Forest Fires on Tenerife

The welcome news that we’ve all been hoping for is that yesterday the Tenerife Government announced the fire was mostly stabilised and although there are still areas that are burning, the situation is positive and conditions look good for its extinction.

Residents of Vilaflor, Tijoco and Ifonche were allowed to return to their homes and most roads have re-opened except sections of the TF38 between Chio and Boca Tauce and the TF21 between Vilaflor and Boca Tauce.

Unsurprisingly, during the worst of the fire, rumours, hoaxes, mistranslations and misinformation accompanied the reports that were flying about the internet.

We thought it might be of interest to cut away all the ‘unofficial’ aspects and provide a brief account of how the fire took hold, spread and was fought, taken only from information provided by Tenerife’s Government.

15 July
The fire started on Sunday around 3pm near Ifonche above the Barranco del Infierno in Adeje. At first it was believed to have been caused by a farmer burning scrub-land but Tenerife’s President Ricardo Melchior commented at a press conference that the source of the fire appeared to be ‘focussed’ but that it was far too early to determine what had been the cause.

At first the fire affected only scrub-land but with tinder-dry terrain the fire soon spread on two fronts, one heading towards Guia de Isora and the other towards Vilaflor. Around 50 residents of Ifonche, Taucho and La Quinta were evacuated as a precautionary measure.

The fire was quickly raised to a level 2 which put the control and organisation in the hands of regional rather than local government.

16 July
A heatwave and breezy weather didn’t help the situation and the fire continued to take hold. Five roads were closed (TF38, TF21, TF583, TF585 and TF567) as a team of 500 professional and volunteer firefighters, assisted by seven helicopters, battled the blaze. The heat (temperatures of 35C), 30kph wind and difficult terrain meant that firefighters were unable to bring the fire under control and it continued to march on. Residents of Tijoco Bajo were evacuated and by nightfall 1800 hectares had been affected with the fire destroying about 40-50% of this area.

17 July
The Spanish Government sent three special hydroplanes to assist firefighters as the fire moved towards the outskirts of Vilaflor and reached the boundary of Teide National Park which is part of the municipality of La Orotava (nowhere near the town of La Orotava as was reported in some accounts of the fire).
1800 residents of Vilaflor were evacuated, again as a precautionary measure, and although the hydroplanes made an impact, the fire continued to gain more ground. With the situation looking increasingly serious for Vilaflor, fire-fighting resources were concentrated on that area. It’s important to state at this point that the government were working on the advice of specialist technicians who predicted, as far as they could, how the fire would develop and what areas were at most risk. At all times calculated decisions were made about where to focus resources. By this time there were five helicopters, three seaplanes and 500 firefighters, made up of professional firemen, police, army and volunteers, tackling the blaze.

18 July
The front heading towards Guia de Isora, although more virulent, had almost reached an area of lava fields where technicians believed it would die out whilst the front that had reached Teide National Park burnt out on reaching the barren terrain. The decision to focus on Vilaflor was shown to be exactly right as the fire reached a football field on the edge of the town and jumped defences. With three more helicopters and the army of fire-fighters performing miracles, the night of the 17th and morning of the 18th proved to be the turning point. The fire was held back and brought under control at Vilaflor. With other fronts stabilised, apart from above Guia de Isora, there was finally a glimmer of hope.

Residents of Taucho and La Quinta were given the green light to return to their homes.

19 July
By the morning of the 19th, the tone of the Government’s press releases was clearly optimistic. The fire was stabilised enough for Ricardo Melchior to thank all those involved with tackling it. More people, including residents of Vilaflor, were able to return to their towns and villages.

Whilst the news is as good as can be expected and the course of the fire has slowed and is burning out on the lava fields as predicted by the technicians, it remains a level 2 emergency and it will take some weeks before the danger is fully extinguished.

The damage caused by the fire is horrendous but not the tragedy it could have been; injuries were few. The perimeter of the fire covered an area of around 5,000 hectares of which about 1,000 of which has been destroyed. It could have been a lot worse.

As well as a superhuman effort on the part of the fire-fighters and support services, the organisation and flow of information during the fire has been excellent and subsequently Tenerife’s press have been able to keep everyone accurately informed and to scorch (maybe not a good word to use) rumours and misinformation.

We’d like to echo Ricardo Melchior’s words of thanks to all those involved. These people are real superheroes.

