Puerto de la Cruz is a three star town. The streets are dirty. The gardens are uncared for. And in ‘Puerto de la Cruz, parte de ti’ (part of you) it has a promotional slogan which doesn’t make any sense.
Wow! I won’t be going to a place like that anytime soon, it sounds like a dump. Wait a minute… I live there.
I don’t often read the Tenerife News, one of the free English language newspapers found in bars etc. across Tenerife. We get our news directly from official press releases, plus I check out the local Spanish papers daily. But recently an ‘opinion piece’ from the paper was brandished like a Puerto-battering club on Tripadvisor so I read it. It certainly provoked some thought… and had me wondering, not for the first time, whether the Tenerife I lived in was part of a parallel universe. The words in my opening paragraph aren’t my sentiments, they’re taken from the piece.
Looking back on 2016, the author struggled to find anything positive to say about the town.
Which just goes to show how we all view places through different eyes.
Back in August at the Phe Festival in the lower harbour car park we basked in the evening sunshine, making ‘mmm’ noises as we ate savoury, spicy Argentinian empanadas from a delightfully retro food truck whilst listening to a cracking band of bearded rockers from Gran Canaria belt out Folsom Prison Blues. I mention this because at the time we had a conversation about how the current council was finally putting the town back on track. There was a palpable energetic and youthful vibe returning which had been missing for some years.
In the month before the Phe Festival, we were wowed by a couple of America Jazz/Blues singers at the free Heineken Jazz y Más festival in Plaza Europa. A couple of months before that there was an overdose of creativity in the streets, along with around 100,000 people, over the course of Mueca Festival. The highlight of which was a huge wooden Minotaur lounging on the pavement in the fishermen’s district of La Ranilla. In amongst all that culture was a liberal sprinkling of tradition – el baño de las cabras (goat bathing) in the harbour and the Virgen del Carmen’s annual sea trip.
Going back to the La Ranilla district, what a transformation there. It’s always been one of the more charming parts of the town, but since Calle Mequinez was turned into a mainly pedestrian zone, it’s blossomed. Colourful murals have made the barrio an open air art gallery. The old streets lined by pastel cottages are now a centre for artisans, artists and restaurants ranging from traditional to the creative. In 2016 El Bistro de Antonio Aguiar was one of four restaurants nominated for the award of best Canarian restaurant on Tenerife. Nearby, El Taller Seve Diaz serves dishes concocted by one of the most talented chefs on the island. Staying with the gastronomic flow, the restaurant at the Hotel Tigaiga also was nominated in the same foodie awards, in the category of best hotel restaurant.
As well as La Ranilla, Avenida Familia Betancourt y Molina and Calle La Hoya, having benefited from a nip and tuck, are both looking better than they did when we first moved to Puerto in 2003. Calle Quintana is currently undergoing the same treatment, it’s obvious it’s going to be an eye-pleaser when it’s completely finished.
Best of all is the wide seafront at San Telmo which has become an attraction rather than a place to rush through getting bumped and dowsed in sea spray.
I’ve left the most important ingredient Puerto de la Cruz has till last – the people. The people give the town its soul. That soul seeped through our bodies from the first moment we set foot in Puerto. We know exactly what the town’s slogan ‘parte de ti’ means and it’s something which sets it apart from every other resort on the island. You either get it or you don’t.
Puerto de la Cruz is changing. It’s being modernised in a manner which, so far, hasn’t eroded its personality. Progress is slow but that’s not a trait confined solely to Puerto de la Cruz. It’s also costly. The town isn’t perfect, where is? I could easily pick out numerous flaws in any town or resort on Tenerife, or anywhere we visit.
For a few years it had felt as though Puerto de la Cruz was in danger of stagnating, its youthful and creative side being curbed. To us 2016 felt like the year where that feeling was banished. But of course, that was the Puerto de la Cruz in our universe, not that tired and dirty other place.