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Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Tenerife for pharologists (lighthouse bagging)

Lighthouse Faro de Teno, Tenerife (with La Gomera in the background) Photo: ahisgett

Oh, I couldn't resist ... I spotted a note at the bottom of Colin Kirby's post about tram spotting in Tenerife, where he says, "Coming soon on hobby corner, Lighthouse bagging." Er what? Obviously, having lived on, if not under, a rock for 16 years, this new fetish hobby had passed me by. I had to check it out.

Punta_de_Abona_Lighthouse-Tenerife Punta de Abona Lighthouse. Tenerife, Canary Islands. Photo: Gabor AmbrozyAnd, surprise, surprise, it really is to do with lighthouses - well, you can never be sure - and Princess Anne is a regular anorak wearer and "champion pharologist", apparently. 

The term makes sense, because the word for lighthouse in Spanish (substituting the PH for an F always), is "Faro." So, here to assist Colin with his future lighthouse bagging exploits and for you too if you're similarly afflicted enthused, is a list of Lighthouses of the Canary Islands.

That page kindly informs us that navigational lights in Spain are regulated at national level by the Comisíon de Faros and that the lighthouses of Tenerife are operated by the Autoridad Portuaria de Santa Cruz de Tenerife.

View Larger Map
Pharology tourists (a.k.a. lighthouse bagging holidaymakers) have quite a few lighthouses - I count 8 sites, but some have 2 structures - to bag on the island of Tenerife at:

Punta de Abona, Punta de Rasca, Punta de Teno, Buenavista, Puerto de la Cruz, Punta del Hidalgo, Punta de Anaga and Santa Cruz de Tenerife Muelle Sur ("Farola del Mar")

Not all are working.

Faro Punta de Teno

Faro de Punta Teno / Punta Teno Lighthouse
Punta Teno Lighthouse.
Photo: Liam Quinn.
Most highly recommended, is to take a trip out to the lighthouse at Punta de Teno, Tenerife's most westerly point (clearly, Jack and Andrea Montgomery have already bagged this one too, in swimming cozzies, if not anoraks), where you can see the North side and the South side of the island at once from out on the headland.

The view from Punta de Teno lighthouse towards the Los Gigantes cliffs is one of the most spectacularly breathtakingly beautiful sites in the whole world (IMHO), as are some of the sunsets that can be witnessed from there.

So is the spectacular road along the cliff edge (again and another) and through a long, dark, damp tunnel to get there. But beware, it is not always open, it can be hairy - if not downright comical - and there is talk of them closing it all together and laying on buses from Buenavista.

View Larger Map

Here are more images of Faros de Canarias

The province of Santa Cruz, of which Tenerife is just a part, if you add in the islands of La Gomera, El Hierro, and La Palma, offer even more delights.

Faro de Orchilla, El Hierro

Faro_de_Orchilla_El_HierroProbably the most famous lighthouse to bag on these islands, is the Faro de Orchilla, in Frontera, El Hierro. It's an important lighthouse, because it was once the most westerly point of the "known world" and, from the 17th Century, was used to mark the zero meridian, until the British moved it to Greenwich in the 1880s.

Other types of lighthouses in Tenerife

Ocean DriveThere's the Faro Chill Art (disco), where, obviously, pharologists and other hobbyists go to relax; purely decorative lighthouse structures on the island, such as this lighthouse in Tenerife, this which appears to be at Fañabe and you'll even find the odd temporary lighthouse appearing on the backdrop to staging at the fiestas.

But I guess I should end here with something by the Lighthouse Family. :)

Puerto de la Cruz' crazy Embarkation Tuesday


From these images, it's possible to get some sense of Puerto de la Cruz' crazy "Embarkation Tuesday", as it looks like most the town and not a few visitors all join in to push the boat out, jump in the water, splash around ...

Reuters say (as did the police estimates, if memory serves) that about 25,000 people attended the boat procession of the Virgin of Carmen (Virgen del Carmen), the protector of fisherman, on July 15, 2008.

More images of the July Fiestas, Puerto de la Cruz, The Virgen del Carmen and of the Fiestas del Carmen in Puerto de la Cruz

Monday, July 28, 2008

How Tenerife avoided another conquest


"Actors re-enact on Friday, July 26, 2008 in Santa Cruz de Tenerife the naval battle and disembarkment in which the infantry of the Canary islands prevented the conquest of the Canary islands in 1797 by English hero Horacio Nelson. Horacio Nelson lost his right arm in the battle."

