Archive for the 'Exploring' Category
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.

 

 

 

Rock Of Ages And Monster Fun In Garachico

Maybe the marina wasn’t floating as many boats as predicted but four years on from its opening it was a welcoming sight as the Buenavista bus brought me into Garachico. Icod de Los Vinos was still emerging from early morning low cloud but the coast was bathed in sunshine. Some 200 berths were supposed to kick start the local economy with pleasure craft and excursion boats, Garachico is resilient and has always come through in the past, this might take a little longer.

The big volcanic eruption of 1706 destroyed the old port, walking along the coast road I could see the marks of a constant battle with lashing waves but thankfully it was a calm and beautiful day. The volcanic spit of rock just off the coast was speckled with seagulls, it’s one of those sights that always offers different aspects with the seasons, weather, and even time of day. Two coach loads of school age tourists poured out at the football ground car park, the sturdy concrete buttresses at the front of the ground bear the smears and scratches of previous wild tides. That doesn’t mean the town shies away from the sea, a few yards from the salty spray there were plenty of takers in the smart man made pools that lead to the craggy and hugely enjoyable natural channels of El Caleton.

It had been a while since my last visit and the white canvas shades at one end of the rock pools were new to me. They added a nice modern touch but the walkways through the rocks below Castillo de San Miguel surrounded by thick white edges made me think of a police crime scene – maybe I watch too much CSI. Further round the old port loading area harks back to busier trade routes, a small seating area was populated by some senior citizen locals contemplating the world. I could aspire to that job, a hefty cigar seems to be a key part of the uniform, I’m sure I could chew on a sweet or chocolate version.

It was time to retire down one of the narrow passages opposite to emerge in the large open Plaza de la Libertad. It seemed my arrival was just in time as a giant lizard slithered up the steps of Nuestra Senora de Los Angeles church. Phew, on closer inspection it was part of a series of amazing wood sculptures from Luigi Stinga, I was hoping to catch one before they perish in pre planned flames. It struck me as very appropriate, last year Peter Capaldi had stood on just about the same spot when filming a Doctor Who episode. Across the plaza the tall white tower of Santa Ana church dominated the skyline and the striking of the hour was light and melodic.

Garachico is still pulling in the tourists, I saw several large walking tour parties, and even with the afternoon barely an hour old the fish restaurants were a popular stop off. Duty called so I made the 10 minute bus journey back up to Icod and Santa Barbara, you can read about that leg of my tour in Island Connections as from 22 June. Traveling up through the cheese grater road tunnel with its circular ports reminded me that I must try walking down into Garachico from El Tanque – maybe next visit.

Feeling At Home In El Puertito

Here’s a confession, I’ve never been to El Puertito before, I’ve been in the sea from a boat in the cove of this Adeje beauty spot but not ashore. It was high time to put that right so I caught the Titsa bus to La Caleta to walk along the coast.

The track at the western end of the fish restaurants is clear, fairly steep, and with shifting sand that can be a bit tricky but the view back to Fañabe and Torviscas is a fitting reward. The land beyond is a protected natural space with several paths ready to tempt you astray, basically keep the cliff tops close and press on. Advance information will make you expect hordes of hippies and nudists, well there are a few of both but they value their solitude and have got more sense than to exert themselves on such a baking hot afternoon as the one I chose.

There are a lot of people living in and around the two main coves, the first with rock slabs and dark shingle, and the next a glorious sandy beach. The term living doesn’t do justice to the elaborate and carefully weaved dwellings that blend in with nature. Another misconception is that these wild spirits live in an untidy splurge of leftovers. I’ve seen lots of domestic and industrial rubbish strewn on many of the bigger walking trails and I saw very little here. There are home made signs reminding of the protected status and asking visitors not to use the route as a tip.

 

I did spot a few collecting tins along the path, at a discreet distance from the homes and several had amusing ornaments nearby. The two bays are reached by craggy dips down and up but there are plenty of well used paths to choose from. Quite a few other people were taking the coastal stroll in both directions, it was a rather wonderful April afternoon and I was still just on the supporting act. It took me an hour before I rounded the crumbling plantation walls to see El Puertito spread out below with a selection of pleasure boats bobbing in the water. It’s like an identikit for everything you need to make a top tucked away treat, a small strip of sandy beach, a little corner of shingle, a ramp into the sea for fishing boats, and a dainty church nestling just inland.

