Posts Tagged ‘Spain’

I’m sure everywhere must have anticrisis products. Due to various circumstances, this week I had to buy anticrisis bread. This was mainly because it was the only decent looking bread in the nearest supermercado to where I live.

I’m pretty sure that the precio anticrisis is meant to make me feel all warm and fuzzy that the producer is so concerned about the effect of the economic crisis on the consumer that they have created this wallet friendly bread priced at only €1.09.

Nice idea, except for one thing; it’s half a loaf. It might be an anticrisis price but it’s also an anticrisis size. In fact, when I work it out it has cost me more than my normal full sized loaf.

Exactly whose precio anticrisis is it?

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It looks like a squeeze bottle, it’s got a nozzle like one and it smells like washing up liquid but it sure as hell doesn’t act like one.

Even being throttled into a deformed shape such as this results in a piddling, good for nothing, little drip of washing liquid. You could argue that it’s environmentally friendly as it’s impossible to get a decent amount of liquid out of the damn bottle.

When we forgot to buy our favourite brand of coffee during the weekly shop we picked up this replacement from our nearest supermarket. I don’t really have to say anything else…

The question always takes us by surprise even though we’ve been asked it on a number of occasions during the years we’ve lived on Tenerife – not ever by Canarios I hasten to add.

“Have You ever thought of living in the South of Tenerife?”

Funnily enough instead of just giving a straight answer, we normally justify why we chose to live in the north of Tenerife. We describe how we hired a car and travelled around Tenerife staying in various towns and resorts (and discarding them as places we’d want to live) before arriving in Puerto de la Cruz and deciding on the spot – más o menos – that this was the place for us.

Why we feel we have to come out with this tale every time I really don’t know. And I don’t know why we just don’t give the single word answer that really wants to escape my mouth and that is a simple, succinct no.

Maybe it’s because I’ve always thought that answer might come across as sounding rude, especially as the people who ask the question invariably live or holiday in the south of Tenerife.
But recently I started to look at it from a different angle. Why do people ask the question in the first place? As far as I can remember we’ve never asked anyone who lives in the south of Tenerife if they’d ever considered living in the north, so why do people keep asking us?

The north and the south of Tenerife, and I know this is a generalisation, are different. I’m not referring to the weather, although that is undeniably a factor, but historically they have always been different, in the looks department they are different and in personality they are different.

We all have various likes, dislikes and preferences and I prefer the north of Tenerife to the south. And if anyone thinks that might be an insult – don’t be silly; of course I do, that’s why I choose to live here.
I’ve always assumed that most people who live in the south do so because it ticks all the right boxes for them; just as I live here because it ticks all the right boxes for me. Therefore it wouldn’t cross my mind to ask the question. But when people hear we live in the north, the reaction is often similar to the reaction I use to get when I told people I didn’t eat meat (past tense BTW).

“Have You ever thought of living in the South of Tenerife?”

To me it feels as though there’s a bit missing from the end of that question. If you follow it to its logical conclusion there is an inference in a question like that. Which is why in future the answer will be a much simpler and significantly shorter one.

Apart from watching football in one here on Tenerife I tend to avoid British bars and restaurants outside of Britain.

That might come across sounding like a bit of travel snob; the sort of person who only frequents watering holes and eateries owned by the indigenous people of the country I’m visiting. But nope I don’t subscribe to that either. In Britain I ate at restaurants serving food from all over the globe and I had no idea usually who owned the bars so why restrict myself when I travel? I normally choose to eat mainly at restaurants serving local cuisine, but variety is the spice of life and every so often it’s nice to have a change – even over a two week holiday period – especially if the local cuisine isn’t great (just because it’s abroad doesn’t always make it good).

There’s one reason and one reason mainly that I avoid Brit bars and restaurants and that’s because so far, most of the ones I’ve experienced abroad are not the sort of places I would frequent in Britain, so they’re certainly not going to do it for me in another country.

Last week we were on Lanzarote in Costa Teguise. I like Costa Teguise. It has a nice mix of different nationalities which is reflected in the resort’s bars and restaurants. In some ways it reminds me a bit of El Médano on Tenerife.

However, because of flight times, on our last day there we found ourselves needing to grab something to eat at around 6pm. The hotel’s snack bar was closed so the only option was a British bar opposite.

There was nothing particularly offensive with the place, the people were friendly enough, except that it fit a model that seems to be a blueprint for nearly every Brit bar in Spain.

First of all there was the ubiquitous ex-pat client bitching about everybody and everything (do you get one of these with the deeds I wonder?). The décor was mock Tudor and there were blackboards all over the place advertising football, Corrie and the oh so passé pub grub on offer. Then there was the music. It was circa 1980…it’s always circa 1980 (with a heavy dash of 1960s thrown in). As well as the bitchin’ ex-pat, Brit bars abroad seem to be only able to pick up music from decades long gone.

The menu was from the same era – fish and chips (of course), steak and kidney pie (frozen), burger and chips (frozen), chilli con carne and, best (or worst) of all, saveloys – does anyone apart from Brit bars abroad really use that term these days?

And there’s my problem with Brit bars abroad. Before I left Britain nearly eight years ago the bars I went to were modern and stylish, played the same contemporary music I listened to driving to work and at home and had imaginative menus where not everything was fried or microwaved.

That’s not the case with Brit bars abroad. Most times when I go to a Brit bar abroad I feel as though I’m an extra in an episode of Ashes to Ashes. They seem to have been stuck in a groove for quarter of a century and for the life of me I can’t get my head around why they are all following almost exactly the same outdated format.

Do people still actually believe that a frozen burger in a bready bap and Billy Ocean belting out When the Going Gets Tough on the radio is really good enough in this day and age?

But hey, maybe it’s me that’s out of step… but if that’s the case who were all those people that packed out the bars I used to go to?
By the way if anyone does actually know of a quality British bar that strays from the norm, then I’d love to know about it.

P.S. If it includes even one of the qualities (an ironic use of the word) I’ve mentioned then don’t bother.

‘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.

There’s going to be a lot written about Asturias over the next few months. The writers on this incredible trip have our work cut out if our words are to come remotely close to painting a realistically vivid picture of this ‘secret’ region of Spain that has surprised, delighted and charmed all of us.

For the moment I’ll once again let images do my work for me.



Images from top to bottom: Niembro, Cheese maker in Picos de Europa, Cudillero, Covadonga, Llanes