Archive for the 'Exploring' Category
Ancient And Modern Tenerife Pride In La Victoria De Acentejo

All tight sinews and seductive promise. Not quite what I expected when answering the motorway sign invite to “Visit La Victoria de Acentejo” in the north west of Tenerife. There were plenty more surprises to come in this natural treat of a municipality that packed an historical punch.

Just a few minutes after getting off the Titsa 101 bus from La Orotava, I was face to expressive face with Evolution, a metal sculpture from Julio Nieto, a Vizcaya born artist who  settled in Tenerife in 1986 and has stopped me in my tracks before with his bold, attention grabbing work.

The wild sea drew the attention as the road rises just above the motorway and wild coast beyond. That was just the access, the best goodies were stacked inland. The steep incline from my arrival unveiled wider views of green hills rising to meet the shyline. Evolution was in a prime elevated position, on one side a modern sports centre sat below walking trails up into the barrancos (ravines), but my eye was caught by the church tower, a more elaborate version of a popular Tenerife theme.

If I was being reeled in, I wasn´t complaining, the church led onto the Ayuntamiento (council) building for the municipality of La Victoria. An under staed  blue, and dark wood combination stood alongside a large plaza and gave me a wonderul view of a two stage towering pine tree. At the foot of the dominating tree, a carved stone provided me with a history lesson of historic resistance.

When the conquistadors from mainland Spain were invading the Canary Islands at the end of 1495, they met stiff resistance from the Guanche natives. Yhe north west provided the last pocket of defiance and Fernandez of Lugo was held at bay in Acentejo as the locals prevailed on 26 December 1495, and he had to draft over reinforcements from Gran Canaria before his troops could push on to the final vicrory in Los Realejos in the new year. The sturdy pine tree is a monument to that La Victoria stand.

There are always pointers to the life and community involvement of any town. An upcoming early Sunday clean up and walk in the Barranco Hondo caught my eye on a poster. Mentions of wine, pottery, and chestnuts filled in some more background. A poster for a second competition of historic photos of the municipality hinted at a well supported earlier contest. Even on a quiet Tuesday afternoon, the town centre and main shopping street had a good choice of bars and cafes to tempt me. La Matanza de Acentejo, takes over at the end of La Victoria, I will have to return to see what they can add to the mix.






Squaring The Circle To Unite San Miguel And Aldea Blanca

Not so much a fork in the road, more like a full set of cutlery. Contradicting signs on the track down from San Miguel  Arcangel church demanded a return visit to descend to Aldea Blanca, not far from Las Chafiras in the south of Tenerife.

Mix and match seemed a good idea so this time I started from the La Centinela mirador (viewpoint) high above Valle San Lorenzo in Arona. Volcanic cones popped up on the  lower horizon but sadly the La Centinela restaurant with its panoramic views had been closed for several years. At least the wooden cross above it stood firm as a rough dividing line between the municipalities of Arona and San Miguel, as well as a hard work destination to carry the statue of the Virgin for the top spot on the annual fiesta.

The downward trail into the bowl of the valley showed off some great natural features., Wild ferns and grasses popped up between stacks of cracked stones, crop terraces clung to hills, and a stone viaduct bridged a plunging ravine. Above all this, the modern road curved along with the fragmented El Roque standing guard over the drop below. The big attractions to settlers and travellers were two old springs for drinking and washing, most of the water now stays below ground, leaving the eroded concreye troughs a little green and mossy.

A steep concrete ramp led up to the restored Caserio  de la Hoya and a recent dipping tarmac road . Another sign for Aldea Blanca pointed down to where I had just come from, and looking up, I could see the previous dual dilema from the earlier walk. This time my aim was true, and was rewarded with the sight of a classic two tier tile kiln. The road had no pavement but soon delivered the encouraging view of a football ground below, it had to be the Aldea Blanca pitch. Other tell tale signs were the distant buildings of Las Chafiras and the turrets of the modern breeze block castle, built for Medieval Banquet shows – but even bold knights are on hold for Covid for now.

Let´s not leave San Miguel as a bit part player in this walking saga, The walk from San Miguel church is an exceptional uncovering of layers of building history. Great designs, well looked after, and with in depth history panels in a range of languages. With friends on the original trip we took the top path at the identical signs and reached the gurgling water channels before the path faded. Including La Centinela and Aldea Blanca as options make the area even more tempting and well worth the effort.