Rosa Rodríguez, writing in Canarias 7 suggests that, if Nelson had travelled through time 211 years, he wouldn't have dared try to take Santa Cruz this time, because on Friday, not only were General Gutiérrez' men waiting for him, but also an enthusiastic (bloodthirsty, maybe?) crowd of 3,000 spectators.

Nelson probably shouldn't have tried to take the city 211 years ago, but it's a good job he couldn't time travel, because he might have been able to go back and stop himself before making such a huge error and then there wouldn't have been anything to re-enact ... which seeing how it all turned out in the photos - like a better Hollywood movie - would have been a shame.

Here's the story told again, in more pictures: the troops form, preparing the defences, the English arrive, the struggle begins, observing the battle, defending the castle and the troops parade after the battle.

But I reckon the best bit is where one of the readers commenting here says that this same Oracio (sic, he appears to have lost and H now, as well as an arm) Nelson defeated the Armada. There's another wee point of logic I could pick up on in their statement, in that it couldn't have been a very "Invincible Armada" if it got vinced, I mean defeated, but never mind that part ...

(The writer could have meant the Other Armada of 1779, I suppose, except I'm pretty sure that isn't what they were referring to. And they probably didn't mean the Armada Sur of expat football supporters either. :)

Anyway, if Nelson had trounced the Armada (of 1588) and then lost in Tenerife (in 1797), rightly, says the following comment, not only would Santa Cruz be celebrating victory, but also the longest known life of a human being! :)

What the other reports failed to mention is that Nelson also got his own tram in Santa Cruz, to mark the 211th anniversary of his defeat. Wonder what he'd make of that if he time travelled forward 211 years? Colin Kirby was out, in an anorak, spotting that and he was there on Saturday morning too, to see the period costumed, military parades and got some photos.

At the end of the day, Santa Cruz was, once again, saved from the tyranny of British rule (at least for a couple of hundred years until the "invasion of the beaches") and they all lived happily everafter. It's all 'armless fun, isn't it?

See more images of the re-enactment of the Battle of Santa Cruz

Living under a cloud - Pinolere

pinolere1 Despite its stunning location; bordered by barrancos on both sides and backed by the vast, sheer, pine clad face of the cumbre, it’s difficult to get a good photo of Pinolere due to the near-constant presence of the sea of clouds which hovers above the settlement.

Known by the locals as living under ‘panza de burro’ (belly of the donkey) because every time they look up they see grey, the cloud is a legacy of the trade winds that frequent the La Orotava Valley. It may be a nuisance when you’re looking for clear blue skies to light up your photographs, and Pinolere is unlikely to knock Playa de las Américas off its pole position for Brits coming to Tenerife in search of a suntan, but for the 700 or so inhabitants of Pinolere the cloud is a friend and ally. Along with lower temperatures, it brings moisture and humidity, essential ingredients for abundant growth.

pinolere2 For centuries the community of Pinolere has been virtually self-sufficient, producing everything it needed from the land; potatoes, corn, wheat, grapes, rice, rye and cane all thrive here. Goats, cows and pigs grow fat on the rich grazing while the forests produce pine needles for their bedding; the trees produce tea and chestnut wood, firewood, charcoal, building material and resin. Once prevalent over much of the ‘medianías’ or central lowlands of Tenerife, the houses of Pinolere were until recently constructed of dry stone, roofed with chestnut wood entwined with branches and then thatched with straw.

pinolere3 As a result, Pinolere is a community of craftsmen and women; basket weavers, carpenters, iron workers, embroiderers, potters, stone workers and charcoal makers.

Pinolere Craft Fair

The intoxicating smell of cakes assails our nostrils as we saunter past the opening stalls groaning under the weight of sugar, almond and syrup coated ‘dulces’ , sweets and chocolates. Then comes mojos, honeys, jams, herbs and spices, each stall more inviting than the next. The wine stalls are particularly popular, small cups dispensing samples from individual cosechas.

Following the winding path as it gently climbs from one level to the next the stalls change to wood carvings, ceramics and toys. Small children pull brightly painted little tin carts on string from a stall that’s doing a brisk trade. The noise and bustle of the crowd is augmented by shrill screeches produced by water filled whistles from another stall.

