Archive for the 'Exploring' Category
Chasing The Chocolate Nativity

Just suppose Mount Teide erupted chocolate all over Tenerife, what a yummy time we would have, and at least the UK tabloids would have to be a bit more inventive with their headlines. It was just a thought that made the lonely journey through my empty head as I admired the chocolate belen (nativity scene) in San Miguel. There were plenty of other festive treats to pack in on a pre Christmas day out on the Titsa bus.

Water, and energy bars were more likely on the menu of the lycra clad cyclists that tested themselves up the steep incline above Valle San Lorenzo as the 416 Los Cristianos bus took me high above Arona and past the Ceninela mirador against the backdrop of clear blue skies. Getting off at the entrance to San Miguel I could feel a crisp chill as I started to snap the roadside decorations that always brighten up the town. Chocolate was top of my list so I took the turn down past the eye catching blue and white Ayuntamiento (council) building just above the El Ajibe exhibition hall. Quite a star in its own right, the hall is an old water tank converted to show off arts and crafts.

What a feast awaited my eyes, a mix of traditional Christmas items such as angels, with the San Miguel influence of the church that dominates the local skyline, and even a couple of trains. Two members of staff were choo chooing and generally regressing to their youth and I felt much the same way. A lot of work had gone into making the display but if I had been holding a cup of tea I might not have been able to resist a snack attack. The exhibition is free and open from 9am to 2pm on week days, excluding holidays, until 6 January. On the way back up to the main street I took a moment to admire the cascading monument to one of the founding fathers of San Miguel in the Plaza de Agricultor. Each year San Miguel encourages local groups to decorate the streets with eye catching yuletide creations, it all added to my jolly mood.

Of course I couldn´t move on without visiting a few other key places, starting with the Casa de El Capitan, an imposing building from 1814 dedicated to the traditional pottery made in the area. The church plaza also drew me in, partly for the great views of El Medano and the coast below, but mainly for the style and grace of the church itself. Hopping on the next 416 bus I completed my journey to Granadilla, a little higher up. They were going for a more modest intrusion of Christmas but the natural beauty of the quiet streets and another equally grand church were good rewards for my short leg of the trip. It´s good walking country in this part of Tenerife, I have pounded a few paths but there´s still plenty to add to y tick list.

Even without stop offs, the 416 is a very enjoyable journey. Just an hour direct between Los Cristianos and Granadilla, the fares are very cheap using a Ten Mas pre paid card. My broken journey on the way up, and the straight return trip only totalled 4.70 euros. It was a very sweet day and a further incentive to get out and about even more in 2020.

Playa Paraiso Rocks To A Differnt Tune

Pocket size beach cove, Las Galgas, was secluded and sparsely used as I came around the coastal path from Callao Salvaje into Playa Paraiso. The second stage of my Tenerife west coast visit was set on a gift wrapped present of a December day and I had a lot of catching up to do. The twin stacks of the Hard Rock Hotel were new on my last visit three years ago and things were beginning to change in the overlooked and neglected area.

JCB diggers were carving out new channels from the barranco at the rear but those few dipping into the sea were greeted with gentle waves. Below the coastal walk between the two resorts, the isolated outcrops of rock looked inviting but potentially dangerous. Taking the steep walk down and back up the other side of Las Galgas I was soon on the modern pedestrian promenade, wide, clean, and a pleasant place to stroll. Warnings signs at the access points to rock pools are frequently ignored but a little further renovated steps down from the main road led to the small dark sand that backs onto the imported orange sand of the Hard Rock Hotel swimming pool complex.. It had been in a sorry state for years but its now its buzzing with music, cocktails, and a bridge linking it directly to the hotel. It is also open to non hotel paying visitors.

The horizon is now dominated by modern hotels, the huge three stage H10 Atlantic Sunset gleamed in the sun,the loop of land it sits on used to be a bit of a dumping ground and a magnet for auto caravans at fiesta and holiday times. The influence of the new posher neighbours can be felt all through Playa Paraiso, Punta Paraiso is now home to Roja Negra beach bar, and walking up into the main street outside Hard Rock Hotel, most bars and restaurants were either boasting new looks and names, or up for sale and rent.  I´m guessing that rents have increased with the makeover, it´s a shame for the old bars that kept the flag flying when Paraiso was less fashionable but there were noticeably more people sat outside enjoying food and drink. There´s even a rock supermarket, those groceries have a lot to live up to – maybe Prefab Sprout would be appropriate! The rebirth continues, the Roca Mar complex, by the Adrian Hoteles Roca Navaria, is a white elephant that never got any tenants, a team were busy coating it with new aluminium panels ready for an expected influx of new shops.

