Archive for November, 2011
All La Laguna Was A Stage But It Was All White On The Night

Either there were 180,000 zombies, a mass outbreak of insomnia, or it was Noche En Blanco in La Laguna. This was the third White Night held in the centre of the Tenerife university town just north of Santa Cruz. Basically the white is the lights that attract people like moths to a very exciting flame until 3am, shops, restaurants, museums, galleries, and bars were all open until the wee hours.

The 150 official activities started at 10am on Saturday with lots of family and child friendly events to ease everyone into the action. Heading up via Santa Cruz and then the tram I missed the morning and such delights as the theatrical hairdresser, a canine stylist, and the chocolate fountain (could have been messy) all in the pedestrianised historic centre of town.

Rounding the corner from the tram stop I was nearly garrotted by an aerial runway set up next to a climbing wall that a small child was trying to scale with help and a harness. From then on it just got more bizarre, I went into the Casa de Los Capitanes to pick up a guide booklet, they had a half size copy of Picasso’s Guernica on display – made out of 40,534 pesatas of different nominations. It took five years for the Puerto de la Cruz artist to polish, varnish, and mount his money – not the bloke you want at the post office counter in front of you.

Moving on the streets were already awash with people, as well as the official attractions lots of street performers had set up – everything from living statues to jugglers, face painters, balloon modellers and food stalls sold chestnuts, hot dogs and burgers, even the scouts were knocking out arepas. Many shops had spilled out into the street and were doing fashion displays and make overs – I might have been a challenge too far. Every now and then the crowds would part as young basketball players dribbled down the street, unicyclists wobbled along, or small carriages bounced over the cobbles.

My plans were fluid but I did want to do the tour of the Teatro Leal, the grand theatre built in 1915 and restored to former glories three years ago so I joined a group of 20 on the 5pm trip. A very flamboyant actor from the Burku Theatre group led us inside where the banked four tiers of plush red seating swirled around us as our leader ran through the history. Then leading us onto the stage we took in the full majesty that greets the actors, at a subtle signal to the wings, the front few rows of seats sank below ground level to reveal a small orchestra pit. If I had fallen I could have said it was just a stage I was going through.

Taking the back stage stairs we stopped off to see the compact dressing rooms with rows of individual make up desks and mirrors. Then it was out onto the third tier for a panoramic view of the sea of sets below, one young man went outside looking a bit peeky, vertigo his friend told us. I thought what a wimp, but then we went up to the top tier where the seats were higher than the balcony just in front of them and I kept a firm grip on the arm rests.

Our host was again in full theatrical flow when a lady dressed in finest historical evening wear wandered out on the balcony and introduced herself as the muse of comedy and delivered a little dance and a snatch of Shakespeare. Suddenly on the other side of the chamber another similarly dressed lady appeared holding a dagger and bemoaning her lot in life, this was the muse of tragedy. The two figures exchanged banter as they drifted together and departed, out tragic friend reconciled with stories of her great past performances. It was smashing stuff but one more treat awaited us, a trip up onto the roof to view the dusk of La Laguna as the sound of happy voices wafted up from the street.

Outside it was dark now but the Christmas lights and window displays ensured a magical setting for the next phase. A fire eater breathed a hot trail into the air and a belly dancer gyrated in a doorway, chestnuts glowed and daytime coffees were replaced with beer and wine. Music filled the air and performers seemed recharged as more people poured into the city centre. I enjoyed a few more musical interludes at different stages in the many plazas before heading back down south. The party was destined to run for a few more hours yet, it was a brilliant initiative, full praise to all those who put in so much effort.

CD Tenerife Are Thrillers In The Mist With Lugo Point

Brrrr I felt cold just watching CD Tenerife run out onto the mist shrouded pitch at Lugo, it was like the dawn of time but thankfully CDT had evolved after a few wobbly performances. This was much better against the joint leaders and without suspended Medina, Kitoko dropped into the heart of the defence and fit again Kiko started on the bench.

