Archive for the ‘architecture’ Category

We ventured into Santa Cruz on Sunday to do some research for a feature we’re planning for an exciting new Tenerife online magazine coming your way soon.

This kind of concrete is easy on the eye

This kind of concrete is easy on the eye

The city, as always was looking fabulous, the colonial old buildings bathed in the sunshine which seems almost always present in the city. As we wandered around deserted streets (note to self – Sundays are not a good day to visit Santa Cruz for research when part of the research involves lots of other people), we commented a number of times about what an attractive and accessible city it was. I always find it a joy to wander around taking photographs here, there and everywhere. Not everybody feels like this though.

Bamboo Tunnel in the Centre of the City

Bamboo Tunnel in the Centre of the City

A recent review on Tripadvisor described Santa Cruz as a “Horrible concrete city that has very little to offer tourist. It should be full of history and is not.”
At first I thought that the reviewer had hit the city without doing any prior research and had missed the centre and ended up in some seedy barrio somewhere. But no, they had a copy of the Rough Guide to Tenerife, so in theory they were well armed.

A Cool Spot in the City

A Cool Spot in the City

The reviewer obviously just didn’t see any beauty in Santa Cruz which I found difficult to take in.
However, I admit to being guilty of wearing rose tinted specs; I tend to see beauty everywhere, even in old apartment blocks with peeling plaster.
But as we wandered along some of the shady palm lined newer streets, I just wasn’t convinced that the person who wrote the review had actually seen the best of the centre of Santa Cruz (not a great advert for the Rough Guide if that was the case), which is why visitors need a guidebook which does show them the best bits – forgive the shameless plug but, hey, we’ve all got a living to make.

We do all have different opinions and different likes and dislikes, but when people offer their opinions as fact, there needs to be a balance. So here’s my rose-tinted one using some photographs of Santa Cruz so that you can make up your own mind.

See more photos of this ‘horrible concrete city’ here.

I had some business around Puerto’s old town this morning. It’s always a pleasure to wander along the narrow streets and through the picturesque squares, but recently it has become even more enjoyable.

Puerto's small harbour

The Mayor, Lola Padrón, and the council have undertaken an ambitious project to spruce up the historic old buildings, many of which been looking tired and run down, with cracked façades and peeling plaster ever since we moved to Puerto.

Not so now. Now they’re looking as good as new, lovingly renovated in keeping with the original style.

Casa Iriarte

In fact the entire old town is looking great and the 30+ temperatures and sunshine today showed it at it’s best to the groups of visitors who walked the recently cobbled street between the Ayuntamiento and the harbour admiring the old architecture and wooden balconies and stopping to take the obligatory photo beside the statue of the fish wife beside the harbour.

This renovation is a real boost for the image of Tenerife’s original tourist resort and for tourism in general.

Casa Aduana - the old customs house

Why then, when I turn on the TV every night do I see the same Mr Angry, gesticulating aggressively at the camera, slagging off everything that the current council is trying to do? This guy has got to be three heartbeats away from a thrombo; his blood pressure must be higher than the Petronas Twin Towers. Venom positively oozes from his lips. There is a Spanish phrase which springs to mind every time I see his angry face – un hombre antipático. He is also a fervent supporter of the previous mayor.
Personally I would never place my trust with anyone whose tactics are disruptive and destructive. These sorts of people have their own interests at heart, not those of the people they purport to represent.

Classy facade for a hairdressers

When we first moved to Puerto nearly six years ago, we were charmed by the place, but there were a lot of little things which let it down; gave it a tired look. I mentioned the peeling façades of the old buildings, but there were other little things like the waterfall at Playa Jardín being broken for two years without a cascade. There were signs of neglect all over the town which wouldn’t have taken a lot of effort to put right.

I’m not suggesting that a pretty façade is the most important issue a mayor has to think about when running a town, but when a lot of your revenue comes from tourism it should at least be up there on the agenda. I didn’t feel that was the case until Lola took over the mantle a couple of years ago.

Puerto's looking good Lola - Nil Bastardi Carborundum

As far as I’m concerned Mr Angry can shake his fist at the camera till he’s blue in the face, but the photos with this blog don’t have a political allegiance, so I’ll let them show the sort of job that Lola Padrón is doing to improve Puerto de la Cruz.

Monday the 8th December was a public holiday in Tenerife. Unlike the UK during a bank holiday Monday, the roads here were remarkably quiet. There were a number of things we had been planning to do and some of them were due to finish, so like last minute Charlies, we headed up to the lovely little town of Los Silos in Isla Baja to catch the final day of their storytelling festival.

Cool town, cool people, cool plaza

Cool town, cool people, cool plaza

The sun was shining when we arrived, so the town’s fairy tale church was looking its best. Los Silos is quite a bohemian little town and the plaza, where most of the tale-telling takes place, was filled with a mixture of trendy young residents and story tellers, performers and stallholders who wouldn’t have looked out of place at a hippy market in Goa.

It’s a lovely little intimate festival, where nothing particularly fancy, or spectacular takes place, but it exudes an engaging atmosphere and watching the kid’s face light up as a Jay Kay from Jamiroquai look-alike juggled and gurned is a reminder that people here (of all ages) still get pleasure from simple little things.

Santo Domingo

Santo Domingo

In the late afternoon we drove back to Puerto de la Cruz, arriving just as the funfair was starting to get busy, but we weren’t looking to have some fun at the fair; we were seeking a more tranquil experience. The Santo Domingo convent behind the town hall has been closed since we arrived in Puerto, but it’s recently opened its doors as an exhibition centre and Monday was the last day of a Bonsai exhibition. The convent with its pale cream walls was the perfect setting for the little trees and the combination of the beautifully balanced bonsais, soft Japanese background music and tranquil open courtyard was almost enough to make me get into the lotus position and engage in a bit of meditation. Unfortunately I don’t exactly know what the lotus position looks like so I had to settle for just looking at the exhibits.

After that it was a visit to the lovely old building of Casa Ventoso and the

Casa Ventoso

Casa Ventoso

search for the obligatory coprophiliac amongst the collection of belénes which were on display (okay, I know it’s childish, but it makes me smile – I admit to being guilty of having that British curse of enjoying ‘toilet humour’). The life size display in the courtyard was a bit amateur night (and slightly creepy), but the model villages in the adjoining rooms were excellent, with lighting and sound effects; blood red sunsets turned to starlit nights whilst oxen threshed wheat, men treaded grapes and my favourite figure was destined to stay, squatting in his outside loo (where the lockless door periodically swung open) until the 6th January. I love it.

I know it wouldn’t be everybody’s idea of what to do on a bank holiday, but we love the sheer diversity of the things that are constantly going on in Tenerife and the bonus ball? Unlike the men in the belénes, we didn’t need to spend a penny.

Every time we’ve visited La Laguna since we moved to Tenerife, the historic Teatro Leal has been undergoing restoration…until now.

As you can see, they’ve done a cracking job of the restoration.