Posts Tagged ‘Parque Garcia Sanabria’

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.

Robert contemplates joining the group of 'Courage' for a photo

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.

Tabla Canaria at Bodeguita Canaria

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.

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I noticed on the news yesterday that Lufthansa airlines were offering compensation to holidaymakers who got rainy days while they were away.
I reckon it’s a fairly safe bet that the UK won’t be one of the 36 destinations for which the insurance company will pay out, but I guess Tenerife might be. The chances of seeing rain at the coast anywhere between June and October on Tenerife are low enough even for me to consider giving good odds.

We’ve had weeks and weeks of cloudless searing heat here so, for those of us who live on the island, the occasional cloud cover we’re having this week is a merciful relief.
Of course, if this is your two weeks R&R away from the sort of ‘barbecue summer’ that sent Noah heading briskly towards the woodshed, the last thing you want to see is clouds.

But worry not, there are so many excellent things to do on Tenerife that you should really look on cloudy days, not as disappointments, but as opportunities.

So, here is my list of things to do when it’s cloudy in Tenerife; it’s by no means exhaustive

Beat the clouds – if you absolutely must have the sun, you can pretty much guarantee finding it in Teide National

Life above the clouds

Life above the clouds

Park and at least you get to see a bit of the island in the process. Simply drive up through the pine forests to emerge above the clouds and into the blue. In this volcanic wonderland you can take a cable to the top of the world (well, nearly); eat lunch in Spain’s highest restaurant; wander amongst incredible rock formations at Roques García or simply soak up the sun. But be warned, the air at this height is thinner and the sun’s rays more intense, slap on the factor 25, wear a hat and drink plenty of water.

Go wild – leave the barren landscape of the south and head to the north’s verdant Puerto de la Cruz and Tenerife’s number one ‘must-see’; Loro Parque.
Dolphin, sea lion, Orca and parrot shows are all great fun and entertainment while the penguins at the incredible artificial iceberg are compulsive watching. You’ll need at least five hours in the park so give yourself plenty of time for this one.

In Santa Cruz, just be cool

In Santa Cruz, just be cool

See summer in the city – the island’s capital city of Santa Cruz has a surprising number of things to see and do and cloudy days afford some respite for wandering the shops (tax free shopping), chilling out in the tranquil Parque García Sanabria, exploring the museums and galleries or just kicking back in one of the pavement cafes and watching the world go by. And if the sun re-emerges (as it usually does in Santa Cruz), you’re just a hop and skip away from the island’s best beach at Las Teresitas and the best seafood lunch at beach-side San Andrés.

Tour mini-Tenerife – at Pueblo Chico in La Orotava. Spend a

Its a small world at Pueblo Chico

It's a small world at Pueblo Chico

couple of hours wandering around beautifully crafted models of the Canaries in miniature with meticulous attention to detail and lots of funny bits.
When you’re done, head up the hill to the full sized La Orotava, the jewel in Tenerife’s crown, and explore the streets of the old quarter. You’ll find parks and gardens, historic houses lining narrow cobbled streets, old monasteries, a Gothic church and some nice little antique shops.

Take a hike – along some of Tenerife’s stunning walking trails. Summer can be murderous for tackling some stamina-sapping parts of the island so take advantage of cloud cover to trek the parts that don’t have wide vistas crying out for sunshine, like Masca Barranco or Hell’s Ravine.

Dive in –to the deep, blue Atlantic at one of the island’s fascinating dive sites around the coast of Las Galletas or take the whole family and head to San Miguel marina for a trip in a Yellow Submarine…all together now; “we all live ” tum ti tum.

Mummified Guanche at Museum of Man & Nature

Mummified Guanche at Museum of Man & Nature

Mooch – around one of Tenerife’s museums. Now before you yawn and skip to the end…not all museums are dull. Science and Cosmos in La Laguna is an oversized playground of optical illusions; Man and Nature in Santa Cruz has some gruesome mummies and the Anthropological in Valle Guerra is like Tenerife’s version of the set of ‘Upstairs Downstairs’. And on Sundays they’re all free to get in.

So…bring on the clouds, see if we care!

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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.

The beautiful lake which now fills the space at Plaza España, the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

The beautiful lake which now fills the space at Plaza España, the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife

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.

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A neighbour lent me a book entitled “The Canary Islands” which was written by Florence du Cane and illustrated by her sister, Ella. The book was published in 1911. In it, Florence describes her feelings on landing at Santa Cruz:
“…the utter hideousness of the capital of Teneriffe was a shock to me.”

I guess it’s fair to say she wasn’t impressed. And if that’s how she felt in 1911, I seriously doubt that the addition of the now present sprawling eyesore of the CEPSA refinery would have done much to improve her mood.

Warrior statues in Plaza EspanaOn the other hand, she might have cast a more favourable eye on the iconic curves of the Santiago Calatrava– designed Auditorio de Tenerife and would almost certainly have raised a Victorian eyebrow at the perfect Callipygian curves of the warrior statues that adorn Plaza España, or at least, that did adorn it and will do again once building work is complete.

Santa Cruz is a city going through the same sort of transformation that Manchester went through after the bombing of the late 1990s when it rose from the ashes of terrorist attack and post-industrial revolution grime to emerge as Britain’s most vibrant 21st century city (no bias there then).
In Santa Cruz there are plans afoot for a vast pedestrianised quayside with shops, walkways, bars, restaurants and cinemas. There’s already a growing tide of chill-out lounges, cocktail bars and chic restaurants opening their doors in the Noria district. The newly re-vamped Parque García Sanabria breathes air, beauty and calm into the heart of the city and the gentle whirr and ‘ding, ding’ of the trams that swish down palm lined avenues like peacocks on rails add that final 21st century touch to the city that so disappointed Florence.
If she arrived today, I’d like to think she’d have something a bit nicer to say about Santa Cruz, even if it’s only that the trams are nicer than they were in her day. But if she arrives in siesta time, she might find that some things haven’t changed much at all:
“The crowd of swarthy loafers who lounge about the quay in tight yellow or white garments, are true sons of a southern race, and chatter gaily with handsome black-eyed girls.”  Florence du Cane 1911.

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