Archive for February, 2015
British Consulate Shines Light On Tenerife Living

Like my Tenerife hill walks, life here can sometimes be confusing and prone to false trails. Clear signposts are the key in both cases and that’s where the British Consulate provides such a valuable service to us relocated Brits living the good life on our sunshine island. The latest road show was held at the Auditorio Infanta Leonor in Los Cristianos and just over 100 people attended, a new guest this time was Tess Wencelblat from the Consulate Healthcare Team In Spain. Tess in on the far left of the top photo, and also below, followed by Clio Flynn representing Adeje Ayuntamiento (council), British Vice Consul Helen Keating, and Consular officers Penny Gomez, and Mary Suarez.

The first part of the meeting dealt with the advantages of being registered on the Padron. Registering as a resident of your municipality (Arona, Adeje etc) helps the councils to assess community needs. It gives you the right to vote in the council elections (coming up May 2015) and the big carrot is the 50 % travel discount between the Canary Islands and to mainland Spain, you even get discounts on theme parks and events. The British Consulate offer practical support and advice in many ways in times of stress, illness, and misfortune. Much of this was covered at the previous meeting and you can revisit that via this link and a list of useful contact points at the end of this article. Rules and guidelines often change so social media can be an invaluable tool, the change in driving licence requirements was barely a month old when this meeting was held so there is a link for that update too.
Many of the audience were older ex pats and visitors of limited, regular visits and very concerned with health issue and some of the grey areas that are constantly bandied about in the local media and in bars with wildly differing degrees of accuracy so it was good to hear from Tess on her specialist area and from the other team members who have many years of practical experience. Registering on the Spanish health system is a wise and easy move to make for those settling in Spain, the process can be started in advance of your move and visitors with special needs like oxygen and dialysis can smooth the way with an S2 Pre plan Card.

The biggest concerns among the audience were the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) for visitors included on the UK health system, and possible confusion at the point of treatment, especially in stressful emergencies. Tess and the team covered some key points. The Hospiten hospital in Playa de Las Americas (known as The Green Clinic) is a private facility but they will treat patients on their EHIC, there have been problems when people use their holiday insurance instead. Once accepted, there is a gap of up to a few days to check the insurance covers the treatment needed (insurance companies do like their get outs and people often leave out some medical details to get a cheaper cover) and it is not possible to switch to the EHIC if the insurance does not cover you, by then a large private bill can already have been run up. The EHIC is your best friend, be loud and proud with it as your first choice. The Consulate team are aware that the system has had its critics and on the morning of this road show they had a meeting with the Hospiten management to remind them of their commitment to the EHIC scheme.

Another important point is the Clinica El Mojon up the hill from Los Cristianos is not a hospital and doesn’t have overnight beds, it’s more like the health clinic in the Valdes Centre, a good first point of call if you have a non emergency illness or injury. Many people also voiced concerns over being taken to a private hospital in the case of an emergency. There are many private ambulances for private hospitals, and a restaurant, bar, or hotel may call one of these if there is an emergency. Engrave the number 112 on your mind, phone, and notes, this is the Spanish version of 999 and will access the mainstream services. The British Consolate recently arranged a helpful visit for the British media to the 112 HQ in Santa Cruz, read this link and you will be pleasantly reassured.
There are always some golden nuggets that emerge at these Consulate meetings, the hero this time was the Convenio Especial. This little known star is for people with no UK health cover who have been on the Spanish Padron for a year or more, they can then pay 60 euros a month (under 65) or 157 euros a month (over 65) to access the Spanish healthcare system. Our night ended with a lengthy question and answer session with Consulate Officer Monica ensuring her roving microphone made things loud and clear. Big thanks to the British Consulate team, get pumping these contact details around those who didn’t attend and sign up for updates on social media.

Tel 902109356

Tel 902109356

Advice Line 0044 300 222 0000



Hey Puerto De La Cruz It’s Good To See You Again

The bits that don’t work are the ones that work a strange magic on me. Descending into the centre of Puerto de la Cruz on the 343 Titsa bus from Los Cristianos I was almost reassured to see the old abandoned bus station gradually shedding its coating of lime green paint. It will fall down one day, I’m convinced and I would feel cheated not to see it, especially after feeling it shudder when buses used to trundle inside down the ramp.

