Archive for the 'Exploring' Category
Taking The High Ground In La Laguna

DONG! Every 15 minutes the bells of the Torre de la Concepcion chime, but it still made me skip a beat as I looked out over the panoramic views of Tenerife´s majestic university city of La Laguna.

The seven storey time piece didn´t have a mammoth ascent but contrasts stretched out in all directions as a chill breeze wafted in between the stone masonry windows. The three parralell main streets of the city were bustling with visitors and residents as commerce rubbed shoulders with religon, theatre, and history.

On the day of my latest visit, several smaller connecting streets were sealed as part of the European Day Without Cars, a welcome chance for the area to take a well earned breather. Looking out from my high perch, there were other signs of change, such as solar panels on roofs of old beautifull buildings.

Tenerife North airport, the original landing strip for the island, was busy as ever as planes skipped just above the tall green hills. There have always been storys about the poor choice for this modern addition, even now the clouds sometimes settle so low they cause cancellations in high summer.

The tower is great value at 2 euros, which includes a look inside the old church next door, opening times are Monday 10 to 2 pm, Tuesday to Friday 10 to 5pm. . For modern splendour, the La Laguna cathedral is a must to visit, and only a short walk back down into the main streets. At the other end of the construction range, the old bus station has been bought by the coumcil (ayuntamiento) and may well be demolished. It was replaced by a gleaming, modern building a decade ago, that dove tails nicely with the tram service between La Laguna and Santa Cruz.

I had mixed feelings about this old interchange, but the churros and chocolate bar was always a favourite of mine. Hopefully the balance between old and new will continue to respect the importance of the city to the spiritual and educational history of Tenerife.

Amarilla Golf Marina Is A Place To Linger

With an almost hypnotic pull, the coast of Tenerife attracts a diverse range of visitors. Any of them popping into Amarilla Golf Marina will be pleased with the facelift that combines rest areas, childrens play zones, cycle lanes, and a clean, modern look.

Just a year since my last call, the transformation made a big difference. It was surely no conincidnce that the floating pontoons had more pleasure crafts and yachts in the water, plus more business units on the quay side offering a wider range of hire options with plenty of thrill rides.

The shoring up of the banking wall that shadows the golf course, added to the neat look with its white stone, it reflects well on the golf course as well, and presents a prettier wider picture. This first upgrade stage cost nearly one million euros, there´s more to come, extending the good work in a western direction. That should promote the walking options around the coast from Las Galletas and then onward to El Medano.

Looking down toward the airport and Montaña Roja (red mountain) improvements to the shingle and rock beach of Playa San Salvador has another six months to go. At present, a looping uphill detour to the promenade must put a few people off from visiting the cafes and bars along the strip. The marina has set a shining example of how to improve the area. I look forward to seeing the full stretch soon.



Tegueste is A Wine Haven Labelled With Love

Grapes of all sizes, colours, and varieties formed a maze around me in the heart of Tegueste, one of the smallest municipalities in Tenerife. A series of walks shadowed the water channels that made this such a fertile spot for its founders in 1813.

Having just hopped off a Titsa bus from La Laguna to Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo, I had already been distracted by the hills that shelter the original village and have fed its growth. Even the football ground of UD Tegueste has its claim to fame as the starting point for Barcelona and Spain star Pedri. There was further proof of the local sporting pedigree in the form of a statue of two grappling wrestlers, a homage to Lucha Canarias, a popular sport in the seven Canary Islands.

The finca Los Zamorano spread out beyond me with its promise of free strolling around the vineyards, and their well documented range of grapes made me feel quite thirsty. Opposite the Mercadillo provided an outlet for many local wines and products but I was a few days adrift of its opening times of 8am to 2 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. It was early in the growing season but the vast layout and photos of the spread gave me a good idea of the rich bounty of the region.

The heart of Tegueste was visible beyond with the white tower of the church providing a focal point to lead me to Plaza San Marcos. History is preserved in the nearby cultural centre, the Ayuntamiento (town hall) and will be added to soon with a new centre of archaeology. Among the tranquility there was a pride and desire to share the history and culture of the area. Walking is encouraged over several short routes, the main one covering 2 kms up to the Barranco Aqua de Dios (ravine of the water of the gods) and back through the village as a teaser for other longer walks leading down to the rugged La Laguna coast.

One visit always sows seeds for a follow up, I will be trying a few of the trails, and just down below on the main bus route is Tejina, but that´s for another day.


