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Santa Cruz

Froggies and mummies....

sunny 31 °C
View Tenerife 2012 on Grete Howard's travel map.

An early start this morning, along the coast on the very fast and efficient motorway. We had no real concept of distances before we left home, but the island is larger than you think. When we arrived in Santa Cruz, the capital, we were incredibly lucky to find a car park right smack in the centre of where we wanted to be, with one single space left.

In order to orientate ourselves, we took a Hop-On-Hop-Off open top sightseeing bus. And we certainly did a lot of hopping, starting at the Mercado de Nuestra Senora de Africa, a typical Canarian market. It was very clean, with tiled courtyards within courtyards and smart looking market stalls selling fruit, vegetables, flowers, meat and some delicious pastries. Everywhere is so clean – the only rubbish we see on the streets or sidewalks, are cigarette butts, but even those are not as plentiful as you see at home.


Next hop was the Military Museum, which our useless guide book says contains the cannon which shot off Nelson's arm in 1797. Struggling to locate the entrance to the museum, we ended up walking round the block – a very big block – to find that the door was just around the corner from where we started. Had we gone the other way... Housed in the former fortress of the Almeida, it is a very interesting museum, my only regret is that I don't understand Spanish, as only a few of the exhibits had explanations in English. No obvious sign of The Tigre, the gun which rendered Horatio armless, although the museum had an impressive collection of various rifles and pistols and some very nice dioramas of the famous battle of 25th July 1797 which decided the fate of Tenerife. If the outcome had been different, maybe they would all have been speaking English today...


The people of Tenerife are justifiably proud of this heroic moment in their military history, and many streets, plazas and buildings are named after the occasion, including the 25th July Square, which is better known as Plaza de Patos (frogs), a small tiled refuge in the middle of a roundabout, decorated in bright coloured mudejar style with public benches adorned with 19th century ceramic advertising. The central fountain contains a duck in the middle and ceramic frogs all along the rim, hence the name.


After a very enjoyable lunch in Plaza de Espana, a small wander around to take some photos of the war memorial to General Franco in the centre of the square brought us quite accidentally to what appears to be a newish museum underneath the plaza itself, with a very unassuming entrance. The small museum is housed in what are the remains of the St Cristobal Castle (demolished in 1929 and the remains were not discovered until alteration work on the square began in 2006), and houses a fascinating exhibit of the battle between the Spanish and the English of 1797, including the famous Tigre cannon! Result! The museum was free, well documented in English, and like the Military Museum, we were the only visitors.


Our plan was to enter only one church on this trip, the 17th century Iglesia de Nuestra Senora de la Concepcion, but fate would have it that it was being renovated, so it remains a churchless trip so far.


Last stop (or hop) of the day, was the Natural History Museum, where I particularly wanted to see the pre-colonial Guanche mummies; and skulls showing evidence of trepanning. My theory about the origin of their mummification skills is that the Egyptians passed and called in on these islands on their way to South America on board their papyrus boats. I am hoping that Thor Heyerdahl's museum next to the Pyramids de Guimar (which we are hoping to visit tomorrow) may throw some more light on this.


After seven hours of pounding the streets of Santa Cruz, we called it a day and headed back to the balcony via the local supermarket.

Posted by Grete Howard 12:08 Archived in Spain

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Very nice indeed. The mummies look interesting - albeit, the head a little disturbing. Must be his grimace.
The "pastelito" pastry looked good! now I've a hankering for that.

Keep enjoying your trip.

by Homer

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