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Cunard Queen Victoria 2017
Canaries Christmas Voyage
Map Introduction and Embarkation at Southampton Madeira - Portugal La Palma - Canary Islands Tenerife - Canary Islands Lanzarote - Canary Islands Christmas Day and other Activities at Sea General Days at Sea - includes the Britannia Club and Verandah Restaurant La Coruna - Spain and Return to Southampton
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Santa Cruz de Tenerife - Saturday 23 December 2017

This morning we berthed in the usual place, with a Pullman Tours ship in berth behind and closest to the port exit. There was a shuttle bus from the ship to the town but since the new pedestrian footbridge had been completed and it is often quicker to set off on foot towards the bus station than to wait up to 15 minutes for a shuttle bus to fill and leave. In this case the bus appeared full so we took it but the drop off point is not in the direction of the bus station and we are sure we would have saved time by walking. The rule when walking through the port is to follow the blue line. We still got to the bus station in time for the bus we wanted after a very brisk walk.

Usually we take the bus from Santa Cruz to our favourite beach resort of Puerto de la Cruz on the west coast but having spent 2 weeks in Puerto in September we decided to repeat what we did last year and go the other way to Candelaria 18 kms to the south of Santa Cruz. In September it had been too complex to reach it by local bus, which required routing from Puerto via Santa Cruz. Candelaria is a large town, still a fishing port and not a usual tourist destination, except for coach tours which call to visit the Basilica. In our case we were also keen to see if the large Belén remained the same from year to year. The pictures which follow are a mixture of the best of those taken last year and this year as the lighting conditions were very similar.

Buses to Candelaria leave from the top level of the bus station, and we already had a Bono Via Card with money on it left over from September. The Bono Via cards give cheaper travel and can be used by two people but expire 12 months after their first use. We found there are many bus stops in Candelaria because the main town stretches along the coast and the Basilica is much later. At the Candelaria bus station all the locals disembarked but the driver said it was still 5 more minutes to our destination. The journey from Santa Cruz to Candelaria took 30 minutes, mostly along the motorway, and only cost 1.90 euros with our Bono Via card. It is good value.

It is only a short walk from the bus stop to the Tourist Information Office at the end of the Avenida de la Constitucion, and then a pleasant stroll down a quiet shopping street to the Plaza de la Patrona de Canarias. This large square bordered by the ocean is a meeting point for pilgrims visiting the Basilica, and who also admire the nine large statues have been installed representing the nine Guanche rulers of Tenerife in 1496 - Acaymo, Adjona, Anaterve, Bencomo, Beneharo, Pelicar, Pelinor, Romen and Tegeste.

The Basiica of our Lady of Candelaria was designed by the Tenerife architect Enrique Marrero Regalado and completed in 1959. It is of neo-Canarian design. In 2011 it was give the status of a minor Basilica by Pope Benedict XVI. The main altar is decorated with an immense mural by Jose Agular and houses the present statue of Candelaria. The original miraculous effigy which had been found by the Guanches on 15 August 1392 was lost in the flood of 1826 and the present sculpture of the "brown" virgin was created to replace it. The new statue, like the original, holds a candlestick. The feast of our Lady of Candelaria is celebrated on 2 February. The Fundacion Canaria Sanctuario de Candelaria has a very well stocked shop accessed from the north side of the basilica with a variety of religious souvenirs, books, rosaries and medals.

One can continue on a short road along the ocean which leads to the Achbinico Cave and the San Blas shrine, with the small statue of the virgin inside the cave and an unnamed painting in the chapel outside. The chapel annex to the cave was built in 1789. Another cave, the cave of the camels, is next door. This cave was used as a shelter for camels which belonged to immigrants from Fuertaventura and the remains of candles show that the cave is still used as a shelter and for prayer. A couple of local choirs were singing outside the Basilica when we came back later in the day and we stopped to watch the 'prize giving'.

We walked back through town, stopping for an ice-cream passing the Centre for Arts and Culture on the way to the extensive Belén. Each part of the tableau was marked with a different local village and we presumed it was a project which was shared by everyone. This time there was a board which showed how large a number of regions had contributed. We took far too many photographs - the lighting was difficult as many tableaus were in a mixture of bright sun and dark shade making an overall picture very difficult.

After a stroll along the promenade, passing the Town Hall and then to the fishing harbour, we decided it was time to go back to Santa Cruz for the afternoon. At our turning point there were a few shops, including a hairdresser for dogs, and a matching animal charity shop. We added an extra CD of Spanish music to the two we bought there last year.

By luck the next bus back to Santa Cruz was due in only a few minutes. We found a seat and then had plenty of time to explore Santa Cruz, in particular the area around the Wave, the Auditorium of Tenerife, designed by Santiago Calatrava. We sat and had an ice-cream in the cafe after a look inside the auditorium. The acoustics are supposed to be superb but we noticed the outside white tiling has started to suffer and break away so there will need to be restoration work in the near future. The gardens and paths have been restored and both the Castle of San Juan and the old munitions store have interpretation boards. In the garden outside there is a mobile steel sculpture which was designed by the famous Lanzarote sculpture Cesar Manrique who died in 1992. He also designed the Parque Maritimo, a large water entertainment area nearby which was closed for maintenance. You will hear a lot more about him when we reach Lanzarote.

Our next 'target' was the central park which we had not visited for many years, we walked through the main shopping area to reach it and on the way we noticed that the local parliament building had a large Belén on the ground floor which was due to reopen at 1600 after Siesta time. The park was smaller than we recalled but occupied us until the Belén opened.

The Belén was very professional with all the figures consistent in style and size. Many of the figures in Beléns are modeled on local people and we wondered if they were of the local politicians but this was denied by the security staff.

It was now getting dark so we returned with a short detour into the familiar shopping streets then back alongside the Church of Saint Francis to the Plaza de Espana and the footbridge with the blue line which leads to the port.

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Content revised: 11th January, 2018