Going Nuts For The Tenerife Almond Blossom

Bursting with colour, and complimented with tasty tapas, the annual almendras en flor (almonds in flower) walk from Santiago del Teide to Arguayo, is weaving its spell again and showing that the Santa Cruz Carnaval in Tenerife´s capital city is not the only must see attraction of the spring.

The official programme covers 29 January to 2 March but there´s a big overlapping season of buds, new growth, and bough straining almonds waiting to be harvested. On my latest pilgramage, the mid week procession of visitors allowed plenty of free space for those ooh and aah moments at the turn of each track and the cresting of each hill. This year 19 bars and restaurants in the main street of Santiago del Teide were serving almond influenced snacks and meals, I just had time for a tasty almond tart with my coffee (hot chocolate is another drink option) at Bar Soto, opposite the tourist information office, and the striking white church.

Lower down at the southern entrance to Santiago del Teide, long term traffic works had left the Fuente de La Viren short walk up to a small religious shrine, isolated, but the blossom created a respectful arch over the old walkway. Pink and white banners fluttered along the main street of the town, and there was a healthy selection of walkers congregating at various food and drink outlets. The relative chill of the morning complemented the clear blue sky and the joy of dipping into natures treasure trove of colours and textures.

The sheer scale of the blossom is a wonder to behold, at their peak, they look enchanting but the young buds are always jostling for their upcoming time on the centre stage. On this visit there was a good balance of the fully grown and those waiting in the wings. Organised groups and tours are available during the main stretch of the season, see elcardon.com , or you can go alone, just take the usual precautions of good clothing and stout shoes. At the full stretch, it´s a good four hours from start to finish. The top end of the walk in Arguayo includes a tricky, steep, walk down over small shifting granules of rock, and the 461 Titsa bus back down to Santiago del Teide is not always reliable – cue a steep main road walk upwards before dipping down in a tight spiral to the main road into Santiago del Teide. There are a couple of bars in Arguayo and they can whistle up a taxi for you – otherwise it´s an extra chunk of walking, back down to the south entrance of Santiago.


In between the two extremes of the walk, there are many easier choices to be made, you can retrace your steps back to the church square, take a signed detour to Chinyero, the site of the 1909 earhquake, or crunch your way along the spine of the now solid lava flow. Don´t forget that up in Santiago del Teide it´s usually a lot cooler than the coastal regions, so come prepared. Even when the blossom has melted away, it´s a good walk in any season – allow a good four hours for a leisurely pace and snack stops.


Taucho And La Quinta Swirl High Above Adeje

Fine mist, whispy low clouds, and paths that stretch out like tentacles. There was plenty to admire as paragliders peppered the sky on their way down to the south coast of Adeje in Tenerife.

Choices abounded in this part of the island as many small groups of walkers followed the thin water pipes that nestled beside the chunky stone pathways. From the south coast of Tenerife via an upward road beyond Los Menores widened the horizons for small groups of walkers as we started our exploring from the church in La Quinta.

There were plenty of other small groups up ahead following the thin water pipes that nestled beside chunky stone pathways. It´s possible to do a mammoth nine hour walk up from an entrance next to the pay to walk Barranco del Invierno in Adeje town, circling high in the hills before veering back down to Ifonche and the old town again. Having recently done a big stomp up the lower reaches, we headed through the well worn route that headed in the direction of the launch spots for the flyers.

A gentle breeze enhanced the feel of solitude and tradition as lush green ferns and dominant pines spread to the horizon. The early buds of almond blossom hinted at a vast white and pink explosion to come in February. It was quite testing on the feet but there were interesting diversions like the bee keeping hives, and some bold advice for walkers not to answer their most basic calls out in the wild.

As the path reared upward, sheer drops revealed more of the coast and an even bigger gathering of gliders. It was a busy intersection as walkers of many nationalities sussed out their chosen headings. Sadly a few days after this walk, it was reported that an elderly glider pilot crashed and had to be rescued by the emergency services and flown to hospital.

The landscape was ever changing as old farm houses and dwellings gave way to more modern updates, crops changed with the seasons, and weather. Many paths converged close to each other at certain points but there were plenty of signs and worn paths to steer people in their chosen direction. There were a few sprinklings of rain on this outing, a reminder of how quickly conditions can change. It´s definately an area that calls you back to try some of the other trails that spin off from the main route.


Christmas Keeps Giving In Icod And Garachico

It´s not over till the fat wallet slims. Maybe a cynic might say that, but in Tenerife the Spanish traditions of Reyes and the arrival of the camel mounted three kings on 5 January, followed by the big family celebrations of 6 January add a spectacular flourish.

Heading north to Icod I soaked up the impressive decorations, with reindeer vying with the ancient  drago tree for attention.. The tight back street was decorated with a modern and traditional mix. In previous years they have had festive songs floating on the air, there was a happy buzz this year from the shoppers, and who also felt their their mood lifted by the trimmed balconies of the Ayuntamiento (council) building. Luis Stinga excelled himself with a new wooden sculpture, this one dedicated including all people in the comunity events – and fittingly a local school had played a big part in getting the message across.