Perona threw down an early marker dribbling through the home penalty area before slipping the ball out to Marcos who shot wide. Lugo were always going to be tough to contain, it took a strong tackle back from Cristobal to stop an early break and that was soon followed by a looping free kick that just cleared the Tenerife bar. Chechu (below) looked hungrier this week, Zazo set him up for a strong run at the home defence that the keeper did well to block. Monti was the main Lugo threat and unleashed a long range effort after 20 minutes that missed the target. Then the opening goal showed what a good side Lugo are, they drew the Tenerife defence wide and a telling cross found the head of Belencoso as Cristobal stood rooted to the spot.

Tenerife lost their way for about 20 minutes, Monti had a couple of decent attempts, the first blocked by the cool and impressive Ayoze (above) and the second was high and safe. With the half ebbing away Bravo took off on a speedy raid and passed the ball into the box, Perona looked like he had missed his chance but scooped the ball up and fired it into the net with a lethal strike. The play switched to the other end with Ferran Tacon coming to the rescue scrambling the ball away from a Lugo attack.

Tenerife looked more confident in the second half, the paltry 2,500 crowd got frustrated and that filtered through to the players as the game wore on. Bravo forced a desperate home clearance after a strong run from Ferran but there was danger at the other end with a fierce shot that Sergio took command of. Tarantino came on for the quiet Zazo just before the best move of the game. Bravo danced through the home defence beating three players but couldn’t find a gap to shoot and laid the ball off to Tarantino who showed why he is a defender. Kiko made his return to action replacing Chechu who had been struggling after getting a knock. Lugo made a late double substitution to try to force a win and could have grabbed all the points in injury time, the ball was loose and dangerous as Lugo closed in, Sergio was brave and decisive diving in to push the ball clear to secure the draw.


A Masterpiece At Every Turn In Adeje

I don’t want to get all Prince Charles with you but I do appreciate a striking well designed building and a bit of street art and here in Tenerife we are blessed with some great examples. Taking a different route into Adeje town I got off in the Las Torres area to feast my eyes on the bright modern buildings that have sprung up in recent years. The police station makes a very arresting sight, it could be quite boxy and boring but the different shades of stone work and the landscaped rock and cactus garden make all the difference. mind you i’m still not in a hurry to see the design of the cells.

Driving into Adeje off the Armenime roundabout heads always turn to see the rainbow design on the large concrete building, the bust of Beethoven is a big clue to it’s use. The Escuela de Musica or Adeje School Of Music looks fantastic and must be a real inspiration to young musicians going in to study. It opened in September 2010 but I think the great composer’s statue used to be outside the old school over the other side of Adeje but this is probably Beethovens last movement.

Heading up the road into the heart of Adeje there is the stark minimalist block that is the Iglesia San Jose de Los Olivos, it seemed to take years to finish this church and it was fenced off for a long time. I’ve grown to like it in recent years, it makes a bold statement and a look around the sides reveals traditional if small stained glass windows. The crowning glory of Adeje town must be the wall murals, a wonderful tribute to the traditions and culture of the past, and painted on the side of living buildings where families are now living.

The biggest murals are in the Piedra Redonda childrens playground in the centre of Adeje, the main one of the crafts people were designed by Conrado Diaz Ruiz and completed over the first three months of 2011. The artwork looks very similar on the other unsigned works but whoever produced these artisitic wonders has my awe and admiration. Piedra Redonda (the round mill stone) has its own pride of place and for another mix of ancient and modern the revamped Plaza de España at the top end of town takes some beating. It all makes for an uplifting mix and keeps luring me back to one of my favourite towns in the south.


Positive To Negative, A Shocking Switch For CD Tenerife

There we were 2-0 up at half time, the sun shining, birds singing, fish leaping in the Atlantic – I think I even saw a rainbow over the gassworks at one point. Sadly we had been softened up by CD Tenerife, a flowing, skillful first half display against Celta Vigo B was followed by a dull, negative, and almost suicidal second half betrayal for the 8,198 crowd. Coach Calderon applied the shackles at half time and the team looked determined to sit back and wait for the final whistle, of course that led to lazy, sloppy play and Celta pounced.

