Archive for February, 2009
Military gathers in and above Tenerife

It was ships ahoy in Santa Cruz as the German Navy paid a visit with the Frigate, Sacasen F219 (below), and support vessel, Frankfurt AM Main A1412. With impeccable timing this happened just as a large scale air combat excercise, involving Spanish and American planes, started out at sea.

Sacasen F219

Sadly reports in the local Canarian press suggesting the gang planks would be rolled out for public access on Saturday from 4pm to 6pm, proved to be very premature. Both ships arrived early on Thurday morning but were moored on the far dock, just behind the Costa Serena cruise liner, and the security guard was not letting anyone beyond his gate without a boarding pass for the liner.

I was tempted to swim out with the camera on my head, but settled for these long shots, at least I have the low down on both vessels. Sacasen F219 is the smaller but weighs in at 5,600 tons, is 143 metres long and can power up to 29 knots. It has 255 crew, under Captain Markus Nolte, and has anti aircraft guns.

The combat support ship, Frankfurt AM Main A1412 (below), is much bulkier at 22,240 tons, is 174 metres long, and can do 19 knots. Captain Stefan Berger, keeps the 169 crew all ship shape, and makes sure they have plenty of supplies on board to back up the Sacasen. Both ships had just come in from Gibralter and will head out at 3pm on Sunday to Brazil, Colombia, Iceland and the UK. Normally they have another friend in tow, but the Lubeck F214 is currently in Italy undergoing repairs.

Frankfurt AM Main A1412

So much for the sea, what’s happening up in the skies? From February 27 to March 13, air combat training is taking place 70 miles off the Tenerife coast. Spain is bringing it’s Eurofighter F18 and Mirage F1 and will be joined in a few days by America’s F15 and F493 from their base at Lakenheath in Norfolk. You shouldn’t see the planes but you might just hear the F15, which moves at 2.5 times the speed of sound, and creates a sonic boom. Let battle commence.



Ryanair, are they taking the ppp pound, or what?

Check your calender, it isn’t April Fools Day, so we can only hope that Ryanair are yanking our chain. Not content with introducing a system that allows mobile phones to operate once the plane is flying, they have now hinted that they might start charging one pound to  use the toliet in flight.

This big news splash happened this morning on BBC TV when Chief Executive Michael O’ Leary squeezed out this quote. “One thing we have looked at in the past, and are looking at again, is the possibility of maybe putting a coin slot on the toilet door, so that people may have to spend a pound to spend a penny in future.” Leaving the interviewer looking flushed, Michael went on to justify it saying “I don’t think there is anybody in history that has got on board a Ryanair aircraft with less than a pound.”

What planet does this man live on, he must know that airports do their best to pour booze down your neck during long waits, and then push more on you once aboard, at sky high prices. Of course we are all desperate for a pee by the time the seat belt fastened sign pings off.

Charging a pound seems to be clearly targeting the Brits, but what if you have already changed all your money to the main European currency. It all takes on a different meaning and I assume it then becomes known as Euro-nating.



Santa Cruz flaunts it big time for Carnaval

So there’s a cow, a bear and a clown at a bar, no it’s not the start of a joke, just the early morning scene at the bus station in Santa Cruz. It was the strange twilight zone where last nights Carnaval revellers were either on their last legs before going home or having a very hairy dog breakfast before diving into another round of partying on the day of the Coso parade.


Even catching the bus in Los Cristianos at 8am, I was met by a sea of empty bottles and cans and human debris, with monks that had merryed themselves, “women” in skimpy dresses with morning stubble, and all manner of ghosts and ghouls with a touch of the Zombie about them. Arriving in Santa Cruz, the scene was multiplied as 24 hour party people tried to scrape themselves onto buses to take them home. You have to feel sorry for the drivers, coping with that on a public holiday, but they didn’t even flinch, this is Tenerife, and the Carnaval drunks are placid and friendly.

