Archive for the 'News' Category
Bowled Over By New Wave Of Swimming Fun In Santa Cruz

Free supervised sea swimming and sun bathing, just a short stroll from the heart of Santa Cruz. That´s the good news from the Charcos de Valleseco, part of the neglected old industrial port in the Tenerife capital. Wallowing between the cruise ship terminal and backed by the towering mountains of Anaga, three years of reconstruction has produced a user friendly bathing zone, open daily from 7am to 11 pm.


Reached by two concrete ramps from street level, the leisure zone offers fun and relaxation to all ages, and caters for those with limited mobility. But this makeover has gone far beyond the functional, a sprouting of shade shelters will be very welcome on those scorching days, and ample showers include a fixed seat on the end of each row to support the less mobile of sea lovers. There´s a large spread of toilets and a first aid room, plus facilities for the attendant life guards.

Among the neat extras are shallow ramps into the sea, with water running over narrow metal grids that remove stones and other possible hazards. Work is on going as trees and flowers burst forth along the width of the whole zone, and a large cafeteria which will soon be meeting those snack needs. Bike racks mean people can easily get to the pools but there are strict rules to prevent the zone from suffering the curse of scooters.

Centre stage goes to the sea. Two large pontoons are perfect entry points to the waves down steel ladders or by diving in. On my visit different generations were enjoying the wide open spaces and the protected walkways. There´s a reminder that this is a maritime preservation area, respect for nature is encouraged. The huge man made beach of Las Teresitas is a popular draw to the north but takes around 30 minutes to reach by bus, or a hopeful search for parking spots, and oftens packs out in high summer. The new kid on the block has a more relaxed, natural feel.

Valleseco is relying on good up keep and respect for the facilities. A police car dipped down from the road above and the life guards will be able to keep the mood light around the bathing areas. Full marks to Santa Cruz council for enhancing the capital.


Powering Down The Towers In Las Caletillas

Braced for a posible battering from winds of up to 80 kms per hour, the two 76 metre high towers on the Central Termica power station in Las Calletillas got a short reprieve to their cropping. A later stroll down to the beaches  heading towards Candelaria showed a mere 22 km per hour wind posted by the days lifeguard.

The bell was still tolling though for the towers, and workmen were preparing the top of one chimney for its surgery to alter the impact of the 1961 built power station. It must have been an impressive view from the top, christmas trees at ground level made a cheery contrast with the building but the suspense must have been towering as the decision to clip the towers was made in 2001 when they ended their useful life.

Gradual progress is the feel for this outpost, Playa Cho Victor leads along the coast before joining with several modern bathing areas that are awaiting a further upgrade soon. The Hotel Cataluna has recently added new swimming pools and padel courts across the road from the main building – hopefullthe wider community will also be able to use them at times. In the meantime we can still enjoy the view of the towers on the steady chug up the steep corner that delivers the bright modern face of Santa Cruz.



Taking Fonsalia Port Plans With A Pinch Of Salt

To many coastal walkers, Fonsalia is a compact jewel, but it is also a thriving commuinity. Already partly blighted by a modern desalination plant, the tiny hamlet is used to sporadic bouts of rumours and designs to add a huge port to replace the often long queues of island hopping cars at Los Cristianos. The first expansive plans for a new port on the west coast of Tenerife were presented in 2007 and are currently enjoying another dusting down. Set between Playa San Juan and Alcala, Fonsalia is well worth seeking out.

On a scorching afternoon I could see why a group of divers were so keen to enjoy the breaking waves around a small rocky inlet. The haze of the calima dust hung in the air, obscuring the views of neighbouring Canary Island La Gomera. Fonsalia is closer to the small island at this point in Tenerife. Some preparation work was carried out a few years ago, installing traffic roundabouts which would ease the flow of traffic to the port if the grand scheme came together. There´s a bit of a clamber down to the sea level and the pocket shingle beach, otherwise there are two narrow lanes trailing back among the banana leaves before linking up in Fonsalia.

