Santiago Del Teide’s Casa del Patio Opens its Doors

Casa del Patio

18th November 2009 was quite a momentous day in Santiago del Teide.

One hundred years ago to the day, Mount Chinyero erupted high up in the pine forests of the municipality. Nervously driving along interminable rock-strewn tracks designed for feet rather than wheels and waiting for one or more tyres to burst, I accompanied Tenerife’s press and dignitaries to mark the occasion at the historic site .
Looking completely out of place amongst the frozen black lava fields that lie as testament to the island’s last volcanic eruption, the posse of be-suited men and gold-shoed women struggled to negotiate the terrain to watch the unveiling of a plaque at the foot of the volcano. After the release of half a dozen doves we all trooped back to the vehicles to once more taunt tyre-bursting Gods on our descent back to Santiago del Teide.

Safely back at the pristine grounds of Casa Del Patio, I was finally able to explore the tantalisingly lovely building that has been under restoration and off-limits for many years and that yesterday was finally opened to the public. Including a permanent exhibition to Chinyero’s eruption, it was a tardy but timely finish to the project.

Home to the former Lord of the Manor, Fernando del Hoyo y Solórzano, Casa del Patio was built in the 1660s and up until the early 19th century was occupied by the feudal owners of Santiago del Teide. Now immaculately restored by the Council of Tenerife, it includes stables and a horse riding school; a shop selling traditional pottery, local products and wine; a beautiful Tasca with Canarian cheeses, hams, sausages and wines; and an elegant restaurant with a covered outdoor terrace looking out towards the volcano.
There are wine presses and a small bodega and plans are afoot, or should I say ahoof, to open horse riding trails. There’s even rumour of a Canarian theme park.

And as if that isn’t sufficient to entice anyone en-route to Masca to stop and spend a little time in this delightful town, a small rural hotel within the Casa del Patio is due to open its doors within the next few months.
Santiago del Teide is a glorious municipality for hikers, with trails crossing lush valleys and fragrant eucalyptus and pine forests as well as the walk to Chinyero itself which is through stunning surroundings. The downside has always been access to the town which is a lengthy business from just about anywhere on the island. But with a rural hotel in the town, the words cherry and cake will be on many people’s lips.

A word of warning though. When Fernando del Hoyo was declared Lord of the Manor in 1663, his jurisdiction included the right to ‘incarcerate, hang, spike the heads of, garrotte, whip with a cat-o-nine tails, cut off extremities or set free any or all miscreants and lawbreakers”. Three centuries may have passed but in many ways the picture postcard town hasn’t really changed all that much. If I were you, I’d be very nervous of parking on double yellow lines.

Casa del Patio, Santiago del Teide; tel (0034) 922 104 913; email info@senoriodelvalle.com; www.senoriodelvalle.com; wine museum open 8am – 6pm.

Casa Del Patio's elegant restaurant

Framed – San Cristóbal de La Laguna

Despite being the former capital city of Tenerife, San Cristóbal de La Laguna (its Sunday-best name) still rarely makes it on to the radar of many visitors.

And yet it boasts an old quarter which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site (which means loads of interesting nooks and crannies) and a University (which means loads of “˜too cool for school’ bars, clubs and restaurants).

Dusky City Streets

Who needs film sets when you’ve got streets like this? It’s wonderfully quaint during the day and absolutely magical at dusk. All that’s missing is a pony and trap, some swirling mist (not too much of a problem in La Laguna) and a Jack the Ripper character lurking in the background.

Little Ol’ Wine Drinker, Me

Not the most welcoming face to be greeted with when you enter a bar, but maybe he’s just fed up waiting for someone to bring him his vino del país (country wine). Bars and restaurants are full of imaginative touches; although some bars have such a “˜relaxed’ décor that it’s worth checking that they are a bar and not someone’s living room.

Face in the Fountain

Much of old La Laguna was built in an age when attention to detail was the order of the day ““ hmmm, I wonder what happened to that particular quality? It’s worth keeping the old eyes peeled to try to spot little gems like this manic Bacchus-type face “˜gobbing’ on passers-by from the top of the marble fountain in the Plaza del Adelantado.


Still Waters

It’s nice to have a green spot to chill out when the city’s streets become too hectic. Not that hectic and La Laguna’s old streets are words which go together”¦ unless you’re trying to negotiate them in a car. It would seem strange to have somewhere named after a lagoon if there wasn’t at least some sort of water feature in the vicinity.

Spice up Your Life

As we don’t have the technology for “˜scratch and sniff’ photographs, you’ll have to trust me when I tell you that the aroma here is enough to send you delirious. The agricultural market is a foodie’s paradise and one of the best places on Tenerife to buy fruit, veg, dried fish and”¦ ahem, whole skinned baby goats.

