Pinolere is one of the biggest and most enchanting craft fairs on Tenerife and is located on the slopes of a hill so steep that just getting from the car to the pavement requires steely thighs and a supply of oxygen.
On the first weekend of September over 230 craftspeople from Tenerife, the other Canary Islands and mainland Spain laid out their wares on stalls and in the shade of the thatched huts that for the rest of the year are part of the Pinolere Ethnological Museum in the highlands of La Orotava.
Under blue skies and with views to die for as a backdrop over 30,000 people turned up to get in some early Christmas shopping.
This is shopping with a difference. Stalls are spread over a series of levels but with vistas like Pinolere’s it can be difficult to take your eyes off the scenery to check out the goodies on sale.
Crafts range from the traditional, such as these wicker baskets…
…to those that you might as well sellotape straight on to your stomach.
And then there are the more contemporary works like these cheeky designs.
Or Canarian classics – hand rolled cigars from La Palma; as good as Cuban cigars…so the people from La Palma will tell you.
As well as hundreds of delightfully unique crafts on sale, the fair has art & craft making exhibitions, live music, rabbits and birds to coo over, demonstrations of traditional life in the hills , these wonderful huts and loads of secret corners to explore…and all for a €2.50 entrance fee.
If you missed Pinolere this year, don’t fret there are other craft fairs and markets around Tenerife, just not in such a spectacular location. Keep an eye on our ‘Happenings” page for news of a fair in October featuring crafts from South America, Africa and the Canary Islands.
In the second of our series going undercover of the night to check Tenerife’s nightlife, Tenerife Magazine went bar hopping in Costa Adeje.
With the sun casting a golden glow over the land, I knew the perfect place to begin investigating Costa Adeje’s nightlife. Lighthouses usually act as a warning to steer clear, but the one at Faro Chill Art Bar is a beacon attracting the effortlessly cool, beautiful people”¦well, them and me.
Faro Chill Art Bar ““ Part One
Ãber-chic and then some, Faro Chill Art is the type of bar that deserves to be frequented by Hollywood stars. The décor oozes such style and imagination that even if I’d been wearing a carnival queen’s costume I’d have felt dull and conservative by comparison. After being tempted by the Zen terrace and the Mediterranean blue cushions of the Greek terrace, I ordered a glass of vino and climbed to the Ãtaca terrace to enjoy the sunset from the rooftop. Drink prices at Faro are higher than average, but a visit is an experience not to be missed – and guys you have to try the bathroom. Feeling like I was being adulterous by simply visiting the loo was a unique experience.
By 10pm, it was time to stop chilling and start rocking.
In & Out
In & Out’s typically beach side tables and chairs can’t match Faro’s style. But you don’t need style when you’ve got heavy metal heroes, Soundchaser wowing the crowds night after night. I’d read rave reviews about Soundchaser, but was still blown away by how good they were. Note-perfect covers of Hendrix, Zeppelin, Dream Theater and Cream classics as well as their own compositions had old and new rockers in the crowd head-banging in ecstasy. Lead singer, Marcos Rodriguez possesses bucket loads of charisma and his witty asides pumped up the entertainment factor; at one point casting his eyes heavenwards in disgust as a woeful version of Sailing drifted down from a karaoke bar above. Again prices were a bit higher than average (€3.50 for a pint of lager, €8 for a spirit and mixer), but good value with a quality band like Soundchaser in the mix.
Captivated by Soundchaser’s demonic spell I’d lingered longer than I’d planned; reluctantly I tore myself away to seek out other forms of nightlife.
I paused outside Moonlight Bar, but strains of Engelbert Humberdinck emanating from inside had me quickening my step again. Following Soundchaser with music that was outdated when I was a teenager just didn’t do it for me. Similarly AJ’s Bar None lacked the buzz I sought and I wondered if I’d been spoiled by Soundchaser. Then the sound of soft reggae weaved its way through the night and I instantly knew my next stop.
An unassuming bar whose mock Tudor beams seemed unusual for somewhere with a Portuguese name. It turned out that it was under new ownership and had only been open in its current incarnation for two months. There was nothing particularly special about the bar except that Grinder Circus, the two guitar playing musicians who formed the bar’s band, were creating some damn fine music; a quasi-acoustic mix of reggae and hip-swaying Cuban sounds with some U2 thrown in for good measure. It was simply a friendly bar in which to knock back a beer (€2).
Eleven thirty and time for pastures new. Onwards and upwards took me past Harley’s. Having a cocktail in the back of an open topped Cadillac looked fun, but I was seeking something livelier. A few steps more and I found it.
