Archive for May, 2009

This is why I always carry my camera with me:

Now if wed opted for a fiat punto wed have found a parking spot by now!

Now if we'd opted for a fiat punto we'd have found a parking spot by now!

If you want to know what was going on, check this out.

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I’m outraged of Puerto de la Cruz. I’ve just been censored on TripAdvisor Tenerife, or as one expert wittingly coined the phrase…liquidised.

This happens when members go ‘off-topic’, or post abusive, offensive or racist comments and TA Big Brother steps in and wipes out their post. This seems to have been happening more and more recently. Anything that’s remotely juicy disappears, replaced with the intriguing:

-:- Message from TripAdvisor staff -:-
This post was determined to be inappropriate by the TripAdvisor community and has been removed.

When you dip into TripAdvisor Tenerife, you’ll notice that many of the queries don’t make for engrossing reading, so a little contentiousness adds a bit of welcome spice now and again. When I log in and see the ‘message removed’ post my curiosity is aroused; what could have been so bad to have warranted being ‘liquidised’?

Well I’ve just found out.

A musician who sang in the Casablanca Apartments resurrected a post about Puerto de la Cruz from a couple of years back to mention that they were now singing in the Shamrock Bar in town (cue post removed for self promotion), but that wasn’t what prompted me to reply. What prompted me was this from an earlier comment:

“I cooked quite a bit when I stayed at the Casablanca cos we found it difficult finding a decent English restaurant, I live in Spain and never found Spanish food tasty, I live near Benidorm and I like good old English carveries etc. You will really enjoy your holiday, don’t get me wrong but I wouldn’t recommend Puerto for its restaurants.”

Now somebody having a severely limited palate is their own business. But when they go on a public travel advisory forum and try to tell people that Puerto’s restaurants aren’t very good they make it everybody’s business. They are putting their empty head above the parapet and should therefore expect to be shot at.

I felt compelled to comment, to put the record straight…and found myself subsequently liquidised.

Okay, there might have been a hint of sarcasm in my reply (it could and probably should have been a lot worse) but basically I confirmed that if anyone wanted English restaurants, then Puerto de la Cruz was not the place for them. However, if someone was looking for cuisine which reflected the Canarian, Spanish and South American influences found in authentic Tinerfeño towns then maybe it was.

My advice is gone, but that of someone who is clearly gastronomically challenged remains…and we wonder why a lot of people continue to view Tenerife as little more then Britain in the sunshine.

The fate of the age of man lies in the balance. The Battle of the Back Terrace has reached a crucial stage and the white wizard seems all powerful. Any chance of a peaceful settlement has been banished to the darkest corner of the blackest shadow.

But despite being tired, weak and psychologically battered, we fight on. We will never give in to this bullying and intimidation and as long as there’s a single breath left in our bodies we will never SURRENDER.

It starts in the distance, a low high pitched moan which pierces my subconscious and drags me from my slumbers. Then another, closer and suddenly I’m fully awake, waiting for the next taunt. It’s not long in coming, this time he’s even closer; the white wizard is brave tonight. There’s silence for a moment and then:

“MEEEEEEEEEEEEOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOW”

And the back door rattles violently.

I roll out of bed and in one seamless movement and with the stealth of a cat I’m at the door and ready for the battle. This time the white wizard will find the tables have turned.

Okay, that’s the way it panned out in my head. What really happened was that when the little bugger rattled the back door and screamed like a banshee with its throat cut, I fell out of bed in shock, stubbed my toe trying to find my flip flops, banged my head on the window trying to grab the door handle and probably woke up my neighbour by screaming obscenities at the damned cat.

The long and the short of it was that by the time I got onto the back terrace, Whiskas had long since left the scene of the crime, further proof in my mind that he knows exactly what he is doing. I could see his ghostly outline, cowering in the safety of the neighbour’s garden about 50 yards away. Being pure white isn’t the best camouflage at night.

I really don’t know what he hopes to achieve by this course of action and we’re at our wits end trying to deal with his psychological torture. We’ve tried the nice approach. Giving him more attention because maybe he was feeling unloved, but his nocturnal behaviour has deteriorated. So now it’s time to put away the carrot and bring out the metaphorical stick.

This morning Whiskas’ bowl has remained empty. It’s even been turned upside down in an attempt to deliver a harsh message which will maybe, just maybe, make him think again. His cushion and blanket on the back bench have also been removed and put away in the shed until further notice. The welcome mat has been completely withdrawn in an attempt to teach him that biting the hand that feeds you is not such a good idea.

People are always telling me how cats are much smarter than dogs. I have yet to see evidence that this is true. I really hope Whiskas can convince me otherwise.

Thats a lot of friggin rigging

That's a lot of friggin' rigging

For a while on Thursday I had the overwhelming urge to dig out my old striped Brittany fisherman’s T-shirt, buy a kitbag, fill it with who-knows-what, have an anchor tattooed on my bicep and head up to Santa Cruz to stowaway on a sailing ship…an Argentinean one to be exact.

