Archive for July, 2009
Here’s sand in your face

Mystery artists are all the rage now, down at Las Vistas beach in Los Cristianos, Tenerife, we have our very own, I suppose we could call him Sand Banksie. These are just a few of the latest works that shine as brightly as the sun.

What a talent, I was always just pleased to make one turret of a castle.

Brother Pedro and the lonesome pines of Vilaflor

Eerily quiet and sock soakingly hot, that’s how I found Vilaflor today, of course I must add one more key word – beautiful. I was gob smacked to realise, it was nearly 6 years ago that I last visited this old spa town, a brief pass through then after wrestling with Paisaje Lunar, my first big Tenerife mountain walk. Even if the locals had got wind that I was making a return trip, and taking into account the current near 40 degree heat, it seemed very quiet, not even many tourists in this popular walking area.

What an easy place to visit, just 45 minutes from Los Cristianos and 1.65 euros on my Bono Titsa bus ticket, and the 482 had transported me up to the 1,400 metre high town, nestling among the army of pine trees that marches up into the horizon. I was a bit concerned that the bus whizzed past the town and skyward, but dropping me off just beyond the boundary, left an easier walk down a side road into town. A breeze ran across me,but it couldn’t hide the searing heat, the tall pines are not only proud and imposing, they also catch any small flecks of moisture in the air, not today of course, and drain them down into the soil, that combined with the spa, has made Vilaflor an important centre for agriculture.

A few yards down the road, I found the Chorillo, an old outdoor public washing area, the plaque said restoration work started in 2005, but I can’t say it looked too advanced, apart from a newish roof, and there was no water – perhaps that would put too much pressure on the constant upkeep. A little further along, large trucks were loading up with bottled water from the Fuente Alta factory – oh to have shares in them at scorching times like this.

One man casts a giant shadow over Vilaflor, Hermano Pedro, the Canary Islands only saint, born in 1626, he lived for a while in a cave near El Medano, before taking his healing mission to Guatemala, where he died in 1667, and was canonised by the Pope in 2002. The Iglesia de San Pedro Apostle, is a fine centrepiece to the town, but his prescence is everywhere, at the far end of town, a large statue greets visitors and many houses are crowned with a colourful tile depicting part of his life, there are many different ones to spot.

The main street was surprisingly quiet, many shops and cafes were closed, and few took advantage of the shady roadside benches. Sadly many locals now have to work out of town in the day, but that is the story in many of the more remote places I visit, but they still have a sedate daytime shuffle. Popping down some side streets, I noticed many old houses were abandoned, the library was marked “permantly closed” and the Los Girasoles rural hotel was closed and for sale. At least nature still has a busy schedule, the orange trees were sprouting their fruits, cacti were turning into a contradiction of sharp needles and gorgeous colurful blooms, and the first barman who served me went on to decanter a huge flagon of local wine into bottles for more refined quaffing.

By now I was glowing like the metal on the edge of a knife (hmm could make a good rock lyric) and glad to duck into the bus shelter to wait for the 474 down to La Escalona. punching a measley 95 cents fare on my bono ticket, I made the 15 minute hop downhill to turn this into a 2 centre day out. Getting off I got chatting to a German couple, that had been on my morning bus, seems I am not the only one doing the Titsa tango around the island, nice to see tourists realising the quality of service given by Tenerife buses.

La Escalona was also subdued, but having just come off a fiesta weekend, it’s hardly surprising. A nice little modern village, I could see that many houses had been recently renovated. I had a wander, and popped into the Restaurant La Barrica for a much needed cold drink, what a lovely friendly place, a plate of bread with a hot salsa sauce, arrived with my drink, just wish I had time to stay for a full meal.There is just one southern Titsa bus a day up to Mount Teide, and it was due through within the half hour, so I forced another cold coke (not what you were thinking) down at the La Curva bar opposite the bus stop and the plaza with its distinctive church tower. I had noticed a few dragon flys in Vilaflor, but there seemed to be loads here, one settled on the outside terrace floor as I sipped and I managed to get a quick shot. I knew an email to Steve Andrews, the Bard Of Ely, on my return would produce a name for the little critter-a Scarlet Darter.

The 342 bus from Teide was spot on with my estimation and within 30 minutes, and just 80 cents down on my Bono, I was back in Los Cristianos, and my German friends were off home with tales to tell of Tenerife transport efficiency, and the natural beauty to be found in the mountains of this special island.

