Monday, 21 December 2009

A Month Going Native in Tenerife #3: From Exploding Tapas to Tsunami-Sized Waves

Enjoying a lively Christmas lunch in the courtyard of a museum party was a fittingly surreal topping to the last few weeks in Tenerife.

Exploding Tapas in Puerto de la Cruz
The period had started bizarrely enough when we took my sister and her boyfriend, who were on holiday in Playa de la Arena on a tapas route around the town. Some great tapas dishes were tested; however, the one which got the best reaction wasn’t the tastiest, but the oddest. Ravioli filled with space dust in Casa Pache was quite unlike anything I’d ever tasted. No wonder they called it ravioli sorpresa.

Volcanic Eruptions on Tenerife
The 18th of November saw the centenary of the last eruption on Tenerife at Chinyero above Santiago del Teide. We went along to see how it was being celebrated and stood on the edge of the volcano as a load of suits, looking completely inappropriately dressed for trekking across a lava field, posed for photos with Ricardo Melchior, the Island’s President (who was at least dressed for the countryside). The event also coincided with the opening of Santiago del Teide’s new cultural centre set in and around the lovely old buildings of Casa El Patio. We’d first clocked the building about three years before, when its estimated opening date was already 6 months behind schedule. In Tenerife time that’s not bad. On maps of Puerto de la Cruz, the car park at the harbour has been identified as ‘futuro parque marítimo’ for about 20 years.

Chestnuts, Wine and Street Sliders
This year’s arrastre de las tables, where local lads scream down steep streets to celebrate San Andrés in Icod de los Vinos was a bit of a washout. Much more enjoyable was partaking of a poke of chestnuts and some new vino tinto around the harbour in Puerto… if you could get a seat. It’s the sort of thing that Puerto does brilliantly. The smells, tastes and sounds were a reminder that for anyone wanting to sample the real Tenerife and do the sort of things that Canarios enjoy doing, Puerto’s hard to beat.

Yellow Weather Alerts on Tenerife #1 The Rain

November is always a dodgy month on Tenerife. It’s the month that the rains can return with a vengeance after the long dry summer. We always advise people that if they’re coming to Tenerife for only a week and want some sunshine, don’t come to the north in November or February. The rains don’t normally last long, but when they come you know about them. This year’s were the worst we’d seen since we moved here and although they only lasted about 24 hours, they left chaos in their wake and destroyed part of the town beach.

Christmas on Tenerife
The Christmas lights in Puerto this year are a bit of a disappointment. They’re very nice and tasteful, but lack a bit of colour. Thank goodness then for a completely over the top psychedelic big wheel, whose frantically whizzing neon lights dominate the town’s skyline. The funfair in Puerto’s harbour is part and parcel of Christmas here, as are aisles full of turrón in the supermarket – we’re on our third packet of the season.

Snow on Mount Teide
They were a bit late in coming and they didn’t stay long, but the first snows of the year fell on Mount Teide’s slopes last week.  We’re hoping that more falls during the next week so that we can say we’ve had a white Christmas on Tenerife.
Yellow Weather Alerts on Tenerife #2 The Waves
Some people panic when they hear there’s a weather alert on Tenerife, but when the alerts for big waves, it’s more of a heads up to experience nature’s show than to batten down the hatches. Last week I was hoping to see some surfers tackling ‘El Bravo’, but although the waves turned up as promised, the surfers didn’t… hey ho.

Christmas is almost upon us, so with Christmas concerts during the next week, New Year’s celebrations and the Tres Reyes parades there are a few things that we’re looking forward to before the fiesta season starts again in January.

Feliz Navidad Todos

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Going Native in Tenerife – Eating Where the Locals Eat

There’s a rule when it comes to recommending restaurants that is applied in nearly every travel guide book and also in countless travel articles.

It’s this: A restaurant where the locals eat must be the place to eat. As rules go, it’s not a bad one. We’ve applied it everywhere we’ve visited and usually ended up enjoying a good meal.

However, living in Tenerife and getting to know the local culture and quirks has made me view this rule slightly differently and with slightly more caution.

Firstly, as we talk about in 'Going Native in Tenerife' in more detail, Canarios generally have a conservative nature when it comes to dining. They like Canarian food which tends to be simple dishes of grilled meat and fish with papas arrugadas (literally wrinkled potatoes). Any vegetable or salad accompaniment isn’t usually the most imaginative in the world.
The mainland Spanish don’t always hold Canarian cooking in high esteem and I’ve had restaurant owners go out of their way to make it clear that their restaurant serves Basque, or Galician dishes rather than Canarian.

Canarios aren’t the best at experimenting with food from other countries apart from maybe Italian. So what that means is that when you see a restaurant filled with Canarios, you can bet your house on the fact that the menu will be traditional Canarian cooking and almost exactly the same as every other Canarian restaurant on the island.  However, lots of local clients usually means that the food served will be a notch above other restaurants dishing up the same fare. La Tasquita de Min beside Puerto’s harbour is a prime example of this. Their fish is simply prepared and divine tasting (the parrot fish, vieja, is particularly good) and on Sundays it’s almost impossible to get a table as they are filled with well to do Canarios.

But whilst full tables may be a sign of the best Canarian restaurants, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they're the best restaurants full stop. In areas which are popular with a mix of nationalities, there’s a choice of dining from all over the world, but they might not be frequented by ‘locals’, or Canarian locals anyway.

And this raises another factor which applies to places where there is a high ex-pat population. And that is what people mean when they use the term ‘local’.

In an article we wrote about restaurants in Valle Gran Rey on La Gomera, we include a cheap and cheerful joint which served up everything from Canarian cooking to pizzas. When we told our friend who lives on La Gomera that we were including this restaurant she announced:

“But no locals ever eat there.”

Her statement surprised us because when we’d eaten there the other diners included a large group of workmen and some young couples – all Canarios.

It turned out that the locals she was referring to were the resort’s large, German ex-pat population.

Similarly on websites like Tenerife Forum, the majority of whose members mainly live or holiday in the south of Tenerife (where most of the British ex-pat population reside) when people talk about places the locals eat, they might be referring to ex-pat locals rather than ‘Canario’ locals.

Clearly it’s legitimate to use the term local for someone who lives here irrespective of where they originated. But if you’re planning a holiday, or even looking for a place to live for a while, it’s a distinction that you need to be aware of the next time someone recommends somewhere because it’s ‘where the locals eat’.

