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Archive for September, 2010

I realise this offer isn’t likely to be enough to get folks from the UK and the US hitting the Internet and browsing for cheap flights to Tenerife…but for full or part time residents of Tenerife and the Canary Islands, it’s a chance at a fabulous weekend break not to be missed.

The aristocratic Arona Gran Hotel in Los Cristianos is giving away a FREE weekend in this month’s Tenerife Magazine competition and all you have to do for a chance to win is to hit that little ‘like’ icon on the Tenerife Magazine Facebook page.

For anyone who enjoys excellent food, lying around some rather splendid swimming pools and chilling on a sun-soaked balcony with sunset views over to La Gomera, the Spring Arona Gran beckons.
From the moment you walk into its marble-pillared atrium lobby filled with tropical plants and trailing vines, shoulders ease and breathing deepens. But the wow factor doesn’t end at the amazing lobby; heading outside where you’ll find three beautiful freeform swimming pools surrounded by palm tree-studded sunbathing terraces just crying out for a prone body, a bottle of factor 25 and a good novel.

And just to make sure that everything is going to be in tip top condition for our lucky winner, I’m going to be spending this weekend checking out the Arona Gran Hotel and all it has to offer.
I would say “it’s dirty work but…blah…blah” but it clearly isn’t!

Watch Tenerife Magazine for my report and meanwhile…you have to be in it to win it 🙂

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As we ate breakfast on the terrace yesterday morning, the sun was being very coy.
Typical. Pretty much all summer the default setting for our weather has been clear blue skies and sun, sun, sun. But Friday was the start of the annual craft fair of Pinolere in the hills above La Orotava and if belly of the donkey was going to make a re-appearance anywhere, it would be there.

800 meters above sea level and hemmed in by barrancos to the east and west, Pinolere is a community of some 700 inhabitants living in the shadow of Tenerife’s mountainous spine, and more often than not, beneath a sea of clouds. It may mean that Pinolere is never going to topple Playa de Las Americas as Tenerife’s number one tourist destination, but the clouds bring high humidity ensuring that everything here grows in abundance.

Birdsong whistles (€3) make great gifts for kids

But yesterday, as we snaked our way high above the coast of Puerto de la Cruz, the sun finally broke free and the clouds ran for their lives leaving another glorious day in the La Orotava Valley.
Even though it was barely 11.30am when we arrived, the car parking was choc a bloc and we ended up parking on a small dirt track which led off to fincas set amongst the vines of the valley. Bemoaning the fact that we hadn’t thought to bring ropes and crampons, we toiled up a near-vertical street, back to the site of the craft fair wishing that the clouds had chosen to descend as sweat trickled down our backs.

The last time we visited the fair, the trademark bruma (cloud) had entirely obscured its location but yesterday, under clear skies, the true beauty of our surroundings was nothing less than awesome. The emerald, forest-clad slopes of the upper La Orotava Valley rose to dizzying heights in a shimmering heat haze beyond the thatched roofs and vines of the hamlet.

A Crafty Piece of Work
For the majority of Pinolere’s inhabitants, the land provides their livelihood and allows them to be almost entirely self-sufficient. For generations, the community have been basket weavers, iron workers, charcoal producers, carpenters, farmers and muleteers. It’s only recently that they’ve ceased to construct their homes in the traditional manner of many of the country dwellings of Tenerife; walls of dry stone roofed with chestnut wood entwined with branches and then thatched with straw.

25 years ago Pinolere made plans to introduce a new aspect to their local fiestas and came up with the idea of showcasing the wide range of crafts and skills that they held. Calling it ‘The Day of the Traditional Canaries’, they brought together all the craftspeople from the local area and invited them to exhibit the best of their products. Over the course of the years that event has grown from a local fair to the Canary Islands’ largest showcase for crafts made from traditional produce.

Handmade ceramic dolls, €24

The Pinolere Craft Fair is set in 10,000 square metres of terraces and pathways that meander as randomly as the surrounding barrancos and contain hundreds of stalls filled with jewellery; woven baskets; clothes; hand carved furniture; ceramics; pottery; toys; herbs and spices; cheeses; jams and mojos; cakes; glassware; cane furniture; iron and copper ornaments…the list is endless.

As we made our way up level after level filled with stalls, the stone-built thatched houses provided small exhibitions on the history of wheat production in the area and a short-lived refuge from the hot sun.
Arriving finally at the top level we reached the welcome sight of a large guachinche where the aroma of sizzling pork pinchos (kebabs) and the sight of condensation running down the side of cold beer bottles was too much to resist. Finding a small section of vacant wall we sat down to enjoy our pinchos and beer and peruse our collection of purchases while gawping at the incredible scenery.

Our haul of goodies

It’s probably a good job that Pinolere doesn’t enjoy this kind of weather continuously or the fields of wheat, vines, vegetables and cereals would soon get replaced by villas and apartments and we’d have lost something really, really special.

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Well that’s it – the late August Bank Holiday has been and gone, next week’s got a big circle on it to remind the offspring that it’s time to get back to the classroom and the UK summer holidays are officially over. But if sales of Real Tenerife Island Drives and Island Walks over the past week are anything to go by, it also means that the thing uppermost on many people’s minds is…booking their next holiday.

When the nights start to draw in and the prospect of a long, cold winter sneaks in to replace the disappointment of a poor summer, there’s only one thing that’s going to keep seasonal adjustment disorder from the door and that’s the knowledge that there’s an aircraft seat on a flight to the sun with your name on it.

According to a survey conducted this year by TotalMedia, almost 70% of consumers now use the internet to book their holidays, compared to 23% by phone and just 8% who use travel agents.
And you can be sure that the folks who sell travel and holidays online are only too aware of that statistic too and are constantly adding new content to lure browsers.

With so many flights, hotels and travel sites to choose from, it pays to be a canny shopper and to learn to seek out the best bargains. But that can be a time-consuming affair. So how can you find the best discounts without donating hours of your time to Google search pages?
Well one way is to use a site that does all the leg work for you and the other day I came across a UK site that gives you access to all those holiday voucher codes that I often see people on the TripAdvisor Tenerife Forum asking for but which I’ve never known how to find without spending hours trawling individual travel domains.

If you haven’t already discovered VoucherCodes.co.uk, they’re well worth a visit before you commit to any bookings online because they might have a discount code that will get you savings on the flight, hotel or holiday you were just about to book. They seem to have very good deals for many of the main travel retailers including a Thomson discount code, a lowcostholidays promotion code, an Expedia voucher code and loads more.

Those of you who aren’t tied to school holidays for getaways will find some exceptionally good deals on flights to Tenerife in the coming weeks and it’s the perfect time to visit the island. My personal favourite months, September and October bring long, hot days and sultry nights. So, grab a flight and a voucher discount code and top up the sunshine quota before someone starts telling you how many shopping days there are left to Christmas.

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