7th May 2022
Life During a Coronavirus Pandemic: Week 110 Tenerife North
Change of scene this week as we move to the north of Tenerife and soak up some history and traditions of the island.
I found the southern part of Tenerife too touristy for my personal taste although they are developing nature-based activities here. The northern part of Tenerife is much more to my liking and I love exploring the port of Puerto de la Cruz and the island’s second biggest city, San Cristobal de La Laguna and strolling through the Jardín de Aclimatación de la Orotava near our lovely hotel, Hotel Botánico, where we are based in Puerto de la Cruz.
Monday 25 April 2022
Yesterday evening we discovered the hotel we are currently staying in will close down for good a few days after we leave. So, I can have a leisurely breakfast this morning without worrying about taking photos to review this hotel. The hotel has run out of bananas, which is amazing considering they grow here in abundance. I have some in my room, a gift from the boatmen on our trip yesterday so I go back upstairs to get them. On my way I notice a fabulous sunrise at the front of the hotel. I race back to the restaurant, grab my iPhone and get outside just as a brilliant orange sky starts turning a pale pink. What a glorious start to the day.
After breakfast I go back to my room and finish packing. As we are leaving at 10 am I take my case downstairs ten minutes before. Our names are ticked off as we get on the bus – it takes a while as there are three large coaches and more than one hundred of us. Finally, we set off in a convoy and head for the Hotel Botánico in Puerto de la Cruz. We arrive late morning and I have time to explore the beautiful gardens and take some photos before lunch. Just before joining everyone else for lunch I receive an email to say contracts have been exchanged on my flat n Hertfordshire so I am in celebratory mood and take full advantage of the wine on offer during a delicious lunch. Lunch goes on so long I have to drink the final offering, a flute of Cava, as I race around getting ready for an afternoon visit to Loro Parque.
Just two of us have taken advantage of an invitation to visit Loro Parque this afternoon where we are met by a guide when we arrive after a short journey there by taxi. After passing a gorilla deep in mediation we enter the artic enclosure housing a variety of penguins including the cute Rock Hopper. We are lucky to catch sight of an ant eater on the way past their den and a fleeting glimpse of some seals and chimpanzees on our way to the main attraction – a huge aviary featuring cockatoos and parrots. Loro means parrot and the park prides itself on having saved several species of these birds from extinction.
We also learn how artificial feathers are now being made to be used for tribal head gear to save the birds whose plumage was previously a source of materials. As we finish our tour we walk through a tunnel below an aquarium and marvel at the tanks full of artificially grown coral.
Early this evening we set off for Teide, the highest mountain in Tenerife where we will watch the sunset. We set off in the pouring rain and it is hard to believe assurances that we will drive out of the rain into sunshine. Just as we are giving up hope we do emerge from the murky weather and enjoy the spectacular sight of Teide’s peak floodlit by the sun. When we arrive in the National Park of Teide we get out of the coaches and scramble on the volcanic rocks to find the best viewpoint.
Once the sun has set we walk the short distance to Parador de las Cañadas del Teide for a rustic meal before returning to the slopes of Teide for some star gazing. We were warned it would be cold but, even though I am well wrapped up, the cold starts seeping in. I return to the coach and sit there in the dark listening to the commentary. It is not much warmer in the coach as the driver leaves the door open so the flow of people seeking shelter does not disturb the star gazers.
Beijing coronavirus cases surge as China's zero-COVID policy tested as public health officials in Beijing confirmed 22 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, the most yet in a single day this year. Shanghai, China's most populous city, said 39 COVID-19 patients died on Saturday, a three-fold increase from the previous day.
In the News Today
Oil prices fall as China outbreak, rising rates threaten demand Oil prices fell nearly 5 percent early Monday as China's coronavirus lockdowns and the prospect of rising U.S. interest rates stoked fears of decreased demand.
Tuesday 26 April 2022
Breakfast this morning is in a huge restaurant surrounding an aviary full of tropical birds. Waiters bring coffee or tea to the tables and each time guests finishes breakfast and leaves a table a new tablecloth is put on that table. Today we have the AGM of the Guild – our reason for being here so we spend most of the day in a conference room with breaks for coffee and a lovely lunch outside on the lawns of the Hotel Botánico.
The AGM finishes early enough to just catch the last open hour of the botanical gardens just across the road. These renowned gardens feature regimental rows of well-kept, individually named plants. There is also a very pretty water feature. But I don’t have time to truly appreciate the splendour of these gardens as closing time is rapidly approaching.
I return to the hotel to take their shuttle bus into the centre of Puerto de la Cruz. The bus drops me in the main square and from here it is a short walk down to the sea front. Here the waves crash against the jagged black volcanic rocks. A few people are swimming in the natural pools amongst these rocks but most people prefer to use one of the lidos that line the sea front.