Thursday, 3 December 2009

Going Native at Christmas on Tenerife

A couple of years ago we spent a week in at our friend’s house on La Gomera just before Christmas. By the time we returned to Tenerife I’d actually forgotten that (A) La Gomera was part of Spain and not Germany (the small valley she lives in is populated mostly by Germans); (B) It is warm in the Canary Islands at Christmas (she lives 1000 metres up at the edge of the rain forest); and (C) it was actually Christmas. Despite Jo’s complaints that the Gomerans were being seduced more and more by sparkly Christmas baubles and lights, I can only remember seeing two houses with sparkly Xmas decorations in their windows.

Tenerife is different, well parts of it are anyway. Here the Tinerfeños have most definitely succumbed to the temptations of rows of twinkling lights and I for one am not complaining.

There can be a perception that opting to spend Christmas in Tenerife’s warm climes means having to sacrifice all that nice Christmassy atmosphere that balances out the madness of packed shopping centres and overspending in the UK and presumably other northern European countries. But it needn’t be the case.

In Tenerife’s historic centres, some councils really go to town and the streets are festooned with elaborate decorations. When darkness falls, plazas in La Orotava, La Laguna and Puerto de la Cruz are transformed into magical places to sit and pass the time. Add some children from the local brass band, practising festive hymns on their instruments to try to earn a bit of extra dosh and the Christmas atmosphere goes up a couple of notches. Throw in the sweet sound of choirs performing concerts in the plaza’s church and elaborate nativity scenes in shop windows and the vestibules of town halls (anyone who enjoys ‘Carry On’ humour should keep a look out for ‘El Caganer’) and suddenly you’ve got a festive atmosphere straight out of Dickens. And if Teide obliges, as it so often does, you get snow with your sunshine and the promise of a white Xmas, even if it is only visible to the eye on the mountain slopes rather than underfoot.

And the best thing about it all is that there’s a lot less of that materialistic madness that has blighted Christmas a bit in Blighty.

The most ‘Christmassy’ memory I’ve got from anywhere ever is of standing outside the Iglesia de la Peña de Francia in Puerto de la Cruz as the local band played Silent Night and the mixed crowd of Spanish, British and German onlookers sang along. It sent a shiver down my spine and brought a tear to my eye (more than one in truth – Andy. my mum, our nephew and myself were almost openly blubbing). It was the most perfect Christmas moment.

However, there are a few cultural differences as well, so check out our Real Tenerife Christmas page and our Tenerife Matters December blogs to make sure that you get the best out of Christmas on Tenerife and don’t get caught out.

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Events on Tenerife: Walk for Life in Playa de las Américas

We receive lots of queries about walking on Tenerife, well here’s the opportunity to indulge in something you enjoy and also do it for a great cause as donations made go to (AECC) “Asociación Española contra el Cáncer” (Spanish Association against Cancer) and (AMATE) “Asociación de Mujeres afectadas por Cáncer de mama” (Association of Women Affected by Breast Cancer).

Each year, thousands of people turn the promenade at Playa de las Américas into a pink parade in a colourful show of support for those who have been affected by this horrible disease.

Simply, register, make a donation, pick up your Walk for Life t-shirt, or pink cap and you can become a member of the pink parade.

Walk for Life this year takes place on Sunday the 13th December and the route runs along the promenade from the Mediterranean Palace hotel in Playa de las Américas to the Sally Tien Plaza, Costa Adeje.

Have a look at the Walk for Life website for more information

Monday, 23 November 2009

Food and Drink on Tenerife – You Can Tell a Place by its Supermarket

Here’s a general rule of thumb, if you want to get an idea of what a place is like and what sort of people
live thereabouts visit the local supermarket. It’s essentially important when you’re looking at locations as potential places to move to whether for good, or even just for a couple of months.

When I lived in Levenshulme near Manchester, the local Asda was full of the most exciting and diverse range of food products aimed at satisfying the culinary needs of the different communities living in the area. I could even buy the Jamaican speciality ackee. It was heaven for food lovers .

A few miles further down the road in Stockport, the range of products wasn’t quite as extensive and tended to be generally quite unadventurous, but perfectly adequate for most of the people who shopped there. A further few miles along the A9 in Hazel Grove, Sainsbury’s opened a flagship store aimed at what they saw was a middle class shopper from the ‘posher’ end of Stockport and surrounding area. Whilst the choice wasn’t quite as worldwide as Levenshulme, it did have sun dried tomatoes and the likes – quite adventurous at the time.

On Tenerife it’s no different. A supermarket in Los Gigantes will stock very different items from a supermarket in La Laguna for example. The supermarkets in the tourist resorts are different from the supermarkets which cater for mainly Canarian residents.

I’m a self confessed foodie; I love all types of food and will try virtually anything and subsequently it's important to me that I have access to a wide variety of international products as well as local foods.

In this respect, living in the La Orotava Valley turned out to be perfect; more by luck than by good planning I have to say. The Al Campo supermarket in La Villa isn’t perfect by any means, but there are very few ingredients which I was able to get hold of in the UK (and I mean ingredients, not products which is a completely different thing) that I can’t pick up there.

Products are mostly aimed at the valley’s Canarian residents which means that there are hardly any TV dinners or pre packed meals (an indicator that Canarios still prepare meals from scratch). There are sheets of salted fish, walls of hams, pigs ears, sheep ears, whole skinned rabbits and piglets, horse meat, cow’s tongues and strange things which cling to rocks which I haven’t figured out what to do with yet.

However, there’s also a decent mix of other nationalities in the valley from a variety of countries including Europe, South America and Africa. So the supermarket also has German sausages; cheddar, brie & feta cheese; Mexican, Indian & North African products like ‘ras el hanout’; an incredible spice which adds the most divine flavours to anything it’s sprinkled into.

What it means is that I can still prepare all the recipes I used to before I moved here, as well as adding a few more, locally inspired dishes.

But if you don’t check out what the local supermarket stocks, or even where it is, you could end up like my friend who lives in a remote valley on La Gomera. It’s a beautifully stunning location, but the nearest shop is a thirty to forty minute drive away and it doesn’t stock much anyway. The island’s main supermarket in San Sebastian is only marginally better.

When she stays with us and we go to the supermarket, she always ends up resting her head on one of our shoulders, almost crying at the treasures she sees filling the aisles in front of her eyes - bless her.

Monday, 26 October 2009

Another Month Going Native in Tenerife – Bikers, Neo Hippies, Marauding Clowns and Surreal Killer Whales.

It doesn’t feel as though there was as much going on this month. The fiestas have slowed to a bit of standstill (on Tenerife that means there are only a handful of them as opposed to one every other day) and we’ve moved into the winter season – the temperature in town yesterday was around 33 degrees Celsius.