A rugged leap north,Santa Cruz to Almaciga

Don’t slurp that cuppa! I don’t think it’s a criminal offence in Tenerife, but with a police helicopter hovering low over me, I wasn’t about to take a chance. To be fair, I think they were less interested in my early morning coffee drinking in Santa Cruz, than scanning the area ahead of the visit of Spains King and Queen to nearby La Laguna. It killed a little time though as I waited for the 246 Titsa bus to Almaciga, on the remote north coast.

The 95 cents bono ticket fare was incredible value for the hours trip up into the mountains high above San Andres and Las Teresitas beach – you wont find a better white knuckle ride. The tight winding road was seperated from a sheer drop by a series of concrete blocks that looked worryingly like tombstones. The terraced hill sides and plant life looked very green and lush, despite heat and roque fire warnings in the Anaga national park. Beeping the horn loudly as each sharp bend loomed up seemed to clear the way, but coming down into Taganana near the end of the journey, an ice cream truck and the bus clipped wing mirrors. Blimey that was too close, what a way to go, death by raspberry ripple.

Finally the folds of mountains parted and I could see the coast, rugged and undeveloped, it looked stunning with outcrops of rock spat out into the sea. The bus stopped at an old battered bus shelter up a hill and that was it-Almaciga-end of the line, so I got out and followed the sign down to the beach.  I found myself walking along peoples garden paths, well it seemed like that, but the street signs showed that they were public routes past basic but well kept small houses, dripping in flowers. A steep descent brought me down to Playa de Benijo, where surfers and swimmers challenged some medium rollers. Camper vans and large cars were parked up and sprouting picnics, there were no shops, just a few old dwellings and a closed little kiosk with an overgrown garden.

I walked along and up the pavement less road to get a better look at the imposing Roque Benijo, before heading back to consider my dilema. To get to the next beach, I could folow the main coast road, clinging to the side and hoping to avoid the odd traffic rounding the bends, or head back up the steep climb the way I came. Having seen a few small bars in Almaciga village, I puffed back up the track, with the incentive of at least being able to grab a cold drink and snack. These small bars, looked like peoples garages but were none the less welcome, the locals all seemed to be beavering away on the roofs mending and improving in the hot sun while skinny cats lazed in the shadows. A small down track linked me back to the coast road, but I only had a small stretch to play chicken on, before reaching Roque de las Bodegas.

This seemed a bit busier and had several nice bar restaurants facing the sea, I picked Los Roques de Anaga to enjoy the fruit of the ocean. I couldn’t work out if the fish of the day was carrying the waiter, or the other way around, it attracted a loyal following of cats to my table, but the fish could have devoured a dozen of them and still had room for the canarian potatoes. Suitably fed, I turned my attention to the large sea bound rock that the village was named after. It looked stranded but a few yards round, I found it had a walkway carved out of one side, making it a busy base for anglers and swimmers. Even on a calm day, the sea was quickly eating away at the small pebble beach, and starting to lap at the wall by the roadside. Another cold drink and my return bus pulled up on cue, still fairly empty, it had gained a few young surfers to share the helter skelter trip back to Santa Cruz.Â

Lately the north has been out stripping the south for temperatures, the heat of high afternoon Santa Cruz, greeted me like a hair dryer when I got off near Plaza de España. As I called at a few of my usual information stops around Calle Castillo, I noticed a digital readout showing 37 degrees-and it really felt it. I checked out the weekends celebrations for the anniverasry of Nelsons 1797 defeat, much more low key than last year, they run from 7.30 pm on Friday 24 and Saturday 25 July, around Plaza Weyler and Plaza de España. With fortunate timing, I arrived at the bus station to step straight onto a direct 110 Titsa to Los Cristianos, an air conditioned hour for a repeat of my 4.45 euro Bono ticket fare up many hours earlier.

Bad boys, and slippery steps

Ouch, Raqui San Isidro football team, just inland from Tenerife airport, Â have been slapped hard for the riot at the end of their promotion game at home a month ago.

They won 2-1 but it was not enough to wipe out the first leg score, tempers became frayed at the end and a mass punch up ensued, that ended with the Policia Local and Guardia Civil being called to split them up. The San Isidro ground will be closed for 3 months, and the 7 players sanctioned have racked up over 4 years of bans, led by Estaban Delgado with 8 months and a 228 euro fine. Oh, the name of the visiting team from Gran Canaria, is very aptly Teror.