All images courtesy of Cabildo de Tenerife


Sell Gomera to the Germans & Spain’s Most Popular Park in Tenerife News of the Week

Mount Teide National Park, Tenerife

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

The Most Popular National Park in Spain is…
…Mount Teide National Park which was visited by 2,731,484 visitors in 2011. It feels appropriate that Spain’s highest mountain sits at the top of a list of its most popular National Parks. In second place is the stunning Picos de Europa in Northern Spain whilst Lanzarote’s Timanfaya bubbled under in the hot third position. Although the figures are impressive, they’re usually compiled by statistics taken at visitor centres so the actual figures of numbers of visitors to these incredible parks are probably much higher. Anyone who’s not a Teide statistic is denying themselves the pleasure of seeing one of the true natural wonders of the world.

Sell La Gomera to the Germans
Last week saw a right juicy political bust up in Spanish politics when Pedro Muñoz, the Mayor of Toreno, called Spain’s Minister for Industry, José Manuel Soria a ‘tonto del culo’ (a foolish ass) during a radio interview about the state of coal mining in his region. Not happy with simply insulting the minister, he turned his wrath against the Canary Islands saying that there was nothing more expensive or insular in Spain than the Canary Islands before going on to suggest that giving the Canary Islands back to the Moors or selling La Gomera or El Hierro to the Germans might help Spain’s economic state.
Unsurprisingly his statements caused outrage. After he’d calmed down and thought about what he’d said, Muñoz apologized… to José Manuel Soria. Looks like he’s standing by his views on the Islas Canarias.

Sales, Sales, Sales
The summer sales period started in Tenerife this week with not very high expectations from retailers who hope that they can at least manage to match last year’s disappointing figures. The sales kicked off with a high feelgood factor thanks to Spain being the only team in Europe with any depth of talent at the moment. But the pre-crisis crazy first day of the sales is a thing of the past with retail organisations reporting a decently busy start rather than a manic shopping battlefield. Traditionally the most frenzied sales period lasts for about two weeks and then it completely tails off prompting some to call for the period to be shortened from its September end date.
Hopefully companies moaning about lack of sales will this year cotton on to the fact that you need to actually drop your prices by a decent amount for them to be really competitive.

A Poor Quality of Life in Santa Cruz
A recent survey carried out by the Organización de Consumidores y Usuarios (OCU) of 126 cities, thirty of them Spanish, revealed that Santa Cruz de Tenerife was considered to be one of the cities where people had the worst quality of life… and that was in the onion of people who actually lived there. Santa Cruz was 6th worst on the list, whereas the city at number 1 for having the worst quality of life was Las Palmas de Gran Canaria ““ the Canary Islands didn’t come out of this well at all. Parking, housing, unemployment, health, politics and cultural activities were all factors in how residents judged the quality of life in their city.
Incidentally, the place with the happiest residents in Spain was Pamplona, mainly due to people being satisfied with health services and education in their city.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for Santa Cruz as it was one of the cities where residents felt the safest ““ personally I’d take that any day over having plenty of places to park the car.

Send Your Postcards in the Morning
Summer’s here and that means early closing for Tenerife’s post offices (Correos). From 1st July until the end of September, the Correos will close at 14.30 during weekdays and 13.00 on Saturdays.

Ashes to Ashes, Dust to Dill
Next month sees the inauguration of the ‘Garden of Ashes” at the cemetery of San Luis in La Laguna. The cemetery which is the first of its kind in the Canary Islands will have aromatic herb gardens where people can scatter the ashes of deceased loved ones in an attractively leafy and tranquil environment. Apparently the garden’s creation is to encourage people to stop scattering ashes in Tenerife’s hills and in the sea which, believe it or not, is illegal. It would be interesting to know how many people have been ‘done’ for illegally spreading ashes.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦ Arona’s Mayor
It seems that hardly a week goes by without one of Tenerife’s mayors being held to account for ‘irregular’ activities. This week it’s the turn of Arona’s José Alberto González Reverón of the Coalición Canaria party. Santa Cruz de Tenerife’s Provincial Court has ruled that he should be disqualified from holding public office for a period of four and a half years for basically putting two people in good jobs in the town hall whilst completely ignoring the legal selection process.
The mayor will appeal against the decision on the grounds that he doesn’t believe he has done anything wrong. And therein lies the frightening aspect to Tenerife’s politics. These guys honestly do not believe they are breaking any rules which means they have no understanding or grasp of the laws and code of ethics that come with being part of the European Union and that the more savvy European nations adhere to.


My Tenerife, A Personal View From Gavin Lewis

I’ve just returned home from my 3rd successive visit to the island of Tenerife. My wife and I love the place and we keep coming back for more. Our first visit was in 2007, but we returned once again in 2010 for our Honeymoon and then for a 3rd time this February. If you believe everything you read in the travel press about Tenerife you may be forgiven for thinking we had both lost the plot. Tenerife is portrayed as a bit of a tourist trap, full of beer-swilling louts making the most of their all inclusive bar whilst turning an unhealthy shade of maroon. In some parts yes, this may well be true.