Onward to Garachico on the coast below. Garachico is always magnificent so this time I stretched my bus journey to one stop up and outwards from the rock pool swimming area. On a high turn mirador the figure of El Emmigrante is always looking to leap into the horizon. It symbolizes the large number of people who left the Canaries for South America, looking for new lives. A string of suit cases pour out around the figure, and a hole through his body mirrors the pull of his heart at leaving home soil.

There´s a splendid cafe bar on the mirador but many were oblivious to the nativity scene below inside a cave. Each year it is peopled with all the biblical characters gathering around the crib. A kayak rower passed close by for a close up look and the frothy waves around on this afternoon became becalmed near to the festive scene. Further inland the Plaza de La Libertad was full of visitors being wowed by the festive characters popping up at all points.

They really pack the visual treats in at Garachico, well they have a lot of natural attractions to compete with. It was hard to imagine the combined frantic activity around the islands as camels preened themselves for their starring roles as the bringers of presents. Tenerife adds a modern take on the old ways, many municipalities now have gluten free sweets for the royals to shower on the crowds at Reyes processions. It´s a special time of year.

Hidden Skills Of Araya, High Above Candelaria

Below us, a basilica worshipped by thousands, alongside us, a barranco that skirted the basement of Guimar valley, and around us, inspired intrusions of modern living. Araya was welcoming and a great choice starting with a steep uphill drive from the motorway. With such a choice of walks radiating from Araya we hit the trail heading up from Araya plaza and its small church, boasting an outside post box set up for requests to the Three Kings for the Reyes celebrations.

Los Brezos seemed as a good a choice as any for a heading. It was steep from the start but the locals took it in good cheer so that seemed a wise mode to adopt. This was another walking hot spot that I hadn´t visited for many years, and it looked wonderful.

Ingenious use had been made of old baths, and the creative twirls on the edge of a patio would have made my old metalwork teacher forgive me for my pitiful efforts. A wine press hinted at liquid rewards for the earlier pioneers.

Further up the trail, the views offered several choices of direction but a circular sweep seemed the best plan as the route headed upwards. The barranco (ravine) below had the remains of old cave houses hewn into the sides. On a hot sunny day like this it had its big plus points but the bad season rains must have been testing to say the least.

Beauty sprouted at every oportunity. with past hard work and tough lessons lurking not far behind. Taking the down turn, the more modern farms rose from the lower layers as the start point came into view after nearly three hours of testing walking. There´s plenty of variations to lure me back, and more memories to revive as the lower slopes spread into Guimar.

Going With The Flow On Chio Lava Trail

Mount Teide was not the only volcanic peak trying to catch the eyes of walkers in the Tenerife municipality of Guia de Isora. The aftermath of 1909´s youngest eruption on the island had scorched a series of tracks as nature added plants and trees to the landscape. Just a few yards in and the scale and beauty of the walk ahead became clear.

After parking on the TF38 hard shoulder opposite a wide flat path past a locked barrier ensuring foot only access, there were several choices of direction and length. The ground crunched underfoot as we entered the canopy of green leaves with clear blue skies and tantalising glimpses of towering rock formations. There was a good scattering of people enjoying the challenge, with an international  range of voices. For me it was a return to a walk I first did over 10 years ag0 – a mere blink of the eye by natures measure.

There was no skimping on the variety of the walk, it seemed that every flat clearing offered multiple choices of up, down, steep, flat, or open air options. I always praise the upkeep of the walks around Tenerife, this one must make severe demands on its protectors, and they had it all on top form without watering down the raw assault of pleasures. Signs kept walkers informed while reinforcing the respect needed to ensure all age groups could be safe and delighted at the same time. Fallen or damaged trees also had their part to play, blending in to contrast the strong survivors.

As the trees thinned out, more sneak previews of the main lava flow came into view. The last eruption in Tenerife was in 1909 down to Chinyero, before it was halted by a statue of the virgin that was placed in its path – and hailed as a miracle. It didn´t stop the trees from marching defiantly through the flow, a sight that can observed amid the annual almond blossom walks in Santiago del Teide, late February into March. The back leg of this Chio walk offered a reverse look at the solid lava, it looks stunning from any direction.

This circular Chio stroll took three leisurely hours, there are a few natural sheltered rest and food spots and always plenty of treats for the eyes. It´s a classic way to embrace the contrasts of the landscape and not too punishing on the legs – several family groups were walking with young children.



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.



Making Tracks High Above Vilaflor

A few weeks earlier, the threat of wild fires wafted over Vilaflor. Now a short two week hop away from christmas, all was serene and beautiful with a gentle breeze wafting through the air, making my senses tingle with pleasure. Mount Teide had shaken off a recent dusting of snow, and the surrounding fields of vines had begun to give up this years bounty of wine.

Stomping up the steep service road from the top of the village, between the Hotel Spa Vilalba and the football ground, it soon opened out into a wide trail with views down over the tree tops. Sticking to the right is the key when faced with the early choice of directions, and it led past an old white pumping station. From there it was over a well worn path that rose gently to a stunning vista as a carpet of green tree tops swayed gently.

