Archive for March, 2009
CD Tenerife hit the top with 2-0 win

It’s worth the hangover, CD Tenerife are sitting proudly on top of the Spanish Second Division after a comfortable (eventually) 2-0 home win over Cordoba yesterday, in front of 19,202 fans.

It was an uncertain start for Tenerife, without influential midfield players Juanlu, Ricardo and Kome, they struggled to find their shape and rythm, and lowly Cordoba took advantage, pressing forward on the break and exposing the home defence.

CDT had their chances, Alfaro was at his lively best and went close a couple of times, but former Tenerife goalie, Raul Navas was in good form. At the other end Luis Garcia showed his growing confidence with 2 decisive saves when Cordoba broke free.

Tenerife needed to be a lot better in the second half, and they were, fast out of the blocks they took the game to the visitors. It took just 4 minutes from the restart for Alfaro to open the scoring with a perfectly flighted free kick that gave the Cordoba keeper no chance.

There was better to come 6 minutes later as Alonso fed the ball to Alfaro, who took it wide and squeezed it in the goal from an acute angle. That really ignited the crowd, the Mexican wave swept around the stadium and the volume went up another notch. It was pretty much a stroll from that point, Cordoba were broken and Tenerife were able to play at their own pace and dictate the game.

The final whistle was greeted by scenes of celebration on and off the pitch, there is such an electric atmosphere among Tenerife fans these days, and no sign of a power cut. Next week at Rayo Vallecano, there will be upwards of 600 CDT fans, the rest of us can’t wait for the Noon kick off (shown live on Canal Plus) at home to Levante on April 12.

Lightning zaps Tenerife power, as beach life sizzles on

Power station

The lightning strike that robbed Tenerife of all power at 12.45 today had a dramatic and life changing effect on me, my freshly cooked lunchtime baguette had to be replaced by a sandwich, such are the hardships of living in Tenerife.

It must have been pretty scary stuff as the flash hit the main power station (above) at Las Caletillas, just below the TF 1 motorway, as it puffs its way uphill and into Santa Cruz. That was in the north, back here in the south, my personal crisis soon passed, as my sandwich replacement at Dolce Dolce on the Los Cristianos beachfront, set me up for an afternoon of swimming and lazing in the sun.

Of course it added some exitement to the general mid day conversations, and a few headaches for bar and cafe owners, no cooking, how to keep the beer cool and even thoughts of how to close up later using electric shutters. Some bigger, more modern complexes had back up generators, but I was surprised that the Los Cristianos cultural centre didn’t have their own supply.

Walking along the front, it was pretty well business as usual, nothing phases the Canarians, if darkness had descended with power still missing, it would have been a good excuse for a party, and the Brits could always revive that blitz spirit, with defiant sing songs. After a few hours, power was restored bit by bit, with little more harm than a few warmer beers and some runny ice cream. At the beach, the sea was calm and welcoming, and the sun bright and browning. As you can see from the pic below, worry is not high on the agenda in Tenerife.

Beach Life

Churchill, “We shall alight then, on the beaches “

Sir Winston ChurchillWas Sir Winston Churchill misquoted, was he in fact referring to visiting the beaches of the Canary Islands? Well he could have been, it’s 50 years since the great leader popped out this way and stopped off at La Palma and Gran Canaria. Yesterday there was a commemoration ceremony in Las Palmas marking his visit to Pio land. So what’s the story morning glory? Pull up a sand bag and I will tell all, careless talk costs nothing these days.

Why on earth he wanted to see Gran Canaria (CD Tenerife weren’t playing there that day) I can’t imagine, so lets look at his stop off in La Palma. Winnie was on the yacht, Christina, named after the wife of its owner, Aristotle Onassis,also on board were dancer Margot Fontein (real name Peggy Hookham) with her hubby Robert Arias, Inspector Edmund Murray of Scotland Yard and his wife Clementine.

The story goes, that the yacht came into port and the Captain, Amaro Carillo Gonzalez Regalado, hired a local taxi driver to take them around, well Winnie was 84 years old by then. The group stayed at a stylish hotel, but taxi driver Nelson Pestano offered some good old fashioned Canarian hospitality, and invited them all to visit him at his house. When they left La Palma, a very grateful Sir Winston, still blessed with a sharp wit, presented the driver with a box of his favourite cigars, inscribed “from Churchill to Nelson”.

The whole story strikes a chord with me being an Oxford born boy, Churchill was born at Blenheim Palace, a few miles away in Woodstock. I remember being dragged around the palace on a school trip, and somewhere at my parents, I still have a Churchill crown (5 shillings) from 1965.



CD Tenerife turn up the heat with a win at Salamanca

NinoHave you heard about CD Tenerife and their drive for promotion to the Spanish Primera division? If not, where have you been, hiding in a cave? The island is in a frenzy of excitement, and around 400 fans made the trip to Salamanca in the north of Spain to see the latest 2-1 win on Saturday.

