Saturday, 20 December 2008

Going Native – Will the real Tenerife please stand up?

As a potential holiday destination, Tenerife is somewhat of a paradox. Millions of Brits choose it year after year because of its image and even millions more look down their noses at it for the same reason.

It’s very easy to construct a picture of Tenerife which, although not technically inaccurate, is far from being representative of most of the island.

Community websites like TripAdvisor, Holiday Watchdog and the Tenerife based Tenerife Forum offer really useful advice to visitors and, in Tenerife Forum’s case, expat residents. However, here’s a little task. Find a map of Tenerife and draw a circle around the areas which the majority of posts focus on (usually along the coast from Costa Adeje up to Costa del Silencio and occasionally El Médano) and then look at how much of Tenerife lies outside the circle – it might come as something of a surprise.

The area which makes up the popular southern holiday resorts could probably fit into a couple of barrancos (ravines) in the remote Anaga Mountains at the north east end of Tenerife.
And yet this tiny area in geographic terms tends to hog the spotlight in relation to the island’s image in the UK. Whether it be an image of a warm and sunny version of Britain abroad populated by beer bellied lager louts, or the more acceptable shiny ‘new face of Tenerife’ with its coastline of plush, 5 star hotels.

It’s one of the reasons we’re passionate about projects like Going Native in Tenerife which covers all areas of Tenerife, especially what we call the real Tenerife; the place where Tinerfeños (natives of Tenerife) have lived and developed a fascinating culture for over five centuries.

There’s a very different island out there than people realise and the great thing is, because of the way that Tenerife has been portrayed in the media during the last 30 years, a lot of it is still waiting to be discovered.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Going Native in Tenerife – will you like the same things we like?

One of the questions that some people might ask when looking for a travel guidebook will be, ‘will it include the sort of things that I like to do and see?”

Obviously that’s a very subjective question as many of us like to see and do different things. When Judith Chalmers used to present ITV’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, I always thought she spent far too much time in old churches and museums. Don’t get me wrong I like old churches and museums but I also like a lot of other things as well.

Being brought up on a Scottish Island, I have an instinctive love of beautiful scenery and love exploring the countryside; the wilder the better. For most of my adult life I worked in Manchester and was lucky enough to be there at a time when it changed from being tired and run down to becoming one of the UK’s most vibrant and beautiful cities; so I guess what I’m saying is that I love cities too; their energy, architecture and culture. I enjoy wandering about art galleries, museums and gardens. However I equally enjoy messing about in theme parks, swimming in azure seas and chilling on beautiful beaches.

Being a foodie, eating is more than a necessity; it’s a pleasurable hobby (hence the need for the swimming and long hikes). However although I positively salivate at a beautifully presented cordon bleu meal in a plush restaurant, or a simply cooked, but delicious fish straight from the fishermen’s boat in a harbour-side restaurant, I wouldn’t turn my nose up at a home made beefburger full of fresh herbs (incidentally La Oficina in La Villa in La Orotava makes as good a burger as I’ve tasted on Tenerife and it’s a steal at €2.50).

Sometimes I reckon you can’t beat a fine wine in a stylish pavement café as the sun goes down…until I’m quaffing mojitos in a lively Cuban bar with pumping Latino music watching the beautiful people salsa sexily around me till the early hours.

At other times I revel in the thrill of the energetic fiestas which seem to take place every month with street parties filled with smiling people in traditional costume/fancy dress/DJs and cocktail dresses that go on till dawn. But then again it’s hard to beat the wave of shared emotion felt when someone starts singing ‘Ave Maria’ during traditional festivals, or brotherhoods in masked outfits silently march through the streets during Easter processions in La Laguna.

I could go on, but I suppose the point is this, if you’re looking for a diverse guide to Tenerife and you enjoy any, some, or all of the above things I’ve mentioned, Going Native in Tenerife should be just the guidebook you’re looking for.

Tuesday, 16 December 2008

Going Native in Tenerife – The front cover

It’s funny; you think that once you’ve written the text for a book that all the hard work’s done – wrong. Then comes the first proof reading and the re-checking of phone numbers, websites addresses, facts and figures etc and choosing potential photographs which illustrate the Tenerife that Going Native in Tenerife wants people to know about, not always the Tenerife which tour operators necessarily want to push.

To be honest, this part isn’t hard work, but it is time consuming especially when you’ve got a catalogue of thousands of photographs built up over the last few years to choose from. Part of this job involved identifying potential covers for the book; Debbie Jenkins and Joe Gregory’s (editors and publishers at NativeSpain and bookshaker) main criteria was to choose some which had people in them.

No problem, we had loads from various fiestas which perfectly illustrated the real Tenerife which most residents know. We posted a selection onto flickr and waited to see which Joe would pick; whether it would be our favourite.

However, Joe completely surprised us by choosing a photo in my flickr collection which we hadn’t included, but as soon as we saw which one he’d chosen we knew he’d hit the nail right on the head in capturing the essence of Tenerife.
It was taken at a traditional fiesta and to me represents what Tenerife is all about; a wonderful climate and a serious pride in maintaining age-old traditions whilst enjoying life to the fullest at the same time.

If you can identify where the photo was taken and what the event is…well you won’t win any prize, except the kudos of being somebody who knows the real Tenerife

Going Native in Tenerife – a different perspective

One of the many ‘different from the usual guidebook’ features of the Going Native series is that the publishers encourage authors to include short anecdotal articles and quotes from other people. Travel guides, except the ones which are mind numbingly bland, by their very nature tend to reflect the voice of their author, in this case, authors, so the occasional snippet written by someone else adds a different voice and occasionally varying opinions to the main tone of the guide.

We were pleasantly surprised with the positive response to our request for anecdotes/short articles from various people, with very diverse interests and experience, around the island, a couple of whom we’d never met, spoken to, or even communicated with in cyberspace previously.

It’s a great addition to the book to be able to include interesting and very entertaining anecdotes from people like Colin Kirby (freelance writer and passionate CD Tenerife fan); Julie Hume (webmaster of etenerife); Gary Rosson (aka Cyberhiker - walking guide); Aguilas (Tripadvisor destination expert for Tenerife); Dr Leslie Brown (scientist and organiser of guided cycling tours on Tenerife); and Joe Cawley (travel writer and author of More Ketchup than Salsa).

Their contributions and insights into life on Tenerife are just another feature of what makes Going Native in Tenerife different from other travel guidebooks.

Saturday, 13 December 2008

Going Native in Tenerife – The Guidebook for True Travellers.

It’s been a lot of sweat, soul searching and heartache…actually it’s been none of these things. It’s been hard work but also immensely satisfying and now the latest and most honest guidebook about Tenerife, ‘Going Native in Tenerife’ is about to hit Amazon’s virtual shelves.

You might ask yourself does Tenerife need another guidebook? Clearly as I’ve co-authored this one, I’m going to say ‘of course’, but the truth is that having written about Tenerife’s 'off the beaten track' locations for Living Tenerife Magazine and then for Real Tenerife Island Drives, my wife, Andy and I discovered that some of the most interesting places on the island were overlooked by even the biggest name guide books. Most of which tended to devote too much information to the southern resorts that even people who only want to come and lie on a beach already know about. So when the publishers at bookshaker came along and commissioned us to put together the latest in their insightful Going Native series of travel guidebooks, we were only too happy to oblige.

So here it is, a guidebook for travellers who really want to get under the skin of Tenerife and discover the island that the Tinerfeños know, not just the small area that most visitors are familiar with.