“We are on a cruise and are in Tenerife from 9 to 5. Is there enough to see in that town or should we take a tour?” asked the questioner from Minneapolis on the TripAdviser Tenerife Forum yesterday.
Admittedly, most visitors to Tenerife do at least know that it’s an island and not a town, but I wonder how many of them actually know the name of the capital city in which ‘Minneapolis’ will be docking and how many would consider visiting Santa Cruz while they’re holidaying on Tenerife.
To some extent, people can be forgiven for overlooking it as, until this century, Santa Cruz has kept its head well and truly below the travel destination parapet, going about its business as a bustling port city at the crossroads between Europe and the Americas and leaving all that tourism stuff initially to Puerto de la Cruz and latterly to the south and southwest coasts of the island.
Five years ago we went to see the QM II as she docked at Santa Cruz on her maiden voyage. We arrived to find the city in complete turmoil. Roads were gridlocked, cafes were running out of food, kiosks were running out of bottled water and ice creams and the Santacruceros were scratching their heads. The city had clearly been caught completely unawares of the interest the grand liner would generate and had made no provisions for the sudden and vast influx of visitors.
Well, the times they are a-changin’ and the 21st Century has seen a transformation in the city with the addition of a clean, efficient and sexy tram system, the renovation of Parque García Sanabria, the opening of the Auditorium and now, the completion of the newly vamped Plaza España, the very heart of the city.
We spent an idyllic few hours in Santa Cruz last week wandering through the city’s streets marvelling at the architecture, enjoying the serenity and beauty of Parque García, mooching around the stalls of the Sunday Rastro and the Christmas market and sunbathing on the edge of the huge fountain that now fills Plaza España like a white sand beach without the sand. The Plaza was filled with lovers, families, visitors and Santacruceros, all enjoying the wide open space of the city in the warmth of the sun.
It may not yet be a London, a Paris, a Rome or a New York but Santa Cruz is finally getting itself onto the tourism map. All it has to do now is send a copy of the map to Minneapolis.