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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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I’ve recently found myself ‘hooked’ on TripAdviser forums, scanning the entries for new questions or new responses to ongoing sagas.

Of late, we’ve had people asking where they can get ‘good English food’ when they’re in Tenerife, whether it’s true that there’s a Marks & Spencer in Santa Cruz de Tenerife and if so, where it is, where they can watch football while they’re here and whether anyone knows if there’s a “nudist swimming pool” anywhere (not a nudist beach you understand, a nudist swimming pool).

And the one that’s really got me resolved to break this newly-formed addiction on the grounds that, like Eastenders, it’s just too depressing to continue watching, is the couple from the USA who are looking for a ‘budget’ holiday in Tenerife.
They began by asking (reasonably) what the quickest route from the south airport to Puerto de la Cruz was. Local ‘experts’ gave them directions and told them the journey would be 50 mins to an hour, less if they wanted to rent a car on Tenerife. The couple responded with apparent horror at “such a long journey”(presumably no-one in Wisconsin would dream of driving that far…yeah, right) and asked if anyone knew of cheap accommodation in the south. They very specifically wanted a room in a family house or a pension with the emphasis on cheap and specified that they wanted culture, not swimming pools and local, not International cuisine.
Patient responses gave advice, an assortment of web addresses and suggestions about keeping away from the main coastal resorts and going instead for more rural accommodation.

Last night the US couple said they’d resolved their problem and had booked an apartment in Costa del Silencio ( a purpose-built tourist resort on the island where Tenerife culture is conspicuous by its absence) where they would be staying for the whole week and incidentally, did anyone know where they could get to see some good Flamenco while they were here!

I despair!
Does nobody whose planning to come here want to see the Real Tenerife??!!!

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