Archive for December, 2015
Granadilla And San Miguel Are Winter Wonderlands

It’s official, I’m still in love with Tenerife. I woke up this morning with a mild hangover (crap first line for a blues song) and decided to go hunting with my camera in Granadilla and San Miguel. It was one of those trips where the journey was as uplifting as the destination, and not just because the 45 minute ride was just 1.90 euros on my Bono bus ticket.

The sky was getting clearer and the sun brighter as the 416 Titsa bus rose up through Valle San Lorenzo, the view down to the coast from La Centinela made me smile. My mission was to snap photos of Christmas decorations and San Miguel screamed out with photo opportunities as the bus passed through, that would be a stop off on the way back. Arriving in Granadilla the sun was warm on my face as a crisp, cool breeze whistled up the legs of my shorts. My last few visits to Granadilla had been for football and I had neglected the town, it still looked lovely with the pine covered hills rising above it to Vilaflor and Mount Teide beyond. The vibrant flowers and the bold, imposing church further boosted my good mood and the views of El Medano were hardly stressful.

Sipping a coffee in a little bar by the bus station, even reading the newspaper report of CD Tenerife’s 4-1 defeat at Valladolid failed to put a ripple across my pond. Whilst capturing the charm of the bus station, I noticed an odd structure in an open area down the road and gave into curiosity. An old agricultural engine had pride of place and a closer inspection of the monument next to it gave its origin as Lincoln.

It took just 15 minutes for my bus to drop me in San Miguel. There were plenty of unusual Christmas decorations to photograph and they will appear in a separate Tenerife Holidays blog but it’s such a lovely town at any time. The church tower stands out on the skyline and the surrounding plaza offers more superb views of the coast. At the other end of town the Mirador de La Palmera is another place to survey the land below and it has the sculpture of Salto del Pastor, an ancient way of leaping between rural outcrops of the hillsides.

My final bus back to the south took me over the Barranco de La Orchilla, a high sided ravine where birds wheel away on the air currents. Coming back to La Centinela the patchwork of fields and tracks below made me resolve to hit the walking trails again early in the new year. There’s always something more to see and experience in Tenerife. This is probably my last post before the festive madness flows so I’d like to wish you all a smashing Christmas, New Year, and Reyes, thanks for your continued interest.


No Justice In CD Marino Defeat

One of the best performances of the season by CD Marino was overshadowed by some questionable calls from the ref as Tenisca sneaked a late 0-1 winner. The La Palma side are on the edge of the leading pack in the division but for long periods of the game Marino outplayed and frustrated them but failing to turn that superiority into goals was to prove costly.

Confidence is a powerful force in football and after two straight victories the home side played with freedom and sprayed the ball around. A new look defence was particularly impressive, Bradley Mills looked at home in the centre alongside Mendy with Connor at right back and recent addition Christofer from Las Zocas on the left. Kevin Castro had an early chance bearing down on the Tenisca goalie who had to kick the ball clear. There was a home penalty shout when Javi was floored after a cross from Josito but the ref didn’t want to know.

Tenisca’s main weapon was a long punt up to the wings rather than playing the ball through the middle, they were well blocked by Connor and Cristofer when trying to take the ball wide and didn’t have any alternative plan. Josito created plenty of openings down the Marino right and with Airam constantly probing it seemed a matter of time until a goal arrived. Cristofer began to push forward from left back and Tenisca were lucky to survive from one of his prompts as the defence and goalie scrambled the ball clear.

When the visitors did find a way through they had the problem of beating keeper Marco Cicovic, he has grown into his gloves and looked solid. Sandro replaced Josito on the half hour and provided more problems for the La Palma team. The half time break was welcomed by Tenisca, Marino had them under pressure with a curling Javi free kick and a Connor cross. Just inside the second half Marino clipped the post with an Airam free kick, he repeated it soon after and a part clearance was fired back in, the goalie managed to grab it low down at the line. With barely 15 minutes left it seemed that a home goal just wouldn’t come, Tenisca must have sensed that they had weathered the storm and became more adventurous.

They tried a few more direct breaks, Chema raced through onto one as the Marino defence closed in, the away forward could have shaped up for a shot but went down a bit too easily and got a penalty that he converted. Suso was back in the blue shirt and off the bench and shared a neat interchange with Kevin Castro but it lacked a final danger pass. Sandro got in a good scoring position but was hauled back with a late call for a foul. Chema nearly made it 0-2 but was stopped by a timely Connor challenge. Marino were desperate to get at least a draw and pushed everyone, including goalie Marco, forward for a series of free kicks. The ball pinged around the penalty area, hit the post, and refused to go in, it was a harsh defeat to take but the overall performance will give Marino plenty of encouragement for the after Christmas campaign.