With a few hours to kill before the 4pm Coso, I decided to take a 30 minute bus trip (No 101) to Tacaronte, along the north coast, in the heart of wine country. It was pretty quiet, many places were closed for the holiday and the town had headed in bulk to Santa Cruz. Still I enjoyed a couple of hours sipping coffee and snacking during a brief tour. I will have to pop back for a longer exploration to try one of the 2 historic routes suggested by the council outside the information centre. On the bus back to the capital, I noticed 2 strangely named places just before Los Rodeos, the north airport, could they be an English joke? Dolce Vita Swingers Club was a fairly big building on a street corner by the Guamasa turn, and a little further was the Bar Piss-Pass (don’t order lemonade) hmmm something to check out I think.

Cat Family

Back in Santa Cruz, crowds were growing as i wandered along the port front Avenida Maritima, passing numerous food and souvenir stalls. Families and friends had banded together to produce some wonderful costumes, with this years Horror Film theme used as a vague guide. Many had taken the few rows of pavement seating early and were camped out for good vantage points but the gathering black clouds spilled their contents at short intervals to be greeted by a sea of colourful umbrellas.

Bad Babies

With the promised storm heading for the islands, everyone was glad to see the parade get underway, headed by the newly elected Carnaval Queen, Ana Maria Tavarez (below) at the centre of her pink extravaganza, Embrujada (Enchanted). Musical floats, giant stilt walkers, marching bands and wacky interlopers followed as the parade headed along the front, past the government buildings and on to the fair before dispersing into smaller parties and tonights big dance in the Plaza Candelaria.

Carnaval Queen

Green music

The show goes on till Sunday, and many will stay the course, through the nights and with little sleep. Then the rest of Tenerife follows on as regional Carnavals burst into life well into March. And in case you wondered about all that mess and rubbish, it was all cleared and both bus stations were spick and span by early evening when I headed south. The next few mornings will bring another deluge of party leftovers, but it will all be cleaned and tidied away before you can say fortnightly bin collection.


The good ship CD Tenerife sails on with a 0-0 away draw.

With a bit of luck CD Tenerife could have had all 3 points from this 0-0 away draw at Huesca, but at no stage could I see them losing, so on balance i’m well chuffed to see the rich vein of form continue. Huesca had a litle flurry in the first 10 minutes, but after that CDT keeper Aragoneses had little to do.

The home side had a half hearted shout for a penalty after 22 minutes but the ref wisely ruled there had been no foul on Helguera. That spurred Tenerife into a busy spell as Alfaro headed for goal, only to be denied by Eduardo with a strong save. The keeper looked as dazzling as his blinding pink shirt as he followed up with a tip over from a Richi header, set up by Juanlu

NinoTenerife had the better of the second half as well. Huesca are the only current Second Division team that Nino (left) has never scored against, but he thought he had completed his set when his header bounced back off the post and was gratefully pounced on by the keeper. CDT coach Oltra had said before the game that his side would go looking for the win, and he was as good as his word, bringing on Angel for Juanlu after 67 minutes. It nearly brought an instant result, Nino beat 2 defenders to put in a cross but Angels faint touch was not enough to divert it in.

The busy sub squeezed another shot just over the bar but found a speculative cross from Kome a little out of his reach. Aragoneses was alert late on when a rare Huesca attack ended with a cross cum shot that he easily mopped up.

A good days work all round, I can’t wait for next Sundays home match against Celta (should be 5pm). The Frente Blanquiazul peña (fan club) have issued another rallying cry, this time for 40,000 blue and white balloons to greet CDT onto the pitch. The Armada Sur will be there in force as always, and have added to the fun with a call for any other inflatables to swell the party. Sadly I can’t bring a blow up item, well not since the regretable love bite incident, but i’m sure we will break the 20,000 crowd figure this time.


Taking La Laguna in my stride

If it’s different, strange or downright bizarre, I’m always interested, so today I found myself in a church looking at the footwear of famous film stars. The exhibition Zapatos de Cine (Shoes of the Cinema) is at the former Convent of Santa Domingo in La Laguna and features 18 pairs of shoes and boots from some great movies of the last 50 years.