After about 30 minutes of walking down the tarmac road from the tile kiln, the tightly packed dwellings of the hamlet of Aldea Blanca opened up to reveal the dainty plaza and church showing pride in the 500 year history. Beyond this point there were a good selection of cafes and bars and a relaxed, sedate atmosphere. A wide, overgrown water source offered more possible answers to the confused sign posts. It promised upcoming work on theree barrancos (ravines) although there was no date on this intention. There are a few bus links through Aldea Blanca and a short divertion leads to Buzanada with a busier Titsa bus service. I took the longer route out through Las Chafiras to the motorway and a wider choice of buses.



Praising The Other Peak Of El Medano

Refusing to be upstaged by a red mountain overlooking a surfers paradise, Montaña Pelada is well worth the wander to the east of El Medano. Where else can you experience a flattened volcanic cone born out of an epic tussle between red hot magma and the deep cold sea. Even a gallery of misfit neighbours can´t reduce the impact of nature.

Taking the wooden boardwalk around the headland to Playa del Cabezo, we passed the concrete look out bunkers and the Hotel Arenas del Mar. Veering off we answered the lure of the  Playa de la Pelada with its secluded cove of dark sand. There was plenty of contrast from the yellow tinted base of the mountain, and the sea had sculpted big rocks into altars for the less shy sun worshippers to sit astride and bare all.

Going for a more frontal assault on the crater, we crossed pock marked rock and ash like earth deposits. The diversity of the ground called for  maximum attention, the wider circular track would have been a far easier ascent. Even in the throes of a calima dust cloud, we could pick out an old satellite station down below, all rusted with age. Hitting the plateau we caught our breath. A dep rumbling, a metallic shimmer, and a burst of power proceeded the take off of a large plane from Tenerife South airport. A rare sight in these Covid restricted travel days.


Following the marked path around the edge of the crater, we took in more small coves below, linked upwards by more slender tracks. ITER renewable energy centre boasted an array of wind turbines and a field of solar panels. Next to them, Granada portdwarfed the oil rig and Africa Mercy ship, both looking forlorn and abandoned in the seldom used modern addition to the coast. The sandy coves were quite remote but had a steady stream of visitors, some popping in on jet skis.

Completing a circle of the crater we tried a couple of unmarked steep descents rather than the far path that fed of the marked area. It was quite testing but brought us down by a small ravine that guided us back to the entrance point. It was good to get a different viewpoint on the south east coast and it was rounded off with self indulgent paddling along the shore of the La Jaquita beach.


Seek And You Will Be Rewarded With Playa San Marcos

“Don´t go changing to try to please me…” crooned the singer. maybe Billy or Barry had Playa San Marcos in mind. First glimpses from the corkscrew road down revealed the ingredients of most peoples Tenerife dream setting. Driven by a noble quest for self improvement, Icod de Los Vinos has tried several times to extend the black sand and pebble beach and reclaim more coast under the embracing cliffs.

As on previous visits, the strongly pulsing tide, mix of old houses and refurbished apartment blocks, and neat fishing port, had my full attention. Mount Teide´s summit was the snowy icing on the cake. An hourly bus link with Icod station unlocked this part of Tenerife´s north west coast. I shadowed the tight road down under the motorway, making sure not to step back too far when squeezing into the side of the road to avoid oncoming traffic. I could have taken a liquid break at a nice cafe hiding under the bridge but was enjoying the slowly revealing stretch of the coast along to Garachico and beyond. Square fields of crops and a rogh stone bridge, worthy of a troll and a billy goat, kept me alert. Clouds of pigeons erupted now and then from a leafy ravine, my eyes were on constant alert so not to miss any of natures show.

The Paseo Maritimo walkway above the beach was getting a big facelift with white pergolas leading to the small church, and cafe terraces. Further around the Avenida Maritimo boasted shops and a chemists. The beach is well attended by life guards, and also offers limited mobility access.. It was clear that the beach was used to being ravaged by the sea from time to time, a few long waves were bowling in to stop the sun bathersw from nodding off. Big swells were also sweeping over the fishing port wall as I took the stone steps up to the headland a bit further back.