Walk For Life Delivers Hope And Support Wrapped In A Pink Ribbon

Like the giant pink balloons that scraped the Tenerife skyline, the Walk For Life gets bigger and better every year. Last years tenth anniversary walk was always going to be difficult to equal, so they didn’t, they surpassed it. A pink and white army of 3,200 walkers arrived from all corners of the island, united many different communities, and raised an amazing 15,100 euros.

There was an early morning party atmosphere at the Magma Arts & Congress centre in Costa Adeje as people gathered in ingenious mixtures of the cause colours. Live music and dancing from the big stage set the tone, many sad recollections are stirred each year as lost loved ones are remembered but the atmosphere is always upbeat, hope, resilience, and friendship are the fuels for this event. The drum bands were shaping up, a few finishing touches were added to costumes for humans and dogs, and Mayor Fraga of Adeje and Mayor Jose Mena Perez of Arona joined founder, organizer, and driving force Brigitte Gypen to set us on our way.

As the walkers poured down the ramp of the Magma Centre the stream seemed never ending, police and security made we sure we got funneled across the road as bewildered drivers waited. There are always a few tweaks to the route but are first big objective was to head for the seafront promenade of Playa de Las Americas. It was nice to see so many family groups spanning the generations, the swallows, our wintering pensioners, and the Armada Sur, the CD Tenerife fan club I’m so proud to belong to, were making their usual commitment, there was even a youth team from Nandu Rugby Club.

The female motorbikers were another returning favourite, they have big bikes but even bigger hearts. All forms of transport were showing their colours, some people had mobility scooters, and further on in the walk we noticed the Los Cristianos sailing school, Escuela de Vela, had hoisted their colours to the mast as a show of support. At three points along the 4.5 km route there were opt out points for those who couldn’t manage the full distance, free shuttle buses were on hand to ferry them to the finish point. As we passed busy bars and restaurants many people added money to the rattling collection buckets and many others rose from their sun beds to cheer and encourage.

It looked an amazing sight as the procession spread all along the promenade at Las Vistas beach, the tunnel between there and the old beach was a bit of a bottle neck and groups had to go through a few hundred at a time as the other walkers marked time. Our route this time took us up the back way from the beach to turn right at the church plaza for the final approach to the cultural centre and the stage that had been set up there. There was a mix of relief, pride, and exhilaration as walkers fanned out into the Plaza del Pescador and tucked into the bananas and cold drinks that had been supplied. A burst of pink and white balloons filled the sky and those tired feet managed some joyous dancing to the singers who were giving their time for the cause.

The counting and registering of the collected money, and the drawing of the many donated raffle prizes meant the show glowed on for several hours. Los Cristianos felt the windfall of the walk as bars and restaurants were peppered with pink customers. I was chuffed to hear the Armada Sur raised 1,187 euros, big thanks to those who made that possible and to everyone who got involved this year. The good work of the charity continues, both mayors pledged their support to helping form a Walk For Life Foundation in time for next year so they can offer even more help to breast cancer sufferers. Click here to see the full parade of my photos from the Walk For Life, and Swim For Life which took place earlier this year.







Wait A Minute It’s A CD Tenerife Win

According to Take That, It Only Takes A Minute To Fall In Love, how reassuring to know that CD Tenerife only need that same snatch of time to flip a 0-1 deficit into a 2-1 win. Crisis club Mallorca looked on for a surprise win as CD Tenerife struggled to make any impact but young guns Cristo Gonzalez and Omar Perdomo turned the tide in a drab home performance.

There were surprises again in the starting line up, Abel and Ricardo were back in midfield with Alberto and Tommy Martin missing out. Mallorca made a lightning start with Swiss forward Moutinho scoring in the second minute from a Oriol cross on a breakaway. There was no spark in the home midfield, suspended Aitor Sanz was sorely missed and Abel wasn’t the answer. It could have been 0-2 soon after, Moutinho was looking to connect to a corner ball but Dani Hernandez raced out to punch it clear. Damia had a good chance for Mallorca but thankfully put his long shot well over the bar.

It was all a bit disjointed for Tenerife and Choco wasn’t seeing much of the ball up front. Ricardo tried to stir some action, he found Omar out wide and he cut inside but the Mallorca defence snuffed out the move. Suso made a half chance just before the break but it was a despondent half time break for the 8,005 crowd. Something had to change, Cristo Gonzalez replaced Abel and looked hungry in attack, ten minutes later Alberto was a straight swap for Ricardo. Then came that purple patch that changed the game, Choco passed the ball to Cristo and the youngster pulled it wide of a knot of defenders and tucked his shot perfectly past the keeper, a real class strike. The celebrations were still going on when Cristo turned provider and slipped the ball to Omar, the wide player had his back to a defender and the goalie but in a flowing move he turned and picked the ideal spot to grab the lead. Suddenly we were believing in Santa Claus again.