Despite their lowly placing Celta looked a good side and could have taken the lead in the first five minutes, a goal dissallowed for a clear offside and another near miss just after. Tenerife took that as their cue to turn on the style, Ferran Tacon, playing just behind Perona up front, made a great run and delicately tucked the ball past the visiting keeper after 10 minutes. There were plenty of ideas going forward, Zazo was making good runs and both full backs were launching raids down the wings. Young Ayoze showed his inexperience with a defensive slip but Marcos Rodriguez mopped up nicely and fired Tenerife forward again.

Zazo had a clear shot at goal but blasted his effort wide with barely five minutes to half time, there was better to come though when Tacon did the hard work to leave Perona with a nice tap in for a half time 2-0 cushion. Even as we enjoyed our rare state of bliss at the break we knew that the best plan was to push for more goals against a side that has the worst defensive record in our section of Segunda B. The coach obviously thought differently and the transformation was ugly and uncalled for, I know we are not a pretty sight at the Grada Popular end but the players seemed scared to come anywhere near us.

Of course the inevitable happened, a solo effort from Albert reduced the arrears and had our nerves jangling. Time after time Tenerife players lost the ball and made terrible slack passes, Chechu (below) had one of his worst games, and Kitoko came on for Bravo to underline the defensive intentions. Tacon tried hard and was alert to run on to a high ball but slipped it just wide. The defense stood still as a Celta forward eased his way through and luckily for us curled his shot over. One of the biggest blows in the game was a booking for Medina that means the consistent central defender will miss the vital game at leaders Lugo next week.

German came on in the final minute, presumably the substitution was meant to run down the clock. Going into four minutes added on, German twice raced up to Celta’s nervy keeper forcing him to make panic clearances, maybe if he had come on earlier we may have got the killer goal. Celta will wonder how they didn’t get a late equaliser, hitting the underside of the bar only to see Sergio deflect the falling shot onto the post and wide as their players queued up. The final whistle brought relief but it should never have been that close. Coach Calderon can feel fairly secure in his job but the last few weeks has seen him struck off an increasing number of fans christmas card list.

Fishing For Scenic Splendour On The Arico Coast

Calm seas lapping at volcanic slabs, shingle dragging lazily along the sea bed, sandstone sculpted by time and nature, and fishing villages full of traditional delights. Another fine walk, this time on the east coast of Tenerife, just a short distance and a world away from the TF 1 motorway heading up north.

Los Cristianos was bristling with activity on this Saturday morning as groups of keen walkers flexed their maps, laced up their boots, and scanned the sky for tell tale signs of good or bad weather. I joined some friends for the brief convoy to Arico and the Tajao turn off, I don’t think I have seen a village so blessed with tempting fish restaurants and bars. After a coffee launch at Bar Rocas we headed part way up the slip road before plunging down the rocky pathway where eroded sandstone shapes towered over us. The sun was set fair in the clear sky and the path soon opened up onto the beach just beyond a peg shaped stack marking a small cove.

The sea shimmered and the suface looked like glass broken only at remote outcrops where lone fishermen tried their luck, it was such a lovely setting they probably weren’t too concerned if they got a bite or not, the tranquility was reward enough. Scaling the brow of a hill we could see piles of slate to one side and families playing in rock pools down at coast level. Further along an organised camp site looked neat and tidy with small cabins and motor homes stretching inland, other had settled near the waters edge using natural shelter from the rocks to make an impromptu chalet.

