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).
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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.


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