However, if you look beyond the outer edges of these tourist hotspots you’ll find an island of superlatives. There aren’t many places that let you go from sea level to the highest point in Spanish territory in just a few miles. There aren’t many places that allow you to enjoy year-round warm sunshine in one part of the island only to find snow, rain or gale-force winds a few miles up the road. Tenerife is blessed by a variety of climates thanks to its dramatic terrain. As the landscape changes from one of dry, scorched soil and cactus (and Euphorbia plants…) to lush green grasses and terraced plantations, the towns and villages also change. Head to Santiago del Teide, Vilaflor or Oratava a few miles inland and you’ll no doubt wonder if you are actually still on Tenerife. The armies of sunburned tourists are nowhere to be found; the architecture changes from high-rise apartments and hotels to a mix of styles reflecting the island’s long history and the people are busy living their lives, doing what they do.

Keep heading uphill and you’ll reach the pine forests. The searing heat of the south is replaced by clean, crisp, and cool air and the road is enveloped in lush, green pine trees and clouds.. Keep climbing a little further and the trees suddenly disappear to reveal a landscape that wouldn’t look out of place on Mars. The national park is a sight to behold, with unusual rock formations, craters and lava flows from ancient eruptions and it boasts a 12,198ft centrepiece, Mount Teide.


This is the Tenerife I keep coming back to.

Words and images by Gavin Lewis – Tenerife Magazine reader, blogger & amateur photographer from Wales.


Top Ten Things to do on Tenerife at Christmas

Forget the fact that Tenerife is a subtropical island off the coast of Africa. Forget the fact that the sun is shining, there are palm trees and you’re wearing T-shirt and shorts. There’s plenty of festive fun to be had during Christmas on Tenerife.

If you happen to be on holiday on Tenerife you can escape the frantic Christmas crowds at home but still enjoy a magical Christmas atmosphere. Here are our top 10 things to do at Christmas on Tenerife.

Pig out on Turrón
This scrumptious cake borne from a grand romantic gesture is only found on supermarket shelves on Tenerife at Christmas (well…until stocks run out). It is sinfully good especially when paired with a cup of coffee. There are oodles of different varieties to choose from, but the original almond, sugar, honey and egg yema tostada is still the best.

Slip on some Sexy Red Underwear
Apparently it’s good luck to see in the New Year wearing red underwear (it doesn’t say anywhere it has to be sexy, but ‘slip on some plain red underwear’ just doesn’t sound the same). Two conditions for guaranteeing good luck for the coming year is that the red underwear has to be new and also that it’s a present. Who knows how many people follow this tradition; it’s a difficult one to research ““ ‘excuse me, what colour is your underwear?’ is more likely to result in a slap than an answer.

Enjoy a Sparkling Christmas
The Christmas street decorations in some of Tenerife’s towns make a visit after dark an enchanting experience. Some of the resorts put on decent displays but to walk the cobbled historic streets in la Laguna and La Orotava after dark evokes warm and fuzzy memories of childhood Christmases.

There’s usually a popular musical at the Tenerife Auditorium Adán Martín and this year it’s The Sound of Music. Actually it’s the Spanish version Sonrisas y Lagrimas, so the music might sound familiar but the words might not; somehow ‘Doh a cierva’ just wouldn’t seem right. Possibly a better option is the free open air Christmas Day classical concert in Santa Cruz.

Eat Early on Christmas Eve
This applies more if you’re in a traditional town on Tenerife where every Canarian restaurant shuts early on Christmas Eve so that families can enjoy their big Christmas dinner together.
Of course if you’re one of those people who eat their dinner in the middle of the afternoon (around 6pm) then it won’t be a problem.

Forget Santa Claus and Cheer on the Three Kings
There’s no big portly guy squeezing down chimneys here. Tenerife’s version, like the rest of Spain, is the Tres Reyes (Three Kings) who pay a visit to Tenerife’s towns on the evening of the 5th January to bestow gifts on the children. Lots of towns on Tenerife have Tres Reyes parades, in some the kings arrive on camels. The tradition makes a lot more sense than the whole Santa Claus deal.

Let Them Eat Cake
It’s traditional to eat Roscón de Reyes (the Kings” Cake) on Tres Reyes (6th January) but you can buy these throughout the Christmas period on Tenerife. Riscón de Reyes is a wreath shaped bready cake topped by candied fruit. It used to be traditional to put a dried bean and a figurine in the cake mix. Whoever got the figure was made honorary king for the day and the person who got the bean had to fork out for the cake (approx €8). Last time I tried Roscón de Reyes I got the bean, so I haven’t bothered since (you can take the boy out of Scotland but…).