The perfect holiday bar, St Eugene’s (or Eugen’s – the website has two different spellings) was a revelation. An attractive bar with soft lighting and greenery giving it a warm and welcoming ambience. It was packed with people who weren’t just having a good time; they were having a party. Eugene’s was buzzing and that set it apart from bars I’d body swerved. This was clearly helped by the act, IS who kept the dance floor filled with crowd pleasing tunes ranging from Mowtown favourites to the Black Eyed Peas and Kings of Leon (note to other bars churning out Please Release Me & Little Old Wine Drinker Me – everyone from 16 to 60 year olds sang along to The Kings of Leon). Bar service was quick (just as well as the table service wasn’t) and prices were reasonable given the entertainment (€3 a pint of lager). The atmosphere in Eugene’s was such good fun that I was sorry when IS finished their set.
By 1am bars seemed to be winding down and I was about to call it a night when I noticed that cars were streaming into the area.
Faro Chill Art Bar ““ Part Two
A botellón (open air party) was in full flow in the plaza outside Faro and hundreds of young Canarios downed JD’s and Coke before joining a massive queue snaking towards the entrance to Faro.
The queues were too long and I felt way too old to re-enter Faro’s world at this point anyway. So, as bars aimed at visitors wound down and those aimed at Canarios filled up, I decided I’d hopped my last bar and it was time for a meeting with the sandman.
Factfile: All bars featured are located in the area around and above Puerto Colón. Soundchaser perform nightly from 9.30pm at In & Out: There are different acts each night at St Eugene’s from 10pm: Faro Chill Art also regularly features theme nights and live music – keep an eye on their website for details
You’ve got to love the sense of humour exhibited by Garachico’s residents. They live in the unluckiest town in Tenerife; a place that’s been the victim of plagues, pests, floods and most famously the wrath of the volcanic gods who sent rivers of lava through their streets, destroying the harbour.
With this history of natural disaster on their shoulders and the knowledge that they’re in the most vulnerable place on Tenerife should Mount Teide decide to throw a fit, how do you think they celebrate their biggest fiesta?
The answer is they set fire to the beach and launch flaming balls from the cliff top in the direction of the town. It’s a brilliant two-fingered response to nature’s fickle ways.
Garachico’s Fiestas Lustrales take place once every five years and on the night of Sunday 1st August, around 30,000 people packed the streets and the harbour area of the normally sleepy town. They were there to witness one of the most bizarre and spectacular events in Tenerife’s fiesta calendar, the Fuegos del Risco, a re-enactment of the eruption that filled the town’s harbour with lava just over three hundred years ago.
At somewhere between 10 and 11pm SantÃsimo Cristo de la Misericordia was paraded through the streets, the town was plunged into darkness and the beach set alight. Impressive enough in itself, but the real show was only just beginning.
Heads turned skywards as flames spread down the cliff behind the beach following the same path as the lava in 1706. After a few moments a fireball was launched from a vantage point high up the cliff face. It tumbled down the slope, bouncing its way earthwards urged on by screams of encouragement from the crowd. The excited buzz changed to groans of disappointment when the fireball became lodged in a crevice halfway down. The disappointment didn’t last long, within seconds another fireball appeared and another and soon a whole stream of flaming balls were careening their way towards Garachico, burning a fiery trail down the hillside.
Some didn’t quite make it and some ended their journey in a ravine at the base of the cliffs whilst a couple of stray fireballs bounced into an unfortunately situated lone tree, setting it alight. The most determined fireballs refused to be stopped by something as puny as gravity. Racing down the cliff face, they hit the ground at speed, bounced, clearing walls and natural obstacles and just kept on going toward the beach before finally coming to rest dangerously close to a fire engine in position to prevent the Fuegos del Risco becoming too realistic.
As Garachico’s hillside burned, an explosive firework display in time to a booming operatic soundtrack added to the epic spectacle (sadly the music didn’t include Great Balls of Fire). It felt like being at the centre of a volcanic eruption, but one scored by Wagner.
That’s Tenerife for you. You think you’ve seen the most outrageous fiesta there is, but then the Tinerfeños come up with something that tops it. Fire-balling the town is going to be a hard one to beat.
Lean closer and listen very carefully for I’m going to share a magical secret with you. I’m going to tell you how to create a time machine.
It’s very simple. Go into any rent-a-car office on Tenerife, hire a car ““ it doesn’t have to be a DeLorean ““ and, instead of bumming it at the beach, head inland and into the mountains. If you’re very lucky you might even stumble across fascinating little agricultural fiestas like the Dia de la Trilla (threshing day) which took place on the site of the planned Eco Museum in El Tanque at the end of July.
Life in Tenerife’s hills is very different from that in its popular tourist resorts. Across much of the island, the land is farmed using agricultural practices that haven’t changed greatly in a hundred years. The Dia de la Trilla celebrates some of the most ingenious of these.