One of the biggest changes has come at the old abandoned apartment building at the lower entry to Playa Paraiso. It had been part built and left as a rusting, crumbling wreck for decades but is now a gleaming white private apartment block and soon to be home for the Expo Vida project. Originally Expo Vida was promoted as a health theme park to emerge from the wreckage of the old Sky Park in Torviscas, but judging by the lack of progress on the other site, it seems to have a new scaled down home. The building frontage is very striking with dynamic, thrusting statues, I love the humour as in the figure propping up one of the main walls.

As I was in the area, I had to check out the newly opened CC Rosa Center shopping complex part way up the main road out of the resort. This one is a bit of a clone of Parque Santiago 6 and the three layers only have 35 units, many were not yet open. Pretty standard fare, Hiperdino, Burger King, a couple of coffee shops, Springfield, and a large Stradivarius transported from the centre of Los Cristianos. The large top floor terrace will be a nice place to enjoy food, drink, and views, once the other units open, and the flowers and plants will look better once they have grown out of their perfect just planted shapes. In general it´s a bit bland, too many straight lines, and the outside gates reminded me of the old football ground turnstiles. Music was a big theme of my day, it was flowing out from Hard Rock Hotel and H10 and there was muzak hanging in the air at Rosa. when I used the toilets I had Aretha Franklin for company, a bit off putting. Don´t let this cynical old git put you off, go and check these places out for yourself, it´s good to explore.

 

Fall Back On Nature At Callao Salvaje Beach

Like the ebb and flow of the sparkling sea, Playa Ajabo at Callao Salvaje on the west coast of Tenerife, is used to change. For many years a sandy makeover of the rough pebble beach was promised and was delivered in July 2013. My first visit for three years coincided with the removal of the damaged sunbeds, but there was still a good spread of people enjoying the gorgeous December sun, and dipping in the refreshing waters.

My hour journey from Los Cristianos on the 473 Titsa bus put me in a chipper mood, the council workrs of several municipalities were busy planting festive poinsettias and adding Christmas decorations along the route. Hopping off early at the top of the main road into Callao Salvaje, gave me the chance to savour the clear views of the sea with the island of La Gomera clear in the distance. It also allowed me to check out the distinctive community  church in the Plaza da la Mujer Trabajadora (the working woman). Home to catholic and Russian orthodox services, it´s still an infant at barely 10 years old. The shelf overlooking the sea at the bottom of the road is always a great spot to savour the sea view.

 

After hearing tales of turbulent times at the beach, my first view showed a more basic layout than my last call. When it opened after the big makeover, the sun shades had call buzzers that summoned waiters from the café restaurant up above. Sadly it was closed a couple of years ago and a gradual decline has followed below. The arm of the quay never did take on small boats and fishing as it was intended but was proving popular as a launch point for swimmers  and a sun bathing spot. With the loss of the food and drink outlet, the sunbeds were also abandoned until recently unscrupulous chancers were trying to illegally charge sun bathers for using the abandoned rests. The beds were then chained to the shades and most were broken and unusable, but a crew of staff and a pick up truck was loading them to take away.

The sea can be wild at Playa Ajabo, the high sided rocky surrounds are held in check by metal mesh and a barranco (ravine) gulley channels rain down either side of the beach. It´s all part of the rugged charm of this area, getting the balance right is a challenge but one that has been managed pretty well. I like the way the makeover left a large protruding rock cluster on the middle of the beach, like a defiant gesture from nature. The coastal path has been improved and makes a bracing walk to link up with Playa Paraiso. The rock formations and swirls of the incoming tides sooth the mind and the modern concrete bridge over the small barranco removes the scrabble down and up to the other side. There was clearly a sense of local pride, an ashtray tree waved a flag for conservation and protection. The dwindling cap of snow on Mount Teide added another attraction to enjoying the day.

Even if the restaurant doesn´t get a re-birth in the near future, the beach will still attract plenty of people. The walkways down to the sand from each side make access easier and there were a few takers for the rock steps further round beyond the outstretched quay. It was time for me to push on and see what was happening just up the coast at Playa Paraiso, more of that soon.

