Week two on the Canary Islands was in Santa Cruz de Tenerife - the second of the Canaries' “shared” capital cities. The hour-long ferry ride was pretty choppy but otherwise comfortable. We had sandwiches and drinks at Comics Food&Drinks just after getting off to set us up for the short walk to our AirBnB apartment - “Casa Chica” - where our host Cathrina met us for the check-in. (She greeted us with kisses on both cheeks and explained that there was an “h” in her name because her mother was Irish.) The place was definitely “chica”...spacious and airy. Around us were parks, hills, blue skies, and fresh air - perfect for vacation!
Our next day started with an uphill walk to “La Rambla” - a wide boulevard with a lovely tree-shaded walkway down the middle peppered with sculptures, kids’ play structures, and simple work-out equipment, and lined with beautiful villas. At one point we reached the Garcia Sanabria City Park for a pleasant stroll - we’ll surely be back here! On the way back we stopped at a salon to book a pedicure for Nancy. Luckily a client could help with the translation. Back at the apartment Richard decided it was time to learn Spanish and downloaded Duolingo while Nancy did some coaching.
Central Fountain in Garcia Sanabria City Park
An evening stroll downhill took us to the center of Santa Cruz with its pedestrian-only streets filled with shops, restaurants, and tourists. A palm garden beckoned us and we enjoyed tapas at El Principe on the Plaza Principe de Asturias...so nice to be dining al fresco in February. We walked home under the stars. Fun fact: Tenerife is a Mecca for astronomy with observatories on El Teide, the volcanic mountain in the center of the island (Spain’s highest peak). Back at the apartment we streamed "Jojo Rabbit".
Some of our best meals yet were at a small restaurant right across from our apartment called "La Frasca". We made it there twice. The food was outstanding, the service was gracious, and there wasn't a tourist in sight. Fortunately they had an English language menu on a tablet with pictures of all the dishes. Only downside - we couldn't understand the specials of the day!
A 30 minute ride on the very efficient tram took us up to La Laguna, an “old town” with wide boulevards, tall palms, and stucco buildings with immense doors. Live music on the plaza drew us in to stop for tapas and local wine at Rincon Lagunero, then a walk to a park and into a beautiful church with the largest choir section ever. We took advantage of Tenerife’s duty free shops and bought half-price Chanel "Chance" perfume - happy Valentine’s Day to Nancy.
We arrived at Espacio Cultural Aguere for a scheduled 9:00 musical performance. What were we thinking? The bartender - the only person in the place - affirmed we were in the right place and yes, 9:00 is the scheduled time. When we suggested 10:00 might be a better time to return she made a face that said “maybe”. We love the European vibe.
Instead we moved on and stumbled upon a modern art exhibition opening in the beautifully restored Monastery of Santa Catalina de Siena. A courtyard with a fountain, wide plank floors, white washed walls, modern art, complimentary wine bar...perfect.
Our constant quest for live music brought us to the Rayuela Cafe Teatro. We started upstairs with a really fine dinner of grilled vegetables and sirloin steak served over french fries with a nice chunk of foie gras on top. Then we went downstairs to the tiny theater and enjoyed a concert of a local solo pianist whose dreamy style reminded us of Yann Tiersen & George Winston.
A bus ride took us to Playa de Las Teresitas - a man-made horseshoe-shaped beach set between two rocky former volcanos, with smooth sand shipped in from the Sahara Desert. We had lunch with cava and rented beach lounges at the Flow Beach Club. Nancy was intrigued by the presentation of her pulled pork dollops set into small quartered potatoes. Richard's hake sandwich was practically sashimi raw, but tasted great. We basked in the sunshine for a couple of hours and enjoyed the people watching before the wind kicked up and sent us packing.
On our way back from the beach we had to stop once more at the City Park. This time we tried the Terrazo Restaurante Parque right next to the giant Reloj de Flores ("Flower Clock"). "Dilemma" by Nelly was playing in the background, prompting an impromptu dance as we waited for the white wine to arrive.
The search for a breakfast treat got us up and out early, heading for the port where we noticed one after another Coca Cola branded kiosks - they were clearly underwriting a major portion of the upcoming Carnaval celebrations. With the opera house in the distance we walked the shoreline until we reached the convention center where Richard couldn't resist seeing the Carnaval Costume Competition. Nancy could only last through the first 10 presentations in the kids section. The little mice were clearly freaked out by the crowd.
We were back out and walking past the city's alternative to a beach - a series of man-made lagoons - and over to the fantastic modern Opera House designed by Santiago Calatrava. The break-water boulders were beautifully painted with tributes to musical greats. We finished our stroll through a massive open-air flea market where Nancy recognized a Vermeer print that she sold at our estate sale. We enjoyed one last al fresco lunch before heading back to pack for the next day's flight to Málaga.
Our week in Tenerife was just what we needed, and apparently well-timed - the island was hit by a sand storm that caused cancellation of some of the Carnaval events shortly after we left. [BTW - We were nowhere near the quarantined hotel.]
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