The Germans and British are returning to Puerto de la Cruz (I spotted a woman sunbathing in her bra on the harbour beach – a sure sign that the British winter visitors are back) and the vibrancy of the summer months is slowing down to a more sedate pace (until Carnaval kicks in of course).

However, that’s not to say that there’s been nothing happening.

Eco Warriors
We started the month at a lovely little Eco Fest in Los Silos, still one of Tenerife’s secret spots. The bohemians were out in force and unless you were sporting dreadlocks, wearing Arabian pants, or had an impossibly cute mongrel in tow the chances were that you’d be feeling a wee bit dull amongst the hordes of cool looking dudes. Unfortunately the music was crap, courtesy of some incompetent sound engineers.

Hell’s Angels in Garachico
The same night saw leather clad bikers converge on the sleepy picturesque town of Garachico. It was on the same stretch of road as the Eco Fest so we had a two-fest night out. Some of the people were as eye catching as the neo hippies but for different reasons – note: leather mini skirt, fishnets and thigh length boots is a difficult look to pull off when you’re in your 60s. Good music at this one though.

Colourful Killers and Clowns with Frowns
Santa Cruz has featured quite a lot in our travels this month and although we got nowhere with a fashion feature we had planned, we did get to see some surreal killer whales and finally manage a couple of half decent profile photos where we don’t sport expressions like Myra Hindley and Ian Brady. 

There’s always something interesting going on in the capital and although I wasn’t overly excited by the idea of a clown street festival (bloody scary things if you ask me) it turned out be quite good fun. Although some of the laughs were unintentional. An Australian clown, Oskar, whose Spanish was limited, ran into serious problems during his ‘sound check’. Every time he started playing a little guitar to check the sound levels a lot of the audience began clapping along. Telling them 'Sssshh, this is a sound check’ in English got him nowhere and every time he strummed, they clapped making his sound check virtually impossible. The expression on his face wasn’t particularly that of a friendly clown – it made me laugh, but I did feel for him.

Three Walks in One Day
A lot of people have been asking about walking on Tenerife, so we figured that we’d better crack on with writing some more ‘Island Walks’ and set ourselves the target of three walks in one day around the Adeje/Arona areas.  It was hard going, but we managed it. I’m sure that when we limped into the plaza in San Miguel, tired and dusty looking and then performed a series of leg stretches which really don’t help with any street cred, but do cut down on potential aches and pains (although from the noises Andy made every time she moved the following day, I thought she’d learned Mandarin during the night), the locals in their nice clothes turning up for mass must have thought we were just a pair of odd extranjeros.

Much more fun was a trip around Las Arenas Negras with our friends Nikki, Richard and Baz of Tenerife Dogs fame, especially when the route signposts deserted us and paths became virtually non existent. Still, a beer and an almond cake at the end of the walk in the sunshine just rounded off a very nice day and a great walk.

The end of the period was taking up by working on the final preparations for Tenerife Magazine, the island’s first online English language magazine, which was launched at the end of last week.

We’re working with some really excellent and talented people and are very excited about the project. The magazine also has a great competition to win a week at Sands Beach in Lanzarote which is open to anyone who becomes a fan on Facebook, so sign up and get your name in for the draw.

I’m sure I’ve missed a few things out, like our running battle with the local supermarket over ‘creative pricing’ and the beautiful sunsets and monster waves which coincide with the change of seasons and some outrageous political shenanigans.

All in all, it was just your average month on Tenerife.

Monday, 12 October 2009

Why Would Anyone Have Wanted to Live in the South of Tenerife?

It’s a question which crossed my mind as we sat eating lunch on an abandoned terrace in a little valley tucked away in the hills above Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje. It was miles from any decent sized town, the earth was dry and hard and unwelcoming and yet there were empty agricultural terraces lining every slope.

There weren’t many people who made their home in the south of Tenerife before tourism brought the masses and the promise of sunshine and year round warmth made it a desirable place to live, but I wondered what sort of people they were and why they chose to settle in a place which must have been incredibly difficult to farm.

A girl in the Los Cristianos tourist office once told me that when she was young her parents used to bring her to Los Cristianos, but at that time there was hardly anything there. A lot of the inhabitants were fishermen living in caves. She said most of the people there were very poor. It makes sense when you think about it.

Until tourism changed the south coast all the well to do and educated people lived north of Güímar. The north coast is peppered with the most beautiful and grand haciendas, but south of Güímar you’re hard pressed to find anything which comes close to these historic buildings. The best lands (i.e. those in the north) were dished out to the noblemen, therefore the settlers who ended up with plots in the arid lands in the south must have been the poorest of the poor, unable to afford decent land in the more agriculturally friendly areas.

As for the fellow who occupied the remote abandoned valley, he really must have been at the bottom of the ladder, or maybe he was an outlaw, or even a pirate. It’s documented that slave traders operated out of the area and that pirates were in cahoots with some of the wealthier families hereabouts, so maybe he tended his farm some of the time and headed off with other miscreants to Africa to capture slaves the rest of the time. Maybe my imagination was running away with me.

I took a bite out of my bocadillo and gazed over the line of fancy new hotels in upmarket Costa Adeje which had replaced the cave dwelling fishermen, peasant farmers and outlaws and smiled.

How times change. It’s a funny old world.

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Passing Time

I was just thinking about how long we’d lived on Tenerife when it suddenly struck me that it must be very close to our sixth anniversary of moving here. Sure enough, checking the calendar, it was six years ago today that Jack and I arrived on the island to start our new life.

It’s funny to think back to our hopes, fears and expectations when we first got here. Two years ago when this anniversary came around, I took stock of what we’d achieved versus our expectations and looking back on that blog, I think it might be time to do a quick progress report.

1.    Speaking Spanish. I remember saying to Jack as we came into land that we’d probably have to give ourselves 6 months to ‘get used to the language’ before deciding how we were going to make a living here. Six years later I still can’t get over the mind-numbing stupidity and arrogance of that remark. Okay, the current season of ‘Cuétame Cómo Pasó’ is easier to understand than it’s ever been before but it’s still a bit like having an online Spanish lesson and not at all the relaxing experience of watching, say Coronation Street.
2.    Earn a living. I like Jack’s descriptor of this one: “we now earn a livi’ which is almost a living.” Luckily, our taste in cava is still cheap so we can pop a bottle tonight to mark the occasion.
3.    Learn Salsa – I’m afraid a livi’ doesn’t run to salsa lessons.
4.    Earn a living from writing – see 2. above.
5.    Be happy. Yay! Still putting a big, fat tick in that box…most of the time anyway (see 2. above)

So here’s to another year of near perpetual sunshine, forgetting how to walk in high heels, never having to paint a radiator and Going Native in Tenerife…salut!