Fonsalia may be small but the mini church, Ermita Santa Lucia, and plaza give it a special character, and the La Berrera bar and restaurant is always a welcome stop off point. Once back on the beach path, there are a few rough areas of rock before Alcala, these need some careful foot work. Bird life thrives in the area but sadly some people leave rubbish behind, and there are even a couple of makeshift shacks down by the tides edge.

Just a few minutes walk up from Fonsalia, the modern main roads wheel away up into the mountains, and allow quick links between Los Cristianos and Los Gigantes. The modern face of progress has made its mark but hopefully Fonsalia will continue to offer a traditional alternative.

Palacio De Carta, Proud And Informative In Santa Cruz

Linking over 300 years of classic Canarian architecture with modern tourism needs has given a new purpose to the three storey basalt stonework and large courtyard of Palacio de Carta in Santa Cruz. The newly re-opened building is now a tourism hub complete with interactive screens, a video wall, and personal advice and help for those intending to explore the Tenerife capital and all points beyond.

The location is very appropriate, Plaza de La Candelaria throbs with Carnaval and other celebrations throughout the year, and is at the port end of the busiest shopping street in the city. The classic grey building has seen it all down the years since the Carta family of the first mayor of Santa Cruz drew up the plans in 1721.

The recent reserection to glory was lovingly chronicled step by step and is displayed in Spanish and English, and illustrated with samples of original stone work, and even ancient keys with sturdy and ornate covers. All the space was gets a chance to tell its historic tale, a vertical garden feature draws attention to the wooden balconies that framed them.

It´s a living space with three exhibition halls, and staff to steer visitors to history around Tenerife. It was an inspired choice to move the capitals tourism centre to this spacious and iconic setting. Opening hours are Monday to Friday 9 am to 5 pm, Saturday and Sunday from 9 to 2 pm.

Life´s A Beach Beach Beach For Santa Cruz

Even at 1,300 metres long and 80 metres wide, Las Teresitas beach gets packed out in the long summer school break. The 30 minute drive from Santa Cruz merely heightens the anticipation of enjoying the imported orange sand and gently shelving ocean behond a series of protective rocky dykes that calm the waves. Las Teresitas was first suggested in 1967 but not completed and opened until 1973.

Planning and building irregularities of adjoining commercial buildings dogged the project for years, finally it was able to add more modern infrastructure and has blossomed into a magnificent leisure area. It was nice to see shelter shaped structures being set up along the border of the beach and back road. These solar power stations will produce the electricity to supply the 8 kiosks and cafes that offer shade and comfort for beach users. Canary Solar of La Laguna were quick to reply to my email with more details. “Photovoltaic isolated systems producing 12 kilowats of power, and victron investors with lithium batteries” The latest in eco friendly tech.

Now there are new choices for the beach crowd, nearer the Tenerife capital. The Valleseco stretch of coast between the old industrial port and the modern cruise liner docks has just unveiled El Bloque bathing zone with dark sand, play areas, and young trees to add future shade. It´s an impressive transformation and work is pressing ahead nearer to the heart of Santa Cruz for a slightly bigger bathing spot. Dredging, terraforming, and wave calming concrete blocks are slotting into the jigsaw. Between the two new additions is an old concrete and metal pier where coal used to arrive from Corey brothers of Cardiff in 1908. It´s nice to see that link to the industrial history of the island preserved. Along with the oil tanks they give an insight into vital link that Santa Cruz played in the opening up of Atlantic trade routes.



Parque Las Mesas Is On The Rise Again

Gentle bird song and an explosion of flowers and ferns was a backdrop to the circular road up the 360 metre high recreation zone of Parque Las Mesas (park of the tables). Spread over panoramic views of Tenerifes capital city and port of Santa Cruz, the distant shimmering runways of Tenerife North airport were quite a contrast to natures elevated outpost.

Topped with power pylons and transmitter aerials, it´s an important technical hub as well as a comforing guardian looking down on the land and sea below. It´s revival time for the park, conceived in 1960, closed briefly, and just about to start a major makeover when COVID put plans on hold. With a budget of just under a million euros, the latest completion date is April 2023, but it still showed plenty of style on my visit.