La Laguna And Santa Cruz Looking Hot In November

Brolly shaped Christmas lights, and roast chestnut stalls bore witness to the fast fading year, but a whopping 31 degrees of bright sun greeted me as I arrived in La Laguna. Normally it’s a good few degrees below the Tenerife capital of Santa Cruz, where I had swapped my Titsa public service bus from Los Cristianos for the smooth glide of the tram.

After a few months of neglecting my travels, it was good to see the UNESCO Heritage Site city bustling with people. The Palacio Nava looked resplendent with its balconies, balustrades, and columned tower. The Plaza del Adelantado opposite was a leafy oasis, scrubbed clean in recent years and a popular meeting place. A wide circular walk around the city centre brought me into the Plaza de la Concepcion and the church tower with its distinctive bell chimes. All life was converging in the pedestrianised streets below, a few unusual vehicles lurked on the edges, as their owners took coffee and snacks in the thriving cafes and bars.

 

 

 

Ending up back at the La Trinidad tram terminus, I was lured down track by the wonderful murals painted on the buildings, and was lucky enough to catch one being created. He was quiet happy to be kept in shot, a Policia Local copper walked past us and just smiled. La Laguna was the temporary home of famous painter Oscar Dominguez , and the University has a large fine arts faculty. I followed the road down to the roundabout, where Padre Anchieta’s statue stands vigil on a grassy island. Planes were coming in low from the coast for Tenerife North (Los Rodeos) airport. It´s quite a traffic hub there, The modern Titsa bus station stands opposite, and down below, the tram line stop is handy for the University.

My only real interaction with the University campus came around 10 years ago when seeing Echo & The Bunnymen playing part way down a free line up for an outside concert. It was time to update my education, so I wandered through the grounds of the modern part of the campus, an inspiring mix of ancient and modern. The large attached garden boasted a statue of a very learned looking founding father. The tram is a wonderful, cheap way to link Santa Cruz with La Laguna in just over 30 minutes, and the views as your carriages snake their way upwards, or now on my return, downwards, adds to the journey.

The harp like herald of the tram announcements signalled my return to the Santa Cruz terminus, just outside the bus station, and opposite the Auditorium. The hook nose always beckons me across, a walk around the perimeter concourse is always a 360 degree education for the view out to sea, the port, and inward to the capital city as it rises into the mountains. The cafe bar open to the ocean side has made it a popular stop off for many visitors, and the ticket office has now expanded into selling merchandise featuring the distinctive hook nosed building.

One of my main calls in Santa Cruz was to see the completed look of the long delayed opening up of the port approach into Plaza de España. This final stage has taken 16 months, 3.5 million euros, and covers 18,400 square metres from the Cabildo HQ on the south side, to the ferry port, basically the area that the coast road now runs under. There is a cycle lane, exercise area, large circular pergolas, benches, and flower beds. It looks loads better for the thousands of cruise ship visitors that arrive weekly, and is a restful place to contemplate Tenerife´s relationship with the ocean and the lands beyond. There was a nice scattering of admirers taking the late afternoon air, stretching their muscles, and even a few young couples having a romantic canoodle.

A few more calls had slipped from my list, but there would be other opportunities, and there´s always something new to see. It was good to be wandering again, I could feel my old bounce coming back. Hopefully my final stop, CD Tenerife v SD Huesca, wouldn´t puncture the mood.

Las Galletas Ready To Reel In More Visitors

Glowing with pride rather than jumping for joy. That would be the under stated reaction from Tenerife fishing village Las Galletas if Arona council plans for a new beach and promenade take shape. Although just a 25 minute hop from Los Cristianos, change has been gradual and respectful of tradition.


The shingle and dark sand crescent beach was almost deserted for my dull day visit, but I have enjoyed many swims in the gently shelving, calm of the sea framed by small boats. There is plenty of rough ground just across the main road to allow for a widened promenade with imported sand to make the beach more comfortable. At the moment showering is a free show for the cars and buses passing through, and a kiosk bar, plus a toilet and changing block are the only amenities. A few years ago large stones were cleared off the sand but soon back individually by bathers to anchor their towels.

The biggest change of recent years has been the building of the attractive Marina del Sur, that embraces the sea in front of the beach and has added pontoons for pleasure boats, restaurants for strollers, and a high wall for views out to the ocean. Fishermen still sell their morning catch from old wooden stalls just along from a rusty iron canon. A new modern sales room was spurned by fishermen who prefer to be on the front line where it is much truer to the character of the area. Modern trends in sea based sports and excursions are well catered for along the Marina, old King Neptune looks down on the ancient and modern mix approvingly.


