Monthly Archives: February 2014

A walk around the globe at the new Palmetum

The amazing story of how a huge rubbish tip became a unique botanical garden.

The official opening of the Palmetum in Santa Cruz has caused an unprecedented wave of excitement.

Not only did it receive the Royal seal of approval from the Prince and Princess of Asturias, it also becomes one of the capital’s biggest tourism attractions and a pivot point for the city’s revival.

In the words of the Mayor, José Manuel Bermúdez, it is “the miracle plant of Santa Cruz”. He used the description because 30 years ago, the site on which the botanical garden now stands was nothing more than barren land used only as landfill. However, for Tene-rife’s capital, it may well be a miracle in another sense of the word as the Palmetum is already generating publicity around the world and will be visited by hundreds of thousands of people.

The Royal opening event was attended by representatives of the international media, photographers, journalists and television crews eager to capture a story which many felt would never have a happy ending.

The ambitious project had to overcome huge hurdles over the last three decades, including the challenges of preparing the site perched high up on the Lazareto mountain overlooking the sea, capital below and the Anaga mountains, as well as the massive financial cost. The landfill site closed in 1983 but it wasn’t until the mid-1990s that the transformation slowly began.

Bit by bit, plants and trees from all parts of the world were planted, to take root for the future.

The Prince and Princess led the admiration as they enjoyed a 40-minute tour of the gardens which feature more than 2,000 different plant species, of which 472 are palm trees, the best and largest collection in Europe. One of the unique species is the tahina palm, discovered in 2008.

It has lakes, streams and waterfalls set in 11,500 square metres on the mountain plateau and a long mean-dering pathway which takes the visitor on a very special botanical journey. There are rubber plants, exotic fruits and puzzle trees, with 70 of the species being endangered and 14 of them on the critical list. The most delicate are contained within “El Octógono”.

There are 14 sections in all and a tour of the Palmetum has been likened to “a walk around the globe” with many countries represented, includ-ing Hawaii, Africa, Central America, Borneo, the Philippines, Australia, the Caribbean, Madagascar and even the Solomon Islands.

“An extraordinary setting” was how the Prince described it, a public park and botanical garden which combined science and social environ-ment with sensitivity and tourism management. Twenty five years ago, he added, it would have looked so different.

Don Felipe said the bo-tanical garden within the park placed it amongst the most important of its kind. He added that it was amazing how a former rubbish dump could be transformed into a place of such beauty.

The Mayor said that with the opening of the Palmetum, Santa Cruz took another step forward to becoming a more lively, attractive, dynamic city and, of course, a greener one. It also represented an extraordinary opportunity for the city as a major tourist attraction, one which would become a land-mark worldwide. He also described it as a triumph of will and patience.

For the first few days of February, special open days were held when admission was free and how man could create the best conditions and the most beautiful scenery from the worst environmental conditions.

From February 6th, the Palmetum opens Thursday to Sunday, remaining closed to the public on other days of the week. The hours are 10.30am to 1.30pm and 4pm to 6.30pm, admission being with a ticket which costs 1.50 euros for residents and four euros for other members of the public. There is also a special price of one euro for the unemployed, those over the age of 65, under-12s and large families.

From March, a campaign will be launched to promote environmental awareness with organised visits from schools, associations, universities and others. In this case, visits should be made be-tween Monday and Wednesday, although it might be possible to fit them in on another day.

Brits go all-out for All-Inclusives

MORE than three million people opted for all-inclusive holidays in the Tenerife & Canary Islands last year.

But the 3,212,050 figure – 28.8% of the overall total – supplied by the Canary Islands Statistics Institute (Istac), was 51,419 fewer than in 2012.

Despite the drop, it was still the most popular option for visitors, ahead of flight and accommodation (2,804,407) and half-board (2,121,183).

The all-inclusives again attracted more British holiday-makers than any other nation, 1,064,362, and they were also No.1 in the loyalty chart. Of the 3,957,776 who came to the Canaries last year, 1,501,908 had been at least three times previously.

But the Germans stayed the longest on average, each chalking up 10.78 days on the Islands, followed by the British (9.71) and and the Spanish (8.04).

As for those holiday-makers opting for apartments, their stay averaged just over 1½ days longer than those who stayed in hotels (10.36 days against 8.74 days).

In a survey of the 8,838,397 tourists here last year, most voted their stay “very good” or “good”, with just 58,407 offering a negative view.

The British were the most generous with their reviews (2,707,065) and the Spanish most critical.

And in a scale of one to 10, the Islands’ best assets (rated 8 or above) were the climate, hospitality, scenery and tranquillity.

Read More Here…………………

Carnaval in Tenerife 2014

Update 13 February 2014: Arona has now released details of its carnaval, and so I’ve updated the post below to include the link to the programme. THIS is it.