Build a Snowman
Honestly, this is a popular local tradition if we get enough of the white stuff on Mount Teide. But on Tenerife there’s a bit of a difference. You build the snowman on the bonnet of your car and then try to make it to the coast before the snowman completely melts…and without crashing because you can’t see as you’ve got a snowman on your bonnet.

Check out the Beléns
These nativity scenes found everywhere on Tenerife (town halls, shop windows, hotels) can be incredibly detailed with intricate moving parts. Adults and children love them, especially when they spot el caganer ““ the guy who always gets ‘caught short” out in the open.

Sunbathe on Christmas Day
If you haven’t done it before, there’s something bizarre about lounging about on the beach in your swimwear on Christmas Day, especially if there’s snow on Mount Teide and it’s a white Christmas on Tenerife.

¡Feliz Navidad a Todos!


Carmen Mota’s New Show & Teide’s Lunar Shadow in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Carmen Mota’s New Show ‘Aire’ Premieres on Tenerife

After Alma and Airam comes Aire, the new dance and music extravaganza from maestro choreographer Carmen Mota. The show premières tonight at the Pirámide de Arona in Playa de las Américas. Aire is split into two sections; the first focussing on classical ballet whilst the second unlocks the vibrant world of Andalusian flamenco. Alma, Airam and now Aire – do you think Carmen Mota has an obsession with the letter A?

Mount Teide in the Shadow of the Moon
These things often disappoint, but scientists from the Canaries Astrophysics Institute say that the lunar eclipse this Wednesday will align perfectly with Teide’s shadow somewhere around sunset ““ between 8 and 9.15…ish. This is quite a rare occurrence, the next is forecast for 2014.
We’re not exactly sure what the perfect alignment actually means visually from sea level as Teide’s shadow is only available from way up high. But we’ll be outside on Wednesday evening, shielding our eyes from the glare (if there is any) saying ‘has it happened yet” just like we do every time there’s some sort of nocturnal phenomena.

Another Rockfall on Tenerife
At least two houses and a car were seriously damaged and more than 20 houses affected by the latest rockfall on Tenerife. This time the tiny hamlet of Santa Lucia on Tenerife’s east coast was the victim. Santa Lucia is different from other coastal towns in that at least a dozen of its houses are located inside a huge cavern in the rock face; a precarious looking location at the best of times. Thankfully, like other recent rockfalls, no one was injured.

80% of Tourists to Tenerife Research Online
It’s no real surprise to us but the Canary Islands might just be waking up to the power of the internet. Recent studies revealed that 80% of visitors carried out research about Tenerife online and 40% actually booked their holiday via travel websites. Despite these figures a significant number of tourist related businesses still don’t have websites and many council run websites are about as easy to navigate as a maze. However, the signs are there that Tenerife’s authorities are beginning to realise that there has been an internet revolution and they are being left behind. Cámara (the Chamber of Commerce) have organised Forum 2.0 to discuss how to utilise the internet to boost customer loyalty, strengthen brand and increase sales using social media networks and blogs etc.

At Tenerife Magazine we harp on about the authorities on Tenerife not understanding social media and therefore not utilising it effectively for a reason. CÃ mara, organisers of Forum 2.0 which takes place today, are following a grand total of 25 people on Twitter. Not really setting a prime example of how to keep your finger on the social media pulse.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to…Whoever authorised the police intervention against the 15M protesters in Santa Cruz

Josè Manuel Bermùdez’ tenure as the new mayor of Santa Cruz began in less than auspicious circumstances. On the day that newly elected politicians were patting themselves on the back, the ‘indignant” political protesters of the 15M movement camped out in the centre of Santa Cruz found themselves on the end of a rough-handed police intervention. According to reports, the police action resulted in some of the protesters requiring medical treatment. It was a replay, in smaller scale, of events that have already taken place in other cities around Spain. What was particularly worrying were reports that the Tenerife police involved were not wearing uniforms identifying which particular police force they were from. Considering Spain’s history, you’d think that Spain and Tenerife’s politicians would want to avoid raising the spectre of secret police and the intimidation of those practising their right to freedom of speech.


Freaky Weather & Mercedes Benz’ Sexy New Model in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Snow on Tenerife
Snow on Tenerife at this time of year isn’t really a big deal; there can be snow on Mount Teide till June. But when the clouds lifted on Monday everyone was surprised by just how far down the hillside the snow level had reached. Roads through the towns of Benijos and Aguamansa (around the 1000 metre mark) in the north of Tenerife were turned white and snow completely covered the town square in La Esperanza, something that no-one there had ever witnessed previously. As the unusual weather conditions piled up, the south west coast experienced hailstones whilst temperatures at 1800 metres fell to 0c for only the fourth time in recorded history (recorded history doesn’t stretch back that far; the other three times were 1996, 1997 and 2005). Just to top things off rain of up to 73 litres per square metre was recorded in Los Rodeos and Las Mercedes with Candelaria experiencing around 62 litres per square metre. The storm front affected the whole Canarian archipelago and even low lying Fuerteventura felt the force of hailstorms. Not the best week for anyone visiting the island”¦but hang on in there; normal service will be resumed by the weekend.

