Shifting Sands, Tenerife in the 1970s

Shifting Sands, Tenerife in the 1970s

Whenever I tell someone how long I've lived on the island the usual reaction is "wow, I bet you've seen some changes!" Well, yes and no. Changes are much more apparent when you leave for a spell and then return. But memories can be recalled and you can surprise even yourself when you explore the shifting sands of time. Ken

Tenerife 1972 - Seven Peseta Island

Spanish Pesetas

Dorada Pilsner was 7 pesetas a bottle if you stood at the bar, 10 pesetas at a table. I never did find out the price if you stood on a table. Local cigarettes with black tobacco which
made them healthier, I don't think, 7 pesetas a pack. You could buy a brand called Boxeador for 3 pesetas a pack but these had an acquired taste and were sensationally anti-social.

Everybody smoked; everywhere. Any bus journey was a health hazard but we didn't care because we didn't know. We were still in the age where smoking was said to calm the nerves and, by God, there were plenty of those on the buses. It certainly brings into question the passive smoking theory. I still have a newspaper advert where Stanley Matthews (of all people) stated that he preferred Craven A.

Craven A Cigarettes

Petrol was 7 pesetas a litre. The latter didn't interest me as I had no car, like 80% of the people living in Puerto de la Cruz at the time. As for the rest, let's break out the booze and have a ball. There were 172 pesetas to the pound.

A good, clean, fully fitted apartment could be found for as little as 5,000 pesetas a month (£29). This included a bathroom with a bidet which most people thought was a foot bath.

Early Tourism

Tourism was solely for the winter months, many businesses, especially restaurants, closed for the summer. This all changed in 1974 with trouble in Europe. The Turks invaded Cyprus which also affected Greece, and Portugal was in the middle of the Carnation Revolution so alternative destinations had to be found and quickly. Tenerife fitted the bill.

Buffets in hotels were unheard of; waiter service at every meal. Here's an actual lunch menu from the Las Vegas hotel:

• Consomme with Sherry
• Fried Sole a la Meuniere
• Grilled Sirloin Steak Maitre d'hotel with Pommes Frites
• Peach Melba:

Our modern tourist couldn't face it but half board didn't exist. If you were going out for the day, each guest received a huge lunch-box which contained much more than an apple and banana. Guests dressed for dinner and later graced the bars and night clubs looking worth a million dollars.

There was also a dress code for the street. Tourists (usually British) were stopped by the police and told to dress in a respectable manner. AngryTourist "All right keep your shirt on!" Policeman "That's my line."

Entrepreneurs were beginning to take notice of the rise in Tourism. An astute young German businessman, Wolfgang Kiessling, spotted an opening in the tourist market and Loro Parque was inaugurated on 17 December 1972. The legend had begun.

My favourite story of these times was that Spanish law, as always an ass, decreed that to open a Park it was obligatory to have a Spanish Partner. To open a hotel this was not necessary. So Loro Parque started life as a luxury hotel with a park. Sir Anthony Eden and his wife spent three months as guests at the hotel.