Wednesday, August 15, 2018

History of the Alcalá Fireworks

Fuegos de Alcalá 2015 - Image Ayuntamiento de Guía de Isora

The Alcalá Fireworks, which take place each year on August 15th, are well known as being one of the most spectacular displays and promoted in a campaign by Guía de Isora Town Council and the Festival Commission as an Asset of Tourist Interest. The first historical reference of the Fuegos de Alcalá (Alcalá Fireworks) dates from 1925.

The show has been attracting visitors to its festivities in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria from all over the island, from other parts of the Canary Islands and even from abroad, for almost a century. This spectacular exhibition of light, color and sound is provided by Hermanos Toste, who have been setting the fires of Alcalá for some 80 years, interrupted only during the Civil War and World War II.

Celedonio Toste says that "the Alcalá fireworks are undoubtedly the most showy for the public, but the most difficult to place from the technical point of view" since most of the explosives have to be loaded into boats and taken to lava formations around the bay of the town, in addition to carrying more than 2000 sacks of sand, weighing between 20 and 30 kilos each, to place with the explosives safely on the rocks. This requires about two or three days work.

Researcher José María Mesa says that the first historical reference to this part of the festivities appears in 1925. At that time, "a fishing boat launched the fireworks, moving parallel to the coast, until it reached the end of the harbour wall", where the dances were held. The following year, 1926, fireworks would also be launched from a boat in the area of ​​the hermitage and one of the great successes of the show introduced: "beautiful fireworks will also be burned on the cliff called Baja de Afuera", according to the program of the festivities of that year.

The festivities included the so-called walks with music or dances with pianola, supposedly held on the harbour wall, which is the elevated area next to the jetty, today La Muralla street. The fireworks then were made by José and Manuel Rodríguez Alonso, belonging to a family of famous foremen of Guía de Isora. The Alcalá Fireworks were novel from the beginning, although their great impulse was achieved with the development of tourist areas in neighboring municipalities. Today it is difficult to see the fireworks from Alcalá unless you arrive several hours before.

The cost of the fireworks is one of the best kept secrets by the fiestas commission apparently (I guess that means they cost an awful lot). For the last couple of decades, they accounted for around one third to one half of the entire fiesta budget. Collecting the money each year requires a great effort, collecting house to house, from local businesses, organizing events, etc.

The fireworks are set off from four points: the Baja de Afuera, Filo Méndez, Baja de Tierra and around the perimeter of the bay. They have grown in quantity, quality and spectacle, but they have maintained the same scheme for more than 40 years: its charm is the stage, composed of the volcanic lava flows, the jetty and harbour wall.

La historia de los Fuegos de Alcalá de Guía de Isora

Pyrotechnics Hermanos Toste was commissioned by the Festival Commission of Alcalá to provide the show in honor of the Virgin of Candelaria in her "Noche de Fuegos".



Fuegos Alcalá 2017

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Puerto for Virgins: 4. Old Town

Puerto de la Cruz Image: trolvag [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

This time we're getting into the historical parts of Puerto de la Cruz. As we come to the road at the top of the San Telmo Promenade, there are benches where you can rest and sit and enjoy the view back over where you have just come from and, when you are ready to move on, there is a choice. You could continue next to the sea to the right, along the Calle de Santo Domingo, where you will pass the Ayuntamiento (Town Hall) to reach the Plaza de Europa and the remains of the defensive fortification, the Batería de Santa Bárbara (Saint Barbara Battery) that is next to the Casa de la Real Aduana (Old Customs House - now the Museum of Contemporary Art) beside the old port, but save all that for another time, cross the road and aim for the pedestrian street opposite: the Calle Quintana.


Video: Puerto de la Cruz Old Town

Town Hall of Puerto de la Cruz By HombreDHojalata [CC BY-SA 2.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

Plaza de Europa Image: Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Preparing for a fiesta on the Plaza de Europa

Plaza de Europa Diego Delso [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Batería de Santa Bárbara By Koppchen [CC BY 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

The old port and the Batería Santa Bárbara

Old Customs House in Puerto de la Cruz

At the top of the Calle Quintana are yet more souvenir shops, but you'll shortly come to the Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia (Church of Our Lady of the Rock of France), where you can rest awhile under the shade of the trees in the delightful gardens of the church square, admire the swan fountain and see the monument to prominent engineer, Agustín de Betancourt, who was born in Puerto de la Cruz in 1758.

Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia By Daniel Gainza [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons


Video: Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia - Puerto de la Cruz

Church Square taken from the rooftop of the Hotel Monopol

Gardens around the church

Fountain in the church square

Monument to Agustín de Betancourt

Before you go back onto the Calle Quintana, it is worth mentioning that in the pedestrian street behind the church, Calle la Hoya, are a number of shops and cafes that are worth a look. There is a wonderful old fashioned food store with local (ugly and natural) fruit and vegetables, an Arepera Delicias Vene Canarias (arepas are Venezuelan fast food: little pockets of unctuousness made with maize flour filled with meats, fish or cheeses). For my money, the shredded beef, carne mechada, is the pinnacle of these treats.

Failing that, find a cool seat outside on the terrace of the even more cooly decorated Ebano Café, where you can sample their tapas, sandwiches, or home made cakes.

Opposite the church and gardens in the Calle Quintana is the Hotel Monopol, the family run hotel where we stay when we're in Puerto de la Cruz, with it's typically Canarian Balconies. The owner's wife decorates the steps of the hotel entrance early every morning with petals of hibiscus flowers. Inside the hotel is an amazing courtyard, filled with enormous palms which is well worth a look in at (I've never known the hotel management to object).
.

Hotel Monopol

If we now carry on down the Calle Quintana, there are yet more shops. Don't be afraid to delve into the side streets in this area as that is where you will find little gems.

Turning right into the pedestrian alley, Calle Agustín de Betancourt, you can find the unassuming F & M Cafe where they serve a lovely array of tapas, bucket sized glasses of very nice local wine, some ridiculously huge cocktails (that are not ridiculously expensive) all with a smile, some good Latin music playing and free Wi-Fi that works. Perfect!

F & M Cafe in the Calle Agustín de Betancourt

At the next corner back on the Calle Quintana, where the Calle San Juan crosses it, there is a lovely little garden on the right opposite the The Church of San Francisco (built in 1599, it's considered to be the city's oldest building), but if you turn left into Calle San Juan, you'll find another selection of restaurants, bars and pubs. We can recommend the Pequeño Buda Pub Rock for the atmosphere and their patio. At the far end of the street on the corner is the restaurant of the Hotel Maga, which usually has a reasonably priced menu of the day. While you're there, take a look at the Plaza Concejil opposite that is surrounded by old mansions and palaces that are typically Canarian in their architecture.

Church of  San Francisco Photo www.all-free-photos.com

Calle Quintana by Daniel Gainza
On the last section of the Calle Quintana, notice the brown awning on the shop front on the left. This is the entrance to a shopping arcade named Columbus Plaza, which, just in case you're suffering withdrawal by now, serves some delicious cakes!

The end of the street opens out onto the Plaza del Charco (Puddle Square because of the large puddle of seawater that used to form in the middle of it), the nerve centre of Puerto de la Cruz. This is a lovely square at any time, but especially in the early evening when it's full of children playing and people having a drink before going home from work.

I've got to be honest and say that most of the restaurants around the Plaza del Charco are a bit touristy and meh. They try too hard to entice you in too, which is always a turn off for me. The only exception, just for a drink or a coffee and to watch the people is the cafe on the square itself, the Dinamico Cafeteria - Restuarante.


Plaza del Charco by El fosilmaníaco

At the north (seaside) end of the Plaza del Charco, you come back to the Old Customs House beside the old port. Also along the top of the plaza is a taxi rank. Taxis are both good and cheap in Tenerife, so if you've had enough by the time you've reached the plaza, it will be easy to get a taxi back to the hotel. Alternatively, the Plaza del Charco is a central location to ask for if you want to get a taxi from the hotel and start exploring from here.

In the next installment there's just one part of the old town left to explore.


