Saturday night in Los Cristianos

It has been a few weeks since we spent an evening in Los Cristianos. Technically that is not correct because we have been to Mr Chen’s Chinese buffet 2 weeks ago and found it so crowded that we thought we would not get a seat but Alexi managed to squeeze us in. That is one of the nice things about being a local, the little extras that you get by being recognised. He also remembered even though it had been a while, exactly what we have to drink which I think is such a compliment.

But going back to my first sentence we have not been on the coast of Los Cristianos for a while and I was surprised once we had parked in the harbour car park to walk around the corner and see the crowds.

We were meeting Olga, her Mum and Larry at Sher e Punjab for a curry. Olga’s Mum has very little English but what she has is better than my Croatian – still, we have met a few times and with nods and hand gestures we manage to get along fine. Because she isn’t used to curry and I don´t think Olga has had it many times, we chose Sher e Punjab because we know the food is always wonderful.

And so it was, Jim and I had our usual, we don´t need a menu we don´t need to say what we want it is just written down for us 🙂 Larry being a veggie went for a starter of vegetable samosas followed by vegetarian rogan josh. The Matijasevic’s are not big meat eaters so also went for the vegetable samosa and Prawn Poori, which they loved. Their main course was some kind of prawn curry and king prawns sizzling on a hot plate of onions and peppers which they thought were so delicious they deliberately saved some to take home. Of course, we had pappadoms and Peshawari naan, garlic naan and rice to share.  This was followed by kulfi for some and barraquitos for others.

The conversation and laughs flowed all evening but what made it even nicer was seeing just how full the restaurant was. The last time we were there we were the only customers which made us worry that this wonderful restaurant, after all these years may close due to the pandemic.

As we left to go home it was as though we had stepped out of a timewarp. After being so busy earlier, the journey back to the car was deserted, but that’s OK, it is still very early days and with a little luck we will start getting back to normal.

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Top 10 villages in Tenerife

The island is full of charming villages and towns and at any point in time, you will be confused by the number being advised which should be on everyone’s ‘Must See List’. As with everything, we all have different opinions so below is MY Top Ten not in any particular order but all worth a visit.  I have added links in each section where much more on the village can be found.

1 Masca

Like most people, my list contains Masca; it is up there probably somewhere near the number one spot. Why? Because it is simply breath-taking, spectacular, awesome… and even using all of those words together doesn’t do it justice. It was relatively unknown until the 1970s when the winding road was built.

Masca

2 Vilaflor

Breathe the pure air and smell the fragrance of pine forests as you enter Spain’s highest village. It is like being in the Swiss Alps but with a subtropical climateHead to the hills, Vilaflor

Vilaflor (14)

3 Arona

The administrative centre for the main tourist resorts of Las Americas, and Los Cristianos is a tiny, sleepy, cobbled street Canarian village, where locals pass the day in the charming church plaza surrounded by shady trees and old balconied houses.

Arona

4 Chirche

Each July in the picturesque hamlet of Chirche you will be transported back in time to experience life as it was for the inhabitants in times gone by. The celebration is called the Day of Traditions, but the tiny village is worth a visit at any time of the year.

Chirche

Courtesy Cherche Society, Facebook

5 Arafo

The old town holds many surprises in its narrow streets and small squares. Known as the “music town” of the island its long musical tradition has operated continuously since the nineteenth century.  There is also something a little different to enjoy

Arafo (29)

6 Abades

The slow pace of life in Abadas is typical of many of the fishing villages in this area. The beach is never crowded and the village square has a couple of bars to partake of a refreshing drink at the end of a long sunny day.

1

7 Los Roques

Not one but two beaches, the quiet and clean Playa del Abrigo and my favourite Playa de Los Roques a tiny shingle beach surrounded by half a dozen Canarian houses and a chapel all built into the rocks that give the village its name.

8 La Maretas

A tiny village, filled with a wild profusion of crimson and citron flowers. La Maretas is cobbled streets, old-fashioned houses lining a small shingle beach lapped by a calm, lazy sea.

9 Alcala

Today the town of Alcala is known for the hotel that dominates the seafront, but at heart, it is still a fishing village. The local market is held in the small plaza with its restaurants and cafés. The original tiny beach and sunbathing terrace have now been joined by new beach areas and the prom is stylishly in keeping with the 5-star hotel.

alcala

10 Tajao

The little, old fishing port of Tajao is famous for its tempting restaurants where the meals jump straight out of the sea and onto your plate. The pace of life here is slow and has changed little in hundreds of years.

