‘A lot of the older people just don’t come to these bars,’ I commented to my friend as we eased ourselves off the precariously high stools and left the stylish vibes of the Belgian beer palace aka La Maison Belge.
“We are the older people,” she laughed, stating the painfully obvious.
“Ah, but we’re younger, older people. We’re baby boomers,” I replied uncertainly. It’s a form of denial that works…for me anyway.
Martin and Anne are two of our best friends and were staying on Tenerife on a sort of two-centre holiday. The first few day they’d spent in Playa de la Arena before heading to the Hotel Monopol in Puerto de la Cruz to round off their trip. They are both massive fans of Mil Sabores so a visit to this shrine dedicated to ‘food to die for’ is always an essential ingredient of their visit…followed by a bit of liquid fuelled research into what interesting bars happen to have sprung up recently.
La Maison Belge has been around for quite some time now, but we’d never been despite commenting every time we passed the place how inviting the bar stools and table at either side of the door looked. Its interior lived up to the exterior’s promise. More chic stools were dotted around an area that was part bar, part delicatessen and part off licence – albeit one that sells only artistically designed bottles of Belgian beer. Each table had a teasing cheese menu and we would have ordered some to compliment the Duvel and cherry flavoured beers we ordered, but this was only an aperitif stop before filling our bellies with Mil Sabores’ finest offerings. A return visit has been pencilled in pronto.
The food at Mil Sabores was as inspired as always. Last time we visited we couldn’t get a table but this time we were the only diners in the restaurant’s upper floor. We’re in that post Easter lull period that Puerto experiences between the end of the Northern European winter season and the start of the vibrant Spanish one towards the end of June.
Both Andy and I have written more reviews of Mil Sabores than there are items on the menu, so I won’t rehash and repeat. But the quality of the food was as reliable as a faithful sheepdog and the mixed starter for two should have been renamed ‘a starter for 10′ (that dated reference proves I really am ‘older people’).
Post dinner we changed scene, swapping tastefully rustic for 21st C chic and the ultra suave, ultra violet lighting of the suitably named COOL Bar where we ensconced ourselves around a Martini-glass shaped table. One of the attractive qualities of Puerto de la Cruz and the traditional Tenerife towns is that nobody gives a damn what age anyone is, so even the though the majority of the clientèle in some of the trendiest bars can be way, way younger, nobody ever bats an eyelid.
A couple of drinks in COOL and a change of scene was required. The bar at the top of the small paseo where Mil Sabores seems to change name every time I pass it, so now I’m not exactly sure what it’s called. But it was bustling with people and the mix of Cuban and Latino music salsa-ing through the night air grabbed us by the ears and plonked us down at a table inside. Unfortunately it changed to Rod Stewart almost the second our beers arrived and after that veered between Buena Vista Social Club and old British rockers social club. An unusual Heineken-bottled bar compensated for the dodgy sounds.
Somehow by this point it was just after 2am and we decided to have a final nightcap at another venue. I favoured Cuban hot spot, Azucar but was outvoted on the grounds that at 2am the old gentlemen’s club was at its manic zenith. So, as a more conversation friendly option, we grabbed a table outside studenty Magnum where, on a late April night, the temperature was ambient enough for wearing short sleeves
Time in Puerto has a magical way of slipping by as smoothly as a canoe crossing a glassy lake. In barely the sip of a frosty beer it was 3am and time for us ancient boomers to throw in the bar towel as the people populating the tables around us headed off to dance till dawn at one of the clubs that many visitors don’t even know exist.
Puerto has a reputation for being a staid old girl, perfectly suited to ‘more mature’ visitors who aren’t seeking a lively nocturnal scene…and whilst that isn’t exactly inaccurate, neither is it the whole picture.
It’s only staid if you happen to frequent the staid places. For those of us who want to grow old disgracefully, there are lots of places where we can let our hair down (what hair we have left that is) and party (but in Spanish style only) until dawn…or the early hours at least.