“ Garachico / Tenerife / Canary Islands / Spain „
Castillo San Miguel
http://www.castillosanmiguel.com in English, Spanish, French and German.
Whilst on holiday in Tenerife this summer 2007, our tour representative did a reasonable job on her sales pitch by convincing me to book another of her excursions. Not only had I just booked a Catamaran cruise for an afternoon but I had now also paid my euros to spend an evening at the Castillo San Miguel (Medieval Evening).
If you are ever holidaying on the island of Tenerife, then please read on before you commit yourself to a very different evenings entertainment.
*** Object of the Evening***
Castillo San Miguel covers approximately 6,000 square metres and is constructed of Canarian stone, towering more than 16 metres high.
The Castillo San Miguel or fort as it is also known by the locals, is home to the Count Don Rodrigo and this daughter the Countess who are played by actors naturally.
The idea of the night is that both of them are here to enjoy an evening of fun and games (no frivolity) performed by their own colour coded knights. These tourists tournaments are held four times a week, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday, all year round. During the summer season there is a further show on Fridays.
You can either book via your tour guide/rep or hotel reception. Alternatively without paying the middle man commission, you can also arrange your tickets over the internet and calling them direct. The cost is 45 euros for each adult and 22.50 euros for children. In comparison, I paid 60 euros for each adult and 35 euros for my children, but that did include the coach pick up and return to the hotel. Also in the price is your dinner and unlimited wine or soft drinks which I will talk about in detail further on.
Telephone number: Tenerife + 34 922 700276
*** Our Night of Pleasure****
The clean and well presented coach collected us from outside the hotel at 6. 00 pm. After other pick ups on route, we reached the destination at 7.30 pm. The show starts at 8 pm. It was rather weird approaching a castle close to a residential block of holiday apartments. I was expecting to be driven down some long and winding road in the back end of beyond, how wrong was I.
Our friendly rep for the evening Damien, introduced himself and told us what to expect. He said he would be serving our drinks but would only keep returning to us if we shouted the loudest when cheering on the knight colour coded to our group. Air Tours had apparently won for the past six consecutive weeks and they wanted to keep the tradition going.
When we disembarked from the coach, there were masses of people waiting to get inside. I was relieved that our rep was there to guide us in as otherwise we would not have had the faintest idea where the entrance was. Standing by the pillars on the pavement were two beautiful horses and their knights, all dressed in full battle gear. You are allowed to take pictures but the crowds push and shove their way to get the best photo.
Our rep handed us all a blue tabard, similar to what I used to wear when playing netball at school, many years ago. One size fits all adults apparently but anyone on the cuddly side might find it difficult to pull on. Children have a smaller one. The tabards are colour matched to one of the knights in battle and its dependant on how loud you scream and shout at your knight to see how fierce he becomes in the arena.
You have to queue in single file to get inside and I must admit the entrance is pretty impressive. The dimly lighted hall is decorated with armour, chests and swords for a really authentic medieval look.
As we were all shuffled inside like a herd of sheep, the Count (who happened to be extremely handsome) and his daughter greeted us individually with a hand shake. This was a photo opportunity for the company, you are not allowed to take your own photo as I found to my error by some rather rude Spanish lady standing guard and pushing my camera lens down to the floor. How dare she humiliate me and on principle now I refuse to buy the pictures. So for a family of five, each picture will set you back 18 euros, they will not take a group photo, only one person at a time with the Count. Half way through the show, another member of staff will come to your allocated seat and let you see the photos and perhaps purchase them. If you decline, the photos are collected again. A complete rip tourist rip off.
The daughter stays sitting on her throne, barely acknowledging you, it was her father who does all the work. Once the photo is done, you are then ushered by more staff into the main hall and arena and given a ridiculous paper cardboard crown to display on your newly made hair do! I have lots of hair, most of it natural dark curls and with this crown perched on my head, it felt like I was parading a birds nest. I was really trying to get into the spirit of the evening but so far it wasnt happening.