So that’s my list but I am sure I have missed many places that are worth a visit.

For weather & news updates around south Tenerife check Queenies Daily Snippets

 

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Quintessential France

We have always loved France and on Friday evening I was watching a TV catch up of Rick Stein’s Secret France. It made me hunt out some old photos of one of my favourite areas which was the area Rick was in.

OH likes the Dordogne but I much prefer exploring the quieter corners of the south of France. Not Cannes, Nice or Saint-Tropez, all of which I like, but the small towns and villages of Languedoc-Roussillon and Provence. The whole area is distinguished by hamlets perched on precipitous hilltops, Cathar castles built in improbably high locations or medieval towns where time seems to have stood still.

Uzès is just such a gem. It dates back to Roman times and its most famous icon is the Tour Fenestrelle (“Window Tower”) the local equivalent of the leaning tower of Pisa.  If you like old stones and their history, this is the place.

Wherever you look, the architecture is very old and very beautiful. Today, Uzès is a tourist hotspot, but until about 50 years ago it was a rundown little town – with potential. The French government designated it a ville d’art et d’histoire and helped to restore the ruined buildings.

Uzès itself, however, has its share of sites to tick off including the cathedral of Saint Théodorit with its ornate bell tower, the Fenestrelle as mentioned and the Duke’s palace with a Medieval Garden in the grounds of a ruined château which has around 450 plants, many medicinal and is a lovely spot to unwind after staggering up the tower’s 100 steps for the sweeping views.

Shady alleyways crisscross the town past Renaissance houses and lead to squares lined with arcades and ornamental fountains. Just the place to sit for a tasty lunch or sipping coffee on a sunny day, it is also a place to wander around the quaint shops or colourful street market which has been held twice a week since the 13th century.

The Place aux Herbs is the heart of the town and is the best way to taste local products: honey, olives, fruits and vegetable. It is apparently, one of the best in France, always extremely busy and free from the usual market tack. Well, mostly but my little bit of tack has hung on my garden wall for many a year. The stalls here not only hold treasures for the eyes and ears but also the taste buds. And a must-try, if you have a sweet tooth, is the figatine, the town’s speciality. It is a fig brioche covered with a sweet almond topping.

A couple of kilometres down the road, between Uzès and the Pont du Gard, is the Haribo Museum (Le Musée du Bonbon) in this particular region of France this is the closest you are likely to get to ‘modern’.  A must for adults and children alike you can lose yourself for several hours. In exchange for your entrance fee, you receive a bag of sweets to suck as you wander around and a handful of tokens to operate the old machines that provide the visitor with a vivid picture of the history of sweet making.

Slipping back further in time and just about 15 minutes down the road it is worth visiting the Pont du Gard; the Roman aqueduct constructed sometime during the 1st century to supply Nimes with fresh water. This pedestrian site has many hidden trails and panoramic views that lead to the three tiers of arches crossing the river. Although the site is free it is let down by the car park which is a huge rip-off but you are stuck there is no way to avoid paying up.

In ancient Nimes itself, the arena is one of the most intact amphitheatres to be found anywhere in the world. It has over 34 tiers and is still in use today albeit for bullfights and pop concerts. Aside from clambering around the seats or as many do, battle gladiators, to impress the imaginary crowds, you can visit the huge hallways and tiny museum dedicated to the lives of Nîmes’ famous gladiators. It was also the setting for the film, Gladiator.

I love this area, nothing gets more quintessentially French than wandering through perfectly preserved medieval villages where locals sit on benches in the shade of ancient plane trees, where restaurants specialise in local dishes and where the boules court is the heart of social activity. Just a little bit of heaven…

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A little bit of history

The question that everyone is interested in is who were the original inhabitants of Tenerife. The answer is easy – the Guanche. The word comes from Guanchinet, or Guan = person and C hinet means Tenerife.

Historical studies say they had a slightly tinted skin, blue eyes and blonde hair which makes them sound as though they were descendants of the Vikings, but most sources speak of them as descendants of Berber tribes from North Africa who allegedly made the crossing to Tenerife more than 4,000 years ago.

Initially, the Guanche were hunters and fishermen, but after about 2000 years they started to focus on agriculture. They gathered together in small areas that provided shelter and they used wood, stones and earth to build their homes. Archaeological research has shown that different groups on the different islands, each had their own way of life and their own customs.

