I’ve just been thumbing through a little hard-backed tourist guidebook for Tenerife written back in 1969 when mass tourism was not so much in its infancy as barely having left the womb.
It’s a fascinating little book – unfortunately it’s in German and although I did study German for a while, I can only remember a smattering of words like der spinne and schizenhousen (actually it was my dad who taught me that one). Funnily enough I can remember more phrases from those little Commando books than I can from school lessons so if ever I need a ‘Gott im Himmel’ or ‘Achtung Englander’, I’m well prepared.
Anyway, the point is lots of the little gems within are lost to me, but names of places are in Spanish and there’s a little information section at the end which is in Spanish and English as well.
The photos are a real eye-opener to the way Tenerife has changed over the last 40 years…or not.
There are some places – parts of the north west coast, La Orotava, Teide National Park – where the photos are exactly the same as ones I’ve taken in the last couple of years. However there are others where the differences are staggering. The La Orotava Valley for one, where much of the banana plantations in the lower valley have been engulfed by concrete – but Puerto de la Cruz had been an established port and was used to receiving visitors for centuries, so there was always a decent sized town on the coast.
The real contrast is on the south coast where there are as many small fishing boats on Los Cristianos beach as sunbathers and a handful of buildings at the back of the beach. El Médano is the same; Los Gigantes is almost non-existent and Las Américas not even a twinkle in developer’s eyes. Costa Adeje is a place that is way off in the future.
It was a very different Tenerife back then – just listen to this description of Bajamar.
‘…Bajamar which, after Puerto de la Cruz, can be considered the best equipped coastal resort for tourists.’
Now compare with the description of Los Cristianos.
‘This coastal village should become a resort of more extensive proportions because of its excellent climate…’
Somebody clearly took that advice on board…and then some.
Interestingly Güímar is described as ‘the most important town in the southern part of the island.’ Which of course it always was and why the road south stopped there for centuries until the tiny southern hamlets were connected to civilisation by tarmac in the 1940s
Then there are the beaches on Tenerife, some of which don’t exactly match their current incarnations.
Playa Las Teresitas – ‘It is 1450 metres long and the sand is dark in colour.’
Playa Los Cristianos – ‘The sand is light coloured. The road goes as far as the beach.’ The road goes as far as the beach; isn’t that great?
Playa Puerto Santiago - ‘…a length of 63 metres and dark sand; the road goes as far as the village, and then there is a path to the beach.’ Actually, thinking about the access to Playa Puerto Santiago today, it’s not that much different.
Finally the area of Las Américas/Costa Adeje gets a mention at last, except it’s not called Las Américas.
Even then the beach was known as Playa de la Troya but getting to it was a bit different than nowadays – ’300 metres long with rocks; there is a road to the cliff-top and a path down to the beach.’
Fantastic isn’t it?