If you want some history, they have a pair of white slingbacks worn by Marilyn Monroe in the 1962 flick Somethings Gotta Give or how about some rebelious footwear, the 1955 vintage leather boots (below) worn by James Dean in Rebel Without A Cause. Maybe your feet will be tingling at the sight of this thigh length pair of brushed blue waders (steady boy) as worn in El Perro del Hortelano (Dog In A Manger) a former stage comedy. James Dean boots

Blue WasersÂ












The display area is just a small space, and the exhibits are in slightly frosted plastic tubes, not easy for photo opportunities. Most of the items are on loan from a large private film memorabilia collection but there are some more modern samples on show. Try these gravity defying fashion shoes (below) from the film of Sex In The City (released in Spain as Sex In New York and not to be confused with the low budget British version -Sex In Bognor Regis), there is also a menacing pair of Arnies boots from the first Terminator film.

Sex In The City

It’s not the biggest show in the World but Zapatos de Cine is FREE and worth shuffling along to, it’s just yards from Plaza del Adelantado (round the corner from the tram terminus) and is open Monday to Friday from 10am to 2pm, and 5pm to 8pm, plus Saturdays 10am to 2pm, until March 27.

Torre de la ConcepcionIf the word FREE made you sit up and take notice, you will like La Laguna, my tram trip from Santa Cruz bus depot was FREE on my Bono bus ticket, as I had just come off the 110 direct Titsa bus from Los Cristianos (make sure you have at least .95 cents on your ticket in case – I don’t want to drop you in for a big fine). Most of the shopping areas of La Laguna are pedestrianised, so it’s a nice place to explore and has several museums and historic buildings. There are FREE daily mid morning multi lingual sight seeing tours from the information centre, also just off the Plaza del Adelantado, but you need to book in advance.

It’s been a little while since my last visit so I called at the newly re-opened local produce market in Plaza del Cristo. The old market started to slide into a barranco, so just over a year ago a new one was built in record time, only to slide into legal wrangles. Now you can find it open every day from 8am to 2 pm, with 88 units, mainly inside, selling local fruit, veg, sauces, flowers, cakes and pastries – blimey it even has 2 bars and a state lottery shop.

A good vantage point to see over La Laguna is the tower of the Church of our Lady of the Conception. It’s pretty easy to spot, being 7 storeys high, last time I went it was a couple of euros to climb the tower but this time there was noone collecting and no signs about any charge, you know what that means – yep another FREE attraction. The bell tower gave me great vantage points of the surrounding area and even the planes coming and going at Los Rodeos airport. The wind was whistling through the ballestrades (feel free to add your own smutty inuendo) and I was so busy clicking away that the bells suddenly clanging noon, nearly made me jump over the side in shock.

At least I was able to restore my hearing over a coffee in the sun at a street cafe while watching a living statue, perform for the passers by. Yes La Laguna is a grand place to visit, and that’s not a load of cobblers.




CD Tenerife dig deep for latest win

Before you can grasp how big this 3-2 home victory over Elche was, I need to drag you down and set in it context. Influential left sided players Kome and Ayoze were out after picking up niggling injuries a few days before, Iriome and Martinez were on the bench but on the way back from injury and not match fit. On top of that, the club chairmans cat had been run over in a bizarre accident, the tea lady’s goldfish had a splitting headache, and Tenerife were 2-1 down after 62 minutes and under the cosh. Last season, that would have spelt disaster for Tenerife, but this is the new improved version, full of fighting spirit and desire, and things were going to change.

Tifo v Elche

It all started on a high with 19,119 fans welcoming the players onto the pitch with a stunning cascade of tifo (newspaper confetti) that swirled and hung in the wind, turning the Heliodoro into a wild noise filled snow scene. Roared on by their fans, Tenerife took the game to the visitors but found it hard going with Elche proving to be stubborn opponents. The breakthrough came after 39 minutes when Juanlu Hens put in a telling cross from the right and Luna rose to head it into the Elche goal.

The second half was just 2 minutes old when Perez levelled for the visitors, after former Tenerife player Santos had got the better of Hector. Santos inflamed the home fans with his celebrations to add to less than impressive memories of his efforts in the blue and white shirt.

Worse was to come, and Santos was involved again, this time feeding Fuster to put Elache ahead after 62 minutes. Coach Oltra showed his attacking mentality, bringing on Iriome for Hens, and he hardly had time to bed in before Nino hit a typically cheeky goal, turning to grab a half chance and beat the visiting goalie. Now the crowd volume was cranked up, and another attacking substitution prompted the perfect response. Cristo replaced Hector, and Tenerife pushed forward for the winner, and Ricardo sent the crowd crazy when he fired his free kick past the Elche goalie to restore the home lead. It was an anxious last 14 minutes but Tenerife stood firm, the final whistle was the cue for players and fans to celebrate a hard earned win that keeps Tenerife in second place and still dreaming of promotion.