Stone Throne

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2508/4116992287_10ab976603_o.jpg

This shot typifies the feel of La Laguna’s old quarter; rough plastered walls, wide polished wooden doors, cobbled streets and an ancient-looking stone bench. It’s the perfect place to rest the feet after they’ve been pounding the alleys. But don’t linger too long, that stone slab seat looks as though it could be murder on the haemorrhoids.

10 things I hate about the UK

  1. Materialistic obsession ““ the better car, bigger house syndrome
  2. The God-awful weather ““ can’t argue with that one
  3. It’s become a nanny state ““ Do this, Don’t do that, etc
  4. Over-the-top political correctness ““ nursery rhyme madness et al
  5. Winter nights starting just after The News at One­ ““ what can you accomplish in half a day?
  6. The attitude to children ““ it’s almost a social stigma to have kids in the UK nowadays
  7. The lack of colour ““ is it me or has somebody toned down the hues over there?
  8. The media-generated suspicion of everyone ““ guilty until proven innocent
  9. Lack of community spirit ““ is there any left?
  10. The priorities ““ profit or personal gain before people

CV Tenerife Sur Volleyball

Title: CV Tenerife Sur Volleyball
Location: Pabellon Grillo, Los Cristainos
Description: Superliga Masculina mens volleyball in the Spanish National League. This week CV Tenerife Sur v Multicaja Fabregas at 6pm. So far all of Tenerife Sur’s games have gone to the deciding third set – thrilling stuff.
Cheer the six British Olympic team members for 2012, playing for your local side.

Date: 2009-11-21

Santa Cruise says Hello Sailor – 10,000 times

Typical, you wait ages for a cruise ship, then 5 come along all at once. To be fair, there is hardly a day goes by when Santa Cruz hasn’t got at least one major passenger ship dropping anchor but on Friday 13 November there was a feast of funnels as 10,000 passengers had the capitals tills ringing out with joy.

My first task was to snap a few photos of the ships, not as straight forward as it sounds, the inter island ferries of Fred Olsen and Armas, no dwarfs themselves, come and go all day and mingle with the other visitors. Luckily I have an in depth technical knowledge of ships, sharp end, blunt end, pointy bit in the middle, I know all the terms.

Island Escape was first into port at 5 am, the majority of it’s 1,690 passengers were flying into Tenerife for a 5 port tour that takes in Gran Canaria, La Palma, Madeira, Agadir and Lanzarote before returning to fly back to the UK and Germany from Tenerife. It looked pretty imposing on the quayside but who’s the Daddy in this dock? It has to be the MSC Fantasia, towering over all with 18 decks, and packed with mouth watering luxury.

I caught up with Siswanto Wakiman of Housekeeping Sevices and some of his Indonesian crew friends. “I”M part way through a 9 month run, it’s an 11 day cruise from Genoa to Barcelona, Casablanca, Funchal, Tenerife, Lanzarote, Malaga, Rome and back to Genoa, then it keeps repeating until April.” There’s a lot of housekeeping to do on board, 3, 274 passengers and 1,637 cabins, many with balconies, plus 5 restaurants, a 4D cinema and even a thermal cave for health treatments. It may sound a punishing work schedule but Siswanto said with a broad smile “I love the life, this is my 15th year with the company, we get to see some great places.” With that he was gone, heading into Santa Cruz for a few hours relaxation, the Fantasia has only 12 hours in Tenerife. The crews of the liners do their bit to boost the Santa Cruz economy, the Fantasia alone has 1,332 staff, all itching to part with some of their wages.

In the Calle del Castillo, the main shopping drag of Santa Cruz, police bikes were criss crossing the side streets, promotion and charity stalls were out in force and all the shops, bars and restaurants were buzzing, eager to get a slice of the financial invasion. At the port, shuttle buses were ferrying passengers into the city, and coaches were shipping visitors further inland to see some of the main tourist traps. A group of French ladies from the Fantasia had just returned from a few hours in La Orotava, my ancient school French just about got that information out of them, although the pictures on their clutch of shopping bags gave a good clue.

The Astor with just 590 German passengers might not be the biggest ship on the water, but probably had the most turbulent recent past as Security officer Roger Chamley -Shaw,with wife Carol, explained to me. ” The owners Passat went bust in September and the new owners have made a few late changes to the itinery. We go from Nice to Genoa with stops at places like Cadiz, Agadir, Casablanca, Lanzarote and La Gomera, Malaga was cancelled and we were supposed to tender (moor outside harbour with boat shuttle ashore) at Capri but that was changed to Naples.” Roger is another good advert for the cruise liner life, he has done 6 years with the Astor and loves it.

