Archive for December, 2010
Is This The Way To Granadilla? Just Follow That Bus

Encouraged by the Icod esperience my Bournemouth friends Karen and Neal were ready for another TITSA bus tour of Tenerife, flicking through my memories I realised it was at least 3 years since I had been to Granadilla so it seemed a good a destination as any. Meeting in Los Cristianos the sun was bright and Roque del Conde stood proud as it gazed down upon us with its light and dark patchwork of colours. The 470 bus was bang on time and only half full so off we set along the TF1 motorway with generous diversions down into Guaza, Costa del Silencio and through Los Abrigos before heading up through San Isidro.

It was noticeable cooler at Granadillabut still bright and the quiet sedate streets oozed charm against the Villaflor and teide backdrop. Hermano Pedro the Canaries is never far from the thoughts in his home municipality and outside the town hall at the Plaza Gonzalez Mena his bust reminds people of his heritage. It’s weird but the town hall building was being white washed, I’m sure they had just started it on my last visit, well its nice to be thorough. The tight streets of Granadilla were decorated for christmas with minimal trimmings but also an impressive series of festive themed paintings on the end of each terrace of shops. Heading out to the main church od San Antonio de Padua we saw a handfull of hikers, Granadilla is a popular springboard to the walking trails above and beyond and a great advert for rural tourism.

A couple of clouds ganged up on us and sprayed us with rain through some watery sunshine so we adjourned to a nice cosy bar. The walls were covered with old photos of the local area and some more recent ones reminded me that the snows of Mount Teide reached down into the plaza here just 5 years ago, probably the nearest it gets to the coast, just glancing distance below. The rain soon dried up and we carried on our exploring, I was hoping to find the old spring that fed the town with water but it proved elusive, I was hoping it was the secret fountain of youth, I could do with some of that. Walking to the other end of town the views down to Montaña Roja, El Medano and the heavily laden orange trees in between were wonderful and added to the quiet beauty of Granadilla.

Next stop was El Medano for some beach life, the bus flew down with the odd bit of sudden breaking keeping us alert in our seats on the 30 minute journey. The weather was glorious in El Medano, kite and board surfers shot the waves, sunbathers crammed into every spare spot and the promenade cafes were sizzling with warm flesh. Earlier on our bus we had noticed that concertinas were the in thing, several potential buskers were front loaded and ready to squeeze out a tune, one was on the front at El Medano, his organ looked a bit discoloured but I believe you can get some ointment for that. I had to share my pancake craving so we popped into La Boheme in the walkway behind the recently saved Hotel El Medano, sweet and savoury delights as we watched the world and its large collection of assorted dogs pass by. A brief walk later we returned to the restaurant opposite and enjoyed a coffee on their terrace overlooking the sea, it was a natural sun trap and my gaze was torn between the young lady peeling down her top on the next table and the young ladies bathing below Рoh the natural charms of the bay and Monta̱a Roja also managed to turn my head.

With plenty of time to play with we decided to march up to the main road and at least part way out of El Medano before catching a bus, it turned into a fair old hike in the beating sun. We rounded the surfers beach, the nature reserve and the camping area before taking the shade at the bus stop just as a cloud rolled over and blotted out the sun. As it didn’t look quite so promising we decided to bypass Los Abrigos and stretch the Bono tickets to Las Galletas, a brief shower greeted our arrival but a drink stop in a cafe transformed the scene back to a bright evening. Las Galletas was fairly busy and a stroll along the front and a short exploration of the shopping precinct passed some more time wisely. That just left a short hop back to Los Cristianos to finish the day with some tapas and beer at El Faro, another TITSA triumph.

The Wander Bug Meets the Butterfly In Icod

Unsettled and changeable best describes recent weather in Tenerife but to my holidaying friends Neal and Karen on the run from Bournemouth snow, it was just what they needed and as they wanted to taste the TITSA touring experience we headed off to Icod de los Vinos. Rising up into the hills the early sun was soon covered by low cloud although it did filter through for a wonderful rainbow nearly touching the road just by Santiago del Teide. Passing through some drizzle we dropped down into Icod and a decent sunny day, the tight back streets were bathed in festive classics in a Canarian stylie from the speakers at key points along the shopping parade. The local businesses had even laid on free wrapping in the street – the present sort not the bling and baseball cap musical variety.