Sitting within thatched, open sided huts, rows of elderly men and women are weaving cane strips into baskets, hats and trays.

In an open clearing by the refreshment stand, an elderly man in a beret is spinning a top and making it dance, flipping it from his toe to his head and back again to the delight and applause of a small crowd.

On a stage, a group of musicians are demonstrating traditional Canarian musical instruments through the ages and getting a group of children to reproduce the sound each one makes.

Some of the thatched buildings house exhibitions; in one there’s a history of the little hats worn on the side of Canarian women’s heads and in another, a collection of avant-garde handbags made from cane and leather, each one a work of art.

The stalls seem to go on for ever. There are clothes and shoes, dried flower arrangements, beautiful ceramics, dolls houses, Tiffany lamps, glassware and ornamental stoneworks.

And far from being dull, old fashioned, “why-on-earth-did-I-buy-that” when you get it home sort of products, there are the most beautiful and modern designs of ornaments, accessories, furniture, shoes and clothes that fuse craftsmanship and traditional materials with contemporary colour and design.

In short, it’s a revelation and an Aladdin’s cave of early Christmas presents.

This year the Pinolere Crafts Fair will be held over 5th, 6th and 7th September in Pinolere in La Orotava.

As well as the annual crafts fair, there’s a permanent museum housed in thatched buildings which recreates various aspects of local life. Open every Tuesday to Sunday, 10.00 -14.00; entrance €2 adults, €1 children. (Map)

Copyright © 2008 Real Tenerife Island Drives. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be copied or reproduced without the written permission of Real Tenerife Island Drives.

Lying on a beach all day every day might make for a relaxing holiday, but memories of it fade as quickly as your sun tan. Island Drives is aimed at travellers who want to experience the real essence of Tenerife, not just its pools and beaches. If you want an unforgettable holiday as opposed to a good one, Real Tenerife Island Drives will make the difference.


Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Day of Traditions in Chirche

View over Chirche

The village of Chirche (map) is 3 kilometres from the town of Guia de Isora, in the western part of the island of Tenerife and preserves the typical traditional architecture of the south - nowadays turned into rural tourist accommodation and serves as a living museum.

This weekend, the quiet village is to celebrate its 8th annual Day of Traditions, where locals carry out jobs, do household chores and play children's games typical of the village from the first half of the twentieth century. On Saturday, 26th July, from 7 p.m., there's various workshops of folklore and dance, as well as traditional sports and games, which continue until 9.30, when there will be a showing of a documentary film. And from 10.30 a.m. on Sunday, 27th July, visitors can see how the rural inhabitants thresh wheat, made rustic tejas (roof tiles) in the old tile ovens, toasted the grain, or ground almonds, as well as other domestic tasks, such as sewing, doing laundry in the public washtubs, or bringing water from the community tap.

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

Santa Cruz set to repel the English, again

Castillo de San Juan Bautista (Castillo Negro)

Friday, 25th July 2008 is the 211th Anniversary of Santa Cruz' historic defeat of Horacio Nelson and Tenerife's capital is to commemorate or celebrate (the latter, I think, is more apt) the date with a reenactment (now annual) of the Battle of Santa Cruz de Tenerife (1797) ... and have a budget of 240,000 euros (over £190,000) available to do it.

The fun starts, in the area of the Castle of St John the Baptist a.k.a. Castillo Negro (Black Castle) (alongside the rather more modern day Auditorio de Tenerife), at 12.00 mid-day and, unlike real battles, will last for just one hour. Some 130 people are taking part in the reenactment, with the city being defended, once again, by the battalion of Canarian infantry, under the orders of General Gutiérrez.

British retreat and victory for Santa Cruz

The following day, Saturday, 26th July, at 11.30 a.m., sees a military parade from the Plaza Weyler to the Plaza de España, then from 8.30 p.m. there's to be a further recreation - this time in the streets of the old town - remembering how Santa Cruz' population succeeded in causing the English troops to retreat. That will be taking place in the area around the bridge over the Barranco de Santos, the Iglesia de La Concepción (church) and the Calle La Noria in the old part of the city.

Both reenactments are to be directed by Teodoro Ríos, who will ensure careful attention is paid to historical detail. Costumes are under the watchful eye of José Carlos Iribarren, who worked on the film Alatriste and, the special effects (as well as the fireworks during the Verbena de La Victoria (Victory Celebration Dance)) will be provided by Los Realejos firework firm, Hermanos Toste.