Puerto de la Cruz has some lovely old buildings with outside balconies and is known as the City of the Balconies. I walked down to the little port where I found some lovely examples of this type of architecture including the old Custom House which is now a shop. The remains of the Castillo de Sand Felipe are also in this area and the Muelle Pesquero (sea wall) ends on the far side of the port.
After exploring the harbour, I try to gain access to the Muelle Pesquero, but it is not easy. Finally, I tramp across a large car park and find a convenient rock against this wall so I can climb on to the top. I only have time to walk a short distance along this wall where I find some steps to get down more elegantly than I got up. These are beside the elegant, modern Puerto de la Cruz lighthouse. As the departure time for the last shuttle back to the hotel I just have time to walk briskly through Plaza Charco on my way back to the pick-up point.
'Shambolic' passport delays mean millions could lose out on summer holidays The Passport Office blames a surge in demand after travel boomed at the end of lockdown and people putting off renewing during the pandemic. Adding to the pressure, post-Brexit travel rules require UK citizens to have at least three months’ validity remaining on their passports.
Adults given AstraZeneca much more likely to have Covid 'breakthrough' infections compared to those given the Pfizer vaccine, researchers have found. A study of fully vaccinated adults in Belgium showed substantially higher protection from mRNA vaccines such as Pfizer and Moderna compared to the AstraZeneca and Janssen brands.
Wednesday 27 April 2022
Getting dressed this morning I put my shorts on and apply sun cream on my legs and arms optimistic that this will be appropriate for today. I am wrong, after a bright start the clouds roll in again and it is so cold some members of the group dive into shops during our walking tour of San Cristobal de La Laguna to buy jackets and cardigans. San Cristobal de La Laguna, a UNESCO site, is the second largest city on Tenerife. It is a great contrast to Puerto de la Cruz, City of the Balconies, as the balconies here are inside balconies due to the windy weather. Many of the buildings here date from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. A lot of them have patios on the first floor, built before the advent of electricity, to bring light into the rooms and dry them out in this wet area.
San Cristobal de La Laguna is built on a grid system and each type of product/activity is found in the same area, for example, all the wealthy citizens live on Royal Street. This town was once the capital of Tenerife as it was easy to defend. Its port, Santa Cruz is a fifteen-minute drive from the centre. Over the years the town has extended as far as its port. Our walking tour started in Plaza del Adelantado and took us through the old town centre and included some typical canary stone buildings, a visit inside a typical old house surrounding a courtyard, the cathedral and finally its famous market square. The pretty church of San Francisco Real Santuario del Santismo Cristo de La Laguna occupies one side of this square.
Our next stop is the Bodega Monje (pronounced Monk) where we had a tour of the vineyard. As the vines have not been affected by Phylloxera they have a vine that is one hundred years old. Felipe Monje the current owner is the fifth generation of a wine making family. Not only does this vineyard produce wine but on Saturday nights the vineyard hosts Wine and Sex nights. The theme this year is Faustus, the show changes every year.
After our tour of the vineyard we have a demonstration of the making of the mojo sauces, one red and one green. And then we have lunch, featuring the famous wrinkled potatoes, traditional fare on the island.
We leave after finishing lunch but then have to turn back as one of our group has been left behind. Our guide has forgotten the extra person who joined us for lunch! When we get back to our hotel I go in search of the gym in the Spa Garden which is not, as expected, in the garden. I do two circuits of the garden before giving up and asking in reception. I find the gym which is small but does have exercise bikes so I cycle for twenty minutes in a vain attempt to get rid of some of the calories I have ingested this week. I think I manage to use up the equivalent of one slice of toast.
This evening it is our Gala Dinner at La Gañanía to mark the end of our stay on Tenerife. When we arrive, as dusk is falling, we are serenaded by a group playing drums as we enjoy an aperitif outside with some delicious nibbles. Later, during dinner we have a taste of the famous Tenerife Carnival as a troop of glamourous dancers’ spin around our tables accompanied by a marching band.
Covid loan cash seized at border Suitcases stuffed with cash from taxpayer-backed Covid loans were seized at the border as people tried to smuggle them out of the country. An investigation found that other recipients of financial support during the pandemic used the money to fund gambling sprees, home improvements, cars and watches.
Covid cuts could cost lives Experts warn “Alarming” cuts at the flagship public health body set up by Boris Johnson to combat Covid could cost lives. Plans are afoot to cut jobs by up to 40% and suspend routine Covid testing in hospitals and care homes to save money.
Thursday 28 April 2022
I have a trouble free journey from Tenerife back to Hertfordshire via Gatwick today. There was some turbulence during the flight and a lovely view of the fields of rape as were about to land. Our luggage reached the luggage reclaim before we did despite reports of long delays at airports due to staff shortages so I was soon on my way.
