We’d arranged to meet our friends Robert and Linda at the Fred Olsen building on Saturday morning. They were on a cruise and were in Santa Cruz for the day so we’d arranged to show them the city and catch up.
Arriving at the bus station at 10.15am it felt more like siesta time…on a Sunday…on a hot public holiday when the whole world was on the beach. There was barely a soul to be seen as we made our way towards Plaza España, the breeze keeping the already climbing air temperature at balmy perfection.
Arriving in the Plaza, we were disappointed to see that the lake was empty. Where a blue infinity punctuated by a needle of rising water should be, there was only a dried up concrete basin with plastic yellow barriers circling the fountain base.
Crossing the space where the lake should be was a string of Brits disgorged from the gleaming Celebrity Eclipse and now drifting across the empty Plaza like human tumbleweed.
For some reason the lake is empty as often as it’s full which is completely counter-productive and in my mind, unnecessary. With water in, this is a beautiful, sensual, tranquil centrepiece of a 21st century capital city. Empty, it’s an eyesore. How can it possibly be so difficult to keep it filled? If it’s because it’s expensive or resource-intensive to maintain, why build the thing in the first place?
Meeting up with Robert and Linda, we headed straight for a shady pavement cafe for coffee and a chance to catch up. By the time we left, life had returned to the city and shoppers were heading to the retail Nirvana of Calle Castillo. We joined them and slowly made our way towards Plaza del Principe, stopping to admire the burgeoning Corpus Christi sand carpets which were being constructed by groups of students and school children.
A stroll around Plaza del Principe including the ubiquitous photo at the ‘Courage’ sculpture; into the Museo de Belles Artes for a look at their temporary and permanent exhibitions; onto the African Market to browse the stalls laden with fresh produce and flanked by exotic plants and flowers and a saunter through the characterful Noria District took us to lunch time.
Torn between La Hierbita and Bodeguita Canaria , both on Calle Imelda Seris, we opted for Bodeguita on the grounds that it had tables outside from which we could better cope with the heat.
Two ‘tablas Canarias’ of assorted jamon Serrano, sausages, chorizo, salami and goats’ cheese was washed down with cool Doradas in the shade of the terrace as the afternoon slipped pleasantly by alongside the trams swishing past within feet of our table.
There was just enough time to detour to Teatro Guimera for another ubiquitous, 70s album sleeve photo at the mask, then onto Plaza España (lake still empty) for an ice cream before heading back to the port where coaches were waiting to return passengers to the Eclipse.
The day had flown by all too quickly in a blur of blossom-filled flamboyance trees and shady pavement cafes in cool, tree-lined plazas beneath an impossibly blue sky. There had been no time to visit Parque García Sanabria , or the Museum of Man & Nature or the shops or, or, or…
We parted company vowing to meet up again in January 2011 to complete the tour of this lovely city. Let’s hope they’ve had enough rain to fill Plaza España by then.