In addition, 75 reenacters have been invited from various points of the Spanish mainland, from England and from Holland.

an entire festive week ...

On July 21st, in the Museo Militar de Almeida (the museum's highlight is was the famous 'Tigre' canon which, according to tradition, injured Admiral Horacio Nelson during his failed attempt to occupy Tenerife on July 25th 1797, resulting in the amputation of his right arm) was the presentation of a new book and a conference on the events of 1797.

On July 22nd, again in the Military Museum, is another conference, centering on the personalities involved on July 25th, along with a presentation of a new book by local historian Daniel García Pulido, as well as a showing of the rather ominously titled film, La isla de las cabezas cortadas (Cutthroat Island.)

On July 23rd, it's the turn of historian, Ronald Brighouse to give a talk centred on Nelson and the Royal Navy. Another film follows.

On July 24th, from 10 a.m. will be a public reading of books related to the events. In the evening, the British flag captured that night in 1797 will be (re)presented, having been restored.

On July 25th after the reenactment of the sea battle and the English landings at midday, at 7.30 p.m., mass will be celebrated in the La Concepción church, with a procession around the local streets in honour of Santiago Apóstol (Saint James) and a floral offering made to the tomb of General Gutiérrez.

Also on July 25th there's an exhibition of reproductions of paintings that recreate these events, as well as some military paraphernalia that is part of the municipal heritage. They're also studying the possibility of installing 14 commemorative milestones along the capital's coast. These monoliths, with their corresponding plaques would be placed at strategic points where the defence of the city was cemented (and they're outside the 240k budget.)

The town hall is to award silver medals to all babies born on Friday, 25 July.

July 26th 11.30 a.m. military parade "of the epoch" (another recreation of the 18th Century) from the Plaza Weyler to the Plaza de España. At 7 p.m. various military bands will parade through the city's streets. From 8.30 p.m. will be the recreation of the street battles in the old part of town and, from 10 p.m., the party starts proper, with a Verbena de La Victoria (Victory Celebration Knees Up), at which attendees will wear 18th Century costumes.

And, finally, on July 27th, the festive week (their words) closes with a concert by the Unidad de Música de la Subinspección del Mando de Canarias (a military band), in the Plaza del Príncipe (where you can get a good Barraquito.)

Via: this post at the Flickers Tenerife group.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Vive la Révolution in Santa Cruz

bastille-1 Obviously, short of an excuse for a celebration or two of it's own (if you've read anything of these pages or know the island, then you'll know how far my tongue is in my cheek), Europa Press report that the Tenerife capital has been celebrating the Día Nacional de Francia (National Day of France), what English speakers insist on calling Bastille Day, but which the French, in all their understated elegance, simply refer to as quatorze juillet (14 July).

Castillo_de_San_Juan_Bautista-Santa_Cruz_de_Tenerife There probably wasn't any storming of Santa Cruz' own fortifications, the 17th Century Castillo Negro camera, nor Tenerife II Prison, however, Santa Cruz' mayor, Miguel Zerolo, was to preside over commemorations taking place in council chambers, beginning with municipal band playing the overture from French composer Bizet's opera, Carmen, which, of course, is set in Spain.

After that, Carlos Castro, president of the Alliance Fraçaise / Alianza Francesa (French Alliance) in Santa Cruz, was to speak, before Daniel Alonso, professor of Applied Physics from the University of La Laguna was to give a dissertation on science in France. Eric Landrau, the French Consul in Santa Cruz was also due to be there and the event closed with more music from the municipal band, this time from the opéra comique, Madame Favart, by Jacques Offenbach, before the National Anthems of both France and Spain. Fascinating stuff!

Mais, j'ne comprend pas pourquoi.

Actually, I do understand why and it's all "our fault" (the British) again.

According to this article about these celebrations from last year, it harks back to an historic relationship that was formed between "The Gallic Giant" (France) and the island of Tenerife in 1795, rooted in the fact that French soldiers had helped defend the port of Santa Cruz when it was attacked by the English troops under Nelson's orders. The French suffered two fatalities.

Tenerife also claims tenuous links with France through La Laguna born surrealist, Óscar Domínguez, who moved to Paris when he was 21.