The Tall Ships were in town and their arrival time-warped the dock back a century or so. I’ve seen old sailing ships before and I remember being surprised at how small they were. As we stood on the bridge outside of the African Market and looked over the Noría district, the old skyline was dwarfed by wooden masts and a veritable spiders’ web of rigging; these ships were not quite like any I’d seen before.

I’d been hoping to take some photographs of the armada sailing into Santa Cruz harbour with their sails billowing in their morning sunshine; however, a) all the ships were berthed by the time we arrived on Thursday morning at around 10.00 and b) there wasn’t any sunshine anyway.

No shortcuts to loading goods on this ship

No shortcuts to loading goods on this ship

The eleven ships which had completed the first leg of the Atlantic Challenge 2009 were an eclectic bunch ranging from a relatively small ketch (the British Rona II) to a football pitch sized monster of the seas (the Russian Kruzernshtern) which even made the huge Argentinean ‘Libertad’ and Romanian ‘Mircea’ which were berthed nearby seem little more than big yachts. The Cabildo building in the background looked more like its Pueblo Chico version than the real thing.

The buzz of getting up close to these giants of the ocean soon banished any regrets at not seeing the ships arrive and watching the sailors go about the daily business of maintaining their vessels made me realise that not a lot had changed in a hundred years.

One sailor hung from a rope swing underneath a prow touching up the paintwork, passing a paint pot fashioned from a water bottle cut in two to his mate perched precariously on the anchor by means of a grappling hook at the end of a rope.

Pass the paint, mate

Pass the paint, mate

A long line of sailors stretching from the dockside into the galley passed crates of tomatoes, aubergines, peppers and sacks of potatoes between one another; it could have been a scene straight out of Mutiny on the Bounty. It was fascinating to watch.

It was also interesting to note what supplies were being taken on board each ship. Where the Argentinean sailors stocked up with a supermarket storeroom of fresh fruit and vegetables, as I passed one of the smaller British ships I noticed they were loading up tins of corned beef and packets of shredded wheat. At the Russian ship, immaculately dressed young sailors with dinner plate hats filed up the gangplank with Mercadona carrier bags filled with six packs of beer.
There was a real feeling of purpose and community, of sharing and friendship which united mariners from 10 different nations. It was compelling to witness and as I wandered amongst the members of this unique sea going community of modern day adventurers I heard the strains of a sea shanty in my head and the tug of an ozone laden breeze on my sleeve.

The appearance of some of the Argentinean crew was the crowning moment which almost had me reaching for a quill and saying “forget the shilling I’ll sign up for nothing”.

A Few Good Men...and some bloody marvellous women

A Few Good Men...and some bloody marvellous women

A row of female sailors dressed in the traditional naval summer white uniform a la Demi Moore in ‘A Few Good Men’ sashayed down the quay toward their ship. At that moment I realised why so many young men ran away to sea.

A shout from above broke the spell and I looked up to see a line of men strung out along a sail on the uppermost spar on the tallest mast. They stood suspended 100 metres above the ground, on what looked like the thinnest of ropes. That 1920s picture of construction workers high above New York sprang into my mind and I suddenly felt a bit dizzy.

A life on the ocean wave might have had a romantic appeal to it; a life swinging about on a slippery mast high above it didn’t.
My imagination might run off to sea, but my legs are definitely staying firmly on dry land.

Why is it that some people think that when they go on holiday they’re visiting a place which has been built just for them; a place where none of the usual rules they adhere to at home apply? (Okay in PDLA and Costa Adeje that’s a fair assumption as both were built just for holidaymakers)

I saw a little incident the other day which left me speechless.

I’d parked my car in Puerto Colón and although I was sure it was legally parked, I had one eye on a motorcycle cop who was booking cars that were double parked, or had parked on yellow lines. As he wandered along the row of cars a family of Brits passed his motorbike which he’d left beside the marina. They stopped and looked at it for a second and then in full view of the traffic cop the father, a man in his late 30s,  sat astride the police bike as his wife got out the camera.

Now I don’t know what town in Britain this guy came from, but clearly the police there are incredibly tolerant if he’s used to the police letting members of the public mess about with their transport. I think not.

I know we relax our attitudes when we go on holiday, but it’s not really an excuse for behaving like a complete dolt. I’ve seen a woman sitting in just her bra in the pub…like you’d do that down the George & Dragon on a Saturday night (well maybe in Doncaster).

The daughter of a friend of mine and her pal wore their bikini tops to the local out of town shopping centre and then were really embarrassed because everyone was staring at them. And yet the very thought of walking about the Trafford Centre in bikini tops would have been the stuff of nightmares for them.
People continually step off the pavement in front of my car without looking and then seem annoyed that I’ve got the audacity to actually have a car on the road. At home they wouldn’t dream of stepping on to somewhere like the A6 in Stockport without a carefully thought out plan about how to get to the other side in one piece first.

