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Posts Tagged ‘Los Cristianos’

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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Tenerife is an island that attracts over 6 million visitors a year, many of whom believe they know it like the back of their hands and few of whom know it at all.”
Going Native in Tenerife

The Tenerife we knew long before we set foot here

Long before we ever set foot on Tenerife we knew exactly what it was like – that’s why we’d never set foot on it.
Persuaded by a good friend to give it a chance, we spent some time in Los Cristianos, Playa de San Juan, Playa Santiago and Los Gigantes, before finally heading to Puerto de la Cruz and finding a different island; one we’d held no preconceived ideas about and so saw with new eyes. We liked it so much we stayed.
We didn’t bother looking at the east coast at all; “Lancashire Hill in the sun” our friend had said, so we gave it as wide a berth as we’d always given Lancashire Hill.
And we didn’t bother looking at Playa de Las Américas; we didn’t need to, we knew what was there. Cheap shops selling tourist souvenir tat; all day British breakfast cafes, €1 a pint Brit bars showing Sky Sports coverage and the Soaps followed by Robbie Williams tribute acts. Our idea of Hell.

Puerto de la Cruz - a different Tenerife

When friends and family asked where we were living, we went to great pains to explain to them that we lived in the North of the island – as far away from Playa de Las Américas as it was possible to get. We spent countless Internet hours on the Tenerife forum of TripAdvisor correcting other peoples’ preconceived ideas about the north, explaining that, despite being Spain’s highest mountain, Mount Teide wasn’t actually high enough to block out the sun – a popular misconception – and that the town did not consist entirely of octogenarian Brits and their Zimmer frames but in fact had a large, young and lively resident population.

We began writing and photographing for a popular Tenerife lifestyle magazine which involved exploring in depth every town, village and hamlet across the island, uncovering hidden gems in the most unlikely places. We discovered that, apart from one small area of ugly high rise buildings, much of the east coast contained delightful hidden coves, secret hamlets and hill towns where life went on in much the same way as it had done for centuries. We found cave restaurants; emblematic bridges, forgotten roads and empty beaches.

Lancashire Hill never looked like this!

We wrote our first guide book, giving detailed driving routes to encourage other people to discover a Tenerife that was a million miles away from their misconceptions.
And when it came time to place our book in retailers across the island, we knew we’d have to put it in and around Playa de Las Américas if we were to reach our target audience, so we began to explore the streets and coast of the south from La Caleta to Los Cristianos.

The Playa de Las Américas we didn't know

At La Caleta we discovered a small fishing village with lovely seafood restaurants; in Playa Del Duque we stumbled upon golden sandy coves with azure waters lapping the shore, fine restaurants and designer shops; and in Playa de Las Américas we uncovered a vibrant, modern, chic resort with a palm tree lined promenade, wide avenues, stylish bars and restaurants and a pulsating nightlife.

From north to south and east to west, there are many different Tenerifes – how well do you think you know them?

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The largest British ex-pat population on Tenerife lives in and around the south of the island, predominantly around the Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje areas. So being involved in English language business, regular trips south are an occupational necessity.
Last Thursday was one of our ‘down south’ days when we leave our home in Puerto de la Cruz and spend the day in the south trying to fit all the things we have to do into one day.

Lunch consisted of a sandwich while sitting on a bench overlooking the beach in Los Cristianos in between getting photos of restaurants for a customer and a lengthy meeting of Tenerife Magazine in the afternoon.
Then it was more restaurant photos, a quickly bolted down pizza and up to El Faro Chill Art in Fañabe for a 7.30 pm launch of Tenerife’s new radio station, Pirate FM.

The stylish roof terrace of El Faro Chill Art

Climbing the stairs to the chic roof terrace of El Faro, complimentary champagne flute in hand, I looked around at the gathering. I had heard that the event was operating a black and white dress code to complement the pirate theme and so I had chosen to wear white pants and a black T shirt, but there any similarity to the way the assorted female guests looked ended.
Hair was perfectly in place, lips were painted, eyes were freshly and liberally made up, outfits were glamorous and heels were sexy and high.
I, on the other hand, had left home over 8 hours before, during which time my hair hadn’t seen a comb; any pretence of mascara had long since melted into submission; my T shirt had lost its freshly clinging appeal to be replaced by a sadly hanging one and I was wearing flip flops.

At one point Jack took a photo of me sandwiched on one side by the über-attractive Head of Sales and Marketing for Pirate FM – Clare Harper – and on the other by the freshly showered and changed, dapper-looking John Beckley. Even as the lens pointed towards us I could feel my body shrinking in anguish, a clear premonition of the contrast between Clare and I asserting itself firmly into my brain.