Monday, August 13, 2018

Celebrations in honor of the patron of the Canary Islands, Candelaria

Virgen de Candelaria, Tenerife, Patron of the Islas Canarias

On the 14th and 15th August (the latter is a Public Holiday), are celebrations in honor of the Virgen de la Candelaria, the patron of the Canary Islands. Thousands of pilgrims from all over the archipelago come to the town of Candelaria to celebrate the feast, take part in the Peregrinación a Candelaria (Pilgrimage to Candelaria), as well as to watch the popular Ceremony of the discovery of the Virgin of Candelariawhich takes place in the Plaza outside the Basilica on 14th August from about 7:30pm.



Ceremonia Guanche - Virgen de Candelaria 2017



Romería Candelaria



Noche de Pergrinos - Virgen de Candelaria 2017

Friday, August 10, 2018

Something for the weekend: Sunblast Festival 2018 and the Bajada de Las Hayas in La Guancha

Sunblast Festival 2018

Sunblast Festival 2018

On Saturday 11 August 2018 from 3pm until midnight at the Golf Costa Adeje, Calle Alcojora, s/n, 38670 Adeje. The Sunblast music festival in Costa Adeje claims to be the biggest free bar festival in the world, ensuring a debaucherous day of fun in the sun. This is the sixth year the festival is being held on Costa Adeje golf course and we can assure you it's unforgettable!

Info / tickets; SUNBLAST 360 FESTIVAL | Costa Adeje

Bajada de Las Hayas

Of traditional fiestas, on the second Saturday in August - Saturday 11 August 2018 - the Bajada de Las Hayas (Descent of the Beech Trees) takes place in the village of La Guancha. The Descent of the Beeches takes its origins from the journey by owners of load-carrying livestock to the mountains to collect branches of beech trees, which were then used to decorate the town square and the streets for the religious procession.



Bajada de Las Hayas 2016

Wednesday, August 08, 2018

Countdown to Carnival: Candidate for Carnival Queen in 2018, Ana



Ana D. Sabina García | Gala de elección de la Reina | SC de Tenerife 2018

As we count down to carnival in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2019, let's take a last look at one of the candidates for carnival queen in 2018 and her magnificent costume.

The gala to elect the Carnival Queen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife in 2019 is scheduled to take place on Wednesday, 27 February 2019. The inauguration takes place on 1 February 2019 and carnival takes to the streets on 1 March 2019.

All dates are liable to change beyond our control

To ensure you see posts as we count down to Tenerife Carnival 2019, subscribe to our news feed, Subscribe to Secret Tenerife by Email or like and follow our facebook page.

Tuesday, August 07, 2018

Puerto for Virgins: 3. San Telmo

San Telmo area in Puerto de la Cruz before the wall was replaced with railings.

Carrying on from where we left off, just past the Casino, is the small ermita (hermitage or chapel) of San Telmo that marks the margin of a rocky area including the Playa San Telmo (San Telmo Beach) and the Paseo San Telmo (San Telmo Promenade). This part of the promenade has undergone a lot of work in recent years to remove many of the dodgy steps and other obstacles, but there are no seats along this area until you get to the far end. There are some walls to perch on here and there. But, for a break, the shorter building on the right (above) with the dark brown balcony is the Restaurante Rancho Grande, which is another that falls into the quaintly old-fashioned category, but is also well worth the stop for coffee and some more cake. (Are you seeing a theme developing here yet?)

Ermita de San Telmo (San Telmo Chapel)


San Telmo in the evening.

If you should happen to find yourself in dire need of a decent British sports bar, you will find it in the street parallel to this, one street back, in the Calle de La Hoya: the Bee Hive Pub.

San Telmo (Click for map)

Otherwise, keep going. Next time, we'll get into the older parts of town.

Friday, August 03, 2018

Something for the weekend: Romería in honour of la Virgen de La Esperanza in El Rosario

Romería in honour of the Virgen de La Esperanza – Image El Rosario Town Hall

Sunday 5 August 2018 is the date for the Romería in honour of the Virgen de La Esperanza in El Rosario. This Pilgrimage of Our Lady of Hope takes place on the first Sunday of August. After the mass, there is a procession under an arch of flowers, where folk groups, carts and faithful will make offerings to the Virgin.