Taking the sturdy, stone steps down into the small settlement the bar restaurant had a busy terrace and the tiny parking area behind was being tested with some creative shuffling to try and squeeze another eager visitor in. It wasn’t as packed as I expected for a Saturday but I’m told that Sundays and holidays are when it’s mobbed. The crystal clear water of the bay attracts pleasure boats for the ideal snorkel and scuba conditions, it was nice to see beach notices alerting visitors to the conservation needs of the large, placid, green turtles that are so plentiful.

After a suitable rest and wallow in the surroundings I took the single road up the other side of the bay, I was going to follow the coast to nearby Playa Paraiso but curious to see how far it was to the Armeñime roundabout. The leads straight up past the Bahia Principe Hotel and with a rare bit of geographical success I found the Centro Socio Cultural Asturiano. The metalwork Tower of Pizza and Eiffel Tower had always fascinated me, close up it looked even better, inside a few of the Asturias exiles were at the bar so I had a look around, football flags of Sporting Gijon, and Real Oviedo adorned the walls, and a statue of the Virgen was surrounded by a arch of suspended green wine bottles. Apparently the social club has over 1,000 members.

Yomping on up the hill in the heat it took me another 20 minutes to pass the Camel Park and reach the main road. Los Cristianos was a short bus ride home, Adeje had just added some more new favourites to my collection and El Puertito is definitely worth making a detour by car, or better still take the long route and work up a thirst.

 

A Warm Glow Of History In Cold Cold Oxford

Dip a wimp in years of Tenerife sunshine and you can bee sure he will be shivering, whinging, and spluttering when popping back for a few days of an English winter. It was good to be back in Oxford, the flooding from the prolonged rain wasn’t as bad as I had expected but the mercury was plunging.

In between seeing family and friends I managed a little tourist time, between the city centre and the University parks I headed for two museums that hadn’t seen my prying eyes since I was dragged there on an infant school trip. The Museum of Natural History is in a grand looking building and inside it links into the Pitt Rivers Museum, both are free, relying on donations from visitors. The heavy wooden door of the main building opened inward to reveal a vaulted glass roofed, two galleried treasure trove of nature. Hipocrates gazed down on a stuffed American Black Bear that had a sign saying Please Touch. There was a lot of hands on exhibits but some like the two dinosaur skeletons that dominate the man aisle are a bit more protected. I remember being in awe of these creatures and the whale bones hanging from the ceiling, memories of forced duty and learning was instantly dispelled by the bright, friendly lay out of the place. A couple of large school parties were eagerly exploring the walkways and scribbling notes in their school books. There were a lot of interactive displays too with video and spoken insights. Hipocrates was just one of an army of famous thinkers and scientists whose statues ringed the museum, Charles Darwin is particularly prominent, the Dodo is the logo of the museum.

One of the staff told me the museum had only re-opened two years ago after “going dark” for 18 months. In those closed months some of the bigger exhibits went on tour while the building was spruced up. I could see a big effort had been made to make displays relevant for young enquiring minds, a display on bone and animal tissue dating was linked to a CSI theme, and a large collection of insects had a DVD case and drawings based on the Disney film “A Bugs Life”. The smaller thoughtful touches were everywhere, pillars around the edge of the upstairs gallery were made from granite and sandstone from all around the UK coast. I stopped off in the upstairs café for a coffee and chunk of chocolate cake, very homely and welcoming.

Going back downstairs I headed through the old stone archway into Pitt Rivers Museum, named after the founder Augustus Henry Lane Fox Pitt-Rivers, you wouldn’t want to call him in for tea! This was much more old school, dark, compact with galleries on three floors, all crammed with display cases of masks, musical instruments, maps, mummies, and weapons. The huge totem pole at the far end was an abiding memory of my youthful visits. The cramped layout was retained even after a recent facelift and it suited the slightly eerie feel, small children huddled between the exhibits sketching and their chatter was reduced to guarded whispers. Some of the displays were quite bloodthirsty and a large section of knives, spears, and crudely made weapons added to the Scooby Doo mood – I expected to see the curator slipping into a ghostly mummy outfit or a startling voodoo mask.