The Paseo Litoral is the popular walk between a stretch of restaurants and the banked stones that slope into the sea, the waves are much livelier this side and attract surfers rather that swimmers.The crunch of the shingle as it is dragged in and out is a pleasant backing track to the popular sun trap walk. Behind the restaurants is La Rambla, a shady mix of gardens and sculptures, look out for a series of large artistic shells designed by Maria Isabel Reyes Gonzalez. Modern intruders come in the shape of aeroplanes heading for Reina Sofia airport, they are low enough to get to know the crew, but soon become just a curiosity rather than an intrusion. The old part of town is made up of tight back streets and a pedestrianised central shopping area, many of the shops there close for an afternoon siesta but you can always find a coffee or snack stop. Frequent fiestas and promotions turn the centre into a cultural mix for all ages.

Arona is rightly proud of its older, more traditional areas, and that is reflected in the mural just before taking the short passage back out to the sea front. It may take a few years for a new beach and promenade to arrive, Las Galletas is used to moving at a sedate pace and is always a welcome place to relax and take it easy.

Enjoying The High Life In La Gomera

If Christopher Colombus could discover America after a stop off at the island of La Gomera, I felt I should at least do a little local exploring in the island’s capital city of San Sebastian. With the 28 crews of the Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge heading for Antigua, something at least a little energetic was called for before taking the ferry back to Tenerife.

The Mirador de la Hila had already offered me rewarding views of the marina but after taking the steep stone steps up from behind the main plaza I was determined to press on up the corkscrew road. The views kept getting better, not just seawards but also inland to the folds of the hills. A tight corner brought me to the edge of an old parador, followed by an old water mill undergoing a facelift. I was on the cliff top road and the sign Camino del Faro showed me that I was on target to see the lighthouse I craned my neck to see on the ferry over.

There was a nice mix of old houses and new developments, tastefully kept to just two storeys and without any garish colour schemes. A couple of little shops and bars were shutting for an afternoon siesta, and the sun and gentle breeze wafted me along in a contented mood. The pink and white lighthouse stood proud but once I got closer I could see an older, squatter guardian nearer the cliff edge. The smaller version was built in 1903 and originally used combustable gas before being replaced at a later date by the more familiar style of lighthouse. It was very like the dual set up at Malpais de Rasca in the south of Tenerife. A tight, winding path carried on past the delightful buildings, and a craggy coastline threw sea spray up far below.

I slowly retraced my steps and noticed a small, leafy plaza, a few steps up from the road, two local old chaps were playing dominoes and enjoying a couple of cold beers. Back down at street level I had a wander down the main street from the plaza, looking up I could see a white cross on another hill, something to check out on my next visit. There were two churches on the quiet road, the large church of Assumption, and the tiny Ermita of Guadalupe.

La Gomera is very proud of its association with Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon) there was a small bust of the great explorer near the sea end of the street, best described as “different”. It looks like I feel some weekend mornings and was unveiled in 2006 by King Juan Carlos and Queen Sofia of Spain. A much more noble tribute is the new full size statue near the plaza, unveiled in summer 2018. For such a small island, La Gomera packs in plenty of history. Through the archway cave on the far side of the ferry port, the Playa de la Cueva looked sedate and inviting, the view of Tenerife and Mount Teide differs from day to day depending on the weather. The old restaurant on this side has been closed and neglected for years, so it was a good sign to see workman repairing the surrounding courtyard. It meant that access to the rocky outcrop was closed, there is a metal bowl at its peak, it was lit up with a beacon from the Olympic torch for the 1968 Tokyo games, and the 50th anniversary was celebrated recently.

The rest of La Gomera is equally pleasing, I must revisit other points on the island, I checked out the bus station and Vallehermoso in the north is just a 75 minute ride away, and there are plenty of good walks to check out. My last trip around the island was shadowing a British Cycling team, those hill roads are real thrillers. San Sebastian in now firmly on the rowing map, another Atlantic Challenge takes place next year. The 45 minute crossing back to Tenerife was smooth and the ferry was quite full, La Gomera has won plenty more new admirers.

Titsa Changes Buses From Bono To Tenmas

Was this a bus journey or a guilt trip? I felt so disloyal and a little bit dirty as I clutched my new Tenmas multi ride bus ticket for use on those jolly green Titsa buses around Tenerife. Friends all leave you in the end, how fondly I remember sterling, pesatas, and those Zoom ice lollies with their three fruity flavours. But hey, I´m a modern man and not just ready to embrace change, I will even take it for a slap up dinner and declare my undying devotion if it does it´s intended job.