Spot the "Oh no! I'm not even wearing lipstick!" expression.

Sipping a first class red wine with Eric Clapton’s Some day After A While spilling its Blues magic over the stylish surroundings of the roof terrace, I gazed out over the lights of Puerto Colón and Fañabe and then back at the perfumed, glamorous gathering. I remembered vividly how I used to look when I attended similar functions in Britain. My job dictated that I regularly attended gala dinners and glamorous functions and I always looked fabulous; full make up, perfect hair, high heels and sexy clothes. I thought about what vast sums of money I would now be earning had I stayed in Britain and what beautiful outfit I’d be wearing and how I’d look, and for a little while, I wondered if I regretted giving all of that up.

But then I realised that it wasn’t really the lifestyle I missed, it was my youth, and no matter how much make-up I wore or if I traded my flip flops for some killer heels, my youth would still be behind me.
But how much better for it to have been lost in our house beside the banana plantation, in a culture where ageism doesn’t exist and an occupation where I’m judged not by my looks, but by my words.

On the other hand, I wish I’d put some lipstick on…

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A few years back Tenerife had a marketing campaign in which it promoted itself as “Tenerife Amable” (friendly Tenerife). Little stickers appeared on buses and taxis and posters popped up on motorway billboards and bus stops.
For the most part since moving here I have generally found the Tenerife amable label to be justified and the vast majority of Tinerfeños to be very pleasant people. But every now and again, you experience something that stands out from the crowd and a couple of weeks ago, I found something that did just that.

We’d arranged to spend an evening with Chris Clarkson and Alan Gilmour of tenerife.co.uk who were on a short business trip to the island from the UK. With dinner booked at the Watermelon in Los Cristianos and the prospect of a nice drop of vino, the option of driving back to Puerto de la Cruz was looking distinctly like a member of the Killjoy Club. So we booked a room at the Pearly Grey Ocean Club Resort in Callao Salvaje and arranged to share a taxi with John Beckley.

Pearly Grey Ocean Club Resort

Having checked into our fabulous, ocean front room, we headed to Los Cristianos for a night of gastronomic and vinicultural delights served up with a healthy dose of lively conversation and good laughs. The night slipped away and it was near 2am when we arrived back at Pearly Grey.

Finding the gate which led to our room locked, we went to reception but no-one was there so we popped our heads around the door of the bar/restaurant where we could hear voices chatting.
“Is there anyone manning reception?” I asked.
“He’s probably just doing his security round”, came the cheery response from the guy who was finishing clearing up for the night. “He should be back in a couple of minutes.”

So we went back to reception and waited.
A few minutes later the guy we’d spoken to in the bar emerged to lock up.
“He’s not back yet then?” he asked. “Come on, I think I know a back way to get you to your room.”
And he led us off around the swimming pool area and down a ramp behind the main building emerging eventually outside what all three of us hoped was indeed our room.
“ Brilliant. Thanks very much indeed.” I said. “By the way, what’s your name?”
Laughing he said “ If this is your room, the name’s Paul. If it isn’t, I’ve never seen you before in my life!” And he disappeared back up the ramp.

Restaurant at Pearly Grey

The next morning we went to the restaurant, ordered coffee from a smiling, friendly waitress behind the counter and sat at a patio table overlooking the pool while we took advantage of the free Wi-Fi zone to do some work.
In the hour or so that we were there, there must have been 20 or 30 guests coming and going through the restaurant area and around the pool and every one of them was greeted and chatted to as if they were members of the family.

Mums and dads stretched out on sun loungers while the kids used the Internet zone, or played table tennis and table football. The place had such a laid back, friendly and safe atmosphere that we felt as if we were guests at a huge house party where they just happened to have a beautiful swimming pool, uninterrupted ocean views and oodles of sunbathing terraces.

Unfortunately, we had places to go and people to see, otherwise we would very happily have stayed there all day and probably booked another night.
Last weekend, back in Puerto de la Cruz, we went to our local bar, The Beehive, to watch the Manchester United versus Blackburn match. We hadn’t even taken our seats or ordered our drinks when an elderly Brit sitting at the bar started aggressively verbally abusing the Man United club.
“They’re a bunch of dirty, cheating, lying b****ards!” he bellowed. “They make me sick!”
We’re no strangers to Man Utd haters; jealousy is a very common trait (!) and we happily participate in friendly banter with rival club fans, but this man didn’t want to talk about football, he just continued to bellow his abuse throughout the first half of the game and quite frankly, made it quite unpleasant to be there.