Modern thinking is the way forward for museums, Pitt Rivers do night time tours, some by torch light, how cool is that? Both museums have free Wi Fi and are very active on the joint website as well as their Twitter and Facebook feeds. There were a lot of younger, very enthusiastic staff on hand to answer questions – I think several of them were probably studying related science subjects at local colleges. I spent a couple of fascinating hours avoiding the chilly blasts of winter outside and will add more museums and galleries on future home visits, well it may make up for all the school time I frittered away. With my thirst for knowledge quenched it was time to seek out a pub and attend to my more basic desires – well all this exploring is thirsty work.

Polar Bears And Building Blocks In Santa Cruz

Let’s get one thing clear, I didn’t lose my beach camara during the festive celebrations, I sort of mislaid it, maybe it fell off the back of my beer scooter. Thankfully the sale season quickly followed so I headed for the Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz, to buy a new box brownie or something similar. Of course there are always other things going on to supplement my visits, this time a couple of exhibitions caught my attention.

Caja Canarias Fundacion is a charitable offshoot of the huge bank and the Espacio Cultural at their HQ in Plaza del Patriotismo has staged some wonderful exhibitions. Fernando Menis is a name familiar to me as I have seen many examples of this locally born architects work so I was glad to learn more about him. The free exhibition featured a full lowdown on his prolific output, original blueprints, and models of some of his most famous works. Plaza de España in Adeje town is a fine example as it compliments the splendour of the Barranco del Invierno below and makes a fabulous stage for concerts and the climax to Good Friday’s street theatre version of The Passion.

Magma Arts and Congress Centre next to Costa Adeje bus station is another famous example but I was surprised to see he had designed the Vigilia Park apartment complex in Puerto Santiago. I used to live around the corner and often used the rooftop pool, it looks a little tired these days but it was built in 1989. The big open air athletics track at Tincer outside Santa Cruz is another of Fernando’s as well as the bizarre converted water tank, El Tanque, now a cultural space in the centre of the capital. On an international stage Fernando and is company have delivered Spreebruke Pool which hangs out over the river Spree in Berlin, the Jordanki Cultural Centre in Torun, Poland, and the Hotel Resort Mystik in Switzerland, to name drop just a few. Take a bow that man, may your pencil never be blunt. You only have until 16 Januaary to check his work out.

Back in the main shopping street of Calle Castillo the sales crowds were ringing tills at a frantic rate. Many of the Christmas decorations were still up, maybe to encourage a feel good spending mood, but the nativity scenes were being dismantled, I saw a workman marching down the road with Bethlehem under his arm. It was good to see Santa Cruz bustling, several big cruise liners in port helped to swell the crowds. I stopped off for a coffee and doughnut at a snack bar and noticed they served milkshakes topped up with powdered body building supplement, I would have tried one but was worried I wouldn’t have the strength to lift the glass. Some of my usual stops had to be attended to, a walk around Parque Garcia Sanabria always inspires me, the flowers are always a picture and it’s always well looked after.

Time for another free exhibition, this one a two trailer homage to the Arctic Circle called El Artico Se Rompe (the Arctic is broken) parked up near the ferry port. It was good stuff, loads of sections about the history and future of the North Pole, the animals and people that live there, and the problems that have to be overcome. Lots of the displays are interactive and most are in a choice of languages including English. This rolling show is in town until 20 January and worth catching before it melts away.

A few more regular calls and a spot of food made for a busy day and as always sowed a few seeds in my mind for future visits. To top it all off I got a good deal for the new camera at El Corte Ingles and caught a direct 110 Titsa bus back that glided down the motorway for a speedy return home.

 

Looking Up And Down, To The Past, And To The Future In Santa Cruz

Sometimes you have to act on impulse, I had a plan for my latest visit to Santa Cruz but stepping out of the bus station the sheer sunny beauty of the day yanked at my arm to do something different. I’ve always intended to go up to the Mirador de Ifara to get some panoramic views of the Tenerife capital, and when better.

