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Posts Tagged ‘Plaza España’

It has been a really nice week for catching up with friends from the UK.

At the beginning of the week we went to see Chris and Alan from tenerife.co.uk who are holidaying with their families in Playa Paraíso. For 24 luxurious hours we enjoyed the excellent hospitality of the Roca Nivaria Hotel and managed to combine fun and relaxation with work. I feel certain that were I to be permanently ensconced in such a peel-me-a-grape environment that I could produce some of my best work…

Then yesterday we went into Santa Cruz to meet up with Sarah and Denise who are currently enjoying a free week’s holiday in Golf Del Sur which Denise won in a competition in the UK. Not, I hasten to add, one of Tenerife Magazine’s incredible free holiday prizes; this one had nothing to do with us.

Meeting up a little after 1pm it was the perfect opportunity to combine showing Sarah and Denise around the city with enjoying lunch. How fortuitous then that their visit just happened to coincide with the Ruta del Chicharro tapas route; a stroll around the city taking in tasty tapas served with cold Dorada beers in some of the city’s oldest and newest eateries. Throw into the mix an ambient temperature of around 25°C and the resident Santa Cruz sunshine and you’ve got what amounts to a perfect Friday in the city.

First stop was the Noria District and the Museo bar/restaurant under the arches. A table on their sunny terrace; four tapas of sweet potato and cod in mojo sauce served with garlic bread and kept company by four Doradas, and the endless chat and catch-up could begin. Time slipped by as it always does when we meet Sarah and next thing we knew, four different tapas winged their way to the table – montaditos (small toasted breads) with garlic sausage and cheese. We explained that two of our number didn’t eat meat and in two glints of the waiter’s smile montaditos with seafood arrived in addition to the sausage ones.

The bill came to a princely €10 and we moved along a few hundred metres to the terrace of El Marques de la Noria to receive the most artistically beautiful and tastiest of the day’s tapas.
A single wooden skewer lay across the plate which held a crispy chunk of sweet roasted potato with an apple puree and caviar coating; and a deep fried, battered prawn with jamón Iberico (the girls gave us their jamón – the benefits of lunching with non meat eaters). The skewer was sealed with a cherry tomato and drizzled with a raspberry and a rich soya sauce.
Looking too good to eat and tasting even better, we again drained our Doradas, left the €10 settlement and moved on to our next venue.

Strolling back along Antonio Dominguez Alfonso, cutting through Plaza Principe past the Belles Artes Museum and onto Imeldo Seris, our guests were enthralled by the architecture, the flora and the beauty of this city about which so little makes it onto the tourist radar.
This is Denise’s first visit to Tenerife and she was thrilled to be out of the Karaoke bars and burger and chips offerings of Golf Del Sur and experiencing some of the ‘real Tenerife’.

As usual, Jack and I were in full tour guide mode and the compulsory potted history of the island was being delivered as we arrived at one of the capital’s iconic traditional restaurants; La Hierbita.

A hotch potch of tiny rooms on varying levels with original wooden floors and ceilings, we made our way through the ground floor to the back room bar, then out into the back alley and along a couple of doors to the second part of the restaurant. We climbed the narrow stairs and took the table in the window from which, the waiter helpfully pointed out, you could throw crumbs onto passing pedestrians. We resisted the crumb throwing impulse and settled instead to perusing the cornucopia of antiques that fill this personality-rich restaurant.
This time our tapas consisted of a small dish of cherne (grouper) fish in onion and potato sauce and was served with bread and mojo sauces.

Appetites sated and time slipping dangerously close to Sarah and Denise’s bus departure, we made our way back past the lake of Plaza España where we stopped for the customary photo shoot at the statue to the fallen, and made it back to the bus station in time for a choc ice postre and fond farewells.

Santa Cruz – discover it before everyone else does!

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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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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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