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Sunday, 28 September 2008

World Tourism Day

This Saturday, a ´World Day of Tourism ´ was celebrated in Icod De Los Vinos. There was a parade of musician dressed in the traditional clothes on the streets. Different workshops were organised in the park where children learnt to make toys from plywood, tins, wires and bamboos Some of the children enjoyed wheeling around in the home made carts.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

World Tourism Day on 27th September can be best celebrated in Icod De Los Vinos.

A theme for this year is ´Responding to the challenges of climate change and global warming. And Icod De Los Vinos challenges nature against all odd. A ten-thousand year old Dragon tree called Drago Millinario stands there erect in Icod De Los Vinos, greeting the tourists, who bend in all the possible angles to get the best shot of this tree which has the appearance of a giant frayed rope. People are fascinated by its unusual characteristics that include the gnarled wood, geometric buds and the sheer longevity of each specimen have earned it plenty of attention and respect over the years. Guanche ( the early inhabitants of Tenerife) elders and kings held court beneath the canopy of these trees, and the people believed the tree could foretell the future - a fine blossom pointing to a fine harvest. But the dragon tree's most striking feature - the bleeding of red rubbery sap, or dragon's blood, when cut - has not only given the tree its name, but has also been used in a wide variety of applications. The Guanches used it in various healing salves, to keep their teeth healthy and even in their mummification process. More recently it has been used as dye in toothpaste, marble, Italian violins and Venetian ladies' hair. Besides the attraction of this Dragon Tree, there is also another place that has proved to be very popular with visitors and locals alike, and that is the Mariposario del Drago, butterfly gardens and centre. This is at the end of the road known as Avenida de Canarias, very close to the dragon tree. There are exotic flowering plants, bushes, creepers with glass gardens included, which really looks like enchanted paradise with butterflies flittering away all around you. Relaxing music adds to the spell as you wander through the path admiring flowers and butterflies all around you. You go down the steps to see the exhibition room with charts and display model of life cycle of a butter-fly as well as cases of mounted specimens of butterflies that died of natural causes in the garden. There is cinema room that provides screenings of interesting films about all sorts of insects, butterflies and moths. You can spend a whole day in the Icod De Los Vinos. There is a Hindu Bazaar called Tejban S.L. on the other side of the park called Plaza Andres De Lorenzo Caceras´`, which sells local wine, cigars, cameras, watches, accessories and the souvenirs to take back home. The owner, Mr Suresh Moorjani, speaks English and Spanish fluently and is very friendly. While you are there, you could also feast your eyes with the beautiful painting that are exhibited at ´Casa De Los Caceres´ which is the cultural centre of Icod. During the festivals there are musical, drama and poetry performances held there which are performed by talented artists. And don’t forget to enjoy the typical cuisine in Icod. To celebrate the world Tourism day, there are special events in Icod De los Vinos. From 10am to 2 pm there will processions with music and dance and free entry into the park.

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

Visiting Santa Cruz de Tenerife

Now that the plaster is off from my arm, my family decide to take me around for some adventure. My SIL is not too confident in driving through those crowded streets. We decided to travel by public transports of taxi, tram and Titsa bus. The taxi meter starts with 2.05 euro and with every heartbeat, it increases its meter. If you are watching your budget, it is better to take Titsa Bus. A bono of 12 euro or 30 euro can be purchased, and you can just enjoy the scenic ride comfortably. A normal one-hour ride in the Titsa bus could cost around 3.50 euro and if you take tram or another bus within two hours the second ride is free. Santa Cruz is about sixty kilometers away from my place of residence at Buen Paso and we decide to take Titsa bus, we pass through many tunnels, beaches, flowered paths and scenic villages and it takes us about one hour to reach the town. Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife and it is bustling and vibrant port city at the foot of the stunning Anaga Mountains. It is large enough to provide endless variety of things to do and see, yet compact enough to explore by foot or tram. Santa Cruz, being the centre of the Tenerife Metropolitan Area, is the logical hub for the island's motorway network. The concert hall of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, designed by the architect Santiago Calatrava is the first fabulous architectural structure that greets you as you enter the city. The Auditorium – this magnificent icon of the city opened in 2003 and it is home to the Tenerife Symphony Orchestra and stages a full and varied programs of music For art lovers you can see the street exhibition of sculptures along the streets as you wheel through the streets. Many of the works of art are along Rambla General Franco, the arterial walkway that runs the length of the city; Parque García Sanabria, the ‘lungs’ of the city and around Plaza de Toros (the Bull Ring). The Santa Cruz harbour is one of the busiest in Spain, and three different quays host regular ferries, fast ferries, cruise ships and merchant ships. Just 8 km outside the city below the quaint fishing village of San Andrés, is Tenerife’s most spectacular beach. One and a half kilometres of beautiful white sand brought from the Spanish Sahara and backed by palm trees. A reef protects the beach from high rollers, creating an idyllic swimming and snorkelling lagoon. Santa Cruz is characterized for its nightlife consisting of discotheques and pubs in the Marina park and Residencial Anaga, as well as pubs in La Noria street. The city is also renowned for it’s massive, popular and at the same time sophisticated carnival, one of the biggest in the World, declared of International Tourist Interest after general Franco's death. It takes the city by storm in February or March every year. During summer there are fiestas all over the city and people are all in the festive mood. We move round the city in trams that are very comfortable and its slow speed allows the comfort of watching the arteries of the city. And it takes all day, to explore the restaurants, beaches, shopping streets, and decide to return back when the limbs start complaining of too much activity. One day to visit Santa Cruz is just not enough to see it all……