Wednesday, 30 September 2009

Parking in Tenerife’s Towns – It Helps to be in the Know.

First of all I’d like to thank ‘scotrock’ whose comments in the last blog reminded me that trying to find parking in any big town or city can be a real nightmare. This applies pretty much anywhere of course and finding parking in Tenerife’s towns is no exception.

It’s something you tend to erase from your memory when you’ve lived here for a while (isn’t that the brain’s way of dealing with bad experiences), but initially for us Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, Santa Cruz, La Laguna and many, many other places on Tenerife all made cracking the Da Vinci Code seem like child’s play compared with finding a place to park.

Of course once you get to know places you discover that there are car parks all over, but this falls into that old Tenerife approach to imparting helpful information to others: ‘you have to already know where the car parks are to know where the car parks are.’ The same thinking applies to fiestas – ‘you have to know what times fiesta events take place to know what time they actually take place.’

If that doesn’t make any sense, spend some time here and it soon will.

Anyway, here’s a brief guide to the big 4 where parking doesn’t have to be a high blood pressure inducing nightmare…

Puerto de la Cruz
Puerto has one of the biggest free car parks on Tenerife and it’s right in the centre of town beside the harbour. The hard bit comes in trying to find it for the first time.

A lot of maps show the area that is actually the car park as the ‘Parque Maritimo’ and sometimes, a bit more accurately, as ‘futuro Parque Maritimo’.
The truth is that it’s been the ‘futuro parque maritimo’ for 30 years, but is, and will be for quite a while longer, the main town car park.

It’s just one of Tenerife’s quaint, or frustrating depending on your viewpoint, little foibles.  The main access is beside the town’s football pitch (accessed from the coastal road at Playa Jardín).

La Orotava
Apart from fiesta times, it’s usually easy to park on the residential streets below the Iglesia de la Concepción. However, you have to know your way around to get to them from the motorway. It’s easier for visitors to follow the TF21 (road to Mount Teide) and head right into the San Agustín car park (well signposted) in the centre of town. It’s right on the edge of the old town, so perfect for exploring Tenerife’s most noble town.

Santa Cruz
God bless the new bus station car park. This has to be the best car park in the world. It’s bright, cheap, modern and I can’t think of anything else on Tenerife which has been so well thought out. A lighting system makes finding spaces easy even on the busiest of days (green light means a free space). it’s a 10 minute walk to the centre of town – a fact which deters a lot of Tinerfeños from parking there, so it’s rarely too busy. It’s also easy to get to from the motorway – straight down Avenida Tres de Mayo. It makes driving into the city a joy.

La Laguna
Oh, well. What can you say about La Laguna? It’s a test of nerve for sure. The old town’s narrow streets are particularly testing with drivers unsure of who’s got right of way. Only this week I watched a small white van plough into the side of a car at a junction (nobody was hurt). Amusingly, even the mini version of La Laguna at Pueblo Chico has minor car accidents on its model streets. There are car parks, but negotiating the maze of streets to find them is the big problem.

I found the perfect solution – a free car park on the edge of the old town reached from the ring road which skirts La Laguna on the way to Tegueste. It was perfect. Even on fiesta days I managed to park there easily… until the authorities designated it as the space for a new health centre. However, it was right beside the market which does have a large underground car park, so it’s still a good spot for parking without having to drive through the city.

These are only a brief snapshot, but hopefully they might help some poor souls avoid parking hell on Tenerife.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Did You Hear the One About the Canario, the Swallow and the First Time Visitors to Tenerife?

I’m nosey, I confess it. I listen in to other people’s conversations all the time. I don’t do it deliberately, but clearly I’ve got one of those built in triggers which kicks in when it hears certain key words.

Last night the words which set it off were ‘giant moth’.

The conversation was taking place between a Canarian barman, a newly arrived pair of British swallows (people who spend the winter in Tenerife and fly back to their home country for summer) and a sweet young couple who were visiting the island for the first time. They'd found themselves staying way off the tourist trail in Isla Baja and had been travelling into Puerto de la Cruz in the evening for a bit of nightlife.

I’d already warmed to the young couple earlier as they had a lovely fresh enthusiasm for learning about Tenerife and had spent a lot of time asking the barman how to say certain things in Spanish. He duly obliged, only coming unstuck when they asked him to translate ‘cider and black’ into Spanish.

Anyway, I’d stopped listening until I heard the words ‘giant moth’. The young couple had moved on from asking the barman how to ask for a ‘roll’ or ‘sea bass’ in Spanish and had started telling a couple of swallows next to them about their exploits.

Seemingly they’d been out and about quite a lot, using only public transport, and that day had visited Icod de los Vinos to see the famous ‘Millenium Drago Tree’. The lad was a bit disappointed that it wasn’t actually shaped like a dragon, but what had impressed them both was a visit to the ‘Mariposario’ butterfly park next to the Drago Tree – especially a little or rather, more accurately, frighteningly mutant sized, fellow called ‘Atticus Atlas’.

The Mariposario is a fascinating place to visit and the young couple were clearly blown away by the experience, if a little freaked by encountering a ‘butterfly’ the size of a blackbird.  However, it was the conversation which followed which really interested me. As they enthused about the butterfly park, they asked the swallows if they’d been – they hadn’t. They asked them if they’d been to see the Drago tree – again they hadn’t. Despite having visited the island yearly since before the young couple they were talking to were born, they had never made the 20 minute journey down the coast to see one of Tenerife’s icons. As the young couple rattled off more places, the answers came back, ‘no, not been there’, ‘no, haven’t actually seen that.’

It’s not the first time I’ve heard this type of conversation between ‘interested’ new visitors and people who have visited year after year for the last couple of decades.

I sometimes wonder if some seasoned visitors can become complacent and forget that they haven’t actually seen all there is to see on Tenerife.

The young couple engaged the barmen in the conversation and asked him if he’d seen the ‘super moth.’

“Why would I pay to see a butterfly?” He shrugged his shoulders dismissing the world’s largest butterfly just like that.

It seems it’s not just veteran visitors who can become complacent about getting out and about to discover the best of this island.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

A Month Going Native in Tenerife – Fiestas, Cool Bars, Golden Beaches and Transvestites

Every so often, I like to have a look back at what went on and the things we saw, or did over the previous few weeks. We never manage to get to half of the places, concerts, events or fiestas that we would like to go to that take place on Tenerife on a continual basis – there are just too many. But without exception, there’s always something new to us, something quirky, or something just plain mind blowing in the pot and on too many occasions, the best of them take place outside of many visitors’ radar. Here’s a quick summary of the last few weeks.