What a bunch of scamps CDT are, they teased their fans by going 1-0 down after 13 minutes, defender Luna failed to make a telling tackle and then Miku, with his back to goal, turned and shot past an unsighted Luis Garcia in the CDT goal, 4 Tenerife players gave him acres of room. These days Tenerife can shrug off such setbacks, and after 32 minutes, Nino blasted home a slightly fortunate penalty.

Tenerife got better as the game went on, and their constant probing paid off with Alfaro crossing from the right, in the 67th minute, for Nino to head past the home keeper. There was no way back after that for the team coached by former Tenerife manager David Amaral, and their misery was completed when Bustos was sent off after 76 minutes for a second yellow card.

Tenerife in top position? well they would have got away with it, if it hadn’t been for those pesky Pios at Las Palmas surrendering a 2-1 lead over Xerez in the final minutes to lose 3-2. Well at least with that goal surge, Xerez couldn’t be subjected to chants of “Score in a brothel, you couldn’t score in a brothel” Their club President resigned in the week after he and his chauffeur were caught in his car, after the chauffeur fired a gun at a local house of ill repute. Hercules also staged a recovery. on Sunday morning, losing 2-1 at Elche they scored late to pick up a point.

Anyway, hopefully a 23,000 sell out next Sunday in Santa Cruz as CD Tenerife host Cordoba in a 5pm kick off. If you are lucky, you may still be able to travel up with the Armada Sur, this is one party that will run till the end of season in June.

Leaving La Gomera, don’t look down!

As the frogs gave way to the cockerels (see previous post) it was time to move on from Vallehermoso and head down the western side of La Gomera for the home leg. Making a decently early start, we began the uphill climb to the edge of the Garajonay National Park. Steep and twisting was just the start, we soon discovered that JCB’s were busy on the top stretches of the TF 711, clearing rock falls and trying to do some widening where possible. Passing was near impossible at these points, so mobile phones and Stop/ Go signs filtered cars through in single file (a traffic jam in La Gomera is 3 cars) as diggers pulled in to the side. This left us on very narrow, debris strewn single mud tracks, seperated from sheer drops of 1,000 metres plus, by makeshift fances of plastic tape lattice work. Forgive me if I haven’t got any nice pics of the sheer drops, but I didn’t fancy clinging on to a tree root by my teeth while peering into the cloudy swirl below. Finally dropping,on the lead into Garajonay, rocks started to rise above us rather than plummet below, a very welcome sight.

Cliff holes

Having seen postcards of a huge reservoir, with a public walkway across, we headed for the heart of the National Park and La Laguna Grande. The Laurel forest closed in around the road, with green moss clinging to the branches and dripping moist droplets around us as shafts of sunlight burst in through chinks in the leafy umbrella, adding steam to the mix. Taking a rough track down to La Laguna Grande, we found a large recreation and picnic area with an information office just beyond. A brief walk down one of the marked paths led to a green valley opening up below, but it seemed that the resevoir was a 6 km walk away, and time was against us.

Back to the car and we headed up into the hills again before the eventual drop into Playa de Santiago. The road twisted and turned again as goats stared down at us from the steep plains. Stopping at another road side mirador (viewpoint) we could see that it wasn’t just the goats that were agile round here. A narrow stony path led down to a small farm, perched delicately in a terrace with a sheer drop either side, even coming up to the road level to collect from the post box looked like something off The Krypton Factor.

Dodgy post

The sun burst through again as we cruised into Playa de Santiago on the south coast, a mix of shingle beach and port. A nice collection of bars scattered around a small plaza, drew us in for a snack as we watched the world, well a very British and German slice of it, go by. A lot of the pleasure boats go out from Playa de Santiago, and up on the hill Tecina Golf, is the only golf course on the island. Dominoes was the main sporting action down at beach level, taxi drivers passing the time squatting around a small table and arguing as if it was a World title event.

Playa de Santiago

Closing the circle, we took the final leg on to San Sebastian, just along the coast, but 34 kms taking the TF 713 inland and uphill before heading down again. After we took a quick look at Playa de la Cueva, hidden just to the east of the ferry terminal, I headed up the Mirador de la Hila, accessed via a side street behind the Plaza de la Americas, for a good overall panoramic view of the port and Playa de la San Sebastian.

San Sebastian

With some time to spare before the 5pm ferry back to Los Cristianos, we had a little wander, I was pleased to see that the Pension Victor (pensions are cheap, basic accomodation) in Calle Real was still sporting its CD Tenerife mural from 4 years earlier. The Parque de la Torre, just off the sea front, was well worth investigating, created in September 1992 to mark 500 years since Christopher Colombus set sail from La Gomera to America, it has a small outdoor theatre space. The old tower, that gives the park its name, stands proud and the ground floor contains ancient maps and charts of the island.