The Guanche lived peacefully among themselves and every island had its own kingdom or menceyato.

Tenerife was ruled by King Tinerfe and when he died his sons each received a parcel of land to serve as Mencey. This created nine ‘menceynatos’ or mini-states but like many families when someone dies there are those who feel they should have received more. The brothers began fighting and the Lucha Canaria arose. Not real fights, but wrestling matches for which the winner was entitled to claim a piece of land.

The first territories to be given names were Abona, Adeje, Anaga, Daute, Güimar, Icod, Tacoronte, Taoro and Tegueste. The kings were assisted by a council of older men, the ‘tagoror’. The population was divided into three classes: the ‘achimency’ were the direct descendants of the mencey, the ‘cichiciquitzo’ was the lower nobility and the ‘achicaxna’ were the farmers.

Until the 15th century, they were completely protected from external influences then the archipelago was taken island by island by the Spanish Conquistadores. For two years, only Tenerife remained stubbornly opposed to the Spanish invaders until Alonso Fernández de Lugo broke the last resistance near La Victoria in 1496.

The Mencey were:

Acaymo of Tacoronte was the ruler of the region, in the north of Tenerife, which covers what are now the municipalities of Tacoronte, La Matanza de Acentejo and El Sauzal. According to history, Acaymo had been at war with Mencey Bencomo, but they made peace shortly before the arrival of the conquistadors.

Adjona of Abona this region was vast. It spanned the municipalities that are now Fasnia, Arico, Granadilla de Abona, San Miguel and Vilaflor. Adjona was one of the Menceys who made a pact with Alonso Fernández de Lugo when he first arrived on the island.

Añaterve of Güímar was the first ruler to reach an agreement with the conquerors through the Governor of Gran Canaria, Pedro de Vera. His land covered what are now the municipalities of El Rosario, Candelaria, Arafo and Güímar, as well as part of Santa Cruz and La Laguna.

Bencomo of Taoro Bencomo ruled what is now La Orotava, La Victoria de Acentejo, Santa Úrsula, Puerto de la Cruz, Los Realejos and San Juan de la Rambla. He took the lead in resisting the invaders which earned him the name of Great King. He died at the Battle of La Laguna fighting Alonso Fernández de Lugo’s troops. His son, Bentor, succeeded him as Mencey and the tragic story that ensued illustrates the fate that the conquest entailed for the Guanche people. Foreseeing his defeat by the Spaniards after the battle of La Victoria de Acentejo, he leapt to his death from the edge of the Barranco Tigaiga, in Los Realejos. In contrast, one of Bencomo’s daughters, Princess Dácil, fell in love with the Spanish Captain Fernán García del Castillo when her father found out he sentenced his daughter to be killed by immurement Dácil avoid this and eventually she married the Captain and was christened Mencías del Castillo.

Beneharo of Anaga this Mencey reached a pact with Alonso Fernández de Lugo and remained impartial during the years of the conquest. His lands covered much of the Anaga mountain range.

Pelicar of Icod his land covered the current municipalities of La Guancha, Icod de los Vinos and El Tanque, as well as part of Garachico. His men were part of the resistance until they surrendered in 1496 after the battle of La Victoria de Acentejo.

Pelinor of Adeje He also struck an agreement with Alonso Fernández de Lugo at the beginning of the conquest, which led him to be rewarded later with land in Masca and Santiago del Teide. His region is now Adeje, Guía de Isora, Santiago del Teide and part of Arona.

Romen of Daute The territory of Daute in the 15th century comprised the municipalities of Buenavista del Norte, Los Silos and part of Garachico. Romen was among the Menceys who fought off the invader’s forces during the conquest.

Tegueste of Tegueste This area covered the current Tegueste and much of San Cristóbal de La Laguna. The Mencey who gave the area its name fiercely resisted the Castilian invasion and was involved in the Battle of La Laguna.

Due to their isolation, the Guanches were extremely sensitive to the germs and bacteria brought by the invaders and died in large numbers. The survivors were employed on sugar plantations or were sold as slaves in Seville and Valencia. 

The giant bronze statues of all Menceys are neatly in a row near the cathedral of Candelaria. They form, a symbolic separation between the Atlantic Ocean and the island.

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The 60s and 70s in Los Rodeos and Bajamar

The following is from a 2014 article by Julio Torres relating to the 60s and 70s in and around Los Rodeos and Bajamar. I found it interesting if a little disjointed as it is split into three separate parts. The images are fascinating and I hope you enjoy it.