For those unfamiliar with the public bus (or Gua Gua) and tram network in Tenerife, they have for years had a floppy multi ride card called a Bono that gives the holder around 30% discount on journeys. It was like a Willy Wonka golden ticket for me on my journeys around the island, so I was a little apprehensive when I heard of the new fangled Tenmas, contact less travel card. Initial thoughts of chaining myself to the railings of the Titsa head office soon subsided and this morning I purchased my reusuable plastic Tenmas card for 2 euros at a kiosk near the Los Cristianos bus station and got the seller to put a 10 euro top up on it. These credits can be added at 447 outlets around the island in multiples of 5 euros up to 100 euros.

It´s also possible to get your photo added to your card, nudging the one off price to 5 euros, I felt it unfair to inflict my mush on the public so got a plain card. My 10 euro top up came with a 50 cents charge, I´m not sure if that is standard or fluctuates depending on how much you load up. The big push for the launch of the new cards was to get people to register at the on line site before the cut off date, 40,000 people quickly joined and this meant a free card was sent out to their homes. Now that period has passed, there is still a push to get people to register their card bought at one of the outlets around the island. Then special discounts and offers will be whizzing to you through cyber space, and you can top up online, and check your balance.

One of the down points of the card is that unlike the Bono, your transactions are not printed on your card by the drivers machine. Tenmas has to be swiped when getting on, and validated again when getting off, and if you only use it rarely, you may well not remember how much credit you have left. As you validate your card when getting off, the reader does show your balance (saldo) so you could scribble it down, creating a marriage of convenience between old tech pen and paper and your new plastic friend. Like the nearly departed Bono (still useable until August 2018) you can still use your last bit of credit and pay the driver the difference at the discount rate. As I understand it, if you don´t validate your card on the way off, you will get automatically charged to the lines final destination, presumably after a time limit or at the end of the day. Drivers are still real human beings with their cheery smiles and snazzy green and grey uniform, so they will be able to nurse us through teething problems. While we are on the subject, Titsa have just celebrated 40 years and committed to spending 17 million euros on 74 new buses for Tenerife. This could be the biggest revolution since they changed from their original red buses, I can feel a new era of random bus journeys calling out to me. My new plastic card is going to clock up some serious kms. Pop by again soon and I will be explaining how to split the atom.

Getting Down In Isla Baja With Titsa And Teno

Just add a knotted hankie and I would have looked like a stereotype Brit abroad. I didn´t care though, I was so happy to finally get to Punta de Teno on the north west corner of Tenerife that I had to feel the sea gently lapping at my pigeon legs exposed by rolled up jeans. Adveristy had dealt me a kind blow, the old cliff road had crumbled away last year and the replacement needed protecting from too much traffic. The Titsa bus company introduced a new shuttle from Buenavista del Norte and that was just the encouragement I needed for a big day of adventure.


An early Saturday morning start got me to Icod on the 460 bus from Playa de Las Americas, just after 9.30 am, I had a few alternatives in mind in case the weather kept up its frisky mood of recent days but the emerging sun was kissing the corkscrew roads beyond Santiago del Teide. With time in hand I had a wander around Icod, their Pirate Carnaval was on and a big wedge of home made chocolate and almond cake from a street stall further lifted my mood.


The next leg was a 30 minute hop to Buenavista del Norte via Garachico,I filled my 30 minute wait there with a catch up around the main church plaza and a coffee at the lovely bus station bar, La Gran Parada. There´s something about bus stations in the Isla Baja region that atracts great mural artists, this bus station also had a pleasing offering. So the deal with the new Titsa 369 shuttle is it only runs on weekends and holidays, hourly from 10 am to 5 pm as that is when the access road to Teno is closed to pretty much all other motorised traffic. The fare is one euro each way (cash only) and includes a leaflet with basic info about Teno as well as a guided commentary on the 30 minute journey, those extras come in a range of languages.


What a fabulous journey it was as the road rose to reveal the coastline far below. A manned check point before the steepest climb added a few more passengers who had parked their cars or realised they couldn´t continue walking up the road, especially as it goes through a large tunnel hewn into the cliff. The steel mesh pinned to the towering cliff above us should prevent further rock falls and is a reminder of the mischief that nature can work. Arriving at our destination the views out to Masca and on to Los Gigantes were superb and the relative lack of people due to the restrictions was a big bonus. With nesting Ospreys, giant lizards, and a wealth of rare plants, the new protective plan is very important, a Guardia Civil van underlined this point.