The Fred Olsen ferry hooter called us to order for a smooth return, 4 years ago I caught the last ferry out before Tropical Storm Delta blew in. La Gomera has much more to offer, and I will certainly return, maybe in December when the next Atlantic Rowing Race leaves for Antigua.






Rising above clouds and the frog chorus in La Gomera

Either the BBC Sound Effects department was having a holiday in Vallehermoso, La Gomera, or we were surrounded by thousands of croaking frogs. A quick enquiry to a barmaid, and she confirmed with a roll of her eyes and a smile, that this was a regular after dark happening. The tightly terraced hills that cling to the rising plateaus of La Gomera, are fed by a series of small reservoirs, and we had seen earlier that the small northern village of Vallehermoso had many of these water retainers between the banana groves and orange trees, a perfect setting for a frog to sit and croak to it’s hearts content.

La Gomera terrace

The last time I visited La Gomera, Tenerife’s nearest neighbour, was 4 years ago and I didn’t stray beyond the ferry port of San Sebastian, as I was covering the start of the Atlantic Rowing Race. So the idea of this 2 day trip was for me and the lovely Pam to see as much of the green and fertile island as possible. The 9am Fred Olsen ferry (55.68 € return or 27.84 with my residencia) crossed in 40 minutes and arrived to the first of many short sharp showers. We had pre booked a hire car with Piñero, based in the San Sebastian port building, and picked up our Seat Ibiza for 42 euros including insurance. I don’t drive but Pam was keen to hit the Canarian roads, so we headed up the east coast on the TF 711, the main road for the whole island.

Roque Cano

A series of long, barely lit tunnels, and the quick downpours, added to the fun of the 40 km journey to Vallehermoso, but the sun had burst through in time for a coffee stop in Hermigua, home of the Gofio museum, at a small kiosk. From then on it was an upward climb with ever more stunning views from road side miradors, looking down to small deserted beaches and craggy rocks. By now the skyline was becoming dominated by Roque Cano (above) and after one last tunnel, we emerged to find our Rural Hotel Tamahuche nestling in the shadow of the 650 metre high rock.

Hotel Tamahuche

The converted 1890 house (74.45 euros for our en suite double room and breakfast) impressed with setting, comfort and the sun terraces and gardens, which were bathed in sun as we checked in. Time to explore, we headed to the plaza (pic below) for a snack at a local bar and a chance to get our bearings. Most of the buildings had recently added new fronts, and the few people around seemed to be tourists, mainly German hikers, most of the bars seemed to offer cheap basic accomodation. Several of the local public buses passed through, the main towns are fairly well served, and the sedate, peaceful feel was only punctuated by cockerels straining to out crow each other. Cutting through a side street, we found the Church of San Juan Bautista, half way through a years renovation, although the bell in the clock tower was still in good voice.

Vallehermoso Plaza

A quick check of the map, and we decided to take the 5km drive down to Parque Maritima and the Playa de Vallehermoso, and arrived with the rain. The shingle beach was bordered to the east by a high cliff full of enough rock formations, stratas and colours to keep a geologist in raptures for hours. Behind the beach was a modern swimming pool and small cafe bar, and to the west, we followed a path close to an equally high and diverse cliff face, signposted for Castillo del Mar. A small fort type building, jutted out to sea, but the partially blocked access path, showed that it was abandoned. Notices warned that rock falls were a danger, but edging carefully up the stone steps, we could see signs of a recently used cafe/bar inside.

Castillo del Mar

A public notice explained that originally this area was used as a loading bay and factory, featuring the islands first crane, brought over in 1890, but as bigger more modern ports grew around La Gomera, it was abandoned. Back at the Hotel, we discovered that a private company had turned the Castillo into a recreation area but had been forced to close a year ago due to council objections to their commercial operation.

A leisurely evening stroll was rewarded with some lovely Tuna and Cherne at the Agana bar restaurant in the village, and the slightly eerie rise of the frog chorus. The bars were friendly but to my horror, they shut at 10pm, never mind it had been a full day, more to come tomorrow.




Mourning is a dying art on Sardine Night


It seemed quite appropriate that as the mourners fell to the floor wailing and rolling around showing off their underwear, they were just outside the Sex Boutique in Avenida Suecia, Los Cristianos. A closer look revealed that these “ladies” were in fact young men, keeping alive the tradition of leading the giant sardine through the streets to its cremation on the beach.


