Archive for March 23rd, 2011
Topless And Clueless On The New Santa Cruz Tour Bus

The fair may have moved on from the Tenerife capital Santa Cruz but there is a new white knuckle ride in town, the City Sightseeing tour bus or Guiri GuaGua as the locals refer to it. My friends Neal and Karen, the Bournemouth section of the Armada Sur may never forgive me for dragging them onto the first of 2 days of free trial rides on the bus to launch the new tourism service.

Basically it’s a 40 minute round trip of points of interest in Santa Cruz with 11 stops. Aimed at visitors for a adult price of 9.99 euros (6 euros residents) you can hop on and off at any stop over a 24 hour period. The company operates similar buses in many countries including mainland Spain and it soon became clear on our trip that there was no local knowledge. We got on at Plaza de Espana, Neal and Karen downstairs to avoid more scorching sun and me and my camera upstairs with a sprinkling of multi national passengers. Plugging the licourice red free earphones in and selecting English from the 8 languages we were off into Avenida de Anaga and there were a few squeals as overhanging branches raked a few hair styles. The commentary seemed well informed but I pulled my plugs out, partly to let me move easier and partly because the twinkly classical music was cracking me up.

At first I thought the constant blasts on car horns were just normal Canarian banter but the upstairs attendant was looking over the side with quite a bit of concern and as we circled Parque Garcia Sanabria for a third time I started to pay a little more attention to the road ahead. Avenida de Vienticinco de Julio, part of the scheduled route was tight, very tight, with more tree interferance on our upper deck and I was now aware of some angry shouting from the street below. My mobile rung and I was surprised to hear it was Karen “we’re lost and think we should get off quickly”  made me check the route on the leaflet and look out from the bus to see the old bull ring looming up, yep we were well off course.

Scrambling downstairs I had the gaps filled in for me, we had nearly knocked a resting pedestrian off a concrete roadside bollard and scraped the bus against another bollard. That had prompted a change of driver, with the original joining the 3 other staff in frantic gestering from the leaflet map to street signs and back again, they didn’t have a Scooby Doo. Earlier when I told my footie loving pals that the bus went by places of interest they suggested CD Tenerife’s stadium, I had laughed and reminded them it was way off course but now here we were turning into Avenida San Sebastian with the floodlights of our place of worship just ahead of us. We managed a quick wave as we passed our matchday bar just down the hill from Soccer HQ. Blimey what an adventure, I had started out feeling like Cliff Richard in Summer Holiday and now I fellt like Keanu Reeves in Speed.

By now even the mainly tourists upstairs had twigged that all was not going to plan and several had filed downstairs hoping to escape the Magical Mystery Tour. As we headed out of town and then looped back along the sea front by the Auditorium an hour had passed so we belted out an S.O.S on the bell and got off outside El Corte Ingles, we didn’t want to risk heading back to Plaza de Espana. I clocked the damaged paint work as I got off, not bad for the first day, there are actually 5 buses working the route so maybe they will soon all have matching chips. A bit of forward planning would have served the bus company well, surely they should do “the knowledge” and find out about traffic priorities and where they are supposed to be going. Only this morning there was a photo in the local paper of another car tapping on the door of a tram with its front bumper, now we can add tour buses to the equation.

Of course the tour buses will learn to fit in and the taxi drivers will warm to them and greet them with polite phrases and dainty finger gestures. Look out for the big red monsters in the capital, you can get all the info about routes, service etc at their website. For me it’s another tale to tell of life in Santa Cruz – just when I thought I had seen everything.