Looking along the coast beyond the bay, there were no easy points for gentle swimming, that puts places on the small beach at a premium, even if you have to fight for elbow room at Mother Natures table. Everything about Playa San Marcos underlines its determination to stake a claim at this point of the coast. It´s well worth seeking out to appreciate why it has a special place in local hearts.



Tacoronte Scenes Are Worthy Of An Oscar

Flowing brush strokes and colours mixed with bold lines, and framed with a cheeky sense of humour. Tacoronte tweaked my interest as soon as I stepped off a 30 minute Titsa bus ride from Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz.

Two men have left a big influence on the town and municipality. As a surrealist artist, Oscar Dominguez would surely have approved of the quirky statue of him at the edge of his adopted home. A giant upright fish can was relocated to Tacoronte from nearby La Laguna, Oscars place of birth. Becoming a much sought after artist, Oscar later left to hang with the masters in France.

Oscar´s spirit still lingered at the large tree lined Plaza del Cristo. Long shadows and falling leaves reached out to the two towered Iglesia del Cristo church, and the pure white Convento de San Agustin next door. I wasn´t the only one enjoying the view. The statue of a young guitarist offered silent tribute to the Young Change Makers Of The World. The Ayuntamiento (council) building was low level and low key but a stylish timepiece added a little order to the day. Maybe it was counting down the time to St Valentines Day, the nearby Nuevo Esquina bar and cafe was loved up and making a relaxed vantage point for reflection and refreshment.

The cafe balcony echoed the roof rails of  Casa Roja, now a funeral parlour, it´s design and colour did the town proud. The side road, Calle Sebastian Machado, referred to the Portuguese settler who founded Tacoronte in 1497. I felt a pull towards the Alhondiga, a granary built in 1685, endowed with great character by the passing of time and harsh weather. In modern times its look has been further boosted by modern artwork. The buiolding dipped down to meet the Calvario, home to the religious crosses, and also drew attention to the enticing Hamilton Park.

How green and splendid was the park, with its wine growing frames and stone semi circles to protect the young vines from the wind. The lush green grass and wild plants came with some leafy walks and a cacophony of bird song. Many locals were enjoying the celebrated wine of the area in cosy bars. An agricultural market at the other end of town was pulling in shoppers in the bowels of the old bus station.

Mesa del Mar, a popular rough coast spot for sea bathing, will tempt me back in the future. With El Sauzal a few stops along the bus route, there are rich rewards for my exploring days, Tacoronte dovetails nicely into this vibrant stretch of history and nature.


Cupped In The Hand Of Nature In El Puertito

There´s no bonus points for elegance! That thought spurred us on as we scrambled up a tricky part of the La Caleta to El Puertito walk along the Adeje coast of Tenerife. Barely a dozen people on the shallow pebble beach of the little port, and just a few boats bobbing gently at the entry to the bay.

A far cry from the packed scenes on a hot summers day, it was a sign of the Covid times. The clear blue sea massaged our well worked leg muscles before cold beers quenched our thirsts at the nearby bar. We had started out among a few early birds speckled on the Playa de La Enramada beach sun loungers in La Caleta. Rising up beyond the fish restaurants, a kestrel swooped over a clump of cactus as we climbed the sandstone trail in the worn rock that headed along the cliff top. The table top mountain of Roque del Conde lurked inland and the hotel towers of Playa Paraiso looked deceptively near a few coves ahead of us.

A scattering of hippy huts used to be a familiar sight in the folds of the rocks but a recent deje council enforcement of the protected status of the area left just a few hints of the tons of rubbish and shacks. Sun worshippers lapped up the warmth of the day in secluded spots near the shore and a few walkers passed us coming from the west. We faced a few tough choices where the path thinned out. Patience and tentative foot holds saw us through.


Crumbling plantation walls harked back to early crop raising and a large stone clock face had my thoughts wavering between pizza and Dennis Wheatley black magic novels. After a couple of leisurely hours, stone steps down besides a private house led us onto a concrete balcony beholding El Puertito in its full glory. It was one of those moments that stops you in your tracks and makes the path pounding all worth while.

Turtles also enjoy the special qualities of the cove. In busier times boat trips deposit many scubs and snorkel enthusiasts to admire the placid creatures. Our swimming was closer to the shore and well timed as the tide was quickly eating away at the sand. Whether by foot or by car, El Puerto is not easy to reach. Passing the statue of the Virgen in its shrine, and the small church, we wound our way up the tight road out above the other side of the bay. They might have part paved paradise but there´s certainly no parking lots.

It was a long slog up past the ghostly quiet hotels with lots of longing gazes back to the beach. Playa Paraiso was the next bay along for food and buses, by then we were wondering if El Puertito had just been a dreamy mirage.

Canarian Catwalk Of Culture In Arona

Smart, practical, and oh so stylish, traditional Canarian costumes are usually twirling to the music in celebration of fiestas. You can get a closer view and a taste of the history that surrounds them in the heart of Arona town at the Casa La Bodega winery. Just 10 kms uphill from beaches and night life, the past imprints itself proudly among buildings and fields that tell many a tale.

The church of San Antonio Abad held court in the plaza on a clear morning as I stepped off a Titsa bus from Los Cristianos. An ancient meets modern mural greeted me as it wrapped around the main street corner. To the west of the plaza, several walking routes attract many energetic disciples, but to the east a slight incline led to the old white and green winery, now converted to a time capsule of rural treasures.

The costumes were the latest stars. Lace up waist coats, hats, and neck coverings caught the eye. The footwear was elegant and sturdy, perfect to tap out an infectious beat. Even the under garments got a rare showing. The Prendas, Trajes, and Tipismo exhibition runs to Friday 12 February, Mondays and Weddnesdays 8 am to 6.30 pm, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday 8 am to 4 pm, and closed Saturday and Sunday. Entry to the Casa is free and other long term exhibits include, roseta needlework, Guanche rock carvings, and the history of famous Arona people and landmarks.

It all fired up my admiration of Arona, so I took in some more key sites like the El Calvario, where religious crosses are gathered together, the old casino, and plenty of buildings full of character. Add in some enticing cafes and bars. plus the views down to the coast and it all makes good reasons to make a visit at any time of year.

Bridging The Gap And Scraping The Sky In Tenerife

Life at the Covid reduced tempo should make us appreciate what we have and not take it for granted in Tenerife. So its best foot forward and time to take in more tempting walks along the shores and further inland.

The new deep set roundabout on the southern edge of Las Chafiras delivered a smoother traffic flow as the Titsa public bus dropped me and my friends in what might be described as a concrete jungle of industrial units. The spoonbills and ducks on the Ciguaña reservoir would have described it as a welcome oasis. there was even two twitchers concealed in the hedgerow, changing the tone from bargain hunting to bird watching.

A long walk down to Amarilla Golf was bracing and bathed in sunshine as Mount Teide glistened with snow in the distant background. A craggy shingle beach fronted the smooth but sparsely trodden walkway. Montaña Roja was already a beckoning beacon at our El Medano destination. Empty hotels and deserted swimming pools were a prelude to the wide expanse of San Blas. The wooden slatted path complete with a bridge over the barranco, combined practicality with a Chinese inspired design. I could almost imagine it in willow pattern on a series of plates.

Dipping onto the pocket sized Playa Grande, the wood gave way to black sand on the approach to Los Abrigos. The Tenerife South airport gave only slim pickings to plane spotters across from the fishing village. Moving forward, the coastal trail hugged the shoreline as it meandered through cacti and surging waves that split the rocks. La Tejita beach is easy to spot these days with two cranes rising high above the bare bones of the illegal hotel complex that has been stopped in its tracks.

The huge beach marched on to the base of Montaña Roja, a few surfers kites breaching the sky on the horizon made the most of a strong wind. Once over the lower ridge, we were engulfed in a swirling mosaic of well over 70 kites. The sand dunes sheltered the small lake in the natural bird sanctuary, but there was no twitching for us as our feathered friends were keeping well out of sight.

El Medano has a very distinct flavour as a chilled out water sports area and that has sustained it during these uncertain times. It has an unspoilt beauty and crams a lot into the tight passage ways and fish restaurants that are lapped at by the waves. El Timon rewarded our walk with the best of the local catch as sea spray cooled us down. Strong winds deferred our hike up the red mountain but its not going anywhere so we settled for its reassuring prescence across the rolling tide.