The Virgen de Candelaria
The fiesta of the year in Candelaria attracted tens of thousands of pilgrims who walked from all over the island to honour the Canary Island’s patron saint. We cheated and drove. Candelaria looked as good as we’d ever seen it and the basilica looked magnificent as the people of the town re-enacted the Guanche discovering the virgin on the beach in Laurel and Hardy fashion.
Glad to be Gay
Puerto’s gay week was a lot of fun and the gay parade which rounded off the week was like watching a remake of Priscilla, Queen of the desert. The ‘Beauty Queens’ gave their female counterparts a run for the money in the glamour stakes and no doubt had some onlookers who didn’t know what was going on wondering ‘are they, or aren’t they?’
Tenerife’s Most Decadent Bar?
Incredibly our first night time visit to Abaco cocktail bar, what must be one of the island’s most unique bars. Live light jazz in a colonial mansion where the tasteful arrangements of exotic fruits litter the floor.
Getting to the Heart of the Matter in Tejina
It’s been a couple of years since we last saw the people of Tejina, in the garden of Tenerife in the north of the island, bare their hearts in one of the island’s sweetest fiestas. And what stunning hearts they were, made from elaborate designs of fruit and pastries.
Undiscovered Country – The Eastern Anagas
We tested out a potential new route for our Real Tenerife Walks series and found spectacular views, a quirky early warning station from the 2nd World War and also that trying to retrieve a hat blown off by the wind is a sure way to end up with a leg full of cactus spines.

Tenerife’s Best Beach
There’s a lot of work planned for what we think is Tenerife’s most stunning beach, Las Teresitas. Thankfully none of it has so far ruined its exotic appearance – of course we had to spend some time lying on it to check this out… it’s a hard job and all that.
The White Fiesta
Puerto’s last dance fiesta of the summer involved everyone wearing white. It turned out we were the oldest revellers there by decades… apart from the Bavarians who had wandered along from the Bavarian Beer Festival in their lederhosen to add a surreal element to the scene.
Some young Tinerfeño lads, one of whom insisted that he was Jim Carrey’s distant cousin through his mother’s side, told me confidently that Manchester United would win the Champion’s League this season, but Tenerife would win it next season, presumably after winning La Liga. Bless them.
Country Lanes and Fresh Trout
And the four weeks were rounded off by a gentle stroll through La Orotava’s pine forests and Aguamansa’s flower lined country lanes followed by a lunch of fresh trout (2 for €4.80) in the forestry worker’s favourite haunt at La Caldera.

One of the wonderful things about this island is that there is no such thing as a typical month in Tenerife… if you’re willing to make the effort that is.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

The Weather in Tenerife… Again. The North of Tenerife in Summer

Last weekend I was having a conversation about different parts of Tenerife with a bloke who lives in the south of the island. He told me that he thought the north of Tenerife around Puerto de la Cruz was beautiful and lush, but he couldn’t live there because it was too cold and wet.

We’ve covered this topic many times in the past and will no doubt do so again, and again, but the weather is something that comes up over and over on forums, travel sites and just about every time I meet someone who doesn’t live in the north and I tell them where I stay. It is a topic that is especially dear to poor old weather weary Brits’ hearts, who every year are promised a burning hot summer and invariably end up with a washed out one.

The perception of the weather in the north of Tenerife is partly based on facts, partly based on a misleading interpretation of what cooler and wetter than the south of Tenerife actually means, partly based on a lack of understanding of weather readings and partly because of perceptions by people who don’t actually live there - like my friend who thought it was always too cold and wet.

Here are a few facts that will hopefully paint a more accurate picture of the weather in the north, especially over the summer months.
  • We’ve eaten breakfast, lunch and dinner outside on the terrace every day since the beginning of June.
  • The last time we saw any rain was a brief shower during the night in June (the fact that there was any rain in June was unusual). There is hardly any rain between June and October. Of course, I've probably jinxed it now.
  • We very rarely wear anything other than a T-shirt and shorts between June and October – anything else and we’d be sweating buckets.
  • Most of the time between July and September the temperature is touching the 30 degrees mark (remember that official readings are always taken in the shade, which is why it always feels hotter on holiday than the average temperatures suggest).
This is what the north of Tenerife is really like in the summer months.

So here’s a bit of advice. If you want to know what the weather is really like for any part of Tenerife whether it’s south, west, east or north only ever believe the advice from someone who actually lives in that area, or knows it very, very well.

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Learning Spanish – the art of miscommunication.

Before moving to Tenerife, Jack and I spent an academic year doing night school courses in Spanish at the Cervantes Institute in Manchester.
We had an absolutely brilliant group with whom we bonded right from the start and together we stuttered and stumbled our way through Elementary Spanish levels 1 to 3.

Having mastered the rudimentary of such everyday situations as introducing ourselves, asking directions, going to the doctor and ordering food and drink, we set off for our new life.
We arrived in Puerto de la Cruz at 10pm on a Sunday night and had to go to a local bar to ask for the agent who held the keys to our house. We confidently asked the barman:
Do you know where Fredy is?” and then stood with our mouths open while he gave his response.
As the torrent of unintelligible sounds floated past our ears with not one single recognisable word in it, we looked at each other in horror and realised we’d spent £600 apiece and a year of our lives learning the wrong Spanish.

Studying Castellano and then arriving in the Canaries is the equivalent of a Spaniard learning English and then moving to Newcastle or Glasgow. Although technically it’s the same language, it might as well be Mandarin for all the understanding you’re going to have to begin with.

But the ear gradually becomes attuned and little by little you begin not only to understand more but to find yourself dropping the ‘s’ off everything and swallowing your vowels as if they were tasty morsels. And inevitably, there can be misunderstandings.

I was reading Julie’s very funny article on ‘Speaking in Tongues’ last week and it reminded me of a couple of our own early blunders.
When we first moved here we rented a house in the town and the first time I went next door I introduced myself and said I was their new window (neighbour = vecino, window = ventana). Well, I was close.
Then when we went to buy a car the salesman asked Jack for his telephone number to which Jack replied that he couldn’t give it to him because his husband had it! As wife (mujer) is nothing like husband (marido) I’m still not quite sure what happened there but Jack says it’s because he was used to introducing himself as my husband.
Then there was the time Jack told the hairdresser to trim his dog (pelo=hair, perro=dog) or the very near escape I had when ordering an ice cream known as Trufi Cono here (I’m afraid that one is strictly for the adult Spanish speakers!)

So if you’re coming to Tenerife on holiday or thinking of moving here, it’s worth knowing a couple of things about the language.

