Archive for December, 2017
Big Masts Big History Big Voyage

Sorlandet stood head, shoulders, and three tall masts above the luxurious cruise liners, and economy boosting oil platforms that were calling Santa Cruz port their temporary home. Even the clear blue skies tinged with the dust of a calima were merely extras in this big picture. Majestic and stately tussled for star billing to describe the Norwegian training ship preparing for its next epic voyage.

I can always rely on the busy port to deliver a pleasant floating surprise or two, but more was to come as Norwegian Stine Elisabeth Bryh invited me aboard. One of the senior full time crew, Stine has plenty of experience of sailing but the international students who will make up most of the 60 strong crew have a steep learning curve to climb, as well as those imposing 35 metre masts. I could feel a gentle rocking motion beneath my feet, and the sea around looked calm but the previous weeks high winds and hints of a big storm had shown how quickly the weather cam change.

Stine told me a bit about the student crew. “They are mainly Norwegian and Danish but we also have some from Mexico, Colombia, and Hong Kong. On our voyage to Cape Verde, Barbados, Bermuda, and Miami they will learn how to set the 240 rope lines, and learn how to set the 25 sails as well as general duties.” Like the many other training ships that pass through Tenerife, the trainees have to pay for their passage as well as work.

The Sorlandet was originally built in 1927 but was refurbished in the early 1980´s after damage in the Second World War and later neglect. It´s one of several ships run by World Academy, all with a remit to teach life skills and team work. There was a pleasant smell wafting from the galley, no ships biscuits then? The wooden wheel up on deck looked daunting but Stine tweaked it with ease, it has the help of a sturdy hydraulic system. At 64 metres long and with a top speed of 14 knots, Sorlandet can cut gracefully through the water.

There was clearly plenty of pride in the mighty vessel, The Viking inspired painting on display translated to “our ears and our strength have given us a white plot” that sounds pretty rousing to me. Hopefully they will have kind seas and plenty of adventures, I look forward to seeing them in port next winter if not before.

 

Christmas Lights Up Santa Cruz

Tradition always draws me to Santa Cruz and La Laguna just before christmas to savour the grand designs of the belens (nativity scenes) and to ooh and aah at the festive lights. Apparently it took seven days to create the world, I suspect it took a lot longer to put together these variations on an annual theme.

First stop was the Caja Canarias bank HQ in Plaza del Patriotismo, Santa Cruz, they always have a large walk around display set on a big rural scale with a cast of hundreds of busy figures. This year it included a bit of a River Nile influence to compliment an Egyptian history exhibit in another hall. The clever thing about this show is the dimming and pulsing light in the room so you get that night time feel too. The meandering stream adds a living feel, and there´s always a few humourous characters if you peek inside of various courtyards. Opening times are Monday to Saturday10am to 1.30pm, and 5.30 to 8pm, Sundays are only on 24 and 31 December plus 5 January, from 10am to 1.30pm.

I don´t need much excuse to get the tram up to La Laguna, so I popped up to see their offering in the Casa del Capitanes, just around the corner from the tram terminus. Not only did they have a selection of model cattle and kings grazing in the outdoor plaza, but also a large room full of a long extended village christmas scene with grand buildings and those small touches that reflected their devotion. Flocks of sheep roamed, and small birds grouped together in flight above the roof tops. This one is open 10am to 2 pm and 4~pm to 7pm weekdays, and 11am to 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays. This is probably a good time to say that all the nativities are free, some have had charity collections in the past but that was not the case this year. I did like the knitted nativity in a shop window as well.

Back down to Santa Cruz and there was a strange mix going on at El Rinconito in Plaza Candelaria at the port end of the main shopping drag, Calle Castillo. The Bethlehem stable had a windmill attached to it, and a pink Milka chocolate cow grazed nearby. At least the Cabildo (Tenerife government) building looked more seasonal with it´s facade sending out a cheery greeting. Inside their belen featured rural life with all the christmas story trimmings and some impresive fishing boats. Opening times here are 9am to 3pm, 4pm to 9.30pm everyday, apart from morning only times on 24 and 31 December, and afternnon only on 25 December, 1 & 6 January.

Just one more call, the Canarian Parliament building in Calle Castillo. This is another elaborate walk around giant montage of rural scenes. The feeling is joyful, with big jolly characters, hard at work, and revelling in the joys of the festive season. You may well recognise landmarks of the seven islands that have been incorporated into the design. Ok here come those opening times, 10am to 3pm, and 4.30pm to 10pm, the exceptions are 24 December and 31 December 10am to 4pm, and 25 December and 1 January 4.30pm to 10pm. That should keep you out of the bars for a while, it nearly worked for me.

 

Walk Like An Egyptian March Like A Roman

So there I am stood on Santa Cruz quay side looking at a space ship housing a Roman exhibition, after earlier visitng an Egyptian mummy show. At my side a Canarian ice crean van for a company called Califonia (why?) is relentlessly chiming the German song Lili Marlena (again why?). It´s no wonder my brain is confused.