Each new climb was greeted with further views of rocky fingers protruding into the sea and volcanic patterns that would make any artist envious. After a while a distant church loomed into view with a sprawling village ahead of it, this was La Jaca. A few early afternoon locals sat outside their homes enjoying the cool breeze, the small crescent shaped harbour was a perfect place to stop to raid our water and sandwiches. The fishing boats hugged the back wall and a protective rail and metal steps into the sea were modern additions to encourage swimming, and a shrine to the Virgen de los Pobres (virgin of the poor)Â was well tended with flowers Fed and watered we moved on over the hill and carefully crossed a concrete damm where a barranco met the incoming sea. Up the other side we were in La Listada and were drawn to the church (Iglesia de la Virgen de Los Pobres) local families greeted us warmly and one sent a small boy to unlock the church so we could look inside. Outside Poinsettia (the christmas plant) burnt brightly, a perfect finishing touch.

Abades lay further ahead and the wind turbines whirred gently up near the motorway, for us it was time to retrace our steps with a few variations. Going higher up this time we joined a roughly pebbled road that only seemed to serve a few large houses. They all seemed to have big alsations straining at the leash through the gates – maybe they had smelled my turkey rolls. Pushing on the return trip was quicker and well timed as we saw a few clouds rolling in from the west. Just before we reached our starting point I noticed the shipwrecked Russian boat, Runaway Serf, that has been in the Canarian news for the last few months. It looked a bit of a rust bucket but its hull proudly displayed names of calls on the way from Moscow. Strassburg, Geneva,Lisbon and Cadiz had all been visited but the last name New York could prove a port too far – especially as motor is awaiting repair by local helpers. Russian journalist Andrei Novoselov is living on board and hasn’t even got any desert island discs to listen to.

Anyway back at Bar Rocas a busy afternoon was underway, the upstairs restaurant, highly recomended by some of my friends, was filling up and this Tajao crossroads seemed quite a focal point. After three hours of brisk walking the Dorada was very welcome, I will certainly pass this way again – maybe I can cadge a boat lift to New York!

Drawing A Blank, Another Goal Less Away Day For CD Tenerife

Coach Calderon (below) made a point before this game at Toldo of saying CD Tenerife were going looking for the win but that didn’t seem obvious from his team selection. Kiko is a big man but the gap left by his injury is starting to look like a gaping chasm, Ferran Tacon seemed to have the job of supporting solo striker Perona and again it didn’t work. Sergio Rodriguez came in at the back for the suspended Tarantino but these days the defence is the least of our worries.

No television coverage again so my earphones were disturbing wax again. At least I had the FA Cup goal round up on ITV to give my eyes a reminder of how good it is to see the net bulging. Over in Toledo CDT had an early penalty appeal turned down, Sanchez apparently handling the ball. Victor Bravo nearly broke the deadlock after the half hour but no joy. Meji replaced new boy Sergio just into the second half and already the prospect of hollering goal and waking next doors cat up looked remote.

Chechu came close before making way for Ruben Rosquete making a surprise return from injury. I was hoping the Armada Sur party at the game might be able to inspire a win but even they couldn’t break the away win drought. German, a recognised goal scorer didn’t come off the bench until the 88th minute, hardly time to break sweat, and Zosmar was left at home again watching the Canarian equivalent of the Coronation Street omnibus. Zazo’s last minute attempt was met with dirision by the commentator so that was that.

A Cheeky Away Win At Home For CD Tenerife

You know what it’s like, your away, playing badly, not making an impression on the game but you sneak a 1-0 win – result or what. Sadly this 1-0 win over Leganes was at home and the 9,353 fans really deserved better than this half hearted display. Both halfs Tenerife came out flat with no drive or passion, maybe they thought lowly Leganes were easy pickings, a dangerous state of mind to adopt.

Captain Kiko has been the subject of a fair bit of sniping from some fans who question his contribution and at 34 see him as yesterdays man. The skipper was out injured today and boy was he missed, as a target man and aerial threat he still has plenty to offer and as a local born player with blue and white blood he inspires respect and shows leadership. Victor Bravo partnered Perona up front but he drifted wide a lot and with poor service and it didn’t quite gell. Luna and Kitoko also failed fitness tests and Ayoze (below) held his place in the centre of defence with Marcos taking the midfield holding role.

