You know the feeling – you have to do certain things on your holiday, those things which have become traditions, like the favourite bar, the favourite shops, the way you walk to the beach. Those things which remind you of the past pleasures and enjoyable experiences. At the same time your mind goes to those things that have changes, usually for the better but occasionally not so.
Let me give you an example. When we first started holidaying in Tenerife there was a restaurant, the Don Guancho, down by Puerto Colon where the food was good and the service exceptional, provided by a couple of waiters who would make you laugh out loud at their antics. After the meal was finished we would be serenaded by a couple of old black guys, one on bongos and one on a keyboard. They sang all the old favourites and they often knew the words, sometimes not – but it didn’t matter. People would congregate on the beach front to listen, everyone danced in the streets and you went home with an euphoric feeling of contentment even if not enhanced by a bottle of free wine.
After a few years the two guys disappeared. We suspected that one of them had succumbed to illness but, being English, we were far too reserved to ask. Then the waiters disappeared. Not sure if they were poached by another restaurant or they just went on to something else. The point was – they were gone, the atmosphere changed and the magic dissipated like steam into warm air.
Then the restaurant decided to improve and shut down for a season to refurbish. By the time they reopened their clientele had disappeared too. Their climatically enclosed dining area did not attract passers by, the dancing, the music and the waiters had been replaced by something altogether more bland, less exciting and less attractive – there is so much competition in Playa de las Americas that to fail to interest is to slowly die.
We moved on. By accident we passed a restaurant bar that we used to use above Colon when we were with friends. The USP was lots of food for a minimal price and free entertainment which could be anything from flamenco dancers to half naked tribal women performing on a tiny stage. This bar, the Blue Cactus, had also changed, splitting the long bench tables into individual seating areas and moving the stage to he far end next to the bar. As we passed we heard rock music being played. We stopped to listen and we were instantly hooked.
Listen to the great Wim Roelants here
The band on stage were calling themselves the Triple Trouble/Acoustic Knights. Two names because before 9pm two guys played acoustic guitars in soft classic mode but then after 9 they were joined by a base guitar player and stunned the audience with fantastic rock renditions of all the classic songs. The lead guitarist was a guy by the name of Wim Roelants – actually a ‘professor of rock’ in Belgium. His ability to make a guitar sing was exceptional, his stage presence enormous and his style… superb. His fellow guitarist and drummer was another Belgian, Wim Martens, and between them they kept our feet tapping almost into the small hours. They moved on. Wim Roelans lives in Santa Cruz in northern Tenerife and occasionally ventures south to play at bars and other small venues. The bar continues with local bands and groups but the magic has moved on and the people who stood ten deep outside the bR hoping for a seat have moved on also.
You sidetracked me there, dear reader, thinking about the past and the fun we’ve had discovering new pleasures over the years. I began by talking about traditions. We have this little tradition that, at least every other day, we walk the couple of miles along the Geranium Walk to a german bar situated on a point of land with the most fantastic view of the island. The bar, Wolfi’s, seemed quite unwelcoming when we first passed it years ago. Then it was a few tables beneath a couple of tall palm trees filled with loud, guttural German and Dutch tourists drinking lager at nine o’ clock in the morning.
Eventually we decided to try it. We liked it. As time went by the Germans and Dutch disappeared and the walkway past it was redeveloped to provide an even better view of the constantly moving island of La Gomera (the locals will tell you what I mean). Most people walk past oblivious of the bar and lost in the view of the deep channel between Tenerife and La Gomera. Some ‘expert’ on a boat trip a few years ago had told us that the water between the two islands dropped to a depth of over 40,000 feet. I just checked and the depth is only around a thousand metres, 3,100 feet.
Wolfi’s is patrolled by a lovely but formidable waitress, Rosa. Many years ago she took a group to task when they wanted to put tables together for six of them. ‘Go eat over there’ she growled pointing at a neighbouring bar. Nobody was going to move HER tables! We laughed and gave her the thumbs up and since then we have been firm friends and hopefully valued customers. Every year when we arrive we make that bar the first on our list to visit and she rushes out to greet us and catch up on gossip. Last year she had been planning to return home to Madrid to visit her family but unfortunately she had an accident, broke her foot and had been forced to take a month off work. This year she is planning the same, we wait with bated breath. She should be back from her visit before we go home so we will know later in our holiday.
Another ‘tradition’ revolves around the places we visit for dinner. Many years ago we made friends with a brother and sister who ran a Chinese restaurant part way down the long flight of steps through the middle of the Fañabe Plaza shopping centre. We followed their progress as their reputation and clientele grew and grew to the point where they were planning to move upmarket to a larger more prestigious site at the top of the Plaza. Then they disappeared. The restaurant changed hands but not to them and they vanished. Not a trace, not a sign, nothing. After a while we decided to move on and pick another Chinese restaurant close by called Phoenix City. The competition is so strong that if you throw a rock vertically upwards there are at least five chances it will come down to land in someone’s chicken and sweetcorn soup.
Phoenix City always has a PR – a tout to draw you in – and for many years this had been a rough Londoner who looked like he would kill you with a second glance. He was, however, the nicest person you could hope to meet when I got to know him. The most effective Draw for this restaurant was, in fact, their low prices and the offer of a free bottle of reasonable house wine. Two main courses, a bottle of red and sundry glasses of Limoncello or Rum or Peach Schnapps would set you back around £15 for the night. The spirits were always served in what the Chinese waiter would call ‘lookee, lookee’ shot glasses. When the glass was full you saw, at the bottom, the picture of a suitably endowed naked man or woman. Drain the glass and the picture disappeared. Our waiter, a generous chap, left the bottles of spirits on our table for as long as we wanted to fill the glasses up again. Each time he chuckled to himself as if sharing some massive dirty joke with the foreign devils. The meal, sadly, wasn’t as good as we had come to expect. MBH found herself with a meal she hadn’t ordered but graciously chose to accept the substitute although I suspect she didn’t enjoy it. The staff had changed, the menu was poorer and I suspect that this tradition is destined to fall like the others and we will need to find a replacement before long. You can try for yourself at Calle Londres Centro Comercial Playa Fanabe Local26, 38670
On this occasion we struck up a conversation with a nice couple adjoining table. Since they were unfamiliar with the area we pointed out some of our favourites to help them enjoy the last few days of their holiday. By the time we headed back up the short hill we were, as the English put it, ‘well oiled’ and we stumbled into bed gratefully having easily clocked up 10,000 steps on our short journey to familiar places.
The plus side of the day is that we discovered a new restaurant that serves a superb tropical salad. It’s called ‘Los Fogones’ which MBH instantly translated into ‘los cojones’ making us both smile. You can find it at Centro Comercial Bora Bora, Adeje, 38660, Tenerife, Spain.