The contrast between our experience over that 24 hours couldn’t have been more marked.

I guess the guy in The Beehive didn’t catch the “Tenerife Amable” campaign.

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Sunset views over Las Vistas beach from The Watermelon's terrace

When Chris Clarkson and Alan Gilmour of tenerife.co.uk came to visit from the UK last week, Jack and I jumped at the chance of spending an evening in the bright lights of Los Cristianos. So we checked into The Pearly Grey Ocean Club Resort in Calleo Salvaje, joined John Beckley of Sorted Sites and headed to The Watermelon Tapas Bar/Restaurant in the chic San Telmo district of Los Cristianos.

Although we were extremely impressed with the rather chic décor (frosted glass sheet water fountain, Gaudi-esque tiled mosaics on the walls and stone benches and sleek, silver and black furnishings) and the fabulous views from the terrace over Las Vistas beach and the sun setting behind La Gomera; we were less impressed with the food and the service.
There was a good ten minute delay between the first two dishes arriving and the other three which meant that Jack and I either had to start eating before everyone else or Jack’s scrambled eggs with chistorras (Canarian sausage) and mushrooms was headed to the stone cold zone.

My toasted bread with smoked salmon and tomatoes served with rocket and parmesan was beautifully presented but was bland and there was too much bread. The other specials when they arrived were kebabs served in foil parcels with fresh vegetables and everyone seemed to enjoy them but they lacked any real wow factor.
The house red wine on the other hand was delicious and slipped down very easily.

Postres proved to be a bit disappointing but that was more a case of confused recommendation rather than any fault with the food. Alan and I being chocolate lovers, I asked the waitress to recommend the chocoholic’s choice and after a great deal of chatting and an admittance that she didn’t particularly like chocolate herself, she told us to go for dish number one. When it arrived, dish number one turned out to be mainly ice cream with some chocolate shortcake slices. Alan and I waited for everyone else’s to arrive, convinced that this wasn’t the one we ordered but it took so long that our ice cream began to melt so we started eating. Dish number four when it finally arrived for everyone else turned out to be hot chocolate fudge cake covered in chocolate sauce and served with ice cream – d’oh!

I didn’t see the bill but I wouldn’t mind betting it wasn’t cheap.
The atmosphere was lively and the venue was unsurpassable but for me, the culinary offerings had a touch of the Emperor’s new clothes about them.

Dinner over, we lingered over that delicious red before heading back towards the Arona Gran Hotel, where Chris and Alan were staying, and heading into Legend’s Snooker Club. While Tenerife Magazine took on Tenerife.co.uk on the pool table, Carol and I reminisced about our misspent youth in the clubs of Manchester and we all chilled out over some more drinks in the über-friendly atmosphere before Jack and I got a taxi back to our fabulous room in Pearly Grey.

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There was clearly some sort of high security risk, low profile event going on at the Magma Congress Centre in Playa de Las Américas yesterday.
Jack and I were driving around Los Cristianos, Playa de Las Américas and Costa Adeje, visiting stockists and getting photographs for various projects we’re involved in and had noticed a pretty serious police presence around the place.
At one point, we could see on the other side of the road that a heavily armed police squad had set up a road block and were slowly threading vehicles through it. We made a mental note not to go that way.

The morning wore on into the afternoon and we had one more stop to make before heading off to Gran Sur to watch the English language movie.

We parked in a restricted zone outside the ferretería, next door to the Monte Christo restaurant and I stayed with the car; ready to move it at the first sign of a traffic cop, while Jack went into the restaurant to get some photos.
After 15 minutes or so, I saw a black police van stop at the pedestrian crossing right behind me to let some very attractive Lara Croft look-a-like cross the road. The police sat with grins on their faces as Lara’s tits and bum sashayed across the road and I thought no more of it.
Then the police van pulled level just ahead of me and stopped.

I froze for a moment until I saw the reverse lights go on; then I was out of the passenger door in a split second and heading towards the driver door to move the car. Just then, Jack emerged from the restaurant and I said “Err, just in time. I think we should move…like now!”