Subtle improvements were taking place at the Intercambiador, new bays were being created on the top floor and as I waited for the 912 Los Campitos bus opposite the tram terminus I noticed the indoor café had now spread beyond the glass with a few scattered tables complete with waiter service. My 20 minute frequency ride was a freebie on my bono ticket as I had recently got off another of their buses. After threading through the back streets the route rose steeply and a 30 minute ride overshot to the old, rural destination. I was looking for a formal mirador with a viewing platform but it’s much more casual than that. The driver dropped me on the main road back down and I found my own gaps in walls and fencing to admire the living map below me. There’s a lot of posh new housing in this area, the views and closeness to the big city must make it very expensive.

Taking the short walk down the winding road I was soon at Parque Garcia Sanabria, it had looked like a hemmed in square from up above but up close it charmed me as always with its mix of trees, flowers, and modern sculpture. Nearby was another long forgotten friend I needed to look up, Plaza de Los Patos has more ceramic tiles than your average DIY store, these are the type pieced together on walls for advertising but here they adorn 20 concrete benches and the central pond. It’s a pity the duck in the centre of the pond no longer squirts water and it’s hardly a puddle deep but the ornate frogs sit proud on the circular wall. I half expected a burst of Rupert and the Frog Chorus.

 

The port area always figures on my jaunts, there were no cruise ships in this time but a few heavy laden tankers lurked at the far end of the old loading area. Santa Cruz is still undergoing a big facelift, the Via Litoral coast road has been diverted through an underground tunnel and the bright modern design on the side wall caught my eye. Maybe it was a secret code or a mathematical formula, either way it cheers up what could be just dull concrete slabs. The marina was also getting a makeover, it’s startling how much difference some new tarmac paths and young palm trees can add a fresh feel.

The main purpose of my day out was to review the new touring exhibition from the Prado Museum in Madrid. More of that at a later date. The venue is the Caja Canarias bank HQ, they have held a series of high profile art shows, this one is free and on until 16 January 2016. While I was checking out the paintings I could hear music wafting through from their small theatre next door, it was an Afro Cuban Jazz Quartet, never let it be said that Tenerife lacks variety.

It was the opening day of the Exposaldo bargain sale at the Recinto Ferial hall so I had to pop in and see if anything tickled my wallet. With 180 stands the good people of Santa Cruz were keen to get in and entry was just one euro but what a crazy system. Visitors had to queue at the box office to pay their nugget and get a ticket before moving a few yards around the building to the entrance to have it checked on the way in. The queues at the box office were stretching back, I reckon quite a few people gave up. Once inside it was very busy laid out in blocks of rows with a large side section selling former hire cars. Goods included books, clothes, sports gear, toys, and even a sex boutique. The busiest of all seemed to be the Conforama home furnishings and electrical, the café area was doing a steady trade as well. If you read this in time the Exposaldo’s last day is Sunday 8 November and they are open 11 am to 9 pm.

That was about it for me, as always I still had more on my tick list but that’s just another excuse for a return visit. Even on my bus back to the south there were plenty of the distinctive orange and black bags from the Exposaldo. After a busy day I was looking forward to checking out the stock at The Victory and Zizzi’s Bar in Los Cristianos.

 

Snaps Shops Ships And Sales In Santa Cruz

How do you like your art Mr Kirby? As strange as possible please. Well the first part of my Santa Cruz and La Laguna trip delivered on that request. It was nice to walk into the super cooled lobby of the Hotel Atlantida as the digital read outs of Santa Cruz were panting at 35 degrees from the calima that continued to hang over Tenerife. The photo exhibition was simply called 801 but after going up and down in the glass lift overlooking Avenida Tres de Mayo it took another trip to reception before the artistic penny dropped.

I’ve seen galleries, street art, and strange figures banging gongs in the nearby El Tanque converted petrol tank but never an exhibition in a hotel room. I knocked on the door of room 801 and was welcomed in by top photographer Alfonso Bravo and his attractive female assistant. We had met before a few years ago when I was invited to shadow the Peroni calendar shoot 2 years running, Alfonso was the director, snapper, and creative genius. This current batch of life size studies of people was laid out around the room, I counted five but was then told there were two more in the bathroom. At one stage I saw a plate of food and a bottle of beer and wondered if it was for visitors, I realized just in time it was his dinner. The photos were excellent and the setting very different, and as a bonus I got some nice panoramic shots of Santa Cruz by hanging out of an 8th floor window.