Looking along the line of tethered ships, one looks at odds with the other, the Sea Cloud is a 4 mast sail ship, but runs cruises. The 1931 barque specialises in the more sedate and personal cruise, the 37 cabins are decked out with marble, solid brass and antique furniture. The current trip has come from Germany to visit Tenerife, Fuerteventura, La Palma and Morocco.

Due to the high costs of staying in port overnight, nearly all cruise liners like to love and leave their stop off points, the Grand Mistral made a quick getaway at 4 pm, heading to Natal with 1.100 Spanish and Portugese passengers on board. Even the latest departure, Island Escape would be out at sea before the clock struck midnight. The business owners of Santa Cruz have their eyes gleefully set on the horizon, it’s a bumper time of year for cruise ships. If Nelson’s crew had arrived armed with credit cards and pieces of eight, they would have got a much warmer welcome.

More pics at Flickr.

Mamma Mia – The Musical

Title: Mamma Mia – The Musical
Location: Santa Cruz Auditorium
Link out: Click here
Description: This is the one they all want to see. After 10 years, 40 million spectators and a hit movie, Mamma Mia comes to Tenerife.
Anthony Van Laast is choreographer, and a full Spanish cast bring the music to life with energy and enthusiam. Tickets are on sale from the box office at the Auditorium or call (0034) 902317327. Shows at 8.30pm.

EXTRA SHOW – Just added, an afternoon show on 4th January at 5pm.
Start Date: 2009-12-28
End Date: 2010-01-04

Tenerife Rally 2009

Tyres screeching, engines throbbing and 96 souped-up rally cars burning up the east coast of Tenerife. It must be the 35th annual rally. The dockside slip road has been converted into the pits area ready for the 8.20pm start on Friday 13 November, well the last thing these drivers fear is superstition.

Going into the race, Santiago Concepcion Acosta and Nazer Ghuneim Olivares lead the Canaries road rally championship in their Porsche 911997 GT3 (below). They will be in everyone’s sights as the two days racing unfolds. First the cars are all processed through the mecanical checkpoint in Santa Cruz to ensure no team has added a bit too much oomph or fluffy dice in the back window.

The race is split into short sharp bursts of small groups, starting at Poris, up the TF-627 to Arico on a 8.5 km run, next is the Icor run, on the TF-28 from KM 54 to KM 43, a burn-up of 10.95 kms. Finally for Friday it’s Fasnia to La Tose on the TF-620, a mere 6.40 kms. Eveything revolves around the Santa Cruz hub, the cars are whisked back up to the pit area for the presentation of the first podium positions just before midnight – well that eases them in.

Saturday’s action starts at 9.50am on the Los Loros section, on a 13 km burst up the TF-523, rattling the vines as it ends at the Bodega Comarcal. Fasnia to El Bueno comes next, up the TF-28 and the morning triple challenge ends with a repeat of Friday night’s Arico run. Don’t worry, these routes are well marked off and scrutinised so no chance of a stray TITSA bus or holiday maker Doris Dawdle in a hire car.

At 12 .30 the competitors re-group in Santa Cruz, and have two hours to re-tune their motors and steel themselves for another attack of the morning sections. All being well, with the times and points collated, Santa Cruz will again be swamped with all the teams for presentations just before 6pm on Sunday. More pics at Flickr.

Churros

Is it the crunch as you bite into the golden shell, or the warm yielding dough inside, or the sweet taste, for me, most of all, it’s overdipping it in hot chocolate and letting it dribble down my chin.

Churros are one of my favourite indulgencies, a popular snack all over Spain, Tenerife is blessed with many Churrerias that serve the treat. If you are going to have a calorie frenzy, you might as well do it in full view, that’s why I like Marcos in the centre of Los Cristianos, Tenerife. Some might say it’s just a van parked for the last 15 years between the cultural centre and the traffic lights at the main road junction, some people have got no soul.

Churro is a breed of sheep from mainland Spain, and the theory is that these fatty friends look like their horns. The dough mixture is a little like choux pastry, with water, butter and flour, at Marcos you can see him pour the mixture into the metal funnel and into the pan to fry as a wheel, before being snipped into short lengths. The churros at Marcos are fairly smooth but many piping nozzles push them out ribbed, presumably for added pleasure.

At fairs and fiestas, stalls often serve them on their own in a bag, or you can have them with coffee, but the real enjoyment is churros con chocolate, with a cup of hot, sweet, sticky, chocolate. I love the way that Marcos serves them up with a large shaker of sugar, just in case you don’t find them sinful enough.

Go on, give into temptation, grab a table and order your gooey snack, they are just 2.50 euros with chocolate, I had already eaten some from the plate in the photo. Marcos also serves hot dogs, soft drinks, and alcohol of course, and is open from 7a m to 12.30 and 5.30 pm to 10 pm in the week, mornings only at weekends.