The city of Santa Cruz will be celebrating their victory in that 'armless event from the French Revolutionary Wars: seeing off the English, next week.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Where does los gigantes in tenerife get its name?

The Giants

To answer this reader's question, the town gets its name, Los Gigantes, which means The Giants, from these, the Acantilados de los Gigantes (more images) - the giant cliffs - which plunge into the sea from the Teno Mountains. These basaltic rock formations, characterized by their sheer vertical walls oscillate between 300 and over 600 meters in height.

The Teno area is an ancient volcanic mass, one of the oldest parts of the island, geologically, which the processes of erosion have modelled to its current landscape, forming these giant cliffs on the coast.

In the time of the guanches, the cliffs were known as the Wall of Hell and, you can imagine why, when their dark volcanic lava makes it practically impossible to penetrate into the interior of the island, with only some gorges opening to the sea. Also, curiously, these cliffs don't continue below sea level. The depth of the sea here is bearly 30 meters, which makes it difficult  to access. 

Here are the same cliffs, seen from Punta Teno (Teno Point) to the north:


Where to find Los Gigantes on the western coast of Tenerife:

View Larger Map

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Anniversary of the Derrame del vino


The Derrame del Vino is an event that took place on the night of July 3rd, 1666. It's when local wine producers poured gallons of Malmsey wine down the drain in Garachico in protest over ruinous prices driven by the British monopoly of the sector. There's even a statue to celebrate putting those dastardly Brits in their place along the sea front road in the town.

View Larger Map

Portugal's independence from Castile; Charles II's marriage to Catherine of Braganza, which favoured trade with Madeira at the Canary Islands' cost; as well as the creation, in 1665, in London of The Canary Island Company, establishing a British monopoly over the Canarian wine trade in England, are all events that conspired to to provoke this reaction in Tenerife.

On that night, around 300 to 400 masked men broke down the doors of the bodegas and destroyed the barrels, spilling the wine - rather than sell it for low prices - and causing "one of the strangest floods in world history", wrote historian, José de Viera y Clavijo.

According to this page, the monument was erected to commemorate the 500th anniversary, except that won't happen until 2166 by my calculations.

In Tenerife anything is possible - or they mean the 300th!

It seems a curious thing to erect a statue to anyway, but it's existence highlights just how involved the British have been, right throughout history, in both the making and the undoing of the Canary Islands' fortunes.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

July 2008 Events in Tenerife

July's big event is the Festival EOLICA, or Festival Internacional de Energias Renovables (International Festival of Renewable Energies): a consciousness raising pop/rock festival held at WindPower Park in Tenerife, below gigantic windmills and on the shore of the ocean. This is the 6th year the festival has been held in Tenerife and, brings together acts such as Britain's Asian Dub Foundation on July 4th and American actress turned singer, Juliette Lewis and the Licks on July 5th.

On July 5th and 6th, in the Plaza de la Libertad in Garachico is this year's annual Garachico Crafts Fair. These Crafts Fairs provide a great day out for those who enjoy a bit of retail therapy and are the best places to find a genuine, local, unique item to take home to remember your visit.

Arona will be pulling the rabbit out of the hat with their Festival of Magic, running from June 30th to July 6th, in the streets and plazas of Cabo Blanco, El Fraile, Guaza, Valle San Lorenzo, Parque La Reina, La Camella, Buzanada and Los Cristianos. Events culminate at 6 p.m. on Sunday with a Gala Infantil de Magia (Kids' Magic Show) in Las Galletas.

On Saturday, July 5th, there's the Fiesta Rick'Salsa at Discoteca Rick's, Cruce de Los Rodeos, La Laguna.

Every Sunday of the summer: Cool & Sun Sunday Party at Faro Chill Art, Torviscas, Costa Adeje. Live Reggae Music with Aswad founder, Brinsley Forde & Taknara Foundation, DJ Jacabo Padilla and Guest DJs. Entrance FREE.

Energetic types can join a walk to Teno Alto in the north west corner of Tenerife on Sunday, July 6th. Bookings via the Albergue de Bolico.

Other events to choose from include the start of the, Canarias Jazz & Mas Heineken 2008 festival (that runs to Saturday, July 12th, in Tenerife); and upcoming Fiestas del Puerto de la Cruz, and Fiesta del Carmen and July fiestas in Puerto de la Cruz, which will reach their climax around mid-month.
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