Driving on Tenerife is Sexy
… if you happen to be behind the wheel of one of the new Mercedes Benz cars that have added a touch of sleek glamour to Tenerife’s roads during March.
Throughout the month Mercedes Benz have been using the island’s dazzling scenery as a backdrop to showcase their stunning new models to 700 journalists from all over the globe. To be used as a location to officially launch a prestigious new car from the Mercedes Benz stable is quite a coup for Tenerife. Have a look below to see the gorgeous SLK 350 BlueEFFICIENCY in action on some of Tenerife’s equally gorgeous roads.

Carnaval Dates for Tenerife for 2012
Okay we’re all still yawning due to the excesses of Carnaval 2011, but for all of you out there who like to plan in advance, here are the dates of the Santa Cruz Carnaval 2012. The opening parade will be Friday 17 February 2012 with the closing parade being Tuesday 21st and Burial of the Sardine Wednesday 22nd February. And just in case four weeks of carnival wasn’t enough to satisfy carnaval junkies, the whole shebang will now last for five weeks with the first event taking place on the 27th January. That means an extra week of murgas”¦deep joy.

Who Wants to Be Michael Jackson?

With the Michael Jackson tribute show Forever King of Pop looking around for a young Michael to play the king of pop in the hit show in La Laguna at the end of March/beginning of April on Tenerife, it would be reasonable to expect the casting director’s office to be flooded with mini MJ look-alikes. But only fourteen potentials turned up. The casting was announced on the show’s website but as it was in Spanish only maybe it was missed by non Spanish-speaking residents. Or perhaps there aren’t that many children on Tenerife who look like a young Michael Jackson who can sing and dance to a professional level as well.

Pick up a St Patrick’s Day Bottle of Jameson Irish Whiskey on Tenerife
Jameson’s have released a specially designed bottle of their whiskey just for St Patrick’s Day. The unique bottle, designed by Irish artist Paul Daly, has a Celtic music theme and is only available in travel related outlets during March. These include airports such as Rome, Heathrow, Paris Charles de Gaulle and”¦yes, you’ve guessed it ““ Tenerife South.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to”¦
Al Campo supermarket for not keeping its Caja Verde till manned full time.

It represents a step forward to see Tenerife supermarkets adopting environmentally friendly measures by introducing special “˜green’ tills that can only be used by customers who bring their own bags or use the store’s recycled ones (incidentally, Carrefour’s also look great). Al Campo introduced green tills some time ago but lately their La Orotava branch seems to have sacrificed the manning of the till on a regular basis. It begs the question what’s the point of introducing environment saving measures if you don’t commit to them 100%? Make a sentence out of the words lip, service and paying. Green tills should be the first tills that are manned in a supermarket, not the last.


Speed Limit Penalties & Futuristic Hotels in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

The North African Connection
Tenerife’s original inhabitants, the Guanche made the headlines a couple of times this week. Claims that the island’s aborigines hailed originally from North Africa were given more credence by a new exhibition of pottery at the Museum of Man and Nature in Santa Cruz. The pottery, donated by Liverpool Museum of Fine Arts, includes examples of utilitarian pottery made by the Berbers and Ancient Egyptians. Some of the designs on both match almost exactly designs found on Guanche ceramics, which historians say is further evidence of a link between the islanders and North Africa. The other Guanche related news relates to the return to Santa Cruz of three Guanche mummies that have been “˜residing’ in Madrid since the 19th century. The mummified remains of the two women and a man are also now on display with other fascinating, and a wee bit gruesome, examples at the Museum of Man and Nature.

A Smart Hotel
There have been reports from Gran Canaria that scientists and the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Tourist Board are working together to develop a smart hotel. Anyone who’s seen the movie Minority Report will be familiar with the concept of advertising being directed to individuals based on face recognition. The smart hotels will work in a similar way. When a guest walks into a room they’ll be instantly recognised and a database will know their likes and dislikes so that service can be tailored to individual preferences. Presumably when you walk into the hotel bar a soothing robotic voice will announce something like “˜good evening Mr Bond, we’re mixing your vodka martini now and it will be waiting your arrival at the bar’. Another example of what the smart hotel can do is that bedrooms will be able to change their décor to suit. So if you like a golden beach, that’s what you get on the walls.
Apparently there’s no truth in the rumour that the Tenerife authorities, having learned what their rival neighbours are planning, came up with the opposing idea to create a dumb hotel where no-one remembers your name, they get your order wrong at the bar, bring you food you didn’t want and then overcharge”¦but then scrapped plans when they realised that model was already in place.