Like so much of the culture in Tenerife, the language has its roots firmly embedded in South America so you won’t hear the lisped ‘th’ sound of Castellano here. Most words ending in ‘s’ have the ending dropped so that ‘dos’ (two) is pronounced ‘do’ (like ‘dot’ but without the T) and when Canarios converse they run all their words together as if there were a tax on the use of single words. There are also some words which are uniquely Canario, like a bus which is guagua (pronounced wahwah) as if we were all still 5 years old, and ‘papas’ for potatoes.

But at the end of the day, it’s simply about making yourself understood or, as Michel Thomas says, getting it ‘over the net’ and any attempt to speak their language will always be appreciated by the Canarios, even if it’s only “por favor” and “gracias” (minus the ‘s’ of course).

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

The Virgen of Candelaria on Tenerife – Can You Tell the Difference Between a Woman and a Piece of Wood?

We’d been toying with the idea of joining one of the pilgrimages to Candelaria to honour the Canary Island’s patron saint, the black virgin, at the weekend. In the end we bottled it and decided to drive instead.

When you go to a lot of fiestas on Tenerife, you learn to spot signs that ultimately will save you time in the long run. The first on Friday of last week was the queue of traffic at the Punta Larga end of Candelaria. This is the opposite end of town from where the celebrations were taking place, but if the Canarios were leaving the motorway at this point, it meant the other junction was going to be a nightmare. We were incredibly lucky with parking and found what seemed to be the last legitimate spot in the whole of the town. I say legitimate because once the parking spaces are all gone, the Canarios employ a bit of ingenuity. Zebra crossings are next option to park, then it’s the pavements, the tiniest square of waste ground… wherever there’s the slightest hint of a space.

Two things took us by surprise in Candelaria on Friday night. The first was that the town looked quite attractive by dark. We’d only ever visited Candelaria in the day time before and whilst the area around the Basilica is quite quaint and the Mencey statues are impressive, much of the town is semi high-rise and bland. At night the less appealing parts are disguised by the darkness, so the rather smart promenade lined with tempting looking restaurants becomes the focus and it looks like a pleasant place to spend a bit of time.

The second surprise was that the party wasn’t just taking place around the Basilica. The promenade between the Basilica and the marina was filled with food stalls, an ethnic market, fairground attractions and an agricultural market. Bunting added colour to the pretty plaza and the Basilica, lit up splendidly, looked much older and grander than its relatively young 50 years (and I mean this as a compliment).

The main event of the evening was the re-enactment of the discovery of the Virgen de Candelaria by a pair of Guanche shepherds who would have to climb a couple of steps on the intellectual ladder to reach ‘Dumb and Dumber’ status.
Not only are they spectacularly stupid (they couldn’t tell the difference between a real woman and baby and a wooden one), they’re also a bit cowardly as is the rest of their tribe, if the re-enactment is to be believed anyway. Fancy a whole gang of strapping men with spears being scared off by a woman holding a baby? I’ve probably just committed Canarian blasphemy there – still as long as I carry a wooden image of a woman holding a baby I should apparently be able to fend off any number of people who want to take issue (think crucifixes and vampires here).

I wonder what the noble Menceys who stand erect and proud on the seaward side of the plaza would think of the buffoonery which is played out before them. Still, it’s all good fun, especially if you park the rational section of your brain at the same time as you park the car.

As the night progressed the town became busier and busier and the Basilica looked spectacular periodically lit up by the ubiquitous firework displays. However, the image which will remain etched in my brain was the sight of thousands upon thousands of pilgrims of all ages carrying wooden staffs streaming into Candelaria from all corners of the island. Many looked shattered and on their last legs, but all were laughing and beaming from ear to ear at finally reaching their destination.

I might gently mock the re-enactment, but the devotion displayed by the pilgrims is something completely different, something which shows how important being Canario is to them. To witness it was quite an experience.

See More Virgen de Candelaria Photographs Here

Wednesday, 12 August 2009

What do People Eat on Tenerife?

Part of the fun of travelling is about trying out the local cuisine, right? Maybe for most people but not for all.
Over the last week I’ve read and seen a few things which made me think about people’s approach to trying something different in food terms.
The first cases fit the classic profile of what the general impression is of some of the British holidaymakers who choose Tenerife as a holiday destination.
One comment I read more or less said, ‘because I’m in Tenerife doesn’t mean I have to eat Canarian food’. The other was the almost clichéd ‘I don’t want all that foreign muck’.

There’s a couple of points about these statements that are interesting (to me anyway). The first is that the people who said them clearly haven’t a clue what Canarian food consists of.

Much of it is very simply grilled meats (pork, lamb, steaks, chicken), or fish (a much more interesting selection if you’re a foodie) usually served with papas arrugadas (literally wrinkled potatoes) which are really just salty, boiled potatoes. You get the impression that any veg on the plate is there because the chef feels obliged to include some; it’s usually more like a garnish.

The point is that whilst it’s very nice it’s not exactly adventurous cuisine and I’m willing to bet that it isn’t a million miles from what these people who wouldn’t touch ‘foreign muck’ probably regularly eat for dinner (well maybe not the fish).

The second point that occurred to me was that these people weren’t typical of British people at all. Our lack of adventure in culinary terms is a bit of a myth. Otherwise why would our cities and even decent sized towns all have plenty of Indian, Chinese, Greek, Spanish, Lebanese, Italian, Turkish restaurants etc?

We’ve eaten with Spanish people twice over the last week. One meal was cooked for us, the other we cooked. One was simply grilled meats – no veg to speak of, the other was a Thai green curry with fish. Guess who cooked what?

In our experience, the Canarians eat predominantly Canarian food. Nothing wrong with that, but like the Brits quoted above it does betray a certain lack of adventure, or inquisitive nature about what other people around the world eat. And it isn’t just food. I had held an imaginary conversation in my head about the wine we brought to our friend’s meal because I just knew what would happen when we handed it over. The conversation panned out almost exactly as I had imagined it.
Andy had handed over the bottle and it was examined, almost suspiciously.

“Hmmm, this isn’t Spanish wine.”
“No, it’s South African. It’s very nice.”
“You don’t like Spanish wine?”
“Yes, but sometimes it’s nice to have a change…try something different.”
“Hmmm, Spanish wine is very good, try mine.”

He poured us a glass and opened the South African Pinotage and poured himself a measure.

“Hmmm, it’s not bad… but the Spanish wine is better.”

No surprise at that conclusion.