Football fever is growing all the time now in Tenerife, the Armada Sur ran 2 coaches this week, the Oasis Bar half way stop on the motorway, had lots more independent parties of fans stopping for some singing juice, and the streets around the ground were teaming – we even had a trumpet player stood in the road serenading drivers in return for a fistful of euros.

Promotion would be a huge boost to the island and some are already realising the commercial benefits. The weekend editions of local paper Diario de Avisos contained a full page advert for the big car park near the stadium, 120 places up for grabs at 150 euros a month. The headline screamed “Don’t wait any longer, be first to enjoy the promotion of CD Tenerife.” That’s a confident claim, lets just get behind the team and savour these special moments.


La Orotava,Tenerife, a classic place for good music.

Barbara HendriksIt’s not just pop stars that flock to Tenerife, or even the Salsa and Latino performers that grace the Carnaval scene. There are a lot of classical events, La Orotava is hosting the 3rd annual Festival Musitematico from March 7 to 28.

There are 6 concerts ranging from Gospel to Opera, but this years star name is American Soprano, Barbara Hendricks at the Auditorio Teobaldo Power on Friday March 27. Tickets vary from 25 euros up to 55 euros, but there is also a sliding scale of discounts if you book for several of the concerts. Check the website for full details.

Barbara Hendricks was born in Arkansas, America, 60 years ago and studied in New York to become a Bachelor of Music, before going on to sing opera at San Francisco, Glyndebourne, Paris, Covent Garden and La Scala.

Not only at home with opera, Barbara has flirted with jazz, playing live and recording tracks for several LPs. If the music path hadn’t worked out, Barbara could have followed up on her Bachelor of Science in maths and chemistry, that she earned at Nebraska College.

With such a rich background, and an internationally gained respect, Barbara has been able to support many humanitarian causes, and has become an ambassador for the United Nations. Impressive as that is, her amazing voice will be the big draw for her concert in La Orotava.


No More Heroes for us Old Codgers

If it wasn’t bad enough seeing punk legends like Johnny Rotten and Iggy Pop advertising butter and insurance, I have just seen one of my heroes, Hugh Cornwell of The Stranglers on BBC Breakfast, tarnishing his wild man image.

The Stranglers

Hugh has a new solo LP and was talking about one track that tells how he hates Trowbridge in Wiltshire and in particular its one way road system. This is a man who caused riots at concerts, and went to jail for smoking “rock and roll woodbines” . The new song is called “Don’t Put me On A Slowboat To Trowbridge” hardly Peaches or Something Better Change. I saw The Stranglers live a couple of times, once with a bloke playing the spoons as the support act, and I saw Hugh do one of his first solo gigs. It was at a new venue above an Oxford pub, the light system was poor and Hugh sung Golden Brown with a towel over his head and then sarcastically said “the light was a lot better that time”.

So whatever next, will Polly Styrene make a song about her problems finding nice curtains, or will Stiff Little Fingers do a number about getting planning permission for their patio. Personally, I still feel young and wild, only the other day, I ate an After Eight mint at 7.30, Anarchy in Tenerife or what?

CD Tenerife pack them in for another victory

It’s the hottest ticket in town, 18,305 fans flocked to Santa Cruz yesterday to see CD Tenerife bear Eibar 2-0. It wasn’t the teams best display, but another clean sheet, achieved with key players Martinez and Ricardo missing, had everyone cheering.

CDT v Eibar

Crowds continue to rise and there is a much higher awareness of CDT across the island, even old lapsed fans are digging out their ancient team shirts and showing their support again, I saw one shirt that was so old it was made of chain mail.

Bucking the recent weather trend, Santa Cruz was bathed in sunshine as the teams ran out, the large crowd welcomed CDT with a sea of scarves held aloft and a wall of sound. Tenerife shaded the early play and got their reward when Sicilia rose to head in the opening goal after 26 minutes, from a Juanlu cross. Lowly Eibar created a few problems but the home defence was again strong, Hector and Bertran were particularly impressive and Aragoneses was Mr Reliable between the sticks.

