Posts Tagged ‘La Orotava’

It’s funny how it’s so easy to take where you live for granted…and to forget what treasures exist on your doorstep.

Yesterday we made an impulsive trip (the sun was shining, inspiration wasn’t) to the ‘new’ Humboldt’s Mirador which is only a few minute’s drive away. The ‘new’ is an ironic ‘new’…you’ll see what I mean when you read Andy’s article in Tenerife Magazine.

As we sat in the better-than-a-good-British-summer warm February sunshine overlooking the La Orotava Valley and a snow clad Mount Teide we first tried to spot our house (somewhere in the middle of the picture). Then we sought out some of the special places surrounding us. Places that are quite unique in their own way and yet many remain unseen, or unvisited by most visitors to Tenerife.


Places like…

Abaco: A wine bar and live music venue in a Canarian mansion where visitors are welcomed by artistically arranged displays of more fruit than you’d find in the average supermarket.

Playa Bollullo: My favourite beach on Tenerife and a bit of a trek to get to which keeps it from being manicured and mainstream.

Lucas Maes: Simply one of the best restaurants on Tenerife where both the food and the décor is mouthwateringly delicious.

Los Rechazos, Pico Viejo & Bar Canario: Three excellent bar/cafes that are positively buzzing in the morning as everyone and their dog stops off at one of the trio for a morning coffee and snack before heading into work. One of the bars is also one of the few official outlets for buying CD Tenerife tickets – an added bonus.

And finally, the spot where the photo was taken; Humboldt’s Mirador. Possibly the best vista on Tenerife and that’s not just my opinion. Mr Humboldt and the Indiana Jones of his time, Richard Francis Burton both agree.

It’s pretty special to live in a location that has those on the doorstep.

p.s. Please, please, please ignore the typo in the picture…even if the best worker on Tenerife does actually own the cafes.

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Anyone who’s walked past the wonderful sculpture of the fishwife in Puerto de la Cruz is already familiar with the work of Julio Nieto. But pretty though she is, she’s only the conventional tip of the iceberg when it comes to his creations.

Some of his other sculptures are products of a vivid and fantastical imagination that clearly knows no bounds. So it was with childlike delight that we discovered a street exhibition of his work in La Orotava’s plaza when we visited between Christmas and New Year.

I can’t do them justice with mere words, so I’ll let the images speak for themselves.

Aha, so this is how the Spanish intend to deal with the proposed smoking ban in January – the electronic cigarette.

According to the website it’s “tobacco-free, tar-free and smoke-free” and what’s more it “represents the future of smoking without compromising your health”.

Okay, I’ve heard that one before. I wonder if the new law will cover electronic cigars and cigarettes, or instead of smoke free bars we’ll be surrounded by people puffing on the Vaporillo come the New Year.

If you’re a puffer and are intrigued, there’s a display at La Villa shopping centre in La Orotava till the end of the month.

I love it; it is just so Madmen…so 1960s

The mind positively boggles at what goes on in this shop…

It was so quick that it was almost imperceptible, but I saw it; I saw the woman’s eyes flick to my groin and back to my face in a fraction of a millisecond…and it wasn’t a complimentary glance either. I knew exactly what had gone through her mind.

Pinchos, corn on the cob, hard boiled eggs, beer & wine - not an extensive menu, but a great place to hang out.

The sun at the Pinolere Craft Fair was beating down with September ferocity. People are talking about the end of summer, but if summer was based on hot, hot, hot temperatures as opposed to just hot ones, we’d have another two months left here on Tenerife. Andy and I had just completed our first circuit of the stalls at the fair and had conveniently ended up at the huge beer and food kiosk that keeps everyone fuelled and happy. Despite applying sun cream and sun block my nose was starting to resemble a clown’s so we squeezed into the shade, ordered a beer and some pinchos and started waxing lyrical about how beautiful it was, what great stalls there were and what a fab atmosphere Pinolere had.

...And the pinchos (seasoned meat kebabs) were damn good.

“It’s lovely,” a woman standing beside us announced when she heard us speaking English.

She wasn’t English, she was from La Orotava, but clearly wanted to practice her grasp of English which pretty much amounted to answering ‘it’s lovely’ to everything. After a few moments we switched to Spanish and she told us all about herself and her son, what he did and what his girlfriend did, including how much they earned. Then she mentioned that she only had the one child. When I asked if that wasn’t unusual here she laughed and replied “one is more than enough.”

At that Andy told her we didn’t have any and that was when her eyes flicked to my groin and back. I knew her first thought was ‘he must be firing blanks’ or whatever the Spanish equivalent is.

A few years ago we were on a boat trip in Kenya that stopped at a small village where people still lived in thatched huts. We were met by the village chief who for some reason took to me and stuck to my side as we walked around. He told me all about the village, showed me leaves from a tree that tasted like opal fruits and told me all about himself and his family; naming all of his numerous children before asking me how many children I had. When I told him none he was shocked and I saw myself shrinking in his eyes. After that he deserted me and went to find a real man.

The Spanish woman recovered quickly.

“Ha, even better,” she laughed but the seed was planted so to speak.

At that point I’d being doing much of the talking, but as Andy took over and spoke to her about the fair and the weather she looked back at me.

“She speaks better Spanish than you,” she remarked.

“I know, she does everything better than me,”
I replied.

“Really,” her eyes widened and she added. “Even in matters of love?”

I knew the no-kids comment had lodged in her brain. I was clearly almost a eunuch in her eyes…and how had we gone from ‘it’s a lovely fair’ to what I was like in bed anyway?

I made some suitably macho retort and then, grabbing Andy by the arm, spotted something we just had to buy at that moment at a stall on the other side of the fair. We ‘venga’d each other and left her to get back to exploring the fair.

The shopping centre - rural Tenerife style

We had a wonderful day at the Pinolere fair. Our haul of goodies amounted to a round of Benijos Cheese, a jar of honey, two pendants with Guanche designs, two bamboo whistles that made bird calls (for nephews), a book marker made from a banana trunk and a fan in a cotton case with a Guanche symbol on it. And all it cost was a handful of euros and a slur on my masculinity.

Oh, and as for the whole no kids deal just in case you’re wondering…lifestyle choice.

On a blisteringly hot day on the eve of the Corpus Christi celebrations in La Orotava on Tenerife, a handful of alfombristas (master carpet makers) put the finishing touches to this year’s tapestry made from the sands and soil from Teide National Park. Here are a couple of shots to give you a preview of the almost completed work of art.

The theme this year is The Last Supper and the three main designs feature traditional religious imagery with a Dali influence in the centrepiece. As always the detail in the images is breathtaking, with clever little transparent touches – look at the detail even in the bricks behind the figures.

The overall carpet is livened up this year by the presence of butterflies of varying sizes fluttering around the edges of the giant sand picture.

Once again these maestros of sand art have come up with a masterpiece.

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.

Tenerife's classiest town - looking almost exactly how it looked 40 years ago

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…’

An almost identical photo to one in the 40 year-old book

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?