The Cost of Speeding on Tenerife
The new “˜temporary’ laws regarding the speed limit on Spain and Tenerife’s motorways came into effect from Monday 7th March. But what exactly are the penalties if drivers forget the limit is now 110kph?
Drive between 111kph and 140kph and it’s a €100 fine ““ but without a points penalty.
Push the pedal to the metal and hit between 141kph and 160kph and the fine goes up to €300. If you’re caught driving between 151kph and 160kph you’ll also lose two points from your licence”¦and it serves you right because you’re driving far too fast even for the old limits.

At the moment the Spanish Government are saying that the restrictions will remain in place until the 30th June when it will be reviewed (i.e. someone will count up the money made in fines and decide whether it’s a nice little earner or not).

A Disappointing End to the Winter Sales
It doesn’t need a rocket scientist to analyse why the two month long rebajas period from January to March returned sales that were between 10 and 15% lower than last year. The ongoing economic crisis was one reason, but the fact that many retailers didn’t actually reduce their products by a decent amount meant that bargains were few and far between. When shoppers realised this after the initial surge, sales at the sales dropped off. Now retail groups are debating whether the two month long sales period is too long. Maybe it is, but here’s another radical suggestion. If retailers want to improve returns during the sales period why not try bringing prices down by more than a nominal amount? TM witnessed at least one branded retailer who actually put some prices up.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… the seemingly politicising of what should have been a nice touch in Puerto de la Cruz.

The CIT in Puerto de la Cruz’ idea to honour loyal visitors to the town by holding a ceremony in the town hall was a nice idea. Recognising publicly the value of visitors who come back to the town year after year is commendable.

42 loyal visitors, mainly from Britain and Germany but also from other countries, were honoured at the event which was attended by representatives from the town’s most popular hotels. Some of those being honoured had visited Puerto de la Cruz up to 50 times. Interestingly, despite mainland Spanish boosting the number of people staying in Puerto during the summer months there was only one Spanish couple present. It was this couple that newspapers quoted when reporting what brought fans back to the town.

The weather and being able to enjoy snow on Teide in the morning and a few hours sun on the beach sounds good as does the friendliness and the warmth of the people. However, when it was reported that amongst the treasures that brought them 15 times were the level of services ranging from trade to travel, the restoration of the urban and natural environment, the reform of the road network and the modernisation of various streets it suddenly started to sound like something a politician would say. I wonder if they’d asked Betty and Bert from Bolton why they came back year after year whether their list would have matched that of the couple from Pamplona.

The final nail in the credibility coffin came when it was reported that their list of reasons also included the first phase of the development of the future Parque Marítimo. Oh, come on. The first rule of comedy is”¦you have to have reality (Ted Bovis, Hi-De-Hi).


Carnival Mix-Up and Threat to Firework Displays in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Tenerife’s Biggest Firework Display Threatened
Changes in Spanish firework regulations relating to recommended safety distances during displays have threatened to throw a damp squib on the biggest firework display in the Canary Islands and one of the biggest in Europe, the Fuegos de Mayo in Los Realejos.
The change in regulations meant that in theory firework displays like the famous Los Realejos three hour celebration couldn’t continue”¦in their present format anyway.
However, Mayor Oswaldo Amaro has no intentions of letting his municipality’s jewel in the fiesta crown fizzle out. Apart from lobbying Madrid to have the pyrotechnic battle between Calles del Sol and del Medio declared of national interest and therefore exempt, he’s implemented a cunning plan to create two “˜urban park’ viewing areas for the display. Having designated safe areas should comply with the new regulations, ensuring that the centuries-old tradition is saved and that we can continue to enjoy this superb pyrotechnic extravaganza and fascinating aspect of Canarian culture.

100% Carnaval 0%Drugs
For the third year running the Canary Islands Government have launched a carnival campaign promoting a sensible approach to enjoying the carnival celebrations. The 100%Carnaval, 0%Drugs message is about educating young revellers that when it comes to excess there are no hard drugs or soft drugs, only drugs”¦and that includes alcohol. The campaign also warns against carnival sex. I guess that only leaves Rock “˜n’ Roll to enjoy then.
Last year 18 people were treated for drug abuse and 62% of ER patients were drunk”¦and this was during carnival. Seems small fry compared to Manchester on an average Saturday night.

For People Who Don’t Like Flying
From the 31st March there’s another new way to travel to the Spanish mainland. Naviera Armas are introducing a new route between the Canary Islands and Huelva. It’s not particularly a good option if you want to get there quickly as the crossing takes 28 hours. However, think of it more as a mini cruise as there will be a full agenda of entertainment; a bit like a cross channel ferry. And the price? For residents it’s €40 each way (for a seat only). For everyone else it’s €80 each way.