Just a quick history lesson, the funeral of the sardine refers to Lent, and the hypocrisy of the church, telling the masses to go without meat, while the church big wigs ate more or less what they wanted, leaving the others to make do with sardines, the plentiful local bounty of the sea. As a show of 2 fingers goes, this is one of the highlights of the Carnaval calendar, it seemed a little down on mourners this year but what it lacked in numbers, it made up for in dedication and dress sense. The parade was shadowed by a large contingent of police, to ensure that high spirits don’t get out of hand, I wonder what their instructions are? look out for any strange characters or anyone acting suspiciously? That just about covers most people present.


I can’t help feeling that the parade lost something when they switched from carrying the sardine shoulder high, to driving it along mounted on a decorated float, but to be fair, the old way took longer each year to make the short journey, and after hours of pushing through jostling bodies, the sardine usually arrived at the beach partly damaged.

Anyway, this years journey was pretty swift and well oiled, and a large enclosure had been set up on the old beach ready for the fish’s final moments. A few well placed burning torches and the fish did a passable impression of a dog, woof it went up in a blaze if fire. As the tongues of flame licked at the night sky, a barrage of fireworks was released, a fitting send off to our fishy friend.

Sardine burning

CD Tenerife still in promotion pack after 1-1 draw.

Confession time. I missed the game yesterday, the lovely Pam is over for the Los Cristianos Carnaval (post below) so I was on my best behavior. CD Tenerife drew 1-1with Albacete, Alfaro scoring with a lovely low header after 29 minutes, but the visitors levelled 3 minutes later with a hotly disputed penalty from Toche.

My sources tell me that Luis Garcia had a great game in goal and was given a rousing ovation before, during and after the match, which pulled in another bumper 18,431 crowd. If, like me, you are eager to catch up with the action, visit the Armada Sur website, where they have a brief highlights video.

The other results were fairly kind to Tenerife, so they are still in a promotion spot, third on 49 points, 3 above Rayo Vallecano, equal to Hercules and 2 behind leaders Xerez. The dream is still very much alive and in CD Tenerife’s hands.

Los Cristianos Carnaval Coso scorches the streets

Los Cris Coso

Calima, Carnaval, Coso and Los Cristianos, what a red hot combination. This afternoon as Tenerife baked in the 32 degree heat, and fought for breath in the hazy dust filled air, an army of brightly coloured revellers danced through the streets wearing make up, clinging costumes and elaborate head gear.

After seeing Santa Cruz Carnaval a couple of weeks ago, I must say that this was a much bigger turnout, both from participants and watchers. The road side was packed solid all the way from Paloma Beach Apartments, down near Montaña Guaza, right through to the finish at the Cultural Centre near the showground behind the Valdes Centre.

Los Cris Carnaval Queen

Vantage points were at a premium as people competed for the best view, bus shelter roofs, balconies and trees came into their own as everyone seemed to aquire Spiderman like powers to shin up any surface. An incessant drum beat powered the procession along, with the Carnaval Queen contestants mounted on floats, and the bands, dancers, and strutting peacocks showing nifty footwork as they danced along. Pride of place went to the newly elected Queen, 18 year old Marie Paula Silva (pic above) with her creation, Bollywood.

Los Cris rodents

A few of the party people wilted in the heat, but the organisers had made sure there were ample free supplies of water to revive them. Things seemed to be getting a little heated too between the police and this skunk and mouse, the law had the “drivers” pulled to one side and were engaging in a frank exchange of views. Any real, and thankfully smaller, rodents were destined to find slim pickings as Arona council had their rubbish collection lorries following on at the back of the procession to clean up the empty water bottles and the odd stray wing, feather or outrageous wig.

Rocky road for Tenerife Titsa buses

Santa Cruz bus station

Jolly Green giants, bone shakers or Gua Guas, whatever you want to call them, I’m a self confessed fan of the public bus service here in Tenerife. Last week I read that the comapny were tinkering with 8 routes from Saturday March 14, mainly cutting frequencies, but the big bombshell came on Saturday morning with reports that Titsa have clocked up 50 million euros of debt, 19 million of that in 2008.

I used the Aerobus last night, and after the early controversy and sky high price, it has now settled into a useful service, it was just 1.35 euros from Los Cristianos to the airport. The new timetable, now sees it run hourly rather than every 30 minutes, well that will please the taxi drivers. Among the other timetable changes is the addition of 2 new buses on the 472 Los Cristianos to Playa Paraiso and Callao Salvaje route, the other changes are more in the north around La Laguna.

Tram meets bus

Last year was the 30th birthday of Titsa, the Tenerife government owned bus service, the latest bombshell is bound to result in a cost cutting excercise and more route pruning, and maybe even cuts to the 1,600 work force. The company had definately been affected in the Santa Cruz region by the arrival of the tram, sleek, efficient and fast, it’s really packing them in. Titsa are also bracing themselves for the opening of the second Santa Cruz tram line from La Cuesta to Tincer, scheduled for May 30, the national holiday of the Canary Islands. So grab hold of your Bono cheap fair ticket, and hold on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.