Tom Daley may have won a Gold medal for diving at the World Swimming Championships in Rome, but I am equally impressed by the Spanish ladies synchronised swimming team,who have also scooped Gold. Their winning performance was to the rock classic “Stairway to Heaven” by Led Zepplin, I bet that made the band proud. I believe synchronised swimmers perfect their facial contortions by clenching a one euro coin between their buttocks.

Second serve for Tenerife tennis bid

To be honest, I can’t get very excited about tennis, although Maria Sharapova does stir me somewhat. But even a non fan like myself can see how great it would be for Tenerife, if a major Davis Cup match was held here. Last year Tenerife missed out on staging the mens semi final between Spain and U.S.A, as Madrid got the nod, but now there is a new bid in to put on this years semi between Spain and Israel, from September 18 to 20.

Yesterday, delegates from the Spanish tennis federation visited the proposed venue, the Antonio Dominquez football and athletics sadium on the edge of Playa de Las Americas to check out the facilities. Anyone who has seen football there or one of the many music concerts, may well be scratching their heads to see how it can work.

Two courts would be set up on the centre of the football pitch, with seating extended down from the terraces. The expected capacity for spectators would be 12,000 to 14,000 and would cost about 80,000 euros to stage over the 3 days. Against that you can look at television rights, advertising, and concessions for food and drink, bur best of all the prestige and tourism promotion for Tenerife. It seems unlikely that this bid will suceed, rivals Oviedo, Gijon, Cordoba, Tarragona and Zaragoza are strong contenders, but Tenerife was highly favoured for last years bid, and if they keep applying, their persistence should pay off in the next few years.The decision is made on 23 July – fingers and toes crossed.

Culture on draft in San Miguel

Fuelled by a British promotors pledge to stage speedway in San Miguel, the ancient south east Tenerife town roared to the top of my “must explore soon” list. I had brushed the fringes a few years ago on the Camino de la Hoya walk but now felt the urge to do it justice. A 416 Titsa bus to Granadilla, whisked me up through pretty Arona towns, La Camela and Valle San Lorenzo before dropping me at the edge of San Miguel 30 minutes later, at a cost of 1.25 euros on my Bono ticket.

A mirador (view point) greeted me, and a sculpture of a fiqure indulging in Salto de Pastor (above) , paid tribute to the ancient way that farmers would vault across ravines to get around. A stroll down the main road through town, Carretera General del Sur, showed me a neat busy town with plenty of new sports and exhibition halls. I can’t seem to escape my Oxford past, posters advertised a council sponsored 4 day trip for local youth, to London, including a day trip to Oxford – all for 625 euros. They best take plenty of spending money, it will come as a shock to them, I sampled a few local cafes, and coffee and cakes were even cheaper than Los Cristianos prices.

The church is always a good place to start, I followed the sign off the main road and the square towered 17th century church of Arcangel, smiled brightly at me, framned by two leafy green trees. I wandered around the attached plaza, but the church was closed, and admired the distinctive building. Sadly some planning oaf has allowed a large communication mast to be put up near by, it looks bloody awful and when you look up to see the church tower from around the town, its intrusive shadow ruins the view.

Cutting through the back roads, I found the El Aljibe exhibition hall. This former reservoir is partly hewn out of the rock and was opened in 2004. The two tier display area (FREE entry) is currently home to acrylic paintings by Susana Gomez. It’s a great setting and well worth popping in from 10 am to 2 pm or 5 pm to 7.30 pm, Monday to Friday.

Stopping off for a cool drink and a snack at the Vera de la Cruz  bar in Carretera los Abrigos, the bamboo decor and cart wheels on the ceiling were very soothing, and set my mind thinking about the speedway connection. I was a keen Oxford Cheetahs fan for many seasons alas they are defunct, at least for now. Mike Bowden, chairman of Plymouth Devils, claims to have land and planning consent to start speedway in San Miguel, possibly within a year. There is already a popular moto cross circuit nearby, but in Tenerife there is always a huge chasm between planning and realization – but I would love to smell the fuel and the shale again.

Onward, to the Casa de la Capitan, a museum made out of a wealthy land owners house. The two storey building is wrapped around a central courtyard, complete with sculpture (below) and has a granary and wine press, after a fire in 1978 it was partly rebuilt. There is a strong theme of the agricultural past of the area, with tools and photos on display, as well as a small but informative library of local history. This is another FREE attraction and opens from 8am to 2 pm Monday to Friday.