Valleys below boasted clutches of modern housing as I stepped off the 912 TITSA bus (half hourly from outside the glass fronted bus terminus at one end of the tram line.Chugging up the steep twisting modern road, the final stop at Los Campitos revealed a small community clinging to a craggy peak.

A cracked and aged tarmac road threaded away towards the main part of the park as stunning views unlocked a living map of large parts of Tenerife. I was thrilled to get a birds eye view of CD Tenerife´s Heliodoro stadium, just a short glance inland from the iconic Auditorium. Jagged rocks peeked through the surrounding grass and trees as the road carried on for about 30 minutes before the signs for the main park appeared.

Limited parking spaces were available outside one of the admin hubs, and large wheely bins for eco recycling of rubbish were on hand to encourage good manners from visitors. The recreation area unfurled before me with views of the poer at a lower level, as well as the emergence of terracing equipped with sturdy concrete tables for picnics and barbecues – some smoke was already twirling in the gentle breeze.

It´s a work in progress, an abandoned cafe offered further potential once the full upgrade is complete. An old open hard court hinted at athletic activities and all the layouts were well planned to allow personal space for all the gathering families and groups that can wallow in this chunk of nature on high. It was mostly fine touches and cosmetic tweaks that were being awaited for the park, nature supplies the rest.

Parque Las Mesas is a wonderful asset for Santa Cruz and will appeal again to all ages. The fact that it is all so close to the main travel arteries and commercial attractions of the city below, just add to the adventure. The return trip from Los Campitos drop off point is a nice downward walk of about 40 minutes, but it´s good to know the bus is so frequent and picks up at various points on the way back to the big city.


Music Magic And Munch From Santa Cruz Stocking

If the cute ancient TITSA bus topped with a snow bubble wasn´t enough to awaken festive interest, opposite the Santa Cruz bus station, the Auditorio was heralding El Guardaespaldas (The Bodyguard) musical, from 17 euros upwards over two days.

Ho Ho Ho was bigging it up all the way up to and beyond Christmas and Kings Day (Reyes – 6 January – the main event) over at the port. The massive stage was reaching completion, adding tweaks to the sound system and seating. Some 5,000 school children will attend on the morning of 21st December, as one of the warm up gigs.

The big annual treat night is on Sunday 25 December from 7.30 pm with a full bill of classical music and festive favourites. Free and cheap tickets may well be sold out in advance but the music will wash over the dockside, hundreds of people will get the majesty of the event from the leisure areas on the town side of the port – its never known for its shyness.

Over the road, the Cabildo (Tenerife government) HQ was draped in a nativity scene with a further belen inside, open to the public for most of the festive season. Nearer to the plaza lake, a Gastro Fest market posted a long menu of music and food driven events for a couple of weeks.

I tend to cram as much festive eye treats in as possible, Plaza del Weyler and Plaza de La Candelaria both pressed their claims for attention. Lots of public buildings throw open the doors as soon as the smell of chestnuts is in the air, I was pleasantly surprised to find the old Gobierno building between Weyler and Parque Garcia Sanabria showing off their belen. This had a strong feel of local history wound in among the more traditional themes, even the wounded Admiral Nelson reclined in injured mode after his failed attempt to lead a British invasion of Santa Cruz.

All this was just scratching the surface and peeking through the red and yellow poinsetia plants lining the green spaces. Santa Cruz is well worth a visit at any time, just an hour by bus or car from the southern resorts, and a further 40 minute tram ride opens up more festive distractions in La Laguna.


Walk For Life Returns To Weave Its Pink Spell Across South Tenerife

Breaking records. Offering hope and help. Walk For Life (Carerra Por La Vida) made a triumphant return with over 5,500 walkers collecting 33,000 euros to further raise awareness about the fight against breast cancer. The recent unpredictable weather could´t keep the throngs of people away from the Siam Mall starting point on Sunday morning, and the skies responded with sunshine.