Mallorca were a spent force now, Tenerife should have taken advantage of their keepers constant straying outside of his area but the quick break never came. Jairo came on for Suso and took over the left wing with Omar switching to the right. Cristo had another pop at goal, this time his shot looped past the top corner. The referee started making some bizarre calls in favour of Mallorca and boosted Tenerife’s bookings to five on the night, leaving more players one card from a suspension. There could have been a third goal in injury time, Tenerife forced a couple of corners but wasted them with Vitolo and Omar getting nowhere with short corners. It’s now six games without defeat and even if this wasn’t a vintage performance it was another move up the table.

Triple Strike Fires CD Marino Out Of The Drop Zone

Goals have been the missing ingredient this season for CD Marino but hard work and perseverance paid off as they crushed Union Puerto 3-0 to smell the fresh air above the relegation zone. The visitors from Fuerteventura were just above Marino and looked a poor outfit but after some cruel defeats Marino took some time to find their confidence and cohesion.

A loose back pass and a speculative shot from Union gave home goalie Marco Cicovic a couple of easy saves before the blues started to make progress down their left flank. Marchena and Josito combined well to put pressure on the Union defence. Juanjo had a clear chance for Union after 17 minutes, he rose for a free header in front of goal but he went for power rather than direction and found Marco’s safe pair of hands. Kevin Castro was in a more central striking role, he got a chance to show his tricky ball control with just Omar to beat in the visitors net, he juggled the ball and fooled the keeper for a 1-0 lead.


Borja tried to hit back and found space out wide but Kilian came charging in to rob him with a firm tackle. Marino had their heads up and could sense the weakness in their opponents, a free kick floated in was only half blocked by Omar and he was lucky to get a second chance with Kilian ready to pounce. After the break Alexis replaced Coly and showed some nice touches. Airam was putting in a typical robust captain’s performance to inspire Marino as Union faded from the game. The captain came close from a free kick when he skewed a far post effort just a little high of the goal.

Too often Marino have let opponents off the hook but they were determined this time to snuff out any hope for Union. Airam  dealt the killer blow after 69 minutes from a Kevin Castro pass and Union were deflated. Pablo arrived for Marchena and swapped some telling passes with Alexis to add new purpose. Union were pinned down and struggling, a foul on Kilian in the box and Airam stepped up to beat the keeper from the spot and seal the points. It was a well deserved victory  and with two more home games before the festive break there’s a chance to climb the table.

Santa Cruz Is Cruise Ship Crazy

It reminded me of that bloke painting Red Dwarf in the opening titles as the camera pans back to reveal him as a minute spot against the massive spaceship. Well the only difference was this chap was hosing down the sheer side of Mein Schiff 4 in Santa Cruz harbour – oh and it wasn’t in space, wasn’t fictional, and involved water instead of paint. I hope the gentleman wasn’t employed just to gloss up cruise ships, he would have to forget about tea and sarnie breaks, this was another record breaking day for the Tenerife capital with even better to come.

As I looked up from the quayside four cruise ships, AIDAblu, Thomson Dream, Norwegian Epic, and Mein Schiff 4 towered over me, and the Minerva was moored separately on the other side of the port. The combined influx of visitors was 9,900 passengers and 3,580 crew, the shops and bars of Santa Cruz were poised in anticipation for the sweet sound of ringing tills. Other towns would also feel the benefit as an endless stream of coaches whisked eager tourists away to varied destinations, Mein Schiff 4 even had an army of bicycles and segways ready for some closer roving. That ship was built in Turkey just a year ago, and the Minerva has a tale or two to tell. Originally built to be a Soviet research ship the Minerva now sails for Swan Hellenic who are based in Market Harborough, Leicestershire. It’s one of the smaller cruise liners and specializes in cultural tours with intellectual guest speakers rather than cabaret acts.

My focus for the day was the Norwegian Epic and from the bridge I had a grand view of the port as it went about its business. Real Club Nautica looked neat and busy as a stream of  single mast sailboats set out as part of the two day Laser 4.7 race. It was quite a contrast to see them sail by one of the large oil platforms that come in for a makeover, a bit like Beast and the Beauties. Further along the road from Santa Cruz to San Andres the old steam ship La Palma stood proud, built in Middlesborough in 1912 it shuttled between the islands before falling into disrepair but a trust has been lovingly restoring it to be a floating museum. I was fortunate to cover a Peroni calendar shoot on the ship with some very able bodied sea ladies.

