Archive for September, 2020
Burning the Lava Trail From Icod To Garachico

Standing at the top of a near 400 year old twin lava flow and looking down at a sinking skull. My toes were tingling as I left the church at San Juan del Reparo and followed the sign to shadow the path that wiped out most of Garachico in the 1706 eruption.

What a beautiful crime scene, contrasting destruction and rebirth at every step. Perspective changes views, the offshore volcanic spitbristled with bird life but from my lofty perch, its empty eye socket fixed a mocking stare at the source of its dark origin. Pine trees now sprout healthily out of the hill side and the descent is a smooth 90 minute zig zag towards the Garachico church plaza.

My curiosity did lead me astray before spotting the real route beyond a modern estate. Taking a rough but clearly used trail, I found an old sealed water gallery. The hills in and around Icod are peppered with them, many unmapped and forgotten. In 2007 heavy rain caused the water table to rise and gasses were forced into tunnels being explored by visitors near Los Silos. Six people died and a big clampdown was made on the old galleries.

Back on the main trek, there were warnings of possible rock slides but heat was my only irritant, a good supply of cold water was my solution. As the path lowered, the horizon broadened, Los Silos lighthouse was visible to the west and the San Marcos coast stretched out in the opposite direction. The natural rock pools of El Caleton looked welcoming below but restrictions on times and numbers make it an elusive treat during these Covid days.

Old above ground water pipes and pumping stations were testaments to peoples ingenuity and determination to tame their charred landscape. Not many other people passed me on the walk, the heat of the day had chased most sensible folk to seek shade and cold drinks. Apart from the odd bird cry and church bell, a calm mood hung in the air. Garachico was a fine reward for my wander, there is plenty to enjoy at the top end of the trail as well, the settlements on the way into Icod are worth exploring. The descent itself was like peeling back the years and gave me a whole new appreciation of this part of the Tenerife coast.


Tenerife Tides And Peaks Through Anaga Rural Park

Was the ground dropping away or the mountains standing to attention? Both observations were true as the Titsa bus weaved and picked its way through Anaga in the north east pan handle of Tenerife. The occaisional blast of the bus horn pre warned oncoming traffic on the tight bends. Far behind, a cleft in the rocks showed freighters and cruise liners moored off Las Teresitas beach.

A delicate balance of fully laden trees and wedges of sloping man made terraces, added to the breath taking views that kept on coming in an hours journey from the bustling capital of Santa Cruz. How untouched by time the little hamlets and isolated houses looked. A cluster of post boxes on the lip of a plunging path was at least a small concession to the local delivery man. Secluded picnic areas and signposts to walking routes were evidence of the rise in rural tourism. The dominant peak of Roque de las Animas looked down on Taganana as the bus squeezed through the slimmest of hairpins.

It was barely 5 kms to the coastal destination but three mature ladies hurried to head us off with pre paid multi ride tickets and big broad smiles spilling out from behind their anti Covid masks. The vibrant sea seized the spotlight as we hit the coast road and young surfers piled off and retrieved their boards from the storage belly of the bus. Playa de Almaciga was busy but well below the previous heatwave weekend that saw the solo entrance road  gridlocked. The bus passed the gnarled Roque de Las Bodegas and turned up to the village of Almaciga perched on its crows nest position.

The last wave of passengers headed down the steep path to the wild sweep of beach heading to Benijo. It was very informal there, parking spots and makeshift picnics were the order of the day and back stopped the rolling waves. Back at Roque de Las Bodegas, rods and lines tried their luck from the well maintained path that skirts the rock itself. It´s a well worn tradition, fishing boats dried out near the shore. The sea was a minefield, of further jagged rocks piercing the water. Taganana wine used to be floated out in barrels for passing galleons to pick up. It must have been a supreme juggling act, as the afternoon wore on, the tides became more insistent and crashed their arrival in no uncertain terms.

Anaga is an inspiring area to visit, the few still functioning cafes and bars were doing a steady trade as the mid 30 centigrade heatwas softened by the spray of the sea. The return trip was shaved of 15 minutes from its hour expectation. The 946 and 947 buses leave each end og the journey at quarter past the hour, with the 6.15 pm the final chance to head back to the capital (check seasonal variations) and another opportunity to marvel at the amazing land that you have travelled through.

La Orotava – No Welcome Carpet Rwquired.

Worthy of more than just an annual visit to the Corpus Christi flower carpets, some healthy leg stretching was needed to explore the uncluttered streets of La Orotava. I arrived via a short hop Titsa bus from Los Realejos, eyeballed by an artistic mural proclaiming the virtues of the region. I headed up into the historic quarter where spires compete for  skyline supremecy.