A cold start saw Leganes create two early chances, Cristobal (top pic) did well to hook one away and another went wide. Tenerife didn’t get near the visitors goal until 10 minutes into the game and Zazo had the first clear chance five minutes later with a header that was cleared. Chechu was having a quiet game even before he was pole axed and narrowly avoided a stretcher ride before being helped off for a few minutes treatment. Vincent Perez was buzzing everywhere for Leganes and Victor Fernandez was bearing down on goal, thankfully Sergio slid out to take the ball. A goal less first half looked like the best we could hope for but with the referees whistle poised for action Ferran Tacon set Perona clear and he ran the ball and finished coolly-phew that was handy.

The second half was little better, Nico replaced Chechu but the birthday boy and the drifting Bravo were getting in each others way on the left. Perona had a chance to make it 2-0 but Bayon intercepted well, German came on for Bravo (above) and played a more central striking role but went down too easily when challenged. With 10 minutes to go a Leganes free kick was struck low and hard through a scrum of players, Sergio was equal to it crouching low for a vital save. German had a late opening but Falcon the visiting keeper swooped to claim the ball. A win’s a win but it was far from convincing.

Pirates Shiver As HMS Montrose Takes A Tenerife Break

Hey, fancy coming back to see my battleship? that’s got to be one of the most impressive chat up lines. Judging by the beaming smiles on the young ladies heading off the gang plank of HMS Montrose shore leave definately has its attractions. The 185 good men and women of the Type 23 Royal Navy frigate certainly deserved their four day break in Santa Cruz, having just left their Devonport base in Plymouth they were stocking up and gearing up for a six month tour in the South Atlantic keeping a watchful eye on the Falkland Islands and other outposts 8,000 plus nautical miles away.

PM Call Me Dave has just issued the go ahead for commercial ships to carry arms and security staff when sailing the pirate infested African seas off Somali. A year ago Montrose patrolled that area and blasted a roque pirate ship out of the water. Just looking at the 32 Seawolf missiles and the imposing 4.5 inch gun turret was enough to dispel any thoughts I had about getting an eye patch and a parrot. Lieutenant Commander Sam Law, the ships public relations officer gave me a guided tour below decks, I was surprised how relatively spacious it was, even the junior messdecks have a chill out area with Tv, DVD and Hi Fi. Up on deck I resisted the urge to reset the main gun to face Gran Canaria.

The bridge was very compact with clear views out onto Santa Cruz dock, I even got to swivel in Commander Jonathan Lett’s chair. A helicopter had definately been mentioned in the research I had done so where had they hidden it? That was easily answered as my guide pulled open the hanger door up on deck to reveal a Lynx helicopter with rotor blades folded and ready to pounce like a coiled spring. Even this bit of hardware packs a hefty punch, Sea Skua anti ship missiles, Stingray torpedos, depth charges, and machine guns could soon teach an opponent the error of their ways.

The current Montrose, the third to proudly bear the name was built on the Clyde and launched in 1992. capable of 28 knots it’s driven by 5.2 mw of power but the bit of information that impressed me was all its vertical surfaces have a 70 degree slope which makes it appear the size of a fishing ship on radar. Suitably impressed I left the ship hoping that the manly absent crew enjoy all the excesses that Tenerife can offer, even with summer creeping in at the South Atlantic it’s a long trip away – fair winds and tides to them all.

Queen Mary 2 Holds Court In Tenerife

Was it Carnaval time again in Tenerife? The streets of Santa Cruz were bristling with people, police and Unipol cars were visible on all corners and there was even an eye in the sky in the police helicopter. Anyone would think royalty had come to call, well it had in the majestic form of Queen Mary 2, tucked in behind fellow cruise liners Voyager Of the Seas and Liberty Of The Seas on the far quayside. Heading into the flow of dissembarking passengers I headed down the ramp at the ferry station to gaze across at the illustrious visitors.

