We do it every year. Just after Easter we head off as a family for a few days. In a time of busy lives, foster siblings and numerous other distractions, it’s nice to get away for a few days with the family. This year we’re back to the fab 4, the originals – parents and two sons. After researching numerous cities and destinations back in January my brother chimed in with “Can we not just go to the sun?” I generally have little interest in “sun holidays” but thought it might be nice for something different. We settled on Tenerife.
As a man with little interest in lounging around by a crowded pool all day, I wanted something that might be a bit more interesting. Having recently attained a full license and having no issue with the idea of driving on the wrong side of the road, I figured that renting a car would open up a whole host of possibilities, even in tourist-centric locations like Tenerife. After trawling through AirBnb, we settled on a four bedroom villa with a private pool a couple of kilometers from Candelaria on Tenerife’s eastern coast. Not a tourist in sight!
I thoroughly enjoyed the driving experience. This was in part down to the fact that the car I rented (A VW Golf) is a fair deal nicer and faster than my trusty 12 year old Fiesta. The automatic transmission meant I wasn’t worrying about working the gears with the wrong hand and although the streets are narrow and the parking erratic – it’s something I wouldn’t hesitate to do again. In fact, I think it unlikely that I’ll ever holiday without renting a car again.
The food of tenerife is relatively simple. As expected fish and seafood form the basis of the diet but there is plenty of meat around too. We attended the Candelaria Farmers Market on Saturday. Homemade preserves, local cheese and bread was joined by a vast array of locally grown organic fruit and vegetables. It’s quite incredible to see the variety in the produce so early in the year. While we are still lingering in the “hungry gap” they are positively brimming with fresh produce.
To get a real sense of the produce of the island, I would recommend a visit to the Mercado Municipal Nuestra Senora de Africa in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. This large, scenic market is located in the middle of the city. Above ground it is filled with the most fantastic green grocers, butchers, bakers and florists but upon descending below ground the market really comes to life. The fish market is the best I have seen anywhere. The stalls are heaving with every imaginable type of sea creature while many stalls have small restaurants attached. Although we didn’t eat here (my brother has an aversion to eating in a fish market for some reason), any dish we could see looked wonderful.
Fish and meat are generally grilled over wood/charcoal. Garlic is used liberally and I didn’t eat a single under seasoned morsel. The towns and villages are full of small casual restaurants/bars serving mostly grilled options. They can be hit and miss but are generally ridiculously cheap. There was one at the end of our road where the bill for a quarter bottle of wine and two pints of beer came to €5 – dangerous! Papas Arragadas (wrinkled potatoes) are available everywhere and are a real delight. Served with red and green mojo (sauces based on peppers, herbs, spices and olive oil), they are a perfect side dish to grilled fish or meat. Goat is a particularly popular meat on menus with octopus the most popular fish. Both are cooked simply – the goat in a stew and the octopus grilled over fire, both delicious. The inexpensive seafood restaurants tend to be surprisingly good. The local wine is drinkable but (anything I had was) lacking any real depth. See this post for three restaurant recommendations.
Why Visit Tenerife?
Tenerife may be a mainstay of travel agent “sun holidays” but I found there to be plenty to see and do for someone like me, who may not like lounging by a pool all day. I would highly recommend renting a car and exploring the island. We took a drive up to Mount Teide and although the cable cars were closed for the afternoon, the spectacular views and landscape were well worth the drive. The city of Santa Cruz is worth a visit but parking can be a bit of a nightmare. I parked at the bus station multi-storey which is pretty central and cheap. There are many walking paths of different difficulty throughout the island and I encountered many cyclists on our drive up the mountains. It may be too warm in summer for these kinds of activities but the mid twenty temperatures of April make it ideal. There are, of course, many other attractions on the island – being a family destination there are a few water parks, sports attractions and aquariums while scuba diving and boat trips are available all along the coast.
Previously in Tenerife
I have been to Tenerife before. When I was a teenager we spent a two week family holiday on the Costa Adeje. Only a couple of years ago, a story from this trip won me €1000 on a Newstalk Breakfast competition for the “most stupid thing you’ve ever done.” The evening before we were to fly home we played bingo in an English bar down the road. We won the top prize of €300 and after sharing it between us, I developed a serious itch to spend it. The next morning (we would be flying later that day) I swanned into a sports shop and proceeded to buy a load of weights. Do you think I could get