The first thing that anyone attending a fiesta in the hills during the height of summer should know is that temperatures are often hotter than at the coast; a hat is an essential accessory. Almost everyone at Dia de la Trilla sports a straw sombrero to avoid being fried by a vengeful sun. In July’s searing temperatures, the hat didn’t exactly keep a person cool, but it did stave off death; the probable alternative.
With a soundtrack of Latino and traditional music blaring from speakers beside stalls selling handicrafts, breads, jams, cheese and the lifesaving straw hats, the main focus of the fiesta takes place around the era ( a large stone threshing circle).
First, El Tanque’s male elders filled the era with wheat using pitchforks one of which was a wonderful, traditional three pronged wooden affair. Then, when the wheat was waist high, horses were brought into the arena and “˜encouraged’ to race around it, threshing the wheat in the process. The final part of the threshing process was clearly the highlight for the local children. Two pairs of seriously big oxen were hooked up to a wooden threshing board, a sign was given and hordes of children raced to try to secure a prized spot on one of the boards.
It’s an inspired technique. The wheat gets threshed and the local niños get to enjoy the equivalent of an agricultural white knuckle ride ““ the white knuckle part being when the tank-sized beasts of burden, travelling in the opposite direction from the ones pulling your board, stray far too close for comfort and faces with wide smiles change to faces with saucer wide eyes.
By early afternoon, with the wheat well and truly threshed, everyone drifted away from the era towards either the grub tent for a plate piled with hearty rustic fare, or the sanctuary of the shade provided by the cerveza kiosk’s awning.
There’s no flash, bling or pomp and circumstance at these types of agricultural fiestas, just a wonderful sense of community, an infectiously laid back atmosphere and an insight into what rural life is like outside of Tenerife’s resorts.
Some people describe the neighbouring island of La Gomera as being like Tenerife before tourism. The truth is that you don’t have to travel as far as La Gomera to discover what Tenerife was like Tenerife before tourism and you definitely don’t need a time machine.
With summer’s sultry nights heating up the nocturnal scene on Tenerife it seemed the perfect time to have a look at what Tenerife nightlife has to offer visitors and residents. To begin, this Saturday we went in search of lively bars in the centre of Puerto de la Cruz
Standing on Avenida Generalisimo at 10pm on a Saturday night revealed why nightlife in Puerto de la Cruz sometimes earns the reputation of being low key. Plenty of bars lined the avenue, but none had many customers.
Chosen because it was the only bar in the avenue that was remotely busy, but that was because a birthday party was taking place on its upper floor; something I didn’t discover till I accidentally gate-crashed it. Still, the French owner was friendly, a bottle of beer cost €1.50 and the music was nostalgically 80s.
Moving to Avenida Colón at 10.30pm revealed a much livelier scene. The pavement cafés were full and hordes of Saturday night strollers provided a roaring trade for African hair braiders and the caricature artists.
Café de la Noche
The liveliest bar on the promenade; entering past Marilyn Monroe holding down her billowing white dress revealed an interior of art deco mirrors and Tiffany lamps. The dance floor was full, but a tad Strictly Come Dancing. A litre of wine was under €10 but although no spring chicken myself, I felt as though I was there twenty years too early.
By 11pm, it was time to try the old town. En route, singing from Molly Malone’s near the harbour sounded promising. The bar, popular in winter months, was almost empty, so I decided to give it a miss. Same thing with the JardÃn Karaoke Bar.
Arriving at Plaza del Charco it explained why a lot of bars were quiet; everybody was there, enjoying the bubbling atmosphere around the palm and Indian laurel tree-lined plaza. At one end, the Plaza Café overflowed with a mix of mature visitors and locals being serenaded by a female Spanish vocalist whilst at the other, in the Frigata, Tasquita and Hannen bars, a younger clientele chattered animatedly above an MTV soundtrack.
As midnight approached it was time to follow the in-crowd to the hottest night spots in town around Calle Blanco and Calle Iriarte.
Blanco Bar oozed style and Ã¼ber-chic décor from sleek white walls and ultra violet lighting in the bar and concert area to rattan settees in the outdoor terrace situated on four levels. The bar’s patrons were mainly in their early thirties, but there was a mix of ages. Service was exceptional and I was served quickly even though the bar was heaving. A bit pricier than other bars, a bottle of beer cost €2.50, but then the entertainment is free.
At first I thought the band, Supertrópica, were a comedy group in frilly shirts and Elton John style sunglasses. The lead singer’s curiously cartoon-ish voice didn’t help dispel that assumption. But their infectious performance, an energetic combination of summery pop and R&B riffs had me grinning and chanting “˜otra, otra’ with everyone else at the end of the set.
Further up Calle Blanco, a wooden staircase in a colonial courtyard led to Limbo’s huge terrace. By 1.20am it was sardine tin busy and manoeuvring anywhere involved getting intimately close to people. The bar staff were fast workers, but not great at spotting who was next in line, so a couple of ‘oigas” were essential.