It was probably a couple of years since my last visit but it was like putting on some old frayed and comfortable slippers as I walked up the steep steps of Calle Iriarte with its horned tree sculpture. Cutting through into Plaza de la Iglesia brought a surge of pleasure at the sight of the magnificent church and the feast of greenery and the dry but ornate fountain in the plaza. Like a dog revisiting favourite haunts I was keen to sniff out some remembered places, the Plaza de Europa was partly covered in scaffolding from the recent Carnaval but beyond it the harbour wall allowed the wind to blow through my ear holes as the waves rolled in down below.

La Cofradia de Pescadores have a nice modern building these days for selling their catch and the upstairs restaurant serves up terrific food with a fishy theme. I was lured into the exhibition hall by a large display of model ships filling two floors, it was free to browse with just a request for donations in a collecting box that struggled to hold anything more than loose change.

One of the big changes since my last visit was the unpopular demolition of the ancient wall running along San Telmo, the sight of the diggers gouging out a supposedly better landscape wasn’t convincing. The shopkeepers along the Paseo San Telmo must be cursing the tight run that potential shoppers have to negotiate to reach the other end of the seafront.

Normally I would get off the bus at the top of the La Paz district on the way down into the city centre but this time I took the winding path up to the mirador stopping off halfway for some tapas at the Tasca Barossa. The Spanish owners were obviously keen fans of American country music and Anne Murray serenaded me with Snowbird in the slightly drafty outdoor seating area. The view down to the sea was pleasant and the little wrap around blankets on the back of the whicker chairs confirmed that this busy junction of paths was no stranger to a bracing breeze. Carrying on to the top of the walk I surveyed the Playa de Martianez below, it looked almost naked without the two old sea facing bars that had finally been removed. Before I left I nodded a quick hello to the bust of Agatha Christie, who knocked out a short story on a brief stay, and the Rotary Club statue of two eager explorers.

Up in La Paz I met the well traveled Jack and Andrea Montgomery on their own patch for coffee and delicious pastries at El Aderno. After squeezing in my business call I headed down to the street serving as a makeshift bus station, the crumbling original was finally closed in 2009 but a 1.5 million euro replacement has been promised, and promised, and promised. On top of the old station building a drained water feature looked very sad with it spread winged seagull missing a head and some very blunt Anglo Saxon tourets graffiti that some may feel reflects the Ayuntamiento (council) response to this area and its users. For me these just provided more moments of amusement on a very enjoyable trip.

CD Tenerife Are Back With A Carnaval Smile

Two goals from open play in a 2-0 home win over Real Valladolid made for a joyous farewell to the Santa Cruz Carnaval – and raised hoped for the Canarian derby in pio land next Sunday. New coach Raul Agne must take a lot of credit for his tactical changes, including dropping out of form striker Aridane.

The shape of the team looked better, Juan Carlos Real started up front and interchanged well with captain Suso and that inspired their team mates to be more adventurous. Aitor Sanz tested goalie Varas in the first five minutes but Valladolid built well and looked a class side. Pereira, their small but nippy forward had plenty of tricks but proved to be the Carnaval clown. An outrageous penalty seeking dive earned him a booking and just two minutes later he was guilty of a blatant late trip that left the ref with no choice but to send him off with just half an hour gone.

Valladolid had to change their style and tighten their already mean defence, it made for an interesting contest as Tenerife were playing much more open football. Aitor Sanz picked up a booking to rule him out of the derby clash but he and Vitolo controlled the midfield to give a solid springboard for Diego Ifran. All level at half time with an upbeat feel among the 9.112 crowd, Tenerife came back out with a win on their minds. Suso was able to cut inside more thanks to Juan Carlos and his rasping shot wasn’t wide by much. Valladolid managed a few efforts but Dani was consistent as ever in goal and made his takes look easy.

The opening goal came from a flowing attack, Cristo Martin threaded through a gift of a pass for Suso to run onto in the centre and he latched onto it and slipped it past the keeper. It’s been good to see Agne continue to promote the rising young players, he brought on Victor Garcia on 80 minutes and he almost scored from his first touch, his run ended with a blast over the bar. The 20 year old was fast out of the blocks again when Diego Ifran laid the ball into his path, the finish was clinical and full of confidence. Quite a contrast for Sporting Director Serrano, his January signing Abdon Prats hasn’t been trusted with even a few minutes of action but Victor has burst through since the B team management signed him in the summer.