The next night we dished up the Thai curry to other Spanish friends. One of our guests eyed it suspiciously and after a few questions about what the ingredients were, she pushed it around her bowl for the next 20 minutes picking at it every so often. She hadn’t really eaten non-Spanish food before - something that doesn’t seem to be uncommon. I once heard a young Spanish couple in a Mexican restaurant in Puerto de la Cruz asking what Chilli con Carne was. Chilli has become a bog standard meal time favourite in the UK, as has many ‘foreign’ dishes. This isn’t the case here.

There are plenty of great restaurants on Tenerife and, apart from those in some of the southern resort areas, nearly every one of them has a traditional Canarian, or Spanish menu.

Monday, 3 August 2009

The Mysterious East – Tenerife’s overlooked coastline.

Tenerife’s east coast isn’t the prettiest aspect of the island and the TF1 motorway which links north with south means that most people don’t give much of the east coast barely more than a glance when they whiz between Santa Cruz and the southern resorts.

There are no historic towns to bus the tourists to, there are no real towns of any sort for most of the length of the east coast and yet that’s not to say that it doesn’t have its curious corners, but they do tend to be tucked away, some along roads that seem to lead nowhere. Some are quite well known, like the wind farms visible from the motorway, or the deserted lepers’ colony overlooking the coves at Abades, others I’ve never seen photos of nor heard their names mentioned in almost six years of researching the island.

The first time we realised there were oddities to be found was when we were looking for a donkey sanctuary ‘Los Burros Alegres’. We didn’t find the donkeys, they were long gone, but we ended up in a decent sized town which was unremarkable except that it didn’t have any tarmac on its streets and some roads led straight into the hillside beside the town. For a while we got completely lost in the strange town and had to send a text to friends that read:

‘Can’t meet up, we’re stuck looking for the happy donkeys in a town with no roads.’

The map we were using, one of the better Tenerife maps, didn’t even have the town marked on it.
Since then whenever we get the chance we leave the TF1 and head off into the unknown to see what lies at the ends of narrow roads with no names. Usually there are little fishing communities, many with the same interchangeable harbour which has us questioning whether we’ve actually visited the place before, but sometimes we find somewhere really quite bizarre. Last week we stumbled on two of these places.

The first consisted of a ramshackle promenade where the houses were built almost on top of each other. There wasn’t a street to speak of just an undulating path weaving alongside weather beaten fishermen’s cottages and through narrow arches. On the seaward side a thick bleached white rope and driftwood fence acted as a barrier to the Atlantic which pounded the shoreline yards from the unprotected houses. It was an untidy hotchpotch of a place, but that isn’t to say that it didn’t possess a certain anarchic charm.

The second place was even more of a surprise, consisting partly of a troglodyte community. Many of the houses on its main street were built into the cliffs, with a few actually constructed inside a large cave. The place even had a decent swimming pool where most of the town’s inhabitants seemed to be sunning themselves. Once again it wasn’t mentioned on any maps I’ve got of Tenerife.

This island is always surprising us; these places are all within half an hour’s drive of the main southern tourist resorts, yet strolling through their odd little streets it’s easy to believe that you’re somewhere that has been completely by-passed by tourism. In a way, I suppose they have.

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

The South of Tenerife was Purpose Built for Tourism – Another Tenerife Myth

Recently we retraced one of the routes in our Real Tenerife Island Drives guidebook to make sure that the information was still up to date.

It was reassuring to see that nothing had changed, but what’s more it also reminded us of the perceptions we had of Tenerife, particularly the south of Tenerife even after we had moved to the island.

One of our first writing commissions on Tenerife was a location report about the town of San Miguel de Abona in the hills above the south coast. That commission completely changed our opinion of the south of the island.

We discovered a charming little town which dated back to shortly after the conquest, where little English was spoken and the nightlife centred around the ‘Rincon del Ron’ (rum corner) in a converted old bodega and at the Canarian wresting ring. It also had some great little restaurants tucked away in its vertiginous streets. It wasn’t what we expected and I have to admit that it was a compete surprise to find a town that went so completely against my image of the south of Tenerife. It wasn’t an isolated case.As we got to know the south of the island better we discovered more friendly little towns full of character with picturesque squares and beautiful baroque churches whose grandness seemed out of proportion with the size of the towns they were in. On terraces surrounding the towns, people pottered about in plots growing potatoes and tending vines. They were about as far away from the popular image of Tenerife as you could get and yet were only a short drive from the biggest of the southern resorts.Like I said at the start, not a lot had changed since we first wrote the route, or since we included the most interesting of the towns in more detail for the southern chapters of ‘Going Native in Tenerife’. Unsurprising really, probably not a lot has changed in centuries.

Playa de las Américas and Costa Adeje may be purpose built tourist pleasure domes for sure, but much of the south of Tenerife is distinctly Canarian in character and as culturally strong as it always has been.

Monday, 13 July 2009

Are You a Tourist, a Traveller…or a NIT?

“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travellers don’t know where they’re going.”
- Paul Theroux

The term ‘tourist’ seems almost like a dirty word these days. It can be used with disdain by ‘serious’ travellers and in Tenerife even from some ex-pats who now go to great pains to point out that they don’t ‘live amongst the tourists’, clearly forgetting that they must have come here originally as ‘tourists’ themselves.

As far as my antique OED is concerned anyone who travels for recreation is a tourist, so that pretty much covers most of us, including serious travellers and those who think that two weeks by a pool constitutes travelling.

However, it’s the attitude to travel which makes the difference and which I think Paul Theroux is referring to. Maybe we need a new word…NIT perhaps (Non Interested Tourist).

NITS are happy to travel across the world to sit by a pool, or on a beach, for two weeks and not visit anywhere, try any of the local food, or get involved with any of the local culture.

Going Native in Tenerife is definitely not for NITs

I’m not the biggest fan of organised excursions – I think they can be a sanitised way of seeing a place without having any real interaction with the locals – but I recognise they’re a convenient method of experiencing a taste of a country/location, at least for people who can be a bit intimidated by the unfamiliar. And if you're not comfortable about driving abroad, they do allow you at least to see some of the island.

However it drives me mad when I read on travel forums “I’ve seen all there is to see on Tenerife” from people who've been on one whistle stop coach excursion.

I’ve been trekking all over this island for nearly six years and yet I wouldn’t dream of making that claim.

These are the people who say: ‘I’ve been working hard; I want to chill out on the beach this time…I’ll go sightseeing next time.”

You know when you hear this, that they really think of sightseeing or getting involved in anything remotely cultural as a chore.

It’s an excuse. They’re simply NITs in disguise and Going Native in Tenerife isn’t for them either.
So who is Going Native in Tenerife aimed at?