Los Rodeos airport was created following a request from Lufthansa to link the island with Berlin via Seville. For this purpose, the Cabildo purchased and developed a plateau of land in the upper part of the municipality of San Cristóbal de La Laguna (at an altitude of more than 600 m above sea level).

Its first flight dates back to 1929 an Arado VI from Seville and the Royal Order of May 14, 1930 approved it as a national airport. For fifteen years, the airport received various flights. The terminal was completed in 1943 and on 12 July it was classified as an airport open to all types of national and international traffic.

The airport became the main entry point for tourists to Tenerife and a place of vital importance for the island.

During this period, tourism not only increased in terms of visitor numbers but also in terms of companies providing financial backing for a larger share of the market. At first, it was mainly the Germans who bought land and promoted new tourist complexes. There were also Swedish, Dutch and British buyers, as well as Spanish businessmen both local and from the peninsular.

In the 1960s tourist development of Bajamar was the focus of investment and virgin areas of the coastline, which until then had only been home to a few fishermen’s dwellings, were developed. This period, known as the “tourist boom”, often appears as the starting point of the “travel industry” in the Canary Islands, undoubtedly due to the important economic-social and, above all, the transformation it produced in Bajamar.

Among my memories as a “kid” I used to go to a riding school at Los Rodeos twice a week. My favourite horse was called “Canario”, an old army veteran. I have to admit that, given the little time I could dedicate to this activity and also because of the economic situation, I never considered trying to become a showjumper. But I did enjoy riding for as long as my resources allowed me to do so. That is why I remember the summer when Carmelo, as the instructor was called, together with Miguel Álvarez Cambreleng and Manolo Simó, took the horses in the photo, from left to right, Feo, Aguilucho, Sabrina, Mora and Colirum, to the new riding school in the Vernetta-Bajamar housing estate.

They were undoubtedly the first horses to come down to “summer” in Bajamar and I say “down” because they came down from Franchy’s stable in Portezuelo – Los Rodeos.

For those not versed in “lagunero equestrian matters”, if there are any, we need to make some preliminary clarifications: During the first stage, the riding school of Carmelo Cuadra Franchy was developed under his personal management. Later the Club Hípico La Atalaya appeared, as well as the interest of new promoters in Bajamar and included a riding school available to tourists. The new Bajamar riding school was built on the slope of the Isogue-La Vernetta, the work of the promoters Manolo Simó and Miguel Álvarez Cambreleng.

The first tourist brochure of La Laguna-Bajamar-La Punta del Hidalgo, printed by the Romero press in 1970, had the peculiarity of being translated in the following order: French, German and English and was sponsored by the Ministry of Information and Tourism.

The text of the brochure was as follows:


La Laguna

Founded in 1496 by the conquistador Alonso Fernández de Lugo, it was the first capital of the island. It is a city, with well laid out streets, temples, paintings, altarpieces, images and sacred treasures of great interest for the visitor.

La Laguna is the university seat and capital of the Nivariense Diocese. Its cathedral, formerly the parish of Los Romedios, began to be built in 1515. In 1905, work began on the current building. Neoclassical façade. Permanent exhibition of its sacred treasure. Of great interest is a 16th century Virgin of the Light and Flemish paintings from the same period. The University has four faculties and various sections. Sports complex. Landscapes of indescribable beauty around the golf course and shooting ranges.

The Fiestas of La Laguna, are famous throughout the archipelago. Pilgrimages, the artistic carpets of natural flowers at Corpus Christi and the renowned festivities in September.

Bajamar

In the municipality of La Laguna. Bajamar is an important tourist centre. Natural swimming pools, beaches, modern and comfortable hotels, it is a coastal area with calm waters and rich in fish. Ideal and stable temperature all year round. The most beautiful sunsets. Strategically located hotels. The most varied species of seafood. The wide terraces of the hotels and the green areas of the modern urbanisations. Tourism from all over the world comes together in Bajamar. Tucked away are quiet natural coves all along the coastline. Nature and comfort go hand in hand.

Punta del Hidalgo

Bajamar and Punta del Hidalgo, separated by a kilometre of road and the beach of El Arenal, share the tourist progress. Without having lost its old character as a fishing and farming village, La Punta also has first-class hotel facilities. The perfect rural architecture of the white farmhouses contrasts with the large modern hotels.

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