I know it’s just holiday head and most times it’s harmless; on the other hand I have actually seen someone here killed instantly for the crime of forgetting to look when they stepped out onto the road…and as for a grown man getting on a police bike in a foreign country…what a plonker.

He was lucky it wasn’t a Guardia Civil bike

“Tenerife is an island that attracts over 6 million visitors a year, many of whom believe they know it like the back of their hands and few of whom know it at all.”

This might not be the Tenerife you think you know...

This might not be the Tenerife you think you know...

Tenerife’s newest and most honest guidebook might not be to everybody’s liking. A warts and all descriptive tour of Tenerife, including many gems overlooked by other guidebooks, it doesn’t pull any punches about mostly the good, but also the bad and the ugly of Tenerife and some people might not like some of the things it has to say.

Location reports include personal guides to towns, restaurants, attractions, beaches, nightlife, accommodation and fiestas whilst separate sections cover food and drink, culture, people and their quirks, plans for getting the best out of visits to Tenerife and the climate amongst others. Contributions from a few other Tenerife residents add a different perspective to the reality of life on Tenerife.

It’s a guide book with a difference.

It’s been available from major online bookstores since January and at long last ‘Going Native in Tenerife’ is now available to buy on Tenerife itself. There is only a limited supply available on the island so there are only two outlets selling it. These are:

The Bookswap on the 1st floor of the Marina at Puerto Colón

And

Barbara’s Bookshop, Calle Amalia Frías, 3; Los Cristianos

Send an email to editor@realtenerifeislanddrives.com telling me what the man is carrying in the photograph on page 89 of the book and I’ll email you a free copy of ‘A Captivating Coastline’, our short guide to the best coastal walks on Tenerife.

In the past I’ve had to sneak up unseen on a highly trained marine sniper who was looking for me, so avoiding some Tinerfeño security guards to take some photos of the Clash of the Titans set on Tenerife wasn’t really in the same league.

The seat of the gods

The seat of the gods

To be honest at the time I wasn’t actually aware I was sneaking up on anything, otherwise I’d have gone the whole hog and ‘cam’d up’ to blend in with the scenery in the Mount Teide crater. I merely parked the car, grabbed my camera and wandered across the volcanic landscape to get a better view of the row of seated gods who looked as though they’d actually been there since the time of Perseus and his cronies.

Admittedly the route I chose did take me away from the scene and into a dip which probably hid me from prying eyes until I emerged on an outcrop overlooking the main set. I was well outside the taped off ‘forbidden zone’ and didn’t think there was a problem until a piercing whistle shattered the silence and a figure in a bright yellow jacket on a rock opposite started waving furiously at me. I waved back and headed back to the road where another security guard was chatting with three Spanish tourists who, after a few seconds, wandered away from the guard and closer to the set. I was baffled. Why were they allowed close to the set and I wasn’t? Okay, I had a chuffin’ big camera around my neck, but hey they had mobile phones and guess what you can do with them?

The scenery is transformed

The scenery is transformed

I decided to check out with the guard what I could and couldn’t do.

“How close can I get to take photos?”
I asked him.
“You can’t take photos,” he replied.
“Not even from here? This is the road…it’s open to the public.” We were heading into Tenerife silly buggers territory.
He shrugged his shoulders, clearly confused. Luckily someone from the set was passing by; the guard asked him the same question.
“It doesn’t matter,” the set worker really couldn’t have cared less. “Everyone can see the set from the road anyway.”

I left the guard who was suddenly unsure of his remit and followed the three Spanish tourists. On one side of me Grecian pillars were strewn about the volcanic landscape and on the other, the semi circle of gods loomed closer. This was the main part of this particular Clash of the Titans set and where, in a couple of week’s time, Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes would be deciding Persius’ fate.

The almost finished main set

The almost finished main set

They’ve done a wonderful job on the set; the colours match the surrounding scenery perfectly. The various ancient Greek props strewn about look as they belong; like part of an abandoned archaeological dig. All that was missing were heroic warriors, the odd god and a mythical monster or two to complete the scene.

I took some more photos until I was told to not take any photos by another guard who’d been distracted by the three Spanish tourists – clearly multi-tasking wasn’t his forte, but I was done by then anyway.

I’m not sure what the purpose of stopping people taking pictures is. The set is clearly visible from the road, so it’s not as though it’s a secret or anything and the people who were actually working on the set weren’t bothered about it; a couple spoke to me quite openly about what was going on. Sometimes on Tenerife there can be a strange attitude to publicity as though it’s something to be feared which can be a tad counter productive when tourism is the bread, butter, lunch and evening meal of your economy.

It’s my view that publishing photos of the set will help raise the interest and the excitement factor that should come with a major movie like Clash of the Titans being made on Tenerife and that can’t be a bad thing for the promotion of the island.

So I hope you appreciate me risking life and limb (or at least being told off by a few security guards) to bring you these shots.