Care home warnings ‘ignored’ Hospital patients were unlawfully discharged to care homes during the pandemic despite 20 warnings of asymptomatic Covid-19 transmission, the High Court has said.
‘Perfect storm’ sees measles surge Cases of measles cases soared by nearly 80% worldwide this year, as the pandemic interrupted vaccination campaigns for non-Covid diseases in what the UN described as a “perfect storm”.
In the News Today
Charles backs masks for cows Methane-catching devices could be fitted to British cows to reduce emissions of the powerful greenhouse gas. The Zelp company has been working with a large meat producer to trial the devices that help cut the carbon footprint of herds.
Friday 29 April 2022
As the British Heart Foundation are arriving sometime between 8 am and 11 am this morning I am up early sorting out all the furniture I am donating to them. They arrive at 9.30 which is good news. But they will not take a large wardrobe (too big), two sofas (too old) and a single bed frame (not dismantled). So that is not good news and I now have to sort something else out as I don’t want to keep them. British Gas keeps messaging me regarding my time of arrival. I let them know I cancelled the appointment a week earlier but it makes no difference, the messages keep coming. It has been a stressful morning but I am cheered by the thought of meeting my friends for lunch at the Teatro Café in Radlett. I walk there, taking one of the many little paths in the town delighting at the sight of so many wildflowers lining my route.
London hotel bookings exceed pre-Covid levels in tourism boost London hotel bookings have passed pre-Covid levels for the first time since the start of the pandemic in a major boost to the tourism sector, figures have revealed.
Which holiday destinations still require a pre-travel Covid test? Many short-haul and European holiday destinations have now scrapped their pre-travel test requirements (some dropping all Covid-related rules altogether), many mid- and long-haul countries still ask you to test before your trip. There are no hard and fast rules from region to region.
Destinations scrap all travel restrictions – regardless of vaccination status Switzerland announces it is dropping remaining Covid travel restrictions on 2 May, joining a growing pack of European countries doing away with all testing and vaccine passport rules for holidaymakers.
Saturday 30 April 2022
Today is a day of packing and throwing out – well, packing anyway as I find it difficult to throw anything away. But I have to as there is no room for sentiment at the flat in Dorset. I work furiously all morning but I don’t seem to be achieving much. I have a break for lunch and walk into Radlett and have a lovely baked potato with tuna at the Radlett Café – good food at reasonable prices. When I get back to the flat it is time to load the car and set off for Dorset. I get some petrol and do a shop in Sainsbury’s on the way – there are several empty shelves and no lettuce or raspberries. Salad without lettuce this evening and muesli without raspberries tomorrow morning.
In the News Today
Rebel Tory MPs fear Boris Johnson could trigger autumn general election PM’s critics ‘deadly serious’ he could go to polls in the next few months to save premiership amid Partygate scandal.
Sunday 01 May 2022
I start a week-long shift as the out-of-hours warden on Brownsea Island today. I will be staying in Rose Cottage, the cottage that was used by the warden when the island was privately owned. I have to provide my own bedding as well as taking my own food and clothes. As I can’t carry everything I pack enough food for two days and will return to the mainland to buy some more food during the day when I am not on duty. My friend is joining me for the first two nights. Once we are settled into Rose Cottage we plan our first patrol of the south side of the island – looking for people lighting barbecues or bringing dogs on to the island as both activities are prohibited. Once we have checked the beaches along the South Shore and visited the campsite where 87 people are staying tonight we return to Rose Cottage, beautifully framed in purple rhododendrons, to have some dinner (pre-cooked by my friend). We are hoping for a quiet, trouble-free night – and it proves to be so.
Fifth Covid wave may be hitting South Africa and earlier than expected. The country, that has recorded the most Covid cases and deaths on the African continent, has faced a sustained rise in infections over the past 14 days that seems to be driven by the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron sub-variants.
As Beijing tightens COVID curbs, hard-hit Shanghai sees signs of life China's capital Beijing tightened COVID restrictions on Sunday as it battled an outbreak. Shanghai let some of its 25 million residents venture out after reporting a second day of zero infections outside of quarantine areas.
Some Government Statistics
The government has changed the way it reports COVID-19 statistics and no longer gives daily totals but from Monday to Friday it gives a 7-day total with no statistics reported on Saturday and Sunday. In the last 7 days, by Friday 29 April (no statistics on bank holidays or weekends), the number of people who tested positive is 105,331 bringing the cumulative total to 22,038,340. The number of deaths within 28 days of positive test is 1,560 in the last 7 days bringing the cumulative total of deaths to 174,912. Total deaths with COVID-19 on the death certificate this week 191,277 an increase this week of 1,150.
More next week
Valery Collins is the Experienced Traveller An excellent raconteur, Valery has been writing about her experiences on the road since she started travelling 25 years ago. After publishing four books she turned to online travel writing.