I was planning to pop down to Las Galletas on the way home but waited at the far end of town, only to find that the 484 Titsa turns off early at Carretera los Abrigos. Never mind, the 416 back to Los Cristianos comes along every 40 minutes. Travelling back past the craggy Roque de Jama, I could feel the urge to do some more walks in this direction, that things to do list certainly doesn’t get any shorter.

Life’s a breeze on the Atlantic

It’s a hard life, skipping over the waves on a hot clear day, just off the coast of Tenerife. Would you believe me if I told you it was work? Actually it was, but I can’t deny that it was an amazing pleasure too, getting first hand experience of Flirtz 2, the 74 foot motor yacht, soon to be available for hire from Tenerife Yacht Charters. My mission was to snap as many photos as possible of this 2 deck delight, and the 30 or so invited guests, ready for a new website from Sorted Sites.

Before setting off from its mooring at Puerto Colon, I was given a guided tour above and below decks, the en suite bedrooms downstairs are as big as my apartment and definately more luxurious, complete with big screen plasma tv, sound system, and even a jacuzzi. The main lounge and kitchen are also roomy, with a carpeted floor, and upstairs boasts a second bar, and barbecue.

Time to slip anchor (see all those years of watching Captain Pugwash tought me something) and we powered (Flirtz 2 can do 35 knots) out to sea, and soon met some passing dolphins and whales. There is some beautiful coast line around the south west of Tenerife, from La Caleta right up to Los Gigantes and beyond, and we saw it all from close quarters. A smaller motor boat we were carrying was despatched to bring back chicken,chips and Canarian potatoes to go with the rolls, and with the drinks chilling, it was pretty well perfect.

Passing Los Gigantes and the high cliffs that spawned its name, we moored up just off Masca, a small village popular with walkers due to its steep descent to the isolated beach. Time for fun and games, with a mix of water skiing, swimming and general sun worshipping. It was amazing to see goats grazing up on a small ledge half way up the cliffs, and the seagulls swooping low in the hope of scavenging any food.

With everyone suitably soaked and glowing, we set off for the return journey, the day heading into evening by now, but still very hot and sunny. Manouvering carefully into Puerto Colon harbour, we berthed and said our goodbyes before feeling solid land again. I could get used to this ocean going life, better start saving my cents up.

Who, when and where for CD Tenerife

Yippee, here they are, the CD Tenerife fixtures for La Liga 2009-2010, the route map of my life for the next 10 months. Not too upset with them, a fairly gentle start away to Zaragoza (they just signed Jermaine Pennant from Liverpool) then a weeks gap for International games, and the home debut on Sunday 13 September, or maybe the day before. This season more than any other, we will be at the mercy of the television companies, especially Canal Plus, who will move us late on for live coverage, usually at late kick off times, we even have 4 midweek games.Â


30       Zaragoza                                     away


     13     OSASUNA                                 HOMEÂ

     20     Mallorca                                     away

     23     ATHLETICO BILBAO             HOME    WEDNESDAY

     26     Real Madrid                                away


      4      DEPORTIVO                             HOME

     18     Espanyol                                     away

     25     XEREZ                                       HOME


       1     Villareal                                      away

       8     MALAGA                                  HOME    Â

      22    SEVILLA                                   HOME

      29    Real Valladolid                           away


       6     SPORTING GIJON                    HOME

     13     Getafe                                          away

     20     ATHLETICO MADRID            HOME


      3      Racing Santander                        away

     10     BARCELONA                            HOME

     17     Almeria                                       away

     24     VALENCIA                                HOME

     31     ZARAGOZA                              HOME


      7      Osasuna                                       away

     14     MALLORCA                             HOME

     21     Athletico Bilbao                          away

     28     REAL MADRID                       HOME


      7     Deportivo                                     away

     14    ESPANYOL                               HOME

     21    Xerez                                            away

     24    VILLAREAL                             HOME     WEDNESDAY

     28    Malaga                                         away


      4     Sevilla                                          away

     11    REAL VALLADOLID               HOME

     14    Sporting Gijon                             away        Wednesday

     18    GETAFE                                     HOME

     25    Athletico Madrid                         away


    2   RACING SANTANDER                HOME

    5   Barcelona                                         away       Wednesday

    9   ALMERIA                                      HOME

   16  Valencia                                           away

Meanwhile, there have been crazy scenes at the Heliodoro this week as the season tickets went on sale. On the first day , 3,000 tickets were sold and 2,000 fans were shut out as queues swamped the ticket office staff. It’s definately the hottest ticket in town.