Security was tight on QM2’s maiden voyage call seven years ago but now it was tighter than ever, glued to the phone earlier in the week neither the Tenerife port authority, Cunard in Southampton or their various press and PR agencies were offering a close up and personal tour. The previous day the port carried out a bomb threat simulation around the Costa Deliziosa to test security but the Fred Olsen cruise ship Balmoral was parked up on the near pier so at least I got to cozey on up to that, no mean ship itself with 1,750 crew and passengers.

Queen Mary was undoutedly the star and even at a distance she was attracting a large fan club, I headed down to the old jet foil station for a closer look from their small jetty. Small fishing boats seemed to be looking up in awe at their regal visitor and I’m sure the Fred Olsen ferry’s blast on the horn as it passed had a tone of respect about it. At this point maybe I should fire a few QM2 stats at you. At 1,132 feet (345 metres) long the QM2 covers 3.5 acres, weighs 151,400 tons and has 17 decks making it as high as a 23 storey building. At full stretch she can do 30 knots and on this visit brought 2,200 passengers and 1,100 crew.

Despite only being seven years old and having had a few minor touches done in Greenock before this cruise, the QM2 is heading to Blohm in Germany for a refit after taking in Gran Canaria,Lanzarote, Lisbon, Vigo, and dropping off back in Southampton. Bringing a healthy boost to Santa Cruz the four cruise ships between them carried 10,550 passengers and 3,400 crew – ker ching went those tills. There was no respite for the port, the next day four more liners were due, Marco Polo, Adventure Of The Seas, Thomson Destiny, and Costa Mediterranea. Never a dull moment.

Getting Crafty In Santa Cruz

As someone who spent two school terms making a clay ash tray that looked like an offensive weapon I’m pretty impressed by those with the skills to fashion a pipe from a tree branch or make a coffee table using only their finger nail clippings. Thankfully these skills were not used by any of the 200 exhibitors at this years Feria de Artesania (craft fair) at the Recinto Ferial in Santa Cruz.

I expected a bit of a scrum down to get in as it was free but the mid afternoon concourse was empty and the aisles inside were almost clear with just a smattering of people browsing. Never mind, with a cheery good day stout yeoman to the doorman I went inside the modernish designed show hall, I still refer to it as the squashed pastie. The fair had attracted artesans from all seven islands, one of the first I gravitated to had traditional costumes but the holder had gone walkabout. One of the dummies held a basket full of individually wrapped chunky almond biscuits so I took a couple to road test, very nice, all crunchy on the outside with a softer centre.

There was a real mixed bag of stalls with very well made and imaginative toys, soaps, perfumes, glass ware, clothes and furniture. What was missing was customers, some exhibitors looked bored rigid, two old chaps as wrinkly as Canarian potatoes were selling home made musical instruments but I thought it odd that they had some retro Take That blaring out from their radio. The 80’s pop conspiracy grew as I headed up the stairs to the balcony cafe to be greeted by Tears For Fears wafting down the steps. As I ordered my coffee and roll I noticed that the serving ladies uniforms bore the word Faster with the additional word Catering in small letters beneath. A thousand innuendos crossed my mind but I was strong and just gave them one of my winning smiles.

Nosing around again downstairs I found the cakes, jams and biscuits stalls and tried a few samples, very tastey, I could have had a meal at the restaurant below the bar. There were some lovely toys and dolls on the nearby stalls, good early christmas shopping I would think. The reconditioned furniture looked very stylish and the bed looked very bouncy, dare I test it for sqeaky springs? maybe not, apparently I’m supposed to be a grown up. It was all a bit of a shame, hopefully the evenings and weekend will pick up as people finish work, a lot of people were hoping for a much needed business boost. The fair is on until close of play on Sunday 6 November and opens from 11 am to 9 pm.