The port is always on my tick list for places to visit when in Santa Cruz so after my tour of Norwegian Epic I had a wander to see what was new. The Punta Salina rescue vessel was getting a few running repairs before going out to help those in peril on the sea. This is the time of year for the training ships to call in before heading out on their adventure trips with eager young recruits. It’s not really something I fancy, you have to pay for the voyage and also pitch in doing the work, scrubbing the deck, climbing the mast, and steering the ship. It teaches team work and builds character but I’d rather be enjoying the luxury of a cruise ship. Wylde Swan (above) had just come into the marina after being moored off Los Cristianos, billed as the worlds biggest two mast topsail schooner it had been making its way from Holland before embarking on a trip to Barbados. There was another tall ship nearby, this time from Sweden, Alva (below).

Santa Cruz port is undergoing a facelift, I noticed last trip that saplings were being planted along the inner edge of the marina and a raised ramp is taking shape for direct foot access to Plaza de España. This time I noticed the new tarmac walkway alongside the marina, special plaques have been mounted at discreet intervals to commemorate some of the great sea faring pioneers. That’s a nice touch, the port has already shown its respect for history by renovating the old French mini lighthouse, La Farola del Mar, down near the ferry terminal. The sea plays a huge part in the history of Tenerife and Santa Cruz in particular, visiting cruise ship captains often get presented with a bottle of malvasia wine, a popular old export to the UK and one of the peace presents bestowed upon Admiral Nelson after his failed conquest in 1797. Santa Cruz looks set fair for a new golden age of sea visitors, I hope they will be as impressed as I am.




Norwegian Epic Steals The Cruise Ships Thunder

Even on a day when five mighty cruise ships jostled for attention in Santa Cruz, Norwegian Epic had a bit too much class for her rivals and shone like a true star. Although five years old, this was the first visit for the pride of the Norwegian Cruise Line, 3,200 British and Spanish passengers plus many of the 1,300 crew joined in the party spirit in the Tenerife capital as they were greeted by traditional Canarian musicians and dancers. It’s a beautiful looking ship crammed full of every indulgence you could imagine, I was eager to get on board and see all the goodies. Our first stop was the bridge deck, a large open area with wide expanses of glass for all embracing views of the port. Former Tenerife Cabildo (government) President Ricardo Melchior, now President of  Puertos de Tenerife, exchanged momentos with Captain Idar Hoydal as waiters plied us with drinks and nibbles. The control panels, labeled in English, looked daunting and a couple of times when shrill whistles sounded I hoped I hadn’t brushed against an important lever by mistake. The Captain told me he had started with the company in 1980 as an able bodied seaman but had only been at this helm for two years. My feet and camera finger were itching to explore and our guide led us through the ship. There are 11 restaurants on the Norwegian Epic but most were empty as a fleet of coaches had whisked passengers off to many varied destinations. Le Bistro French restaurant looked very stylish and intimate while Taste restaurant hit the spot with stunning décor fanning out from a centrally placed piano. There were clear notices about the ships dress code, even without my football shirt I felt like I could be breaking several taboos. The Manhattan Room was also impressive with its more subdued colour scheme and black and white prints of old America. I stuck my head inside a few of the other entertainment rooms, The Cavern was a tribute to The Beatles, some of my scouse friends would love that – yeah, yeah,yeah. The Headliners Comedy Club looked like it could be a giggle, and the Fat Cats Jazz and Blues Club would have them swinging from the roof. There was a big parade of art on one landing, they have seminars and auctions. A squatting dog was passing his own artistic judgement, very appropriate for the start and end point of the trip, Barcelona, home of the Caganer. The social events caught my eye, a solo passengers gathering, Friends of Dorothy, and even cup cake decorating. A giant Wii wall dominated one area with an interactive game of ping pong that drew a few people in. There’s no shortage of things to do with a bowling alley, the circus themed Spiegel Tent, and the Epic Theatre where Priscilla of the Desert was the live show. Gamblers would be constantly challenged with the Epic Casino and a poolside casino, the lights were flashing as I strolled down a lengthy corridor of fruit machines and a passenger I spoke to later in Santa Cruz told me bingo was 39 dollars a game with the prize of an upgrade to the ultra swish Haven suite at the very top of the ship. Our next group stop was deck 15 and the Aqua Park water slides and kids pool, I took the steps to the launch point for the water tubes, it looked great fun. For those just wanting to chill out there were plenty of tables to sit at after raiding the Garden Café buffet and Waves pool bar. Looking around these floating cities I can see why some people don’t even venture out to the ports of call, Norwegian Epic pops into Tangier, Gran Canaria, Tenerife, Funchal, and Malaga between leaving and arriving back at Barcelona. Norwegian Epic will be back in Santa Cruz on Christmas eve and makes another 66 Tenerife calls up to 2 April 2016.