Original post 18 November 2013: It’s not even Christmas yet, but 2014′s Carnaval – the theme is “Cartoons” – is under starter’s orders with the publication of the provisional programme. The Tenerife capital’s carnival isn’t just the largest in Tenerife, it is widely considered to be the second largest in the world, with only the world-famous Rio de Janeiro Carnaval bigger. Events take place over a month, with almost everything seeming to come to a standstill when trying to get anything done in Tenerife!One of the most keenly anticipated events, or series of events, is the murga competitions – a sort of combination of farce, satire and music (involving a type of kazoo) with outlandish costume and group singing. They are phenomenally popular and there is saturation television coverage of all the stages and groups taking part. I’ve posted videos in previous years of them, e.g. HERE. Perhaps most famous to outsiders, however, are the main parade, and the choice of carnival queen, and next year’s carnival will inevitably take place under the shadow of the terrifying experience of Saida Prieto, whose carnival queen gown was set alight in February by indoor fireworks from another contestant’s dress (link): the legal arguments and compensation issues are still ongoing, and it seems the emotional scars will understandably take much longer to heal than the physical ones.The programme for Carnaval 2014, with events lasting from 31 January to 9 March, can be viewed HERE but the main events are the election of the carnival queen on 26 February, the opening parade (cabalgata) 28 February, the closing parade (coso apoteosis) 4 March, and the burial of the sardine (entierro de la sardina) 5 March. Two other Carnavals of great local interest are held in Los Cristianos (21-31 March, theme Africa, link) and Puerto de la Cruz (20 Feb-9 March, theme “Go West”,link). Los Cristianos” opening parade is on 22 March, election of the carnival queen 27 March, with the famous burial of the sardine on the 31st. Puerto de la Cruz’  election of the carnival queen is on 27 February, the opening parade 1 March, burial of the sardine 5 March, and the closing parade 8 March. One other event in Puerto de la Cruz that’s unique to its carnaval is the high heels marathon – a sight to behold – on 7 March.

Liquids confusion

Changes to the draconian rules on the carriage of liquids and gels in hand luggage at airports came into force at the end of January but appear to have brought more confusion than clarity, including in the Canaries.

As word began to spread that the rules in force at EU airports since 2006 had been relaxed, some confusion arose as to what the changes actually involved.  A detailed look at the amendments shows that nothing is really that different at present, with the exception of the treatment of duty-free liquids bought in non-EU airports by transfer passengers.

Contrary to rumours circulating on various sites and social media, the limit of 100 ml for liquids and gels and the obligation to present them in a transparent bag remain in force.  The only easing of the restrictions covers medications, dietary food and baby foods, which may be carried on board once they have been checked by the new liquid analysers installed in most EU airports.  “It is very much a case of ‘as you were’ after 31 January, despite the widespread belief that the situation has changed” said a civil aviation source.  It’s believed, however, that the slight changes are a sign that further relaxations of the strict rules are in the pipeline.

Let’s hope that the vultures at the airports will soon be forced to reduce the cost of bottled water which increased in price threefold overnight when the restrictions were introduced.

Liquids confusion Full Story Read Hear

Bye Bye BBC in Tenerife

THERE was TV chaos in Tenerife yesterday (Thursday) as thousands of residents discovered they had lost their BBC service.

The outdated Astra 2A satellite service (pictured) was switched to the Astra 2E, a new satellite service which transmits two beams.

The first is the UK Spot beam (pictured). This service covers the UK and is designed to give a powerful signal to the target audience.

The free-to-air terrestrial channels have been moved to this service, including all the BBC channels. It is understood that the ITV channels along with the Channel 4 and Channel 5 service will also be switched to this beam in the next few days.

The second service, called the Pan European beam (pictured), has a much broader coverage range and brings some joy to us here in Tenerife.

While this service will not carry the free-to-air channels, it will broadcast a host of popular stations and new channels.

These include all the movie channels, National Geographic, Comedy Central, Sky News, Sky Sports F1 and Sky Sports 1, 2 and 3. All these channels will be available on a standard dish in standard definition.

As we go to press, the full picture on what will and will not be available is still a little cloudy. Our source told us that it will take a few days, or even a couple of weeks, before everything is sorted out.

What is clear is that the BBC channels will not be available to most current satellite viewers.

But there is still hope. Some three-metre dishes have been able to pick up the BBC although, from reports we have received, this has been something of a lottery.

It seems that it all comes down to the quality of the dish. One expert told us: “Some dishes will work and pick up BBC; some will not. In short, it will come down to the quality of the dish. The better the fabrication, the better the chance of getting it.

“Also, older dishes will not work for this. For example, the ‘Channel Master’ Dish’.

“But there are some dishes which seem to be getting the job done, notably the Polish manufactured dishes.”

For many the news is grim, but it’s far worse for those on mainland Spain because they will receive no BBC whatsoever, regardless of their dish size.

Yesterday’s changes will see individual expats and complexes moving into the “next generation” of satellite-viewing here.

Many communities will need to upgrade their equipment or purchase a new dish in order to view BBC from the skies.

Of course, there is a multitude of other ways to watch the UK terrestrial channels – and plenty of companies have various options, including online streaming.

The return to “our” satellite screens of some Sky favourites is a welcome boost. It has been a while since the likes of Comedy Channel and Sky News have been available outside of HD.

Sports fans will be delighted to see most of the Sky Sports channels, and we understand that more “lifestyle” channels will pop up over the next few weeks.

That said, while the ITV, C4 and Five services were available at time of writing, these will be gone in the next fortnight as “our” skies go UK-terrestrial free.

Canarian Weekly

British TV disappears for many viewers as satellite range decreases to focus on UK

British satellite dish viewers here, throughout Spain, and indeed through Europe, are finding that they’ve lost BBC and ITV channels this morning after Sky and Freesat transmissions were moved overnight to a new satellite with a smaller transmission range. This “footprint”  is the result of the new Astra 2E satellite, which replaces the Astra 1N, and which has a tighter beam on the UK. Viewers in some places outside the UK will actually get a better signal under the new satellite, but the majority of satellite users will no longer be able to pick up their UK television.

The BBC said that since its services were for licence payers only, the corporation was neither responsible for, nor interested in, supplying television beyond the UK. ITV and Channel 4 still have to switch to the new satellite but are expected to do so soon. There are many suppliers here of “systems” to provide British TV, and it is, of course, widely available through the internet. Offers to provide a service to replace the missing satellite signal are not likely to be in short supply.