Seeing The Wood, The Trees, And Fragrant Foliage in El Sauzal

Oh the joys of wash day. Parque Las Lavanderas in El Sauzal has been pumping out 50 cubic metres of spring water an hour through the beautiful cascade of pools and greenery since it was formally welcomed into the caring arms of the municipality in 1987. Tenerife outdoor washing areas have always been a social gathering point and are conserved with pride.

I´m often waylaid by the latest artisitc masterpiece on the steep steps of the town hall. This time, sculptor  Luis Stinga had exceled himself with his tribute to this domestic chore that was transformed into a sicial occaision in the 8,000 square metre park, perched 200 metres above the coast line. Cafeteria Deleite nestles in the middle of the feast of nature, winter (september to may) opening is from 10 am to 7 pm. Most visitors can´t resist a wander around the split level pathways to spot dragon flies, fish, and lizards.

There´s plenty of pride in the local traditions of El Sauzal, posters invited entry to a photographic exhibition featuring the manzana reineta (Queen Apple), an import from France many decades ago that has won people over with its destinctive bitter sweet taste. I was also just a few days short of a classical instrument recital in a vineyard.

Like most remote rural areas, El Sauzal is constantly fighting to keep their population steady and thriving. A practical scheme backed by the Ayuntamiento (council) and the Gobierno (Canary Islands government) offers a 50% maximum grant of up to 10,000 euros to Spanish residents of El Sauzal, to rebuild properties that are in danger of being left to ruin. There are some impressive new residencies between the coast and the motorway linking Puerto de la Cruz and the capital Santa Cruz. Older buildings will now have an even chance of providing affordable homes as the municipality looks to the future.

With its modern outlook on old favourites, El Sauzal is always a good place to visit, I´m already looking forward to the festive season to see what adorns the town hall steps this year.

Tacoronte Has Much To Celebrate

Just entering their fifth week of the Fiestas of Santisimo Cristo, a relaxed mood drifted through the back streets and plazas of Tacoronte. just 40 minutes on the Titsa bus from Tenerife capital city Santa Cruz. It would be hard to guess that Tenerife North airport was just over the horizon, the hills shield it from the former bus station plaza viewing point, which allowed nature to roll out below.

My focus for this latest visit was to see more of Santa Catalina church – and it impressed from all angles. Sebastian Machado, the founder of the municipality stood proud of the former hermitage that he had built in 1497. Curiously, different official notices identified the Portuguese founder as “a settler” and also “conqueror”. There´s no such difference of opinion about the founding of the main town of Tacoronte, founded in 1911 as noted on a sculpture on the top road.

Heading downward to the busy commercial streets, the theatre offered a range of live events, and the Plaza del Cristo further on is a big focal point for celebrations, and has plenty of references to the towns famous artist Oscar Dominguez who went on to wow the Spanish courts. Me eyes were drawn to the classic wooden balcony that frames La Casona within easy distance of the church.

Strikingly agricultural with its proud wine making tradition, Tacoronte boats a long stretch of black sand coast. El Pris and Mesa del Mar are both popular cooling off points and accessed by steep corkscrew roads. That pleasure would have to wait another day as my strides had already taken me further along to the neighbouring municipality of El Sauzal. There´s something for everyone along this north coast of Tenerife.


West Coast Tenerife Steps Out In Style

Unfurled towels and delicious smells ensured a busy Los Guios beach in Los Gigantes. Just a few months after my last call, a subtle dispersal of large rocks freed up more room to sun worship, and a bigger tapas terrace for the Rincon del Puerto below the cliff views.

August was in full swing, boosted by the big holiday break all over Spain, and locally the celebrations of the Virgen del Candelaria, the patrona and inspiration of the Canary Islands. Walking back through Los Gigantes and up above Crab Island natural pool, I was able to enjoy the full raised coastal walkway as it wrapped around Puerto de Santiago. The sturdy path offered changing views of rock fingers reaching out into the waves, and many seating areas to take a moment to admire the craggy landscape.

Carrying on to Puerto de Santiago´s pocket beach and fishermans moorings, there was a muscle tester walk up to street level but the views got more impressive as the thirst grew. Playa de La Arena beckoned next but I bus hopped onward to Alcala. I was less than complimentary when the modern church arrived a few years ago, but the fiestas had added explosions of colour to break up the start edges. Down below, Plaza del Llano was gearing up for more live music nights, just a few days after its sea launched midnight firework display. New flowers on the wooden cross reminded the sea bathers about the importance of this time of year.