The Heliodoro was rocking again, the downtown bars were licking their lips at the increased trade, and most importantly CD Tenerife moved out of the relegation zone. The only sour note was the Sanz booking but defender Jorge and goalie Carlos should be fit for the short sea crossing to ensure competiton for a starting place.


No Shades Of Grey Just Carnaval Colour At CD Tenerife


Injury Time Defeat For Depleted CD Marino

For 83 minutes a 0-0 stalemate seemed the inevitable outcome between Las Zocas and CD Marino but a late flurry caught the visitors with their guard down and the home side overturned a goal deficit for a 2-1 victory. It was my first visit to this tight little ground, they have an artificial pitch but real fans, plenty of vocal encouragement and a few drums.

Marino coach Espinel had to shuffle an injury ravaged pack but the first half play was pretty dour and from both sides with too many high balls and niggling fouls preventing either from establishing superiority. Lamine ran out of steam as he chased an early half chance and captain Airam was off target with his shot. Christofer broke down the right for Las Zocas but his wild attempt was high and wide. Kevin Castro was giving the home defence a hard time down the left flank, 13 goal Balduino was one of the missing players and it showed when the ball was put into the goal mouth.

Adan was a constant danger to Marino, he was unlucky when he took the ball wide and launched a slice shot that didn’t miss the goal by much. Sergio had to be at his best when Adan bore down on him just before the break, the keeper ran out and forced the ball away with a solid tackle. Las Zocas had a claim for handball in the penalty area denied and the first half ended with Castro running into the concrete terracing close to the pitch, thankfully he was just dazed and the break was very welcome for him.

Sergio had a busy start to the second half, first charging out to kick clear danger, followed by a smart save down at the left post. Cristian Barrios tested Aitor in the home goal, he responded well tipping aside a crisp shot. A scramble for the ball involving Barrios and defender Nacor left the ball loose, again Aitor mopped up. Las Zocas had the easiest of chances as a cross rolled slowly just in front of the Marino goal mouth, it was begging to be tapped in but a weak shot took it to Sergio.

Marino had the ball in the back of their hosts net after 68 minutes, Airam had provided the touch, the linesman was waving his flag for offside and it was not given. Home sub Kevin added some spice, he went close with a one on one followed up with a header that Sergio took with some ease. As the sun set most of the 300 crowd were resigned to a 0-0 but the game burst into life, first Airam tucked in a good cross to grab a Marino lead.

Celebrations had barely died down when Las Zocas hit back through Hector finishing off a break down the left wing. Maybe a lack of some more experienced heads cost Marino in the final minutes, the home team were fired up and hungry and charged at the blues. Deep into stoppage time a free kick from Christofer found Hector close in on goal and he converted his chance for a vital victory that will go a long way to staving off relegation for Las Zocas.

Nature Finds Many Ways To Please On The Almond Blossom Walk

The weather, the terrain, and the views are constantly changing on the Almendro en Flor (also known as the almond blossom walk) but one thing remains constant, the beauty of nature as it unlocks its secrets.

It was a chilly 7 degrees as I arrived in Santiago del Teide but the low, wandering cloud (wasn’t he an Indian Chief?) was parting and as I strode out on the well signed pathway behind the church plaza. The sun shone as a strung out army of walkers picked and clicked their way upward but it soon went missing to be replaced with a cool breeze laced with small flecks of moisture. Maybe I should have shoved my jeans in my pack back but at least I had a coat to add to my layers.

This was my fourth annual almond inspired treat, the blossom was at an advanced stage with trees covered with white, and pink flowers. At the first opening along the track the reservoir was full to the brim unlike last years meagre level. Looking back beyond Santiago del Teide to the popular steep road that accesses Masca there was bright sunshine, it can change so quickly up the western side of Tenerife. The complete walk is 9 kms, the first big milestone is the shrine at the spot where the Chinyero eruption of 2009 stopped short of the virgins statue that had been wheeled out from the church. It had taken an hour for me to get this far, 3.6 kms, I took a nosebag break and chatted to a few other walkers, some from mainland Spain, some German visitors, and some on holiday from France.