Plaza de La Constitution offered shade and cold drinks while the three bell tower of San Sgustin church delivered a jackpot for architecture fans. The joy of non shuffling movement and time to gaze out over the La Orotava valley was worth savouring. It seems to be a sin in this charming town for buildings to be just ordinary. Even the less cared for barns and out houses had a rough diamond quality. The 2020 version of Corpus Christi was a vastly trimmed and mainly indoor concern but even naked, the Ayuntamiento (council) plaza demanded respect and admiration.


Don´t get the idea that La Orotava is only about food and drink for the soul. Passing up from the bus station, there´s a steady concentration of smaller bars and cafes on the left turn as the road rises to the football ground. It´s always offered ample refreshment before the almost annual pre season visit of CD Tenerife. The right fork offers more substantial fare backed with grand designs with intricate detail from top to toe. Casa de Las Balcones is a prime example of classic lines and traditional local Canarian wines and food. Plaza del San Franciscois a more under stated green area proving that simplicity is also an art form.

Museums offer glimpses into the workings of the past but be aware that several close in the afternoon. Whichever way you turn, it´s likely you will be drawn back to the magnificent Iglesia de La Concepcion. A short queue is a small price to pay for an inside view to compliment  the neck back gaze up at the dome and tower. La Orotava is packed with plazas and green spaces to relax and soak up the serenity, or if you have plenty of time. take a  long loop around the outer reaches of town with church bells as the soundtrack to your stroll. The carpets will return, but it´s always a good time to make a visit.

Big Ticks For CD Tenerife´s New Term Win

Boots laced, shirts slipped proudly over heads, and the refs whistle as shrill as a clarion call to action. The summer dramas in and beyond football were banished to the side lines as CD Tenerife kept it simple and effective to beat visitors Malaga 2-0 to start a new season.

Four pre season friendlies had been shoe horned into a shrunken schedule. Not much time for new coach Fran Fernandez to get his ideas across to a changing squad. Seven goals leaked in the warm ups pointed the fingers at defence, so the boss will have been pleased with Portugal´s  23 year old Bruno Wilson. The signing from Sporting Braga looked confident and comfortable in the heart of the home defence, his early sliding clearance denied Malaga´s most threatening chance of the match. With more signings to come, new Nigerian striker Manu Apeh. led the line but didn´t impose his stocky build on the game enough. Another newbee, Carlos Pomares worked hard down the left with little reward.

The break through goal came just before half time, a volley from veteran skipper Suso. The set up was a well executed hooked down loose ball by Adeje local, Javi Alonso. Jacobo Gonzalez made a big impact from the bench just afyer the restart, robbing a defender and squeezing his shot into the Malaga goal,followed by a back flip that showed off his Phantom Of The Opera protective face mask. His joy was in contrast to the previous weeks clash of heads with Maikel mesa of Las Palmas that left the new boys nose splattered like our mascots trunk.

Malaga had little to offer. Internal financial turmoil left them struggling to scrape together eleven starting players. Tenerife are also in transfer window transition. Striker Joselu was a late sub but wasn´t able to catch the coach´s eye, and may pass an incoming proved goal scorer. Maybe some of the 5 million euro fee from Granada for Luis Milla will finance a hot shot and a midfield maestro to fill the Milla void. CD Tenerife are not a rich club, and don´t have millionaire owners. Malaga have good cause to warn other “be careful what you wish for.” Polishing pebbles into gems is the realisyic aim of Tenerife, especially with no paying fans expected in the stadium until January 2021. Tenerife fans have learned to savour the moment, an opening win, more new faces to come, and a Canarian trio of young players pushing for a senior shirt. That will do nicely for starters.

La Laguna Brings The Universe Down To Earth

How could I mislay  Earth so soon after my descent into the Museum of Science & The Cosmos? Jupiter and Saturn loomed large above me but it took a full minutes scan to see my pea sized world dangling and dwarfed light years away.

Myth busting, eye opening, and full of eureka moments, myself and two other visitors enjoyed a free guided tour of a selection of over 40 exhibits in the university city of La Laguna in Tenerife. The spread of knowledge was temporarily limited by the Covid virus but interaction and hands on discovery were still the key. An eager cleaner followed in our wake to buff up outer space portals, helium balloons, and revealing light shows.

