Andy has a moment.
Having ‘mmm’d’ over my tapas of tortilla topped with a juicy prawn and a sweet cherry tomato, I’m ready to explore. But Andy grabs my arm.
“Wait a second,” she leads me to the edge of the shore where crashing waves drown out the sound of the two singers nearby and the salty Atlantic air mingles with ‘tractor beam’ aromas from the medley of tapas stalls behind Playa Martiánez. “We rarely take the time to appreciate this.”
She’s right. It’s been an exhilarating summer of exploring here, there and everywhere. As a result, we’ve more or less missed the summer months on Tenerife.
It’s a beautiful, balmy October night; far too warm for the long sleeve tops we’re both wearing. The scene in front of us is hypnotically magic. A bright moon casts its sparkle on the silvery surf whilst twinkling lights atop the cliffs along the north coast look cosy and inviting. César Manrique’s illuminated Jibia in Lago Martiánez adds a surreal and arty element to the sub-tropical scene.
It can be easy to forget how special this place can be. Behind us the air is filled with laughter and music. It’s electric.
“Imagine arriving here for the very first time on a night like this?” Andy ponders.
It was this sort of atmosphere that sold Puerto de la Cruz to us in the first place. After 10 years of exploring this island, there is still no other place on it that can boast the same ingredients.
We finish our cava (an accompaniment to the tapas) and drag ourselves away from nature’s grasp to immerse ourselves once again in the warm embrace of Noche en Blanco.
Noche en Blanco is an initiative to boost business but, although there are kiosks selling all sorts from jewellery to clothes to food and wine, it doesn’t feel like an excuse for a shopping spree. It’s more of a laid pack party that you never want to end.
Playa Martiánez is linked to Plaza del Charco by tapas and handicraft stalls, an army of classic sports cars, a fashion catwalk and the occasional stage featuring musicians that range from timple playing comics (Juanka y Yaiza) to guitar strumming rockers to DJs.
The stream of people promenading along the pedestrianised seafront covers all ages: Toddlers in prams, eyes wide at what’s going on around them; the town’s teens, laughing and eager to be out and about on a Saturday night; sophisticated twenty-somethings who look as though they should be on the catwalk themselves in their voguish pretty, paper thin dresses; couples our age sip wine as they stroll and frail abuelas and abuelos link arms with their offspring as they enjoy their outing to the cosmopolitan town.
We’re in the season between the Spanish mainlanders leaving and the bulk of the Northern Europeans arriving, subsequently most of the people around us are Canarios.
The prices in the tapas stalls reflect their market – prawn and tortilla tapas is €1, a pork pincho (kebab) is €2 whilst a slice of sweet potato topped with cod and cilantro sauce is €1.50. The wine is also €1.50 and that includes the ‘proper’ glass in which it comes. The cava is ridiculously cheap at €0.95.
There’s an infectious Saturday night buzz. Puerto is a working town first and a holiday resort second which gives the town a weekend atmosphere that’s missing in places that are the other way around.
We’re surrounded by happy, smiling faces as we make our way back to the older part of Puerto. We detour into Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de la Peña de Francia where there’s a wedding taking place. Anyone can wander in and out to watch the soon-to-be newly-weds take their vows.
This is the sort of place Puerto is – relaxed, welcoming, open.
We grab another tapas and wine and sit on a bench in Plaza del Charco where a mix of real ponies and mock ones made from tyres provide rides for Puerto’s younger children and a tent with an F1 simulator offers tyre-screeching thrills for the next generation.
It doesn’t matter what age you are, there’s something for everyone and nobody minds that they might bump into their older brother or sister or, god forbid, their parents. Everybody happily shares the same place whether that’s a promenade, plaza, restaurant or bar.
This community atmosphere is what makes it special. It is what all inclusive should really be about.
Jack is co-owner, writer and photographer for BuzzTrips and the Real Tenerife series of travel websites as well as a contributor to lots of other places. Follow Jack on Google+
You summed that up perfectly…I love Puerto x
Just a little thing that’s been bothering me lately in your writing: the word “tapas” is plural, not singular. The singular is “a tapa”, “another tapa”, etc. Sorry to nitpick but every time I see it I wince!
Thank you for that Sonjie. Sorry to hear it makes you wince.