The second half saw Eibar players making late bids for BAFTA awards with some theatrical falls, and the referee let them get away with a lot. Tenerife held firm but we had to wait until injury time for a second goal. Visiting keeper Zigor, made a complete hash of a clearance and gifted the ball to Nino, who gratefully struck his 13th goal of the season to wrap up the points.

Tenerife remain second, 3 points behind Zerex and 3 in front of Zaragoza, next Sunday is another home game at 5pm, this time against Elche. The Armada Sur will as always be in good voice and the crowd looks likely to break the 20,000 mark.

Good news from the Tenerife government, Ricardo Melchior, President, has said that if CD Tenerife get promoted in June, fans will be allowed to dance in the man made lake in Plaza de España, without the fear of a fine of between 60€ and 300€ – now that will be some party.Â

A nut among the almonds

Blimey, I experienced the four seasons today in Tenerife, no not Vivaldi’s masterpiece,the pop group or the pizza, just the weather on the Ruta del Almendra (the almond blossom walk) from Santiago del Teide to Arquayo. Howling winds, drizzle laced with ice, strong sunshine, low clouds and even a rainbow, graced my footsteps, but nature had plenty more still to show me.

Almond blossom

This is the time of year when the many almond trees in Tenerife burst into colour, with boughs full of white and pink petals, and each year the Santiago del Teide council, up on the west coast, arrange a mass walk along the route that cuts through the volcanic lava field created by the last eruption on the island. It was at Chinyero in November 1909, so this is a particularly important year to view its legacy.

Setting off early from Los Cristianos on the 473 bus to Los Gigantes, I changed to the 325 Puerto de la Cruz bus and just hit the Santiago del Teide plaza before 9am. Well I was half prepared, several layers kept my top half fairly warm but my exposed legs confirmed the rapid drop in temperature from the coast and though I was not sure where the wind was coming from, I had a damm good idea where it was going. The 120 walkers were soon checked in and we set off in groups, to the left and behind the town hall and onto the rough track leading down to the main road.

Almond walk

Peeling off at the Valle de Ariba turn, the wind blew strongly across as the small stream trickled by the path and the tall army of pine trees marched up the hillside ahead of us. There was moisture in the air and the odd fleck of ice as we made a right turn just beyond the church and headed upwards. The path was a mix of mud and large stone intrusions, a bit of a test for us all,but as we rose, a faint rainbow hung over the fields as the sun started to push through the clouds. The almond trees were now appearing in the fields around us, the blossom wasn’t as dense as it would normally be, thanks to the recent high winds and storms on the high ground, but the beauty was clear to see.

Almond walk

The recent heavy rain wasn’t all bad news. As we came over the brow of another hill, there was Mount Teide in the distance, wearing its white winter gown, the snow dazzling in the sun and contrasted by the dark green of the pine trees. After a suitable rest stop in a large clearing, we entered the lava field, just as the cloud condensed around us. The path became narrower and strewn with larger stones as we peered through the fluffy haze to see the rolling green hills either side of the lava.

Mount Teide

Emerging onto the pine flanked earth track, the cloud dissolved away and the sun became a strong and welcome companion. Teide was clear again and seemed to change a little with each step, sometimes more intense and sometimes softened as cloud brushed past it. The end was in sight now as we started a sharp descent, zig zagging our way down the hillside towards Arquayo. The shifting shingle made it a slow and careful drop, well after coming so far, it would be a pity to bottom surf through the final section.

Almond walk

Taking the final steps from the route and onto the main road of Arquayo we headed for the cultural centre where the guides had more information for us on the history of the area, and we were served up a nice spread in the sports hall. The whole walk took 5 hours, though it seemed to speed by, and was an excellent way to enjoy another special corner of Tenerife.

My thanks to Santiago del Teide council for the invite, they are running walks throughout the year, more details on their website or . In the meantime, I will scan the maps for my next trek.

The council coach shipped us back to Santiago del Teide where I caught the 460 Icod to Las Americas bus, if you make your own way to this all year round route, check which buses dont run at weekends, they are few and far between.Â