friday development stages are broken down into relaxed sessions with plenty of food and rest breaks and time to make friends and build confidence. Find out more at the website, or contact Mandi at  or call on 922752807 or 602626736.



CD Marino Back From The Brink In Six Goal Romp

Heat wave warnings advised of soaring temperatures but they didn’t predict a red hot goal feast as CD Marino fought back for a 3-3 home draw with Union Viera. Marino still had an outside chance of taking their section title and the visitors were hurting after just missing the play off boat, it made for an intriguing clash.

Before kick off Marino’s title winning Alevin B side were presented on the pitch, big respect to Union Viera who joined in the guard of honour for the triumphant youngsters. Chances went begging in the opening exchanges, Sesma headed a clear chance over and Sergio Aragoneses denied Union captain Peraza with a nifty low save. Union looked lively on the break, their skipper couldn’t believe how he put a simple tap in wide from a defence splitting pass.

Sesma was pushing down the left for Marino and looked odds on to score but put the ball outside the post, and Javi Jerez unleashed a fierce shot that Josue pushed aside in the visitors goal. There was no shortage of opportunities for either side, Peraza was again cursing himself when he let the ball run on too far before attempting a strike and a quick follow up was denied by a great save from Aragoneses. The Marino goalie did even better when he scampered across his goal to clear a net bound shot from Afonso. It took a Marino free kick to produce the first goal after 35 minutes, Mendy scrambled the ball over the line.

The half time water quenched Unions thirst and they left Marino panting with a goal from Kilian 10 seconds into the restart. Kevin Castro made some good runs in from the right and it took a combination of a defender and goalie to clear his hanging cross. Shortly after claiming the ball from Peraza’s feet, Sergio Aragoneses came out to claim a high ball and missed it, this time Peraza was more clinical and gave Union the lead. Airam Garcia came on for Javi Jerez but Marino found themselves two adrift as Yared cashed in on another error from Sergio.

To their credit Marino showed character by rallying, three minutes after the goal Nacho Suarez saw his well placed shot go in off the post. Sergio showed all his agility to tip over a Union header and as the play switched to the other end his team mates forced a free kick. Union Viera argued as they tried to sort out their defensive wall, the end result was a feeble obstacle that failed to stop a lethal shot from Suarez. The game was up for grabs now, it looked like there would be more goals, there were certainly more chances but both keepers make great saves to ensure the draw. Marino had the last word with sub Cristian Barrios threading the ball through to Balduino but Josue in goal was strong and pushed the ball over the bar.

Oh Mother How Did CD Tenerife Not Win This Game

It was a day of celebrations in Santa Cruz, the day of the cross, the anniversary homage to ex player Rommel Fernandez, and mothers day, but the only cards were two more suspension causing bookings as CD Tenerife snatched a late 1-1 draw with Lugo.

Scoring goals has become a problem, Tenerife created an avalanche of chances in the first half but were thwarted by a combination of good goalkeeping by Jose Juan, bad luck, and most of all, sloppy finishing. Lugo had the first pop at goal, Luis Fernandez tried a long looping shot that went out off the bar, then the spotlight fell on Diego Ifran in the home shirt. The ten goal top scorer fired three great chances straight at the keeper, the biggest waste was after a dainty lay off from Maxi. The bubble haired striker also fluffed his best moment when he was a tad slow and the goalie blocked the ball at his feet.

Lugo felt encouraged and launched a dipping free kick, thankfully Dani Hernandez took the sting out of it. Suso ensured the half ended goal less by trying to tuck his effort tight inside the keeper. The visitors had enough about them to cause problems, just after the break a fast raid down the left had to be cleared by Dani’s feet and their best forward Toni curled a long shot just wide. There was some frustration setting in to Tenerife’s play, home wins are a priority in their lowly position, Aitor Sanz cleared the bar from outside the box. Then came a bizarre let off for Tenerife, a loose ball near the goal line was half cleared by Moyano and bounced wide off the startled head of Toni.

Change was needed, Juan Carlos looked poor and made way for Cristo Martin and it briefly perked up the blanquiazuls. Diego did the hard work by chesting down the ball but again his shot ran true to the grateful keepers gloves. Raul Camara went off after a booking and with a view to his suspension next week, Hugo Alvarez came on and slotted into the centre of defence so Albizua could fill the left back role. Albizua has grown on me this season, he is a classy defender and showed his versatility with some strong interventions down the flank.

There was no faulting the 9,697 crowd, they didn’t wilt in the heat and kept up their noisy encouragement. Lugo had their own bizarre let off when a header down from Hector pinged around the goal mouth, clipping Ruiz and the goalie before running out of play. Aitor Sanz added another yellow card to his vast collection and booked his day off next week at Santander. With three minutes left a big Lugo clearance found Alvaro Pena and Ferreiro with just Vitolo to stop them bursting through, the Tenerife midfielders  attempt to halt them wasn’t enough and they played a one two beyond him to draw Dani  as Pena popped the ball in the net. To their credit Tenerife launched another attack and as Maxi went for the ball in the penalty area he was hooked over by Israel and Vitolo stroked home the spot kick for a relieved draw.

It’s all getting a bit tight with CD Tenerife just four points clear of the trap door and six games left, only two at home. I’m hoping for a few wins before we run out of time – and available players.

Thirty Years Of Partying At Arona Gran Hotel

You know it’s going to be a good party when within a few minutes of arriving you are watching female synchronized swimmers with a glass of champers in your hand. This was the first time I had such a welcome but this was no ordinary party, Spring Hoteles were combining their 4th annual music celebration with a lavish bash to mark 30 years of welcoming guests to Tenerife. Arona Gran Hotel was the venue, a short walk from Kirby Towers in Los Cristianos so I scrubbed up and even had a shower – and it wasn’t even December. After another glorious sunny day the evening was warm as I made my way through the impressive interior of the hotel to the outdoor terrace overlooking Las Tarajales beach. The guests were leading lights from the main tour operators in Tenerife and we took turns in small groups to visit the glittering spa where the ladies were performing in the heated pool. There was a piano music background, I almost expected to see a pianist submerged in a wetsuit.   Back at the main party I mingled with the glamorous guests and was glad I had dug out some proper trousers and forsaken my CD Tenerife shirt. Sampling nibbles and drinking Estrella beer while a musician coaxed some tunes out of his saxophone was very relaxing and at 10.30 we were treated to a spectacular firework display that was more than a match for the New Year pyrotechnics. It was the signal for us to head for the Las Vistas restaurant and the buffet meal. It was quite a spread, I don’t think I have seen such a range of fish, the lobsters looked like they would pin me down and eat me, the salmon proved to be an easier conquest. I did well to resist the chocolate fountain, well almost, it would have been rude not to have a little dip. Attention to detail is one of the founding principles of Spring Hoteles and it was in evidence all night. A talented artist, Rafa Gamez, flitted between tables sketching complimentary caricatures of guests and magician Steve Johnson bewitched people with his close up sleight of hand. After the feast, and a few Dorada Especials, I waddled after the main group into the Salon Teide for live music from house band Los Salvapantallas. Their mix of 70’s and 80’s ballads and classics got people up and dancing, they were spared my dad at a wedding impression, well I didn’t want to mix my cheese with walnuts up with my chocolate marsh mallows. It was well into the early hours when I wobbled home up the hill, what a top night.