Pushing on the lava fields provided challenging footholds as we were funneled between big banks of craggy lava. The pine forests began to appear at the distant sides of our trail, the swirls of moisture laden clouds were feeding the earth via the needles of the pines, nature doesn’t waste anything. At points the uneven surface gave way to yellow brown soil before the rocks rose back up around as like silent guardians. Entering the edge of the pine forest the trail became smoother but undulated up and down around clusters of thick twisted roots. At this point in previous years I had been greeted with clear views of the snow covered side of Mount Teide, this time there was much less of a covering but as the cloud blew aside it still gave an inspiring glimpse of the peak highlighted by a generous serving of blue sky.

Some walkers were tackling the route from the Arguayo end so there were plenty of new people to pass as well as the ones I kept switching places with after stopping for more photos. The final stretch brought more low whispy cloud creating an eerie dreamscape. The walk is almost circular so Santiago del Teide came into view again and the gentle peel of the church bell added to the overall enjoyment.

The descent into Arguayo is a zig zag route through terraced farm land where almonds are grown in large numbers for export as well as the delicious sauces and pastes that many of the local bars and restaurants are showcasing until the 28 February. The coat and jumper were back in my bag by the time I hit the sunny streets of Arguayo. A 462 Titsa bus (2.30 and 4.30 pm) took me back through Santiago del Teide and on to Los Gigantes before heading back to Los Cristianos. The three and a half hour walk had again exceeded the previous years rewards – I can’t wait for next year.

Struck By Lightning In Santa Cruz

Luxurious cruise ships spilled out thousands of passengers to swell the Carnaval streets of Santa Cruz but for me the visiting Spanish Navy ship Relampago (lightning) was the pride of the port. Friday 13th seemed an appropriate time to take up an invite to tour the headquarters of the emergency services 112 Canarias and that had made a good start to thee day – but more of that later.

Carnaval fever builds steadily but there was a buzz in the air as fancy dress stalked the city streets for the evenings Cabalgata opening parade. The trams were coupled together (well it was Valentines the next day) and pulling double loads of passengers, the temporary police and hospital compound was on standby, and food stalls were wafting delicious odours through the streets. In Calle Castillo there was an outbreak of oohs and aahs as a gang of little chicks were guided down the main shopping artery. Had I stumbled on a scandal, one of the small birds was chomping on a biscuit, maybe an energy enhancer – or maybe she was just peckish.

I knew the port would be busy but the sight of the grey patrol ship with the gangplank extended gladdened my heart, the female officer at the check in table was very welcome too. There were only a few people waiting to go on board so it was a nice relaxed tour starting on the helicopter pad before being led into the hanger where a video screen was showing the ship in action on the high seas with the theme from The Rock providing a suitably strident backing.

Relampago is a new meteor class ship, launched from Cartegena in October 2010 and carrying out protection duties against pirates off Somalia and more lately based in Las Palmas. The current crew of 51 are packed into a 93 metre long and 14 metre wide hull under Captain Alfredo Saco Diaz. The guns are always a big attraction, leading the way was a 76 mm canon backed up with two 25 mm auto mountings, and two 12.7 mm machine guns. Many of the crew were on shore leave but our guide took us down through the narrow corridors of the ship and up onto the bridge. I suppose I’m a bit of a ship spotter as I always check out the port and have a big file of photos of the vessels that have passed through Tenerife.

Back at the ferry terminal a stream of well healed cruise ship passengers shuttled in and out of the city centre, the pre Carnaval activities must have impressed them. As well as the giant stage in Plaza de La Candelaria there was another whopper near the port in Avenida Anaga and they were doing sound checks ahead of a reggae evening. As always Santa Cruz had delivered more than I had expected.


No Quick Fix For CD Tenerife

Three lessons may have been learnt by new CD Tenerife coach Raul Agne on his debut, a poor 0-1 home defeat to Girona. Aridane is a waste of space, Tenerife doesn’t always have perfect weather, and the fans want a lot more changes to restore their faith in the club. With little time to assess his new players Agne went for a safe line up and Aridane had a chance to impress in the opening minutes when he found himself through on goal but he wasn’t strong enough and the goalie snuffed out the threat.