Heading along for a gawp at the Drago tree brought us to the Plaza Andres de Lorenzo Caceres for a spot of lunch, decent prices and a lovely setting among the mix of strange knarled trees and the rather out of place multi coloured kiddies car ride. News had reached us of nearby Garachico’s 3 million euro collective win on El Gordo, the Spanish christmas lottery, was that a wave crashing as we looked out along the coast, or just another large bottle of champers being cracked open? The big famous Drago tree walled in just below the plaza gets all the attention but there are plenty more in the area so we headed up the road to worship a slightly smaller neglected tree hidden away in its own small crumbling plaza – I think we might start an appeal to help it. It was then we spotted a museum, Casa de Los Caceres, a fabulous old two tier house packed with some great food influenced art like a human figure made of lentils, peas, and chick peas, I think the artist was Jamie Oliver but I wouldn’t swear to it. Coming out there was a large crowd gathered as 2 chaps performed some street theatre.

Heading back down to the plaza it started raining so we dived into the Mariposario, the Butterfly Zoo. I have meant to visit this zoo for a long time, they have had run ins with the local council and it has been open and closed more often than Jordans legs. It doesn’t look much on the outside but once inside it opens up into a huge tropical greenhouse with plants, flowers and a stream running through. The butterflies were amazing, so many of them all around us and such a range of colours. A large lizard lounging on a tree bough looked like he was stuffed after eating a feast of butterflies but he flicked his tail now and then just to show willing. As the butterflies landed on us we had to resist the natural urge to brush them off, don’t want to destroy the stock. I can’t believe some woman had taken her dog in with her, small yappy and wrinkly around the face, but the dog looked quite nice.

Deciding to head south we stopped at a bar next to the bus station where a few locals were glued to a very old western on the TV, resisting some gems among the station shop DVD collection – Kojak when he was so young he still needed a comb- we waited for our bus as a young Ninja stretched his legs up the side of another bus and played out a rythm on the side with a rolled up newspaper, of course he got on our bus and continued his impromptu drumming all the way down to Guia de Isora where we got off. Town was fairly quiet apart from a kids party in the church square, sadly they didn’t seem to want us on th bouncy castle so we found a bouncy bar along the main road and savoured the last sun of the day as we had a few drinks. Guia were playing CD Marino at the football ground, just as well as the floodlights were the only illumination for the bus station next door, we were joined by a young pretty Eastern European lady who didn’t seem to know where she was heading and was gonna wait on her own in the near dark for an hour. Thankfully we persuaded the lost lass to get on our bus and head back to Las Americas, she only had a 50 euro note that the driver couldn’t change, Karen rescued her by paying with her Bono ticket, not nice to imagine the lady left on her own with just broken English and a 50 euro note to help her.

Our trip was brief, just a few stops down to Tejina to meet up with The General from the Armada Sur, by now it was getting a bit chilly but the pizza bar was welcoming and served up some nice local food to warm us up as we spilled our story of the day. TITSA buses give a good service and our 10 pm bus was spot on time to whisk us back to Las Americas and Los Cristianos. Another rewarding day exploring Tenerife in good company, with a few Doradas thrown in for good measure.

Not Fit To Wear The Shirt

What a way to go into the christmas break, a dismal 3-0 home defeat to Real Betis and we were lucky to get nil. After 30 minutes with CDT 3 down it looked like an avalanche but a mildly improved second half and Betis taking their foot off the pedal spared us that much. Fair play to Betis they are top and looked the best side we have seen this season, they should go up as worthy champions but the lack of fight and heart from Tenerife was scandalous and some players are just not good enough to play at this level.

Few players can be spared criticism after this, only Nino and Mikel Alonso put in the effort and goalie Aragoneses made some telling saves again despite being at fault on the second Betis goal. Prieto and Beranger were pitiful in defence, notably they are 2 of the new players brought in by Sporting Director Llorente – he hasn’t a clue. It took Betis just 6 minutes to take the lead with their first attack, the home defence was ripped open as Sevilla set up Emana for a cool finish.

The second goal came out of nowhere Las Palmas born Ruben Castro found himself through on Aragoneses when he released his shot, it looked like the keeper had it covered but he missjudged it and the ball was in the net. Sergio made up a little for his mistake with a few good saves, one at the feet of Molina and another double stop at close range. The third goal was a joke, Julio Alvarez lost the ball under no real pressure but Prieto had a chance to clear the danger but gifted the ball to Emana for a simple goal. The despair of the 14,191 crowd was clear as many turned theiir anger on the players and management.

At least it didn’t get worse in the second half but the damage was done and the players didn’t have enough ideas or heart to put things right. Mikel Alonso had a decent chance but put his shot high and wide. Kome was a puzzling choice for the starting line up and added nothing to the game, it was a relief when he was replaced by Juanlu after 54 minutes. Some 10 minutes later Omar came on for Alvarez, another abject failiure, and the young wide player started to make things happen, he jinked past 2 players and just put his shot over the bar. There was no way back though and the murmours of discontent will continue through the clubs AGM this week and into the January transfer window. Coach Mandia is under threat and just who will be selecting any new players is anyone’s guess. Things need to improve fast in 2011.