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

Festival of Cristo del Calvario,

Fiestas in Tenerife are not quite over. There is fiesta del Santisimo, Cristo del Calvario, in this town of Icod de Los Vinos. There are line-up of events, extending up to 5th of October 2008. This week end they had selection of Icod queen and Icod princess.They have built a beautiful stage with white back ground in Plaza Andres de Lorenzo Caceras, out in the open air. The children’s show is the one that is interesting for me. The children paraded down the steps, gracefully, in their beautiful outfits waving a flying kiss to the audience. While the participants changed into their different outfits, there was variety entertainment show by other talented children There were even Disney characters that kept the children enthralled And when Mickey decided to come down the stage to greet the children, every child wanted to shake his hand. It was a perfect evening to spend in the company of smiling faces of kids of this town.

Saturday, 20 September 2008

Visiting Pueblo Chico in Tenerife

Have you ever wondered how Gulliver must have felt in the town of small people surrounded by tiny buildings? Pueblo Chico, a theme park in Tenerife does just that! A trip to Pueblo chico gives a feeling of being high above the buildings and having a bird’s view of the island. The only difference is that you are not likely to be tied down by the tiny strings and nails or trapped down by tiny men. Pueblo Chico is the theme park in Orotava that has all the monuments and important place of interest of Canary Islands in miniatures. Attention has been paid to all the details of the actual monuments around the city to build its replicas in miniatures. Pueblo Chico tells the story of Guanchas, the early inhabitants of Canary Islands in the Stone Age. There is a town created with mud and stones and people in miniature engaged in the different activities such as pottery, farming and hunting. Then there are funeral processions, religious and public gatherings giving a deep insight of the life styles of Guanchas during the stone age. Through the narrow curvy path, surrounded by foliage, shrubs and flowers, we move through the airport with airplanes and traffic, salt pans, villages, cross the highways with moving traffic, Titsa bus depot, trams and reach the towns that have heritage buildings and town halls and amazing architecture. We see the traffic and the people in size of a finger nail and the buildings the size of a fist. There were streams; there were waterfalls, the sea, the boats, the beach, the Volcano. Pueblo chicco has it all. We spent about two hours winding through the path. The fragrance of the flowers and the cloudy climate was the perfect day to spend the afternoon snaking through the flowered path and making a trip through this miniature island.

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

Venezuelan Cuisine

There are many Venezuelan restaurants dotted around the island, famous mainly for their Arepas. This week-end we went to ´La Carajita´, a Venezuela restaurant at Puerto de la Cruz. This joint is famous for its wide variety of Árepas´, Venezuela’s home grown alternative to bread or rolls. These are cornmeal "cakes" about the size of a hockey puck that are crunchy on the outside but soft and fluffy on the inside, and they are stuffed with the variety of fillings to make a delicious snack. Then there are Cachapas, which are sweetest to taste and made like pancakes from cornmeal and has cheese as filling Tequenos are cheese rolls that are served with jam Salchita bravas is the dish that kids enjoyed a lot. These are sausages with potatoes cooked in tomato gravy. What I like best about this restaurant is that they have very good sauces to serve with meals. I like Salsa Picante, a chillie sauce and ´Guasacaca sauce´ an Avocado sauce similar to Mexican Guacamole but not as thick, and it is great for drizzling over arepas or empanadas.