The west coast sea was lively but not as harsh as it sometimes can be, it can change in the blink of an eye. Safety is always an important consideration, the One Up Totem stood guard, each pack inflates as it hits the sea, and they can be reused. Playa San Juan, Callao Salvaje, and Playa Paraiso could have extended my wander but I will delve into their latest attractions on my next wander up west.


Sea Birds And Coastal Walkers Flock To Punta Del Hidalgo

Like the flip side of a valuable coin, I was looking out to the twin brother cliffs of Anaga and the distant rock spits of Almaciga – but this time from the La Laguna coast. Just 45 minutes on the 050 Titsa bus down through thriving towns like Tejina, and Tegueste, delivered me to the welcoming statues and a rough road to the Camino Punta del Hidalgo.

The rugged north coast of Tenerife has long drawn visitors up and over Santa Cruz and Las Teresitas beach. Here though the old crumbling houses and an abandoned car gave way to a gallery of murals but they couldn´t detract from the outstanding beauty on offer. The immaculate and colourful Hermita de San Juanito was further proof that I was on the right course. Rock pools made  a cool enticing mosaics as they stretched out to where the sea lapped gently.

Many people immersed themselves in the series of shallow pools as others scanned the landscape for sea birds. Migrating species pass this way and add to the natural mix of local sea life and plants. This was the first time I had seen bird watching shelters at key points along a coastal walk in Tenerife. They contained pictures and details of the most common species that might grace this area, and thin viewing slots meant the birds wouldn´t get twitchy at their starring role. It all looked fairly new, even the bins were clad in wood and looked like they were regularly emptied. A pride and respect for nature is shared by local inhabitants who have a close dependency with nature.

A private sea water swimming complex was only in partial use, but there was a public access large rock pool further along on the walk. The sea was sedate  on my visit but it can turn quickly off the north coast. A white guardian stood guard on an exposed turn to beam out a warning to passing shipping. The lighthouse was built in 1994 and can be seen up to 15 nautical miles away. This late comer has never had any keepers, all the lighthouses around Tenerife are automated these days. Technology also showed its hand in the form of a water cleansing station just off the main trail.

It´s not a long walk, 2.3 kms one way, around 45 minutes, but it is easily accessable and very interesting. Further along, housing faces onto the route and the Altagay apartment complex offers a cafe. The 050 bus stops just up from the beach at this point, just opposite an eye catching fish sculpture made from discarded waste by Diedel Klover.I retraced my steps back to the start to get another eye full of the cliffs. The birds were a little shy on this trip, winter months will bring more migrating friends. It was a lovely uplifting walk and a nice insight into life on the exposed north coast.



Towering Strides From Las Caletillas To Candelaria

Drop kicking a goal between the two towers of the Centro Termica power station must have run through greater minds than mine. Chugging up the TF1 motorway from the south of Tenerife towards the capital, Santa Cruz, brings a few scowls of disapproval on the Titsa bus.

Time is catching up with the 1967 built gas and diesel power turbines and plans are in place to remove one of the 76.5 metre chimneys that overshadow a thriving small community below. For me it has become a good starting point for an extended coastal stroll to Candelaria. Long delayed improvement works are now cranking into life. A large solarium was being extended and bordered with sturdy fortifications against the often lively sea. A small cafe bar and two life guards showed that the spot is used by locals, just above a small plaza full of charm, also awaited a makeover.

The four star Hotel Catalona Punta del Rey was busier than on my last walk by, a Rod Stewart disco soundtrack extolled the virtues of being sexy to a pool side exercise group. The main 1.8 million euro spend for Las Caletillas was approved in 2021, their main task will be to wipe out the eyesore debris of the old 3 star Tenerife Tour Hotel at the north end of the Playas Punta Larga beaches. The promenade board walks and lagoon style beach zones were partially protected from the wind, and a large stage awaited three free nightly rock concerts.

The heat scorched down as I reached the old marinas just ahead of the historic centre of Candelaria.The Ayuntamiento (council) building, impressed as always with its seven identical sculptures (representing the Canary Islands) along the high wall. Even the garage entrance had its own themed reference to local culture. As the busy shopping street opened out onto the Plaza de la Patrona, a three day Artesans Fair almost eclipsed the imposing frontage of the basilica church. Huge concrete blocks weighted down the giant marquee to keep the wind off the 49 stall holders showing off their traditional arts and crafts skills.