Girona had plenty of class to offer and Sanchon ripped Tenerife open down their left flank with Moyano looking slow and unsure. The coach had the back four playing far up the field, a tactic that has worked well for Pochettino at Southampton and Spurs but it takes time to adapt to, the home players were finding it difficult to track back, the pouring rain can’t have helped. Sanchon broke again and set up Sandaza who fired wide. The warning wasn’t headed and the next wave brought the goal after a scrambled clearance led to a Sanchon corner, Carlos Ruiz was particularly slack allowing Lejeune plenty of space on the edge of the box to power a header past Dani Hernandez.

There was more pressure to soak up, Vitolo made some timely interventions and Dani made a couple of fine saves including one down at the post. Sandaza fluffed his chance to increase the lead with a weak shot on the half hour and Sanchon was thwarted by a crunching Camara tackle and a strong punch from Dani just before the break. Agne must have felt a little shell shocked during the interval but tried to change things by bringing on Juan Carlos Real for Cristo Martin. Albizua tested the visiting keeper with a header but he took it with ease. It was no surprise when the slow and ineffective Aridane was taken off, Victor replaced him to add some movement to the team and got in a good position only to sky the ball over the goal. Frustration was creeping in, Suso was hitting dead ends down the right, Cristo Gonzalez was a welcome final sub as Aitor Sanz departed, the 17 year old striker looked confident and eager to attack the ball. New striker Abdon Prats will have to wait aother day for his debut.

The crowd was down , this time just 6,489 had braved the awful weather and with the game slipping away the chants started again for President Concepcion to go. A large banner also demanded that Concepcion and Sporting Director Serrano follow coach Cervera out of the club. Into injury time and a clear handball by Cifuentes in the penalty area was spotted by everyone except the ref, that snub brought howls of protest and a couple of plastic bottles were thrown on the pitch just missing the linesman. It was not a pleasant end to a poor game, Agne has now seen the grisly picture at first hand – the training ground will not be a place for the faint hearted this week.

Tuning Into Tenerife Tracks By Jeep And By Foot

How can I stay still when Tenerife keeps changing and there are so many ways to explore. As always I am intending to do even more mooching around in 2015, this week it was a short walking route, Casas de Altavista above Arona town and last week I swept around the island on a Tamaran Jeep Safari, both brought their own rewards.

The jeep tour was for a Tenerife Tourism blog and a chance to visit some old favourite spots, the first stop at the mirador of La Centinela was another nudge to dig out the walking shoes. The view over Arona municipality and across to San Miguel took my gaze over a pleasant stroll that starts just under the view point, I will pop back to refresh that route.

Vilaflor was the next stop off, I have done several of the walks around there so didn’t feel too guilty at enjoying the comfort of my hosts Tamaran. The weather has been a little patchy for the start of another year but it was bright and sunny all the way up the east of the island and in Teide National Park where natures sculpted rocks were stunning against a sharp blue sky. Heading back south down the western trail it was cloudier and cooler but that couldn’t detract from the sheer pleasure of dipping into Masca village – there’s another walk I need to repeat soon.

Prompted by a new walking guide from Arona Ayuntamiento (council) a short circular walk to Casas de Altavista seemed a good idea. It started from the Plaza del Cristo but unlike the more well known choices it turned left and took me past the football ground before rising up an old dirt track. The recent clouds had parted and some sun filtered through, the water gulleys were gurgling gently and the paragliders were swirling around the peak of Roque del Conde. Even the constant crack of hunters gunfire faded as I strode higher into the cool, fresh air with insects busily exploring the blooms and bushes.

Reaching the top of the old path as it joined a more modern tarmac road, I took a sandwich break and surveyed the scene, a further old trade path went on to link with Vilaflor and a few of the old barns and houses of the walk’s name showed a mix of renovations, some opting for traditional character and other choosing modern luxury. The downward route was along a tarmac road, there was little traffic and the bird song was hardly interrupted by modern transport and the almond blossom was in fine form. Part way down were two small rural hotels, what a great setting for a base to explore the less commercial side of the island.

Barely two hours into the walk I could see familiar roof tops and the tower of the Arona church, well it was only 3.5 kms but it was a useful kick start for longer challenges. The tight, steep final stretch of the road brought me into Arona town on the other side by the old Los Lavadores where clothes were washed at the natural source. The A.T Arona Café Restaurant tucked away just before the bus stop back to Los Cristianos refreshed my thirst and hunger and the sun popped out again as I ate in their little garden. I will pass this way again, Roque del Conde is overdue a repeat visit, a bigger challenge and one to look forward to.