The arena is dark inside and regardless of the Tenerife heat, quite cold that evening. There is row upon row of wooden benches of which you have to spend the next two hours or so. On each row of benches there are no gaps, so if you are right at the furthest end and need the toilet, every one sitting on that row will have to get up like a deck of cards to let you pass. If you are a contortionist, then you might be able to climb over the back of your bench and onto the walk way without disturbing fellow guests. Needless to say I declined on using the toilet as we were situated right at the furthest point and hardly drank any liquid for fear of needing the loo.
In front of you is a narrow wooden plank on which you keep your drink, food and elbows. No soon as you have sat down, another miserable staff member comes up to you and tells you to move up, cramming in as many people as possible. Suddenly you become intimate with a complete stranger, very uncomfortable and so close you can taste their breath yet alone feel it. I was beginning to panic incase I had an attack of wind because the entire bench might feel the tremor!
The Count was seated at the far end of the arena to us, we were just above where the horses come thundering in. The coloured seating around the tournament room is tiered so that all of the Counts guests have a great view of the arena and it is only when he is seated that the show begins. Loud cheers are very welcome when the knights enter the arena to introduce themselves to you and begin the performance for the night.
Our blue Knight was called Fabien, aka Lord Delfont. The female who grabs his eye from the blue team is thrown a red rose. Fabien was more than pleasing to the eye and made up for the cramped and uncomfortable seating conditions. Needless to say out of all the females seated in the blue area, it was my young 4 year old daughter who grabbed his attention and won the rose.
I also took a fancy to the purple knight Lord Temple aka Alex. Things were looking up on the eye candy stakes. So many fit young men all with long flowing black hair and all under the same roof. I even found myself drooling over the villain of the evening, the notorious black Knight, Lord Iofre Santa Creu aka Felo.
As the Knights rode back under the large velvet curtain, we were then entertained by a fire eater and juggler. It was at this point that the rep brought round bottles of drink to each party. The liquid refreshment consisted of bottled water, lemonade, a bottle of fizzy orange with a most vibrant colour similar to Jodi Marshs suntan, a rich yet pungent red wine and a sour dry white wine.
My children and I stuck to the water whilst my husband downed the wine and soon became quite drunk. I was too nervous to drink as I dreaded the prospect of trying to get up to go to the toilet, so only sipped during the entire show. I advised my children to do the same.
As soon as we were trying to work out where to place the bottles without knocking them off the planks, another staff member comes along pushing a trolley full of stainless steel bowls. A banquet of soup, chicken and jacket potato is served throughout the competition which must be eaten medieval style. The soup is drunk from the bowl and the rest of the meal is eaten using your hands. The meal is finished with dessert and drinks and no hand wipes.
The soup was hot and very lumpy. Not safe enough or cool enough to devour instantly and by the time it is cooled and redeemed safe, the bowl is collected. I just had time to chomp on the bread roll. Needless to say I had none and fearing of the mess my children would get into, they didnt have the gloupy liquid either.
Along come another trolley and this time a medium sized roasted chicken is literally thrown onto your plate. The grease spattered from the carcass of the bird as it was dropped onto the stainless steel dish. Fortunately I had my tabard on to save my top.
Within seconds of the chicken landing, a jacket potato is then thrown at you, also covered in butter and dripping with grease. With this meal, you are expected to just tear the chicken apart and scoop out the potato with your bare hands. Remember to wash them before you go in or even better, grab a plastic knife and fork from your hotel and smuggle it in your hand bag. Children are given chicken nuggets and chips unless you request they have the same as you. From my experience, stick with the chicken nuggets for kids.
Another photo opportunity but this time its a family one for 25 euros. It is presented in a memorable cardboard frame and this time I gave in and purchased it. You can only buy the photos with cash, credit cards were not accepted for this.
The last course is a mousse, nothing medieval about this, just a box standard out of the freezer plastic tub. At last you get cutlery in the shape of a plastic spoon. As you have no other means of wiping your greasy hands, I had no option other than using my tabard. For any readers tempted to go in this night out, a word of advice take a packet of wet wipes along with a knife and fork.