New Adventure Park for North Tenerife
Anyone who knows the area around La Caldera in the upper La Orotava Valley will know that it’s already a bit of a natural adventure park ““ just try descending through one of the dried out water channels without ending up on your rear. But the local council have plans to create a more structured adventure park behind the popular zona recreativa (picnic area). The project is still to get the green light from the Canaries Medio Ambiente Dept (environment), but if it goes ahead the park will have routes through the forest that include suspension bridges, zip-lines (known also as death slides) and Tibetan bridges (think narrow swaying affairs of the kind that only Indiana Jones would tackle) as well as whole load of other natural white knuckle attractions. Seems more like commando training than recreation”¦but it also sounds as though it could be a lot of fun.

Slow Down, You Move Too Fast”¦
In case anyone missed it, the Spanish Government have reduced the speed limit on motorways from 120kph to 110kph from 7th March in a bid to reduce fuel costs during the current crisis affecting the Middle East and North Africa. As we understand it anyone who is caught breaking the speed limit won’t end up with points on their licence because it’s not a safety issue, but they will be hit with a fine. So far Spain is the first country to take action to introduce speed restrictions. The restriction is supposed to be temporary.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Arona Council for the second week running.

This time it’s for coming up with an “˜original’ carnival poster that was almost exactly the same as one designed for the Cadiz carnival in 2009. The embarrassing piece of what appeared to be blatant plagiarism came about as a result of the council “˜designing’ a poster in-house instead of holding a competition which is the usual method of choosing unique carnival posters. A spokesperson for the council said that the poster “˜wasn’t exactly the same, but looked totally similar’. That would be exactly the same then. Have a look at the images of the two posters at the top of the page and decide for yourself.
Needless to say the offending poster was removed from Arona’s website and replaced with a logo (but you can still see it in the background in photos on the Arona Turismo website).
Somebody in Arona clearly made the same mistake that Colonel Gaddafi made last week when he denied there were riots in Tripoli ““ they haven’t woken up to the fact that the public has access to all sorts of information courtesy of the World Wide Web.


An Elegant Point of View at the Humboldt Mirador

“…but having traversed the banks of the Orinoco, the Cordilleras of Peru, and the most beautiful valleys of Mexico, I own that I have never beheld a prospect more varied, more attractive, more harmonious in the distribution of the masses of verdure and rocks, than the western coast of Teneriffe.”
Alexander von Humboldt

It was in the summer of 1799 whilst en route to climb Mount Teide, that the German naturalist and explorer formed that opinion. Today, Humboldt has been immortalised in bronze in the very spot where he stood above the La Orotava Valley.

In 1799 when Humboldt made his journey to the peak, it took him a total of six days to travel from his berth in Santa Cruz, to the summit of Mount Teide and back to his ship for onward travel to the Americas. In the glorious sunshine and vivid blue skies of a spring morning, a five minute drive from Puerto de la Cruz took us to the long awaited viewpoint which has been named in his honour, The Humboldt Mirador.

212 years after Humboldt’s visit and 11 years after the project began, the Mirador finally opened to the public in December 2010. Perched above the La Orotava Valley with awesome views over the mountain and the emerald carpet that lies at its feet, this stunning viewing platform has been well worth the wait.

An elegant open air terrace juts out in a circular platform furnished with the spring green parasols and chairs of a stylish cafe bar. Set into the exposed brick and smoked glass frontage of the two storey building, a small shop selling local crafts, wines bearing the La Orotava Valley denomination label and a comprehensive collection of books chronicling the exploration of Tenerife sits alongside the cafe. Below, a small pond and banana plant garden are establishing themselves in front of the glass fronted space in which a Humboldt exhibition is planned.

But the real star of the mirador show is the wide screen vista that moved its eponymous hero to wax so lyrically. Although developments over the intervening years have produced a very different landscape from the one the young naturalist beheld, nevertheless the imposing presence of Mount Teide above the emerald forested Tigaiga Mountains on the horizon has remained a constant and is still perfectly capable on a clear day of stealing the breath from your lungs.

From his vantage point, Humboldt observed the way the vegetation changed as it climbed its way from palm grove covered coast to pine forested cumbre and his studies led to the birth of a new natural science, biogeography. Today the terraces that sweep down from the island’s spine are a patchwork quilt of cultivated fields, banana plantations and vineyards punctuated by whitewashed fincas with red tiled roofs and bordered by the motorway, busy with its Dinky toy-sized cars. On the coast, sandwiched by swathes of banana plantations, the developments of Puerto de la Cruz spill into the glittering Atlantic Ocean.