The Arctic Circle Starts At Oxford

A polar bear wearing leg warmers and a balaclava pounded down the High Street, proof indeed that I was back in Oxford as it shivered in the grip of the coldest winter for years. After so many scares over my flights, snow closing UK airports and Air Traffic controllers closing Spanish airports, The Ryanair flight was not only bang on time but even shaved an hour off the flying time. As Birmingham appeared out of the plane window it looked like a giant iced cake with hedges and roads marking out decoration lines. Once in the airport I changed like a wimpy superhero into my multi layers of clothing and braved the rail station where they were gritting the platform, cold, very cold.

Arriving in Oxford I needed a pub to warm me up and found a pint of Rocking Rudolph started the process before I headed of to my Aunts house. This morning my Aunt and i headed out to Wantage on the bus to see my mum at the new care home, it’s nearly 20 miles out from Oxford and wide open horse racing country, needless to say it was even colder as the scenic pic shows. My mum recognised me in brief lucid patches but was at least warm and well fed, her new Zimmer frame looked good so I tried it, very good, I need one of them for those heavy Dorada nights.

Back in Oxford I was able to visit a few old haunts and snapped a few shots to show the extent of the white blanket, even the canal had frozen, I just hope their wasn’t anyone under that hat! Oxford Prison, now an up market hotel and shopping area was worth a visit as they had a winters fair. Among the stalls selling mulled wine and other European delicacies I found a Churros stall and had a nice chat with the young lady on duty, I told her how much I admired her equipment. Off for a few evening beers now, purely for the warmth of the pubs of course. I’m going outside and I may be some time.

No Planes But Oh So Many Ships

It took me right back to 2002 and the Tenerife coach strike, Reina Sofia south airport was spilling out passengers into the car parks and waiting areas, some were kipping on benches and others just looked bored. No great problem for me as I was on the TITSA bus on the way up to Santa Cruz but with a trip back to blighty in a few days it was another potential spoiler to go with the snow and ice in the UK. Christmas was calling me, well a chance to check out the capital city and nearby La Laguna for Tenerife Magazine, it was dull outside but still in the 20’s and the new bus lane whisked me into the bus station in extra quick time.

Everything is late here so I wasn’t surprised to see the temporary festive ice rink in Plaza de España was nowhere near ready, it’s fairly small but still looks bigger than rinks like Gosport and Irvine where I watched Oxford City Stars play Ice Hockey. There was still plenty for me to check out such as the nativity scenes but up in La Laguna I had 2 big setbacks, first my camera deleted nearly all my pics, oh well I had time to backtrack and make my calls over again but more seriously I got a call saying that CD Tenerife’s Sunday home game was off as Granada couldn’t guarantee flights over. Not a happy bunny but ressiting the urge to down a few Dorada’s I continued with my task and headed back to Santa Cruz. With a bit of time to kill I headed for the port, always worth a look, there were 4 huge cruise liners in on the far side but more interestingly there were 4 tall masted ships closer to my perch on the roof of the ferry building.

Down on the quayside the gates were only partially shut so I wandered down the side of the visitors and grabbed a few photos. the Alexander von Humbolt is a name I have heard before, the 3 masted 1906 barque is a training ship where 25 trainies learn from experienced hands on long cruises. Next along was something very different and ultra modern, Icon Amsterdam looks like a rich mans toy but I can’t find anything on it via the internet, there was noone visible on board, maybe they were counting their money below deck.

I nearly saluted when I saw the next ship, Bessie Ellen from Plymouth (green army) only 2 masts rather than the others 3 but it looked nice and homely, there was even a mug of tea desrted on the desk in the cabin. It’s a 106 year old gaff rigged sailing ketch that has been operating out of Denmark doing charter trips. I was pleased to learn that Bessie is heading home to Plymouth and a new home. The passengers on the multi million luxury cruise ships across the water must have wondered what was going on with this little flotilla of ships, they were certainly getting plenty of admiring glances.

Moving down the quayside I found the saucy young lady at the top of this page, she was the masthead for the Stad Amsterdam, a 60 metre clipper, it has 14 luxury cabins and a large open air bar on deck. There was quite a party going on at the bar and they were all decked out in their ships sweatshirts but I was spellbound by the saucy lady up front, i wonder who the model was? Last in the line was the Eye Of the Wind a brigantine built in Germany in 1911, looking through some on line articles I found that it has been a frequent visitor to Tenerife. I managed to grab a few words with some Dutch crew and they told me that none of the ships had travelled together and were entirely seperate, just a lucky coincidence that they came together in Santa Cruz. It certainly added a nice bonus to my day, I wish them all calm seas and full sails.