Monday, 8 September 2008

Pinolere Craft Fair in Tenerife

This Sunday, I pass through the steep hills of Orotava that are bordered by deep valleys on both sides and backed by pine clad mountains. The cool and fresh fragrant air is the perfect day to go for shopping in the open space at Pinolere Craft Fair. This is the annual fair held on the steep hills of Orotava and is a celebration of Canarian traditional craftsmanship from across the seven islands and has the most fantastic displays of produce, both modern and traditional, involving palm weaving, wicker basketry, leather work, ceramics, pottery, jewelry making and wood carving. In the stunning beauty of the valley of Pinolere, over 100 stalls surround small thatched houses within which are exhibitions of the evolution of these crafts from the earliest photographs of the islands, to modern interpretations of the art from around the world, like fabulous handbags made from painted palm leaves, crocheted table mats, dolls, clocks made from molded beer bottles and jewelry made from vegetable seeds and lentils. Some of the craftsmen kept adding to their collection of their craft as they sat by their stalls. Dotted about amongst the stalls and the huts, are groups of Islanders in traditional costumes producing hats, baskets and intricate ornamental displays with the sort of dexterity. The women are only too happy to demonstrate their craft as I adjust my camera. On a stage, there are group of musicians, demonstrating traditional Canarian musical instruments through the ages and getting a group of children to reproduce the sound each one makes. 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. I try out several Canarian sauce on small bread toast, several morsels of cheese, cakes, sweets and some sausages. I am back home, tired after climbing different levels, up and down, loaded with things, that I don’t really need.

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Bull fighting in Spain

Today in the news channel on TV, I saw a matador getting seriously injured during the bull fighting and I was feeling sorry for him. I have noticed that TV channel in Canarias are no more showing the live coverage of bull fighting on their sports channel. Some years ago, it used to pain me to see the bull fighting events on TV. There was at least one channel on Spanish TV that would show bull fighting on its sports channel regularly. But last year Spain's public broadcaster, TVE, announced it was scrapping live coverage of bullfights for the first time ever, deeming them unsuitable for younger viewers. Thank God for that! Bull fighting seems to be the favourite sport amongst the Spanish people with tourist joining in this gory sport. While the bull is asking for mercy, the distinctly well-heeled members of the crowd shade themselves in white bowler hats sucking on cigars and merrily eating peanuts. As the matador proves his machismo, there is no talk of regional domination or cruelty; just a stunning chorus of ''ole¨ How do they cheer at the sight of blood? This is the most ritualised slaughter. There is unfair advantage of the matador, with bulls frequently given tranquillisers and laxatives to sedate them before fights, and petroleum jelly sometimes rubbed into the animals' eyes to hamper vision. The inevitable death is almost never swift, with only the most skilful matadors able to kill the bull with one thrust of the sword. You see the corrida (as it is called) with three distinct stages, each time announced by trumpet sound. The participants first enter the arena in a parade to salute the presiding dignitary, accompanied by band music. In traditional corrida, there are three matadores, each fight two bulls, Each matador has six assistants — two picadores ("lancers") mounted on horseback, three banderilleros ("flagmen"), and a mozo de espada ("sword page"). Collectively they comprise a cuadrilla ("entourage"). In first stage, the matadors confronts the bull, observes its behaviour and picador stabs a mound of muscle on the bull's neck, leading to the animal's first loss of blood In the next stage, the three banderilleros, each attempt to plant two razor sharp barbed sticks on the bull's flanks, ideally as close as possible to the wound where the picador drew first blood. In the final stage, the matador re-enters the ring alone with a small red cape and a sword. He uses his cape to attract the bull in a series of passes, both demonstrating his control over it and risking his life by getting especially close to it. He manoeuvres the bull into a position to stab it between the shoulder blades and through the aorta or heart. If he succeeds, you see the helpless bull crumble down on its knees, almost lifeless and sometimes it the unlucky matador who is tossed out of control and knocked on the ground. The cruelty and blood are the end products of this sport. While the bullfight is still exempt from Spain's anti-animal cruelty laws, recent developments suggest the anti-corrida movement may be gaining the upper hand. Bullfighting has been struggling to attract younger fans for years, and opponents hope less media coverage will lead to the sport's eventual extinction. It is an old debate: tradition versus modernity, culture versus cruelty. The low attendance of the younger generation at the arena is a good sign; bull fighting in the modern society will have no future.

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