It was all part of a very rewarding pre christmas visit to the Tenerife capital. Egipto En Busca De La Eternidad (Egypt in search of the eternity) was the latest in a long line of wonderful art exhibitions staged by the Caja Canarias Fundacion and housed at the two floor cultural space of the Caja Canarias bank HQ in Plaza del Patriotismo. Mournful mummies were what I expected and they were lurking but the first floor was more about the cultural life of ancient Egypt, featuring art, music, ceramics and a look at some of the leading dynasty´s. The faint waft of Egyptian music, secluded alcoves, and moody lighting helped to put me in the mood. It was a national holiday and I was glad to see many families enjoying the free exhibition.

Upstairs it all turned a bit more macabre, yep the mummies were revealing their secrets. British archaeologist Howard Carter uncovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, there were 65 revealing black and white photographs of the cursed expedition, a rare insight into the sheer scale of the endeavour. The boy king was just one of several sovereigns being shown in a new light. It wasn´t just wood, bronze, and ivory coffins on display, a cut away tomb showed the full inner workings of the last rites, and there was even a video alcove with more grainy and gruesome images. It´s well worth a visit before the works go back to Madrid´s Egypt Museum after 27 January 2018. It´s open Monday to Friday 10 am to 1.30pm, and 5.30 to 8pm. Saturday is just 10.30 to 1 .30pm, and even mummies get a day off on Sundays.

 

Honest I´m not after a free overdraft but the touring exhibition, Roma Norum Vita (Roman Life) is another free show from the Caja Canarias Fundacion. The space ship like touring venue turned out to be more of a Tardis, it had a Roman city and 2,000 years of excellence packed inside. A scene setting video room gave way to a paved and very solid feeling street lined with forum steps. Rooms feeding off showed their home comforts like the communal toilets, tapped drinking water, and lavish sleeping quarters. A backdrop became another video wall showing more of their political, social, and commercial life. I almost felt like a ghostly intruder, or an extra in Up Pompei. The show lasted about 25 minutes and a lot of families brought young children who looked genuinely fascinated.

To catch a glimpse of this glorious past, head for the ferry port, Monday to Friday it´s open 12.30 to 2pm, and 5 to 9pm, Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays it´s 11 to 2pm, and 5 to 9pm. They take 25 people at a time, and can do groups if you pre call 902906666, and these Romans remain until 25 January 2018.

 

A Feast Of Blue And White

 

What a stirring tune the CD Tenerife anthem is, and Tenerife Adelante was blaring out as we entered the blue and white wonderland of a dining hall for the clubs pre christmas meal for the peñas (fan clubs) including the Armada Sur.

Our small but select band of ambassadors for the Armada Sur arrived at the Parque Maritimo pool complex in Santa Cruz for 8pm, only to find out it was a 9.30pm start. The solution was easy, we adjourned to a nearby bar, Voque Bar, rather posh but we soon lowered the tone. Suitably refreshed we headed back to the venue, I had been to the pools before to do a review, that time it was a hot afternoon and the pools were splashing. We were guided to the outside terrace of one of the big function halls, waiters circulated with drinks and aperatifs of ham and cheese croquettes, sweet nibbles of lemon and honey, and other tempting treats.

TV cameras were in attendance so naturally we burst into a rousing chorus of the Armada Sur song to the Hawaii Five O theme. The players were away on the mainland having played Espanyol with Almeria to come in two days, but captain Suso was in attendance as he was injured. Entering the hall was a visual feast, all the tables had been set out with peña name plates, a Mahou beer hat, and a CD Tenerife scarf. Side tables groaned with Tete themed cakes and there was a buzz of anticipation. Any thoughts of it being a slightly stuffy, formal night were soon blown away as terrace songs started breaking out across the tables. We were sharing with the Cesar Gomez peña, mature ladies but they were party animals.

Club President Miguel Concepcion was in relaxed mood and very much the genial host, I was quite taken with the waitresses black outfits, they made me think of the Robert Palmer video Addicted To Love. The background music was a strange mix of 80´s pop songs like Careless Whisper but there was no whispering as the noise level rose as the beer and wine flowed from the free bar. Then the food started to arrive, an intro of carrot soup would hopefully help my aged eyesight, and I had pre ordered the hake in the hope that fish might improve my befuddled brain. It was love at first bite and the service was very impressive with a full hall to cater for.

No sooner had we finished the caramel and chocolate sweet when the stage was taken over by a magic act, maybe the next coach in waiting? I was hoping he could make Las Palmas dissapear but settled for balloons and fire. All our tickets were numbered and a long, prize packed raffle followed, interspersed with more singing and chanting. It was a fabulous night, big thanks and respect to the club for arranging it, and the staff for carrying it out with such efficiency and good humour. It was all far removed from the rock hard rolls and alcohol free beer that are sold at the Heliodoro stadium.