The answer is people who might be interested in the following:

  • Where to see one of the longest and most spectacular firework displays in Europe
  • Sipping jasmine tea (or a cool beer) in a chic café set in fairytale gardens accompanied by some of the best views on Tenerife.
  • Strolling through a bamboo tunnel in Tenerife’s most romantic and artistic park.
  • Sampling seafood at a tiny harbour side restaurant where fishermen unload their catch a few feet in front of you.
  • Drinking cool mojitos and watching hot sexy salsa in a bar which feels as though it belongs in downtown Havana.
  • Floating in large azure rock pools far from the madding crowd (not Garachico).
  • Exploring grandiose churches, one with the skull and crossbones inlaid into its stone floor.
  • Driving through a tunnel hewn into the rock where you can enter one side in moody cloud and emerge from the other under clear blue skies.
  • Dining at the restaurant where King Juan Carlos eats when he comes to Tenerife, or alternatively the Tasca which brews its own beer on the premises...

…and any number of other gems which actually involve exploring the island.

In short, anyone who isn’t a NIT.

(All the information listed above and loads of other snippets which you are unlikely to find in other guidebooks can be found in Going Native in Tenerife.)

Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Pictures of Tenerife – The Island of Contrasts

They say a picture paints a thousand words; well if that’s the case, then I can pretty much shut up and let the photos tell you what I want to say.

The following are a few images of places and fiestas included in ‘Going Native in Tenerife’ and are designed to illustrate what Tenerife is really like.

If you recognise them and it fits your picture of this incredibly diverse island, then hat’s off to you, you know the real Tenerife pretty well…on the other hand, if they’re nothing like the Tenerife you imagined, or thought you knew, then there’s a wonderful island out there just waiting to be discovered.

Click here to see more scenes of the Tenerife where the 'natives' live.

Wednesday, 24 June 2009

Going Native Across the Pond

This week we've got a virtual house guest, the sort of guest who's a real pleasure to have; he eats whatever we're eating, causes no extra washing up or expense and is as funny as an MP's expenses claim. However he is moaning (a lot) about the lack of scones here!

Mike Harling has come to us from the US, via West Sussex and has an extremely funny book out called 'Postcards from across the Pond' about his life as an ex-pat. Buy it, it's a real hoot and a perfect holiday read.
So here, without any further ado, is Mike Harling...

Going Native Across the Pond

Ahhh, back on the beach. Tenerife is nice; I like visiting a place I have to look up on Google Earth to find. Turns out, it's one of the Canary Islands, so I've been in the neighborhood before. If you don't know where the Canary Islands are, I suggest Google Earth.

My new best friend Andy (anyone who invites me to their home, supplies me with unending amounts of barbecued shrimp, cold Corona and Cuban cigars and allows me to post about my book on their blog--which is supposed to be about their book--is automatically my best friend) not only located Tenerife on a map, she moved here. Seems she got tired of the stunning scenery, the variable climate and amazing history of Britain and decided to settle for constant sun, sandy beaches and spectacular mountain vistas.

Not satisfied with that, she wrote a book about how you can do it, as well, if you are so inclined. Strikes me as a bit of a niche market; my book may be about life in Britain but it's a humor book. So if you want to laugh, buy my book; if you want sun and sandy beaches, buy Andy's

Actually, I completely understand the allure of moving to someplace like this; it happened to me once:

In a long ago December, I left my land of cold and snow in upstate New York (try minus 28 degrees centigrade, Sparky, and we measure our snow in feet, not centimeters) for a week of sun and surf and scuba diving in St. Maarten. I was so totally captivated by the sunshine, warm ocean breezes and laid-back life style that I actually did begin looking into moving there.

It turned out to be a daunting task. What I needed was an Andy Mont of St. Maarten to have written "Going Native in St. Maarten," but there was nothing of the kind. Too bad, I could now be enjoying a life of simple pleasures, making a living carving drift wood into tourist-pleasing shapes or serving drinks with umbrellas in them to sunburned New Yorkers, rather than having to go on these grueling tours just so I can sell enough books to help me pay my heating bill through the long, damp British winters.

"What's that, Andy? A margaretta? Why, thank you, I'd love one."

Now where was I? Oh yes, Britain, and leaving it.

Being a relative newcomer to Blighty, I still regard Britain as an exotic place, so I'm happy to remain there. Besides, dark and dreary as it can be, the climate is still paradise compared to what I left behind. It's all a matter of perception.

Even so, Andy won't have a hard time convincing me to come back for a visit.

Would you like to participate in the 2009 KINDNESS of STRANGERS TOUR?
Visit the Tour Page to sign up or to view the latest Tour updates.

Michael Harling is an American author living in the UK

Monday, 22 June 2009

What is there to do in Tenerife?

One of the biggest events in the fiesta calendar took place on tenerife last week; the Corpus Christi flower carpets of La Orotava, but this blog isn’t about them…well maybe a tiny bit is.

As I was preparing my camera for Corpus Christi by freeing up space on the memory card I got sidetracked into checking what images were already on it. Odd though this may sound (because…well I was obviously present when they were taken), I was quite taken aback by the diversity of the photographs that charted events over the last couple of weeks.

La Caldera and Aguamansa – We’ve just put together a walking guide for this area and had the most wonderful walk along country lanes where local farmers still get around on horseback.

Brazilians at the harbour – There’d been a batucada competition beside the old customs house at the harbour which had lasted all afternoon.

Peaches – lots of shots of our peach tree, it was jam and chutney making time…which reminds me I’ve still got to design some labels for the jars.

Elephants on the streets – The circus in Santa Cruz drummed up a bit of business by holding a mini parade of clowns, acrobats and two elephants through Puerto’s streets…leaving a lot of open mouthed tourists in their wake.

Agatha Christie in Puerto – it was also the second Agatha Christie Festival and there was an interesting exhibition of old photos of the town in the Santo Domingo Convent.

Exposaldo 2009 – Big trade fair where lot’s of businesses were selling old stock at knock down prices, but the €3 entry price was a bit strange…like paying an entrance fee to a shopping centre (can’t see it catching on). The out of place ‘barrow boys’ were a hoot though and spending time at the Auditorio was good. The highlight was a detour to the El Tanque Cultural Space where we couldn’t figure out if we were viewing modern art, or were just in a big room with the lights turned out.

Promotion for CD Tenerifemad scenes in Santa Cruz and an unplanned wash for the camera as CD were promoted to La Primera of La Liga…historic.

And finally, the alfombristas putting the finishing touches to the massive sand tapestry in La Orotava the day before Corpus Christi.

And that was only the things that we managed to do, as always there were a whole load of other events taking place as well.

What is there to do in Tenerife?

More than you can ever possibly imagine.