This is a popular route and the paths are well defined even as the odd bit of natures debris intervenes. The descent from the sheer drop over the pine valley winds slowly through shade, even the trunks of the trees have a story to tell. Previous fires have left scorch marks, but nature is resilient and fresh growths were bursting forth.

One of the trickiest sections is the lower descent weaving betwwen trunks over a surface of fine dry needles, but there is no hurry and the updated pumping plant where the open reservoir once sparkled is still the point to aim at. Catching our breath and soaking up the restful surroundings was preparation for the steep trail that winds up and around to the lower end of Vilaflor village.

Even on a perfect weather day, the walk was fairly quiet, we passed a few other walkers but there was always a calm serenity about the setting. Even the yomp back up the main road to our entry point via a local watering hole, was a pleasure with such sights ahead of us.

Angel Blesses CD Tenerife Fans With Divine Intervention

Class always shines through. That old adage is being underlined by 36 year old Angel Rodriguez, born in La Laguna, just a short hop up the road from the CD Tenerife stadium. Back for a second spell at his spiritual home, the big striker netted his sixth goal to earn a home win against bottom team Alcorcon.

It wasn´t a sparkling game, Soriano had an early save to make after Obieto raced into some free space. The game was there for the taking but Tenerife looked a little slow and had no width to their build ups. It was going to take a special moment to light up such a dull game, and Angel was ready to oblige.

After 64 minutes, Anger showed he is not just a powerful forward, his mind was agile as well to lure a visiting defender come towards him before  beating him and catching the goalie equally exposed by the well worked strike. It didn´t ignite a home charge but the team can be forgiven for feeling unsure after picking up so many injuries lately. Sipcic was returning to the centre of the home defence but he pulled up in the second half and had to go off.

The slim margin was enough and fired Tenerife back to 7 th position, a healthy way to sign off the home campaign for 2023. The club have made it clear that they will dabble in the January transfer window to boost the squad. Another mouth watering Copa del Rey fixture at home to Las Palmas will also add to the expectations for better times


Feeling The Festive Force In Tenerife

Brick by brick, christmas was coming together in Santa Cruz. The old favourites were there, like the red and white blooms of the flor de pascua, but a more modern influence was supplied by film epic Star Wars.

The Espacio Cultural exhibition hall of the Caja Canarias bank was filled with a Lego landscape bringing two epic stories together, light years away from the usual rural scenes with a distinct historical taste of Tenerife. It´s free to visit with opening times Monday to Friday 5 to 8 pm, Sat and Sunday 11 am to 2 pm, and 5 pm to 8 pm. Times differ on the big festive dates. From 23 December to 5 January it´s 11am to 4 pm and on 24 & 5 December, and 31 December to 5 January from 11 am to 4 pm. On December 25 and 1 January it is closed – well even Lego figures need some down time.

Santa Cruz also has its smaller but more traditional Belen in the Cabildo building between the port and the lake. It´s always a work of art with plenty of little details to look out for, woven into a historic fabric. It´s also free and open  between 9 to 3 am and 4pm to 9.30pm most days. On 24 December it´s 9 am to 5 pm, on 25 th it´s  4 pm to 9.30 pm, on 31 December it´s 9 am to 5 pm, and on 1 st to 6 January it´s 4 pm to 9.30 pm.

Down at the port, the giant stage was taking shape for the anual classical concert onChristmas Day, late in the evening. This year the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and friends will pay homage to great modern composers like John Williams, another Star Wars link. The 8,000 tickets are on sale at 3 euros each. Taking advantage of the performing platform, a solidarity concert will take place on Friday 15 December to raise money for a reforestation project in Tenerife. Tickets are 18 euros.

There will be lots more distractions in the streets across Tenerife as the festive season unfolds. I will add a few more of the unusual ones on here soon.



Irish Eyes Sparkle On Tenerife Swimming Return

Ten two hour swimming training sessions in a weeks return visit to Tenerife had Banbridge Amateur Swimming Club buzzing with fitness and ambition. It had been five years since their last pre Covid visit to Los Cristianos and the 50 metre, Olympic sized outdoor pool, at the  Jesus Dominguez Grillo complex.

Team manager Michael Angus dished out grapes and bananas at the end of the latest morning session as the 30 teenagers basked in the hot morning sun. That´s just one of the attractions of the Canarian winter. A similar sized group from Ulster Schools (based in Aards) refelcted the same dedication at the other end of the pool.

Coach Michael Angus was delighted to be back at the well used pool. Many ages and nationalities use the open air facility, on this morning a group of mature local swimmers were using the under canvas pool. All that use still leaves plenty of fun for recreational splashing from the young paying public.

Sport in Arona is a big success story. Los Cristianos beach has a large spread of volleyball plots, the Irish swimmers enjoyed some free time, stretching different muscles at the nets, as well as the walk up and down the hill from Paradise Park Hotel, a home from home on previous trips.

The pride in his swimmers was clear to see from Michael Angus.  A beacon had been lit for them last year by another local swimmer, Grace Davison with a 2022 Commonwealth Games gold medal at 200 metres. Another confirmation of the Banbridge clubs strides could come at the Swim Ireland awards on 4 November, where they are vying with three other groups for the best club award.