Wednesday, August 15, 2012

My hometown

I was born in Santa Cruz de Tenerife 27 years ago and I lived there until I was 18 and my parents decided to move to Tegueste, a small town in the northeast of Tenerife. I never adapted very well to that major change in my life as I had always lived in Santa Cruz, a medium size city, and at 18 I wasn't particuraly looking for the stillness that my parents were longing for when they chose to move to such a small town. The positive outcome was that from that moment on I felt so unattached to new homeplace that I couldn't wait to move somewhere else and to begin travelling around Europe. But despite being happily living abroad I still miss my hometown from time to time, after all, I spent my childhood there so almost every street is full of vivid memories that bring me back to my most careless years!

Santa Cruz is the capital of Tenerife and in the last 15 years it's undergone a dramatic transformation: the city center has become a pedestrian zone, an iconic auditorium by top Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava has been built, a tram system started operating a couple of years ago and many traditional sites have been renovated. As a result the city has become more important and can even boast of having the third highest skyline in Spain thanks to its very own twin towers (at least according to Wikipedia). And earlier this year even The Guardian acknowledged it as one of the 5 top cities to live in! I totally heart my hometown and that's why I decided to dedicate a post to share its charms. So, if you ever happen to be around you can take some ideas to enjoy your visit.

Tenerife Auditorium, detail


WHAT TO SEE ...

The best way to get to know the city is by walking around, as the city center is rather small and a pedestrian zone. Plaza Weyler is a great start with its Italian baroque fountain. You can the walk to Plaza los Patos, a very beautiful square full of colourful tiled banks in the middle of the ancient modernist neighbourhood in Santa Cruz. There are many elegant houses around and also the Iglesia de San Jorge (St George's Church) which used to be an anglican church. Parque García Sanabria is nearby and it is probably the greenest spot in town. You can stroll along its many lanes, enjoy a drink at its open air café and admire its flower clock. Then you can walk to the Plaza de España and have a look at the recently renovated square. Renowned Swiss architects Herzog & De Meuron carried on the renovation project and finished it with a small artificial lake. From there you can head to the 'old town' and visit the oldest church in town, La Iglesia de la Concepción, which is one of the most distinctive buildings of Santa Cruz. Nearby is the market, Mercado de Nuestra Señora de África, inspired in the colonial markets that Spaniards built all over Central and South America, and the two main museums of the city: the Human and Natural History Museum and the TEA Museum, a brand-new museum dedicated to contemporary art and again by Herzog & De Meuron. If you walk a bit further you'll get to the 'new town' where you can see the twin towers and the new icon of the city, the white, shiny auditorium by Santiago Calatrava. There's an old castle next to it, Castillo Negro, and finally you'll find the Parque Marítimo, a complex of swimming-pools designed by famous Canarian architect César Manrique.

Plaza los Patos,detail

Parque García Sanabria

Parque Marítimo


... AND WHAT TO DO

  • Relax at the beach: Las Teresitas is just 15 minutes away with the bus (take bus 910). While it looks like an idyllic beach with golden sand and palm trees, it is an artifitial beach made with sand brought from the Sahara desert in the 70s.
  • Visit a museum on Sunday: most Spanish museums are free on Sundays, so that's the perfect day to enjoy some island culture. The Museum of Human and Natural History offers an insight into the lives of the prehispanic inhabitants of the island, including a mummy collection. The TEA Museum of Contemporary Art has an eclectic collection focused on Canarian painter Óscar Domínguez and hosts interesting photography temporary exhibitions, plus it screens arty movies with subtitles on Saturdays.
  • Enjoy some crêpes: ok, crepes might not be a Spanish speciality but there's a very cosy place in Santa Cruz which catters a wide variety of delicious crepes. La Bohême (Emilio Calzadilla 8) is a tiny restaurant with just 8 wooden tables, so after 9pm queuing is the norm. They have sweet and salty crepes and also salads,all of them named after some village or mountain in Tenerife.
  • Party!!!: Calle La Noria is the place to be. It is a old street full of cool bars serving teas in the afternoon and mojitos in the evening (try Bulan lounge restaurant,with a cool terrace on its roof top). And if you're looking for something greater, just drop by at February/March to enjoy the big carnival celebrations, worldwide famous and compared to the Rio carnivals.

Hope you enjoy this virtual tour, or even better, your time there! I can't hardly wait to spend some time there next week.

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