Birds eye view of Los Cristianos

In our minds we were 3 young dynamic explorers, striding out over Montaña Guaza, 428 metres above Los Cristianos, but to others we probably looked like we were making the Tenerife version of Last Of The Summer Wine. Myself (The Lemming), Chris (The General) and Gordon (The Moron) set off from the eastern edge of Los Cristianos at 10am armed with knapsacks, water, sturdy trainers, and our wits – oh dear. Montaña Guaza rises up above Playa de Callao and climbs steadily as it winds it’s way inland, reaching it’s peak overhanging my complex.

 Although not that high, Guaza can be a tricky little devil, I have done it twice before, but not for 2 years. Taking the tight twisting pathway from ground level, we soon started to feel the pull on our muscles, and the power of the near 30 degree sun, but already Los Cristianos was falling away below us, revealing a new outlook on the port, beaches and the Atlantic beyond. Once up on a more level plateau, we could see the terracing and stone walls dating back to early farming on the mountain, old concrete channels showed where irrigation helped the crops to grow in the heat.

This route is normally very popular, but we only saw one other person all walk, that was an elderley man who worryingly easily skipped past us and soon became a blob in the distance. There are several rough tracks, used in the past for transport, but we knew we wanted to head upward to the peak, where the aerials and antenna mingle to ensure mobiles get good signals and the Brits get their regular doses of Corrie and Eastenders.

Looking out along the coast, we could make out Palm Mar and the candy striped lighthouse of Rasca, made from stone quarried on the mountain. Across the Atlantic we could also see the churning white wakes of the ferries as they headed over to the nearby islands of La Gomera and La Palma, they seemed like toy boats from up on high, though I doubt they would fit in my bath. A few birds wheeled overhead, too fast to tell if they were Chiff Chaffs, Collared Doves, or Trumpeter Finches, all native to this mountain.

In need of shade and a rest, we pushed ourselves up the steep climb to the small compound at the peak, where a workman was fine tuning the aerials and antenna. We briefly admired the views over Guaza and up the motorway to Las Chafiras and the airport, on the way to Santa Cruz. Montaña Roja, the sturdy red mountain that greets arrivals at the airport, stood proud in the near distance, and a faint haze hung in the air. A quick sandwich break soon attracted a small army of playful lizards that scurried over the stones to fight for the biggest crumbs from our sandwiches.

Suitably refreshed, we headed down and back the way we came, it seemed quicker but we did manage to take a wrong turn and have to amend our ways in mid flow. You can’t go too far wrong in Tenerife, and with the sea stretching out below, we knew which way to head and were soon back on track. The steep path near the bottom took on new challenges as we went down,shifting sand and stone kept our minds agile – well as agile as they will ever be. After just over 3 and a half hours, we were safely back at ground level, all hot and sweaty, but pleased with ourselves and ready for a cold drink. No doubt the leg muscles will let us know later how they enjoyed the work out, but for now, I have my eyes on the next route march.

Caviar football, cheap as chips with CD Tenerife

A banquet of football will be served at Spains La Liga top table in the new season, today CD Tenerife fans found that it’s theirs to enjoy from as little as 11 euros per game. The new season ticket prices have been announced and although it has brought squeals of protest from the upper end of the price range, even percentage rises of 60% on last season mean that the dearest seats in the Heliodoro, are just 670 euros for 19 home games, that’s just under 36 euros per match, including Real Madrid and Barcelona.

Surely a mistake I hear you cry, no ( and don’t call me surely) I yell back with delight. CD Tenerife have been good to the loyal hard core of Peñas (fan clubs), we all gather in the Grada Popular end of the ground and our renewal season tickets will cost just 205 euros. There are no new season tickets either upstairs or down in that section, once the current holders have renewed, it will leave 40 % of the places up for grabs in the week before matches – you can bet they will sell mega fast. Your best bet elsewhere is the Herradura for 375 euros, 210 euros for under 16’s and 165 euros for over 65’s.

Match day tickets will be hard to come by this season, and the club are aiming to sell 15,000 season tickets before the action kicks off on September 13. Just to put these prices in some sort of context the cheapest prices for the new teams in the English Premier go from 441 pounds at Burnley,444 pounds at Birmingham and 643 pounds at Wolves.

Full price details are on the CD Tenerife club website or you can get in touch with The General , at and sort out your tickets and your new Armada Sur membership (20 euros), ready to enjoy the complete match day experience. Fixtures will be out on July 10, it’s a big season so get behind your local team, and don’t miss the tram.