Thursday, August 02, 2018

Carnival Queen to be chosen from among ten finalists at 2019 gala

Carnival Queen in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 2012

News just in on preparations for Santa Cruz Carnival 2019 is that there are to be changes in the format of the gala to select the carnival queen.

The carnival organisers and designers have endorsed an idea put forward by Enrique Camacho, the director of the gala, to organise the candidates into two passes. In the first pass, all of the aspirants will parade (it's estimated that there will be 15 or 16 candidates next year); the best ten will be selected from among them and then, in a new parade, in the form of a carousel, only with the top 10, the queen and her court of honor will be chosen.

La reina del Carnaval se elegirá entre las diez finalistas de la gala

Do you know it's only six months until the inauguration of Santa Cruz Carnival 2019 on 1 Feb 2019 and seven months before carnival takes to the streets on 1 Mar 2019? The Gala Election of the Carnival Queen takes place on Wednesday, 27 February 2019.

Photo: By Tamara Kulikova [CC BY-SA 4.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Tenerife Fiestas in August 2018

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Candelaria www.all-free-photos.com.

The 15th August is a national public holiday for Asunción de la Virgen (Assumption).

August is a month that's packed with fiestas and romerías, but the biggest event in the month each year is the Peregrinación a Candelaria (pilgrimage) and fiestas in Candelaria, which take place on the 14th and 15th of August. The most popular part of the annual celebrations is the Ceremony of the discovery of the Virgin of Candelaria, which takes place in the Plaza outside the Basilica on 14th August from about 7:30pm.

There are the following Municipal Public Holidays this month: 

6 Aug 18 - Festival of Nuestra Señora de La Esperanza in El R|osario
6 Aug 18 - Fiestas for the town’s patron in La Matanza de Acentejo
16 Aug 18 - Festival of San Roque in Garachico
20 Aug 18 - Fiestas for the town’s patron in Fasnia
20 Aug 18 - Monday of the Fiestas for the town’s patron in La Guancha
24 Aug 18 - Festival of San Bartolomé in Buenavista del Norte
27 Aug 18 - Festival of San Bernardo in Arafo
27 Aug 18 - Festival of San Agustín and San Roque - Vilaflor de Chasna
31 Aug 18 - Festival of Nuestra Señora de Buen Viaje in El Tanque

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Puerto for Virgins: 2. Avenida Colón

Image: trolvag [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], via Wikimedia Commons

This thoroughfare is named, in Spanish, Cristobal Colón, after the Italian explorer, whom we know as Christopher Columbus - you know, the bloke who got lost over the other side of the Atlantic and thought the peaks of Cuba were the Himalayas - but I digress.

Incidentally, when carnival is on (generally in February / March) or during Puerto de la Cruz' tourist special Summer Carnivals over the last couple of years, the bands, dance troops, floats and other participants in the parade all gather in the area in front of the H10 Tenerife Playa and the procession makes its way along the Avenida Colón and into town.

Avenida de Cristobal Colón (marked in red) click for map

To the right of our starting point (and we'll go that way another day), the road goes along the promenade behind the Playa de Martiánez (Martiánez Beach). Turn left and it's a wide, pedestrianised walkway with the Lago Martiánez (Pool Complex) and the sea on one side and hotels, shops and bars on the other. It has the usual selection from high-end brands to "kiss me quick" hats. The huge advantage, in both directions, is that there are lots of park benches, often shaded by trees, all along the length of this promenade.

Sometimes called Martianez Promenade By CTHOE [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons

About half way around, you will encounter the Cafe de Paris. It is quaintly formal and seems to have been stuck in some sort of land-that-time-forgot time-warp. The music there at night is beyond cheesy, the service is meh, but you have to try the cakes!

Interior of the Cafe de Paris

Keep going on along the promenade and it will eventually open out into an area where you will find McDonald's (I can't think why you'd want to - but it's a useful landmark) round to your left, the Casino on your right and this is where there is a yellow mini train that takes tourists to the Loro Parque (it's a zoo). This is promoted EVERYWHERE in Puerto and I will give my opinion on it later. For now, keep walking along the sea front to the area where there is a small chapel, of San Telmo, which I will talk about in the next installment.

A trackless train for tourists in Tenerife

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