Jack got into the driver’s seat as three machine gun-armed officers stepped out of the back of the van and, muttering something about “el Punto” (which I naturally took to be Cindy – our Fiat Punto) surrounded the car. One positioned himself at the driver’s open window, one at my window and one behind us.
At this point, I was thinking how very differently the police in the south dealt with parking in no-parking zones. In Puerto they completely ignore you. Here, they appeared to be about to drag us out of the car and machine gun us in broad daylight.
Considering what was going through our minds, Jack and I remained remarkably calm as we put our seat belts on and Jack started the engine. Then the police van reversed very slowly to within a centimetre of our wing mirror and stopped, dead parallel.

With not a single word or a glance towards the police or each other, Jack inched the car forward until we were clear of the van, then he slowly pulled out and we drove away.
It was quite the coolest thing I’ve seen him do in a long time and very Jason Bourne.

Somewhat shaken by the whole incident, we drove to Gran Sur where, appropriately enough, we watched the Paul Greengrass directed, Matt Damon thriller; ‘The Green Zone’.

I have no idea what was going on down there yesterday and with the benefit of hindsight, we figured the police were going to use our car as part of their road block.
But I’ll tell you this…that’s the last time we’ll park in a restricted zone in Costa Adeje!

When you rent a car on Tenerife, you need to be aware of the dos and don’ts of parking.

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Last week we had a meeting in the south of the island at 10am and not being sure how bad the morning traffic into Santa Cruz would be, we decided to set off by 8am. It’s a journey that would normally take us just over an hour so we were erring on the generous side.
At 7am I leapt out of bed and went into the kitchen to put the coffee on. Through my sleepy haze I could see a dozen or more ants running around the draining board. Raising my eyes I noticed a thin black highway of ants running up and down the wall above the sink and slowly, as I scanned the worktop I saw the thin line running to and from the old plastic container in which we keep peelings and egg shells that are destined for the compost heap.

The night before, I’d taken some eggs out of the fridge to make an omelette and had just slightly knocked one against the other (well you know what they say about making an omelette without breaking eggs). When I looked down, there was a small hole in one but as I couldn’t be absolutely certain that it had only appeared that instant, I didn’t take any chances and put it in with the compost peelings. Clearly, I had inadvertently given the local ant population a midnight feast.

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

View of Los Cristianos from Montaña Guaza

Immediate action was called for. The ants were ‘tapped’ back up the wall until we could see where they were coming from and then rounded up from all over the worktops and herded back whence they’d come before spraying the wall with ant spray (sorry environment – short on time). We were planning to hike up Montaña Guaza after the meeting and so had to make up sandwiches, pack clothes to change into, hiking shoes and water into the rucksack. Not to mention, have some breakfast.
By 7.30am we were still in our dressing gowns and hadn’t even drunk our coffee.

Half a headless chicken hour later and feeling like we’d already put a full day in, we were driving at a nifty pace up the motorway until we rounded the corner just shy of Santa Úrsula (about 8 km into the journey) and ground to a halt. For the next 45 minutes we watched the clock race and the speedo’ crawl until we finally reached the Tacoronte turn off and took the exit. We crossed the bridge and headed back on the westbound carriageway.
An hour after we’d set off, we were back at the Puerto turn off and heading towards Icod to take the shorter, but considerable slower route over the mountain to the west coast.

Normally a spectacular Tenerife drive to be enjoyed and savoured, it seemed today like just about every other vehicle had developed a top speed of 15 kilometres an hour, causing much high blood pressure and an inordinate amount of swearing. Eventually we arrived at the southern end of the motorway and picked up speed, only to grind to a halt once more in the rush hour traffic heading into the south from the west side of the island.

We finally arrived in Los Cristianos at 10.50 am, the perfect time to not find a parking spot. A brisk ten minute walk later, we arrived at our meeting, 3 hours after we’d set off.

Meeting over, we drove out to Montaña Guaza and parked up. A quick change of clothes, a swiftly swallowed butty,

A barren landscape

A barren landscape

some slapped on sun cream and off we set. We knew we were in for about a three hour hike so Jack set the pace like a greyhound out of the traps. All was going well until the directions we were following told us to ignore the path straight ahead and detour off into the barren, arid wasteland whose only identifying features were a grid of trails leading in every direction, none of them reflecting the instructions in the book.

After going miles out of our way, we finally tracked back to the path we’d left in the first place but by then the humidity and greyhound pace had sent me into light headed land from which I could not escape. No amount of ‘head between the knees’ would banish my near faint and I had to concede that I wasn’t going any further.

We got back home at around 6.30pm to find several ants on the worktop where they’d presumably spent the day running around, directionless and thwarted at every turn. I knew just how they felt.

Some days the Gods are just not with you.

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