I read a report in a Tenerife English language rag about declining tourist figures in Puerto de la Cruz, Tenerife’s main northern tourist resort. As the date I read this was 28 December I wondered if it was a ‘fake’ news story, especially as the report contradicted official statistics. 28 December is Día de los Inocentes, the Spanish equivalent of April Fool’s Day.
It was ironic I read it on a day where I had to squeeze into one of the last remaining chairs in the Beehive pub in Puerto de la Cruz in order to watch a football match between Manchester United and Chelsea. The place was rammed. The Beehive expanded into two rooms a couple of years ago. I thought it risky at the time as the island hadn’t fully emerged from the economic crisis, but now it seems a canny business move.
Outside the Beehive the re-vamped Calle La Hoya was looking good, buzzing with people in festive mood. The renovation of the pedestrianised street has resulted in new shops and cafés opening up, the wonderful Tierra de Jamón being one of them.
Ducking down a side street took me to the San Telmo promenade – the new wide, walker and wheelchair friendly San Telmo where people line the railings to watch the huge Atlantic rollers we get at this time of year. Before it was built we’d have rushed along it, getting sprayed by the breaking waves and muttering about being squeezed in. Now the wide walkway is a joy to walk; no crush and no drenching. A visiting friend recently observed, whilst looking out to sea: “It’s like standing on the deck of a liner.”
The perennially bustling Calle Quintana took us into the old part of Puerto de la Cruz with its pretty plazas including the heart of the town, Plaza del Charco. A few years ago the then socialist council introduced a law where restaurants and bars in the town had to ‘standardise’ their pavement area. It meant the end of Coca-Cola umbrellas and white plastic chairs. Plaza del Charco now looks more stylish and sexy than it has ever done with smarter businesses flourishing. One clued up restaurateur has expanded to open restaurants on three corners of the plaza.
As New Year’s Eve was almost upon us, we walked along Calle Puerto Viejo past full restaurants to try to book a table at Los Gemelos. As usual there was a queue of people waiting to get in. It was no surprise to be told it was fully booked for New Year’s Eve.
Our route back to the harbour car park took us through the restaurant rich Ranilla district and along the pedestrianised Calle Mequinez which has become the arty centre of the town. As we walked we spotted a huge wall mural we hadn’t seen before – an initiative of the town’s art in the street festival held each May.
To reach our car we walked through an old fashioned funfair which takes up position in the lower car park each December. It’s always fun and reminds me of summer fairs in Scotland when I was growing up.
Whenever I wander Puerto’s streets I’m reminded why I like the town so much.
Everything in the garden might not always be rosy, but Puerto de la Cruz looks far better than it did when we moved here over a decade ago.
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