I was surprised to see a mini fishing port, and it was on their launch slope that I twiddled my toes. There are a few modern additions like concrete driveways that serve the Teno lighthouse, and a couple of portaloos but there´s nothing on sale anywhere so if you bring water or a snack, make sure you take your rubbish home. There are a couple of enhanced low ledges to dangle a rod from but swimming is not a good idea as the currents in the area are notorious. A gate on the driveway prevents access to the lighthouse up on the rocks beside the entrance there is a clear view. Lighthouse spotters are known as farologists and apparently getting to see one is known as bagging it.


There are plenty of paths to explore and nice viewpoints along the coast, it was a pleasure to be at this amazing area, the small number of visitors made it feel very serene and untouched. After an hour the bus returned with another sparse cargo of people so I hopped on to begin retracing my route back to Los Cristianos. Low clouds were rolling in now but I still managed a brief stop off at an eerily deserted Los SilosThere was time of course for a few beers in Icod and the bus station bar had the Mallorca v CD Tenerife game on, the 1-4 away win completed a perfect day.

High Praise For Santiago Del Teide

I wasn’t putting off my big walk down the Camino Real, just delaying the pleasure with a catch up around the small but delightful county town of Santiago Del Teide. I’ve arrived there before on the Titsa 460 bus from the south into near freezing conditions before the almond blossom walk but this time the digital readout above the chemist was shouting 35 degrees. A stroll through the back streets reassured me that civic pride was as strong as ever, the shrine to the local firemen outside the bomberos station had been spruced up since I last saw it a little overgrown.

But enough of skulking in cooler back streets, I was well overdue a trip up the Fuente de La Virgen de Lourdes, a short, steep trail through an ornate white archway and marked out with large white crosses. Pride of place at the top goes to a statue of Our Lady Of Lourdes, placed in a small cave next to an old spring in 1990. The walk up doesn’t take long but offers increasingly wonderful views over the small town. What a great way to spot the main influences in the history of Santiago del Teide, the pine forests, the lava fields, and even the new ring road bursting through the mountainside  tunnel.

The shrine at the top of the trail does attract visitors, floral tributes and candles surround the statue on the tiled floor, and wooden stools invite the weary climber to sit and contemplate. Outside there is an altar and a bell and it’s clear to see that the surrounding bushes and shrubs are kept in check by regular pruning. Clambering back down to the entrance bridge I felt ready for the days adventures ahead. You can read about my big Camino Real walk in Island Connections, out on Wednesday 3 August.

 

He Aint Heavy He’s Our Brother Pedro

Vilaflor couldn’t be prouder of Hermano Pedro, the great man was always their favourite son even before he became the Canary Island’s first Saint in a 2002 ceremony in Guatamala. It’s no wonder he is everywhere in the charming Tenerife village on the road to Mount Teide.

With a good long walk in the hills around Vilaflor completed I was able to take my time and have a good stroll through one of my favourite areas. It’s not just Brother Pedro who feels the love, the main street shows how much the place is cared for. Dazzling displays of blooms burst forth from well tended flower beds, a detailed map signposts the cafes, restaurants, and main shops, and the place is spotlessly clean. Half way up the street in a mini plaza is a sculpted display of hearts, they’re a romantic lot. Each time I have visited I have always been struck by how quiet it is, most locals probably have to travel to find work. It was nice to see that the local council provide weekday summer buses down to Los Cristianos beach up to a maximum of 60 euros for 6 weeks. That works out even cheaper than my Titsa public bus trip of just 2.10 each way with a bono saver ticket.

Our friend Pedro adorns most houses in Vilaflor on ceramic tiles but his main stage is the large plaza further up the hill, the focus for visiting tourists. Two large churches dominate the area, the oldest was built onto the house where Pedro was born, an original section of the house has a further statue in the garden and our saintly friend is even featured in the design of the railings. In front of the more modern white church a multi layered garden with flowing water makes an impressive centre piece. The Tourist Information office is in the plaza and can provide routes for several splendid local walks.

Heading out at the top end of the village is worth it not just for the elevated views but also to see Los Lavaderos, the old communal clothes washing area. Spring water used to pour forth here and with the help of an old pump the water would pass over large slabs where clothes could be scrubbed and left to dry. It’s an important part of local history with the bottled water depot next door also harking back to the reason people settled in Vilaflor – and who said that history could be a little dry.