With the sun on our faces and front row seats to Tenerife’s most spectacular show we order coffees from the overwhelming choice of 30 teas and coffees on offer, along with some enticing sounding bocadillos for our sunshine lunch with a view.
When our order arrives it has all the style and good taste of the venue, the clientele and the surroundings amongst which it is being served. No wonder Humboldt’s bronze is now looking inwards instead of out over the view. He clearly approves of what he sees, and so do I.

Fact File:

Mirador de Humboldt; Carretera Pinito s/n, La Orotava; 922 335 823; open every day 8am-11pm.


Clash of the Titans 2 & Los Cristianos Carnival in Tenerife News of the Week

Tenerife Magazine’s round up of some of the most interesting news stories of the week in Tenerife.

Clash of the Titans returns to Tenerife

There was a minor buzz on Twitter this week when it was revealed that the Clash of the Titans crew and cast would be returning to Tenerife this summer to film scenes for Clash of the Titans part two: Wrath of the Titans (title at the moment). Once again it’s expected that Teide National Park, Garachico, Guía de Isora and Icod de los Vinos will stand in for Ancient Greece.
Despite being panned by film critics and audiences, Clash of the Titans was a huge worldwide success hence news of a sequel. Director Louis Letterier blamed the studio’s decision to jump on the 3D post Avatar bandwagon for the poor reviews, but in reality many people thought the movie was a bit of a stinker”¦Tenerife was probably the best thing in it.
Stars Sam Worthington, Liam Neeson, Ralph Fiennes and Gemma Arterton reprise their roles whilst Jonathan Liebesman replaces Louis Letterier as director. This time it will actually be filmed in 3D and is scheduled to be in cinemas around spring 2012. Let’s pray that it’s a lot better than the first.

Multiculturalism isn’t working in Tenerife
First it was Angela Merkel, then David Cameron and now it’s a spokesperson for a neighbourhood association in a town on Tenerife. In El Dia newspaper, the president of la Asociación de Vecinos Balcón del Atlántico in El Fraile complained that incomers were sticking to their own ethnic groups and not getting involved with community activities. He commented that many had not made any effort to adapt to the Canarian culture, implying a lack of respect for traditions and that this could lead to xenophobia. As a non-Canario it’s thought provoking from an immigrant’s perspective to read comments like this. It’s a sort of shoe on the other foot scenario.

Free guided tours of Teide National Park
It’s good news, bad news time. The good news is that the representatives of the Association of Professional Tourist Guides are conducting free guided tours around the Roques de García in Teide National Park as part of the celebration of International Tourist Guides 2011. The bad news is that as the tours are at 10.30am and 2.30pm anyone travelling by public transport probably won’t be able to take advantage as they don’t really tie in with the Titsa timetable. Good tourist guides they may be, but a little work on planning skills looks as though it’s required.

A reminder of the world’s worst plane crash
Excavations in the San Juan cemetery in La Laguna uncovered a reminder that the word’s most horrific air crash, involving two 747 jumbo jets, occurred at nearby Los Rodeos almost 34 years ago. The excavations are part of a project searching for the bodies of local people who went missing during the dark days of the Spanish Civil War. However, the chamber that was uncovered last week didn’t contain victims of the war but unidentified remains of victims from the crash that claimed the lives of 583 people. The investigation into searching for “˜missing persons’ from the Civil War in the cemetery continues until 15th March.

Tenerife’s Eco Museum to open in 2011
Like many projects on Tenerife, work on the Eco Museum in El Tanque seems to be progressing at a snail’s pace. But there is light on the horizon. The main buildings should be completed by June, an area for cattle has been built and terraces are being prepared for the planting of nearly 152 varieties of potatoes”¦that’s an awful lot of papas arrugadas. The location of the museum dedicated to rural life, near Los Llanos de San José, is a breath stealer and is also the venue for the wonderful Dia de la Trilla agricultural fair.

And finally the TIT (This Is Tenerife) of the week award goes to… Arona council for taking an eternity to post information about the Los Cristianos carnival on their official website”¦

“¦And for having a teasing little carnival logo on the site which, when it was clicked, came up with a page which more or less said ““ “˜no information about this here.’

To be fair to Arona at least they do provide decent information on their website, but they need to wake up to the fact that these days potential visitors are looking for dates of popular events quite a bit in advance. There have been questions about the Los Cristianos carnival dates on forums and English language websites for weeks and even on the council’s Facebook page”¦where they were left unanswered. In the end the Tenerife Tourist Board announced the dates on TripAdvisor’s Tenerife Forum before Arona included them on their website.

It’s great that some Tenerife councils are starting to use social media like Facebook and Twitter but they need to understand that these are tools for interaction as well as posting information”¦and that they don’t have to wait for the “˜official poster’ about the event to be ready before sharing information online.