I usually have a few targets on my trips, this Sunday visit coincided with the latest Sal 2 shopping promotion day in the capital. The streets were noticeably busier, the Africa indoor Market by the TEA art gallery was surrounded by the sprawling weekly Sunday market with its bizarre mix of antiques, trash, and bargains. It was strange to see the sculpture of the fishermen swamped by a rising tide of old typewriters, books, and ancient radios. I’m sure if the offer was right they would have sold the sculpture as well, getting it home on the bus might have been a tad difficult. Pushing on into the heart of the city everyone was laden with shopping bags, trade was good. There were 45 mini marquees around the streets selling old stock from shops, and many premises that normally close on a Sunday had flung their doors open to tempt a few in. Music, face painting, and bouncy castles helped to fuel the spending boom.

One of the hotspots was Plaza del Principe with loads of food and drink stalls around the park bandstand, outside I was pleased to see the official CD Tenerife stall doing a roaring trade in smaller shirts of recent seasons. The cash till bonanza was also benefiting from the arrival of two cruise liners in port, I’m not too sure how impressed the high rollers on the Celebrity Eclipse were to be moored so close to a rusty oil exploration ship. It didn’t seem to deter anyone from spending, there was a steady stream of shop carrier bags returning to the big ships.

The big item on my agenda was the Circo On Ice in La Laguna so with an eye on the clock I caught the tram, always a pleasure. Here’s a couple of photos to give you a taster of the circus, I really enjoyed the show, it took me back to some of the smaller rinks I visited when following Oxford City Stars ice hockey team. The circus is in town until 2 November, look out for my revue at blog.tenerife.co.uk . I asked them about becoming a clown but they said I was over qualified. Two hours later I was heading back down south on the Titsa bus to Los Cristianos with a thirst like a coal miner. Yep, that was a good day that was.

Publicity Falls On Its Arts In La Laguna

Looking forward to an art exhibition and then finding it closed was not a good start but my exploring days are never wasted in Tenerife, La Laguna and Santa Cruz gave my little pea brain plenty of stimulation on a cracking summers day.

Julio Nieto is a master of metal art and after being wowed by his earlier giant works in Santa Cruz, thoughts of his new exhibition Kamasutra del Aire made my mind boggle. An early morning Titsa and tram combination from Los Cristianos had me in La Laguna before my corn flakes had time to settle but the tourist office gave me directions to the venue and the bad news that it was shut probably for the whole of August. I went to see for myself and sure enough it was locked up but no mention of why and for how long, the local papers still have it running until September 18. Calm Colin, calm, you know how bad publicity is on the rock.

Time for an old stand by, the former Convento de Canarias and its Instituto San Agustin welcomed me to their latest free exhibition by Santa Cruz artist Felipe Hodgson. A bit of a sexual theme was emerging to my day as the two halls featured sketches and paintings of nudes, some abstract, some surreal, but all with not so much as a vest on. A lady was showing her young son around, he had that mixed expression of delight and embarrassment and my mind sped back to trying to fish my comic off a newsagents shelf without disturbing the glossy artistic publications.

Back on the street I cast my eyes over the restored cathedral, there were quite a few squawks when the ducks were evicted from their ancient pond and stone shelters outside in favour of a new water feature. Finally the new version was complete and was pretty poor in my opinion, a few exotic fish gobbled crisps thrown in by some young tykes, at least I have seen the ducks new home across the city. I popped into the cathedral, it was as stunning as when I visited a few weeks after its resurection, if you get a chance, feast your eyes. Outside there are three plots of barely disturbed ground awaiting an archeological search for historic remnants of the original cathedral.

Santa Cruz is always regenerating, down at the port that was very evident. A large new welcome hub for cruise liners is well under construction, ironically today was one of the few days with no floating palaces moored up. Out by the marina area further improvements are under way, I usually have a nose around to see what floats my boat, nothing too wild this time except another floating oil exploration ship.

On the way back to the bus station I checked out the newly restored Puente de el Cabo bridge over the Barranco de Santos. It was once a link between the port and commerce but had become a rusty wreck. There’s no real need for it now as two bridges cross over by La Noria and the main road crosses a few yards away, but it is an iconic piece of history and looks good with its wide ramps and sturdy tructure. I must return soon and see what other changes are in the pipeline.