Discovery, explanation, and even naming of heavenly objects, owes much to scientist Charles Piazza Smyth, Italy born but educated in Edinburgh on the way to becoming Astronomer Royal for Scotland. Pioneering star gazing in Tenerife in 1856, his legacy can be seen in the museum in features on the La Palma and Tenerife based telescopes. Meteor and weather phenomenon were all given their stage in the building, and a step in booth gave a close encounter with a tornado. Light spectrums picked out our body heat at close range, and I even managed to lift a mini car – with help from Archimedes.

Up on the roof plaza, a telescope, a stone solar calendar, and a huge satellite dish were awaiting the resumption of school parties and night gazing sessions. It´s a busy high tech point on the island, with the Santa Cruz -La Laguna trams stopping outside, and planes swooping to land at Tenerife north airport.

When our own world returns to a less crazy spin, the small entrance fees (5 euros for non residents) will also return for over 100 people at a time, along with extended time slots to explore the wonders of the museum. Check out the website to exploit the current free tours, and to get more information in a choice of languages, and you too can get a grip on the cosmos.


Life Is looking Up In Los Realejos Alto

Chugging steadily through a roadwork bottle neck at La Zamora, my Titsa bus from Puerto de la Cruz was full of happy faces. Given the stiffling combination of Tenerife heat alert and anti Covid masks, a few frowns could have been expected. Breaking the 20 minute journey at La Montañeta, to admire a very distinctive church, had already given me a glimpse of a hard working but upbeat commmunity.

It was not just that friday feeling, the tightly coiled heart of Los Realejos Alto was busy and packed plenty into the steep labyrinth of shops, bars, and cafes. It was quite a contrast to the stretch of neglected commerce around Playa de Los Roques a month earlier. Civic pride was well covered, the two most famous sons were immortalised by the modern hand of Matias Mata (AKA Sabotaje Al Montaje). Antonio Gonzalez Gonzalez, an award winning chemist, and Jose Antonio de Viera de Clavijo, historian, priest, and naturalist shone their smiles (right to left) down at a key corner of the inner town.


It wasn´t all about the formal and famous, Matias Matia gave a nod to the digital age, beaming down from on shoppers. The bubbling fountains of Fuente de los Remedios were another lovingly crafted, corner to catch my eye. The local traders were banging their drum to supprt  the towns business folk in these troubled times. Posters stressed the need  to visit your local shop keper, and taxi drivers were lending their support to 3 euros tapas and wine thursday promotion nighrs at 9 nearby establishments up to 17 September.

Piercing the skylinr, the tower of Matriz Santiago Apostol church was a memorable landmark. Even with part of its plaza being rebuilt, it couldn´t fail to impress. The Ayuntamiento (council) building was also defying the builders intrusion but a side step still offered rewarding views down into the barranco (ravine). Bucking the current trend to shout its name via a hideous silver spell out of its name, Los Realejos took the natural, green approach. So much more in fitting with this stylish part of the island.


Refreshing Changes Lap At Tenerife´s West Coast

Heat haze shimmered in a 35 centigrade stamina tester. most people chose to admire Playa San Juan coast under shade with cold drinks, but the recent widening and gentle sloping of the harbour wall path was a welcome option for my visit.

The flower beds were a blaze of colour, and dispite a Covid induced shortage of tourists, the beach had a fair sprinkling of bathers. The closed kiosks were frustrating but hopefully new tennants will be found once the times improve. This was my first chance for a close up look at the plaza that replaced the old church. Too stark and too angular from the outside, it was reprieved slightly by a spacious and welcoming interior, with bars and play areas.

Heading further up west, Playa de la Arena was busier. Their detailed, colour coded social distancing zones added a touch of class and even looked cheery after six months of turmoil and rwstrictions. Going back to school was the last thing on young minds around the craggy coast of Puerto de Santiago. Crab Island was in sedate mood to attract plenty of sea dippers, thankfully there was none of the clawing  waves that the area often delivers.

Los Gigantes was my first Tenerife base, the whimsical urban art of Momoshi made me smile even though the lack of passing holiday makers was sad to see. There was more art on the approach road to Los Gigantes beach, this time from Matias Mata (AKA Sabotaje Al Montaje). An even more pleasing sight was the slightly extended Los Guios beach, with more improvements partly done. An easy access ramp would be very helpful, and a new lifeguard tower would back up increased security.

My feet soon remembered the steep rise of cardiac hill as I made my way up and out of “the village” and my reward for the ascent was the sight of the fisherwoman´s statue looking resplendent ringed by a higher than usual burst of natures blooms. The days heat was well worth it to catch up with some of my favourite ports of call.