A spirit, the equivalent of three or four UK measures, and mixer was €6.
The young clientele, mainly in their early 20s, included a surfeit of stunningly beautiful girls, many with stiletto heels longer than the hemlines of the chic dresses they wore with the poise and elegance of fashion models.
Opposite Blanco, Cuban bar Azucar looked empty at 2.30am. But streams of people were entering and”¦disappearing. Further investigation revealed a soundproofed glass door which opened as I approached and Puerto was swapped for downtown Havana. The atmosphere inside was beyond hot; it was steamy, and bodies that brushed against me were wet with sweat. One part of the bar was in a courtyard overlooked by an old wooden balcony ““ straight out of a Bacardi advert. In the dark shadows, figures gyrated sensually to thumping salsa. It felt deliciously illicit. I ordered a mojito (€5) and marvelled at dance moves I’ll only ever achieve in my dreams.
By 3.30am a return to Avenida Generalisimo revealed a very different animal. Clubs that were invisible in daylight hours were filling up, their neon lights attracting clubbers from all over Tenerife’s north coast. Call me lightweight, but by then the only bright light I was interested in was the green one on top of a taxi.
Tenerife Magazine plans to be bar hopping all over Tenerife in the future, so if you know of any great bars, please share them with us…we’d hate to miss out on some secret gems.
Our latest photo challenge is so easy that someone will probably get it before I’ve finished writing this. This spot is on the coast, beside the main road in the centre of a resort, but I wonder how many people have passed these guys without noticing them?
This motley crew, looking like extras from Finding Nemo, form part of one of the most unique, imaginative and amusing faÃ§ades on the island ““ but where on Tenerife is it?
Yesterday the International Environmental Blue Flag Programme gave its verdict on awards for 2010 and the Canary Islands received 34 of the prestigious flags for its beaches and 3 for its ports.
Of the 37 Blue Flags awarded, 10 have gone to Tenerife:
The laid back surf dude’s wind paradise of El Médano gets no less than three all to itself for El Médano, Machado and La Tejita beaches.
Costa Adeje picks up the award for Troyas 1 and 2 while Playa de Las Américas gets in on the act with El Camisón, and Los Cristianos gets a Blue for Las Vistas.
In the south west, La Arena maintains its Blue status while in the north, Puerto de la Cruz wins out with Playa JardÃn, Los Realejos rocks with El Socorro and the Tacoronte resort of Mesa del Mar comes up trumps with La Arena.
Alongside year round sunshine; clean, safe and environmentally sound beaches are critical to marketing the Canary Islands to the tourism industry and for that reason the Blue Flag awards are an annual breath-holding experience for those responsible for protecting the islands” beaches.
A case of good news, bad news…
2010 sees a couple of notable exceptions on the awards list; Tenerife’s Las Teresitas and for the first time in 21 years, Gran Canaria’s Las Canteras.
Both beaches have suffered pollution scares from nearby shipping in the past 12 months. Last October Las Teresitas beach had to be closed after several swimmers suffered an allergic reaction to what was thought to be contaminants in the water and last summer Las Canteras suffered closures after pollutants affected the area around La Puntilla.
With so much importance attached to the standard of Canary Islands coastlines, the presence of a beach in the awards is seen as recognition of the hard work of municipalities in protecting their assets, and by default, its absence is bad news for a resort.
I wonder how many people, lying back on their beach towels, liberally applying the factor 25 and enjoying the beautiful surroundings, have any knowledge of the slings and arrows of petty rivalries and local politics that sit alongside environmental consciences for that dainty Blue Flag to flutter in the breeze at the top of the beach? Hopefully, none.
Blue Flag Awards went to the following Canary Islands beaches: Gran Canaria – La Laja, Melenara, El Inglés, San AgustÃn, Maspalomas, Meloneras, Amadores and Mogán. Lanzarote – Matagorda, Los Pocillos, Grande (Blanca), Pila la Barrilla and Playa Blanca. Fuerteventura – Gran Tarajal, Costa Calma, El Matorral, Butihondo, Grandes Playas, La Concha and Blanca. La Palma – Bajamar, Los Cancajos, Puerto Naos and Charco Verde
Young Canarian fashion designers were given a window onto their work last week when the Teatro Leal in La Laguna hosted the final of the “˜Young Designers’ competition. Bold and innovate designs used lace, leather, satin and organza to create a range of looks from contemporary Carmen Miranda through 21st century princess to urban Borg-style.
The winner was Osvaldo MachÃn from Lanzarote with his “˜Moveable Nature’ collection.
With this sort of quality and creativity in the pipeline, the future of Canarian fashion design is looking very bright indeed.
And this particularly head-turning creation is definitely suited to sultry Tenerife nights, although it’s not one I can see myself in… it’s just not my colour, that’s all (ahem).