Meanwhile the waves were breaching the sea wall and soaking the statues of the Guanche tribal kings. Some visitors were blissfully unaware that three of the statues had to be re anchored last year after the pounding sea undermined them. Dancing in the sea spray for photos looked fun but part of me cringed as they laughed.

Candelaria lures the explorers in with coastal and hill walks in the more usual calmer weather days. They don´t leave the cyclists deflated or spinning their wheels. Bicibox repair points standing in Plaza Teror were like a Swiss army knife for peddlers, their range of free use attachments would put Halfords to shame. The Virgen of Candelaria reigns across the seven islands, the big day of homage is 15 August for 2022. The packed plaza will be further bulged by a 1,000 runners in a 7 am sprint down from La Granja in the hills, down through Las Caletillas to the heart of the celebrations. This part of the east coast is amazing at any time, drive, bus, walk, or cycle – just add it to your exploring itinery.



Hard Work And Hard Knocks Inspire San Juan De La Rambla

Hemmed in by the sacred mountain Fortaleza and a 9.000 year old black lava trail down to the sea, San Juan de la Rambla has had to dig deep to express itself. The result is a defiant and colourful municipality in the north of Tenerife.

The TF 5 road linking Icod de Los Vinos to Puerto de la Cruz delivered me from my TITSA bus, close ro one of several old concrete tunnels perched above the coast. Looking up it was a little dark and fornoding, especially taking the mini tunnel under the busy mainroad, but within minutes I was marvelling at the beauty in the old village of San Juan de la Rambla. The entire municipality boasts just under 5,000 inhabitants.

The bright colours of the buildings and the well maintained flower borders showed a sense of pride at work, and plenty of tradition. A calvaro made a sturdy home for the religious crosses and just beyond, a small neat plaza led to some age weary old houses. Despite their peeling paint, they had a certain nobility about them. and a few scattered clothes washing troughs were another link to the past.

Local rock dating back 2 million years had been quarried on a small scale in the past and the work had taken its toll on many younger workers. Ornaments and even parts of the nearby cemetary were adorned with locally crafted work, some of the extracted ore was even transported to South America. A monument paid tribute to the hard and dangerous quarry work.

The village hasn´t sat still since its industrial past. A newer, low level housing development sloped down to the Charco La Laja rock pool via a reinforced series of paths and ample warnings of times and rides ro avoid. On this sunny afternoon, the sparkling water had attracted a small crowd of swimmers and anglers. High up above the popular dipping point, a small spring trickled water down to the sea, and views both ways along the coast showed a series of rugged coves.

Heading back up, I swerved along and past several welcoming bars and cafes before finding the church and plaza of San Juan (John the Baptist) with its very detailed clock face. Striding up to my original access point, I couldn´t help imagine how horrific the record rainfall floods of 1826 must have been as water swept down off the mountain. Work was underway to widen the entry point to the village and the closed Tourist Information office had plenty of good information and maps on disply outside. A couple of walks caught my eyes and will draw me back to check out a route from up the mountain and down through the Barranco Ruiz.


Strolling In The Parks Of Puerto De La Cruz

Was I getting a history lesson, botany class, or a grounding in landscape gardening? All were gratefully accepted as Parque Taoro in Puerto de la Cruz drew me up from the busy Carretera Jardin road below.

A crescendo of low stepped paths huddled around pools and water falls as they gently parted the green curtain of flora. It was to be a double pleasure as the circular galleries emerged above the tree line for great views of the north coast of Tenerife. Ceramic tiles showed glimpses of history and customs via the Guanches, the original inhabitants of Tenerife.

Big clearings with palm islands in ornate lakes vied for attention as Cuban born poet, Dulce Maria Loynaz, an adopted daughter of Tenerife, looked on with pride. Awarding myself a rest and a coffee at the Taoro Terrace Restaurant And Bar, I was in good company as people kicked back to enjoy the views or the shade.

Moving on past the abandoned former casino to the more modern, and groomed layout of Parque de La Sortija, I could see a lot of care and styling had gone into the huge leisure space. Neat paths, sport zones, even a large excercise zone for dogs, and a big feature was made of the intrusions of volcanic lava in wild twisting patterns. Gnarled ancient tree roots flexed their muscles in a proud show of age, and the meandering and split level walks allowed for plenty of secluded spots to take the sin or indulge in some light excercise.

Living in the shadow of the up market Jardin Tropical just up the road hasn´t bothered these parks. Its all free and open from 10 am to 8 pm apart from Friday, Saturday, and Sunday when its late opening to 10 pm.