In about 45 minutes, all is cleared away apart from the drink. It is now the show gets underway and the Knights battle it out in your honour. Firstly they have to hit targets whilst on horseback and then they fight each other.
The commentary was in Spanish so therefore I had no idea what was going on. After the initial 20 minutes it became tedious and boring. The majority of the audience who were now on the way to getting drunk were all screaming the team colour over and over again, hoping that their knight would hear and put in a bit more effort. My son screamed so much he lost his voice.
The green Knight gave what I thought was an inappropriate gesture to his opposing audience, he circled round and gave the middle finger salute to a row of children. I know we live in a ridiculous world of political correctness but this I felt was way out of order and should not have been allowed.
When the tournament is over, the loosing knights are either dragged out of the arena shackled to a horse cart or suspended from the ceiling in a metal cage. The Count Don Rodrigo gives the winning Knight his daughter and they ride out of the arena together, happily ever after or until the next show.
The Count then invites his guests (in Spanish) in to the ballroom where you can end your night out with a dance on the stage and then enjoy a performance of Spanish Ballet, Comedy or Acrobatics depending on the evening. We had no idea where to go so just followed all the other sheep.
*** Part Two ****
When you leave the arena you will find yourself in the main hall where the shop is. If you want you can purchase t shirts here, DVDs of the show, books or even miniature knights on horse back. Take my advice, walk away and just find the toilets of which there are only two selections. It appeared everyone was in desperate need of the loo and the wait was horrendous on both sides.
The second part of the show has no free bar, if you wish to carry on getting drunk at no extra cost, have as much as you can in the arena and smuggle out an extra bottle under your cardigan. There is a disco and everyone is invited on stage to have a dance. When the second part of the show is about to begin, you are told to leave and sit down in anticipation.
I wasnt sure what to expect so imagine my surprise when a group of half naked men came on beating drums. With their waxed and wash board chests, they quickly removed their loin cloths to reveal a skimpy thong type garment underneath. I thought I was in for a night of strippers and quickly climbed the table for a birds eye view pardon the pun. I was disappointed at this point as the thong type item stayed firmly in place and the men began fighting instead. The moves were incredible, the man next to us said it was a Hindu form of martial art and I was mesmerised. It made my sons Karate seem tame. After 30 minutes of entertaining us, the men placed on the loin clothes and slowed the pace by having a dance and inviting the children and reps on stage.
At 12.30 exactly, the coach was ready for departure and out we go again in the hustle and bustle trying to find the numbered coach for our hotel. It was chaotic as not only was the car park in darkness and badly lit but nearly everyone was well and truly bladdered at this point, my husband included and he nearly sat on the wrong coach.
Would I go again? Well to be honest, no. It is an experience I can say I have done but I wont be repeating again. It was expensive, some of the staff was rude and I hated being treated as if I was in a cattle market. The seats were uncomfortable and cramped, I felt very claustrophobic. Too many people in too little space, it is a health and safety issue waiting to happen.
The show was ok, nothing to rave about. Perhaps if it was in English and not just Spanish it would have been more interesting.
As for disabled customers, I didnt see any specific facilities for them and I did not see a disabled toilet either. Saying that there could have been one tucked away but with the huge amount of people inside the complex it was impossible to tell where I was or if there was indeed one. The main toilets were nothing to shout about it, no toilet roll, bit pungent and lots of wet splashes on the seats and floor.
There was no vegetarian option given for the meal either. Before booking I would call them direct as the tickets are not refundable according to our representative.
If only you could see the pictures of the food, you have to see it to believe it!
The Castillo de San Miguel, a small sturdy fort, was built in the 16th century to guard the important harbour of Garachico from pirates. The Castillo de San Miguel, fort survived the destructive lava flow. Castillo de San Miguel is located on the sea front near Garachico's volcanic rock pools. See the display of rock and fossil collection and enjoy the view from the castles ramparts.