Everything In The El Sauzal Garden Is Trickling Along Nicely

A few months on from my visit to their Wine museum, El Sauzal was popping my cork again. The giant wooden peacock still draped its tail down the town hall steps but it was joined by a festive scroll and two giant teddy bears. As spirits sagged under the weight of a Covid Christmas, the north Tenerife town offered some antedote with a bright, uplifting range of smile makers.

Closer investigation was called for this time, and even the Ayuntamiento building front doors carved out a place on my wow list. The coat of arms was bold and bevelled to perfection. I felt ashamed as my mind flew back to three school terms spent hacking out a wobbly spice rack.

A rockery between the town hall and the plant packed terraces was being soothed by a small stream. as a couple of wooden crabs peeped out between the rocks, just behind them, And for an encore, a large modern theatre was tacked onto the main building. There´s clearly a lot going on in El Sauzal. Many years ago I followed the main road below to the left of the white domed church, and on to the overgrown Parque Los Lavadores. That made it all the more rewarding this trip as this cats curiosity was rewarded with the cream as I pushed through the rusty swing gates.

Trimmed bushes cascaded down a tight stone twisted stairway with superb views of the coast below bathed in sunshine.Parcels of land made a neat grid as a long spit of rock jutted out into the sea. Other paths converged as I walked lower to the backing track of running water that drew my attention to a spring feeding into channels with some scattered benches encouraging restful admiration. Stone archways and more plants added to the overall impression of tranquility.

Retreating back up some steps, the Delei Te bar and cafeteria took centre stage over the layers of the park. A good range of breakfasts and snacks filled the busy chalk boards, I relaxed with a coffee but I had noticed the interesting range of bottled beers on display. What a lovely setting, evening sunsets would surely be another star turn, The park and bar are both open all year around until night rolls in and the parkee rattles his keys.

I felt a little guilty overlooking a smooching young couple down in the lower decks of the park, but even Adam and Eve had been drawn into temptation by the beauty of a well set out garden. The bar owner explained the rejuvination of the park was as a result of a partnership between the local council and bar owner to maintain the natural attractions and offer further reasons to linger. I looked forward to my next visit as I rode out of town on the Titsa bus.

Loving The Rise And Fall Of The Vilaflor Trail

Small village, short ride from the bottom crossroads to the steep path for the circular walk down. You might imagine a gentle stroll in a steady downward direction. Vilaflor soon dishes out a few lessons about rash judgements on an undulating three hour of contrasts.

The 10.30 am Titsa bus from Los Cristianos took barely an hour to Spain´s highest village. A few weeks before I had indulged in the historic heart of the village but this time it was all about some good old foot slogging. Low cloud with bright patches made for a chilly December morning but good preparation allowed us to layer up and climb high above the village with a brief nosey inside the Hotel Spa  Villalba. the ladies were tempted by the pampering but we marched on and took the left turn up through farming terraces brimming with tomatoes and potatoes.

The next choice took us on a rising path with an industrial unit away to the right. That building and a notice denying access to those on wheels or hooves confirmed our true progress. The thought of being caught up in an animal traffic jam in these blissful conditions caused me some amusement. Despite dark clouds hovering, and a couple of recent Tenerife storms, the landscape was bone dry and several pine tree trunks showed signs of being licked by flames in the hot summer. Rock erosion in the strong winds than can whip across the valley, also plays a part in sculpting out a pathway that can never be taken for granted.

Nature had plenty more in store for our senses, a crumbling rocky ledge above a plunging pine valley highlighted our small role in this vast portrait of wear and weather. Tight paths wound down and around the lip of the valley and onto shallow tracks of dust and fine stone, just as the sun peeked through. The variety of surfaces is one of the qualities that make this a testing trek, but the views are always a fair reward.

A half empty reservoir was a good point for a snack and water breather before the final upsurge through tangled roots and dry stream beds. Ahead of us, the views opened up to shallow terraces were the art of stone wall building was on display. Plucky little pine sapling stucked in tight against the sturdy walls for its protective embrace. The faint sound of traffic encouraged us to pump those leg muscles for another sapping climb as the road to the south began to appear on the distant horizon. Coming out just before the Vilaflor entrace, we felt a sense of satisfaction as we headed for a local watering hole. A few metres away a statue of local born Hermano Pedro, Tenerife´s only saint, looked out from his static perch.