Some favourite costumes were dusted off after the two years when Covid prevented the big gathering, and many new outfits took a bow. This year the local based pioneers were joined by 21 countries via the combined charities of Think Pink Europe. There are always new questions and new developments to discuss. Walk For Life has always been approachable and supportive through its Pink Room in Adeje and its website, early diagnosis is still the most potent protection in the fight.

Positivity burst forth from the walkers as they started the 3.5 km stroll down to the sea front at Playa de Las Americas, and then on through close to Los Cristianos and its beaches. Carnaval drums and dancers kept up a lively tempo as participants proudly honoured the names of family and friends lost to cancer. For nearly two hours the wave meandered at a pace to suit all ages and even a few pets that joined in.

As the heat increased, free water and bananas fuelled the pink line, and this year there were also free buses to return people to the starting point after they crossed the finish line. Everyone was treated as a winner as the pink and white cascade of paper welcomed walkers to the big stage for the keenest to dance and celebrate.

What a great day, a big thanks to those who make the event so slick and well organised. Thoughts will already be turning to next year, its a hard act to follow but they will rise to the challenge as always.

P42 Rayo Pops Into Tenerife For Armed Forces Day

Stocky, compact but packing a punch, the Spanish patrol ship P42 Rayo chose International Armed Forces Day to make the short crossing from its Las Palmas, Gran Canaria base. Loaded with practical hardware, the 94 metre long  multi purpose ship may have a crew of just 46 but has carried out protection and escort duties in the Atlantic and off flashpoints like Somalia.

It was all welcomes and smiles in Santa Cruz as the captain welcomed the curious up the gangplank to look around. A well stowed helicopter had its own landing pad that minimised down draft and dispersed surplus water. The big Malara gun and the two smaller machine guns added to the firepower if needed. As we toured inside the belly of the beast, there were many small homely touches like the small shrine to the Virgen and a kitchen that stoked the inner fires.

The ship was built in San Fernando in May 2010, the fifth vessel to bear the name. The first Rayo P42 saw action at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when Horacio Nelson sustained fatal injuries. That was less than 10 years after the famous British admiral had lost his arm in a failed attempt to take Tenerife.

It´s not just full on action these days, the captain reminded us the ships importance in a peace keeping or environmental monitoring missions. They were certainly making friends on the visit, especially among the awe struck younger temporary recruits. There was even a table of merchandise with replica caps and t shirts, but sadly no flowing wine.


Tenerife Is Multi Screen Centre Of Filming Boom

Never camera shy, Tenerife is ready for its close up with aliens, gangsters, and even the BBC. Three international productions are swapping millions of euros for Tenerife technical expertise and out of this world locations.

Keeley Hawes (ex Ashes To Ashes) has been busy on both sides of the camera during filming of Crossfire, a three part drama with the BBC, Keeley´s Buddy club Productions, and RTVE (Spanish Channel) combining resources. Barcelo San Blas, between Golf del Sur and Los Abrigos, provides the holiday hotel where ex cop Keeley`s family holiday is interrupted by a revenge seeking gang of armed criminals. RTVE have called upon Spanish TV stars Hugo Silva and Alba Brunet to play the beseiged resort security chiefs, adding to the tense mix.


Up in Tenerife capital, Santa Cruz, Foundation, a sci fi drama based on the stories of Isaac Asimov, has landed just behind the iconic seafront auditorium. The golden palace is taking centre stage as Apple TV build on the preparation of 10 episodes of an hours length, made in 2021 at the Recinto Ferial exhibition hall just over the road. Jared Harris (son of Irish actor Richard) heads the cast that includes locally sourced extras among a 1,000 participants, including 150 technical boffins. A small town of mobile homes has sprung up behind the set for convenience and safety, a Covid screening unit had already proved its worth in the initial filming.

Coming soon, A Town Called Malice is about a crime dynasty that relocates from South London to the Costa del Sol. Lenient tax rates helped to lure the production away from the setting in the Nick Love script, Jason Flemyng (Lock Stock And Two Smoking Barrels) is among the cast of the Sky Original Drama. Not only will The Jam song of the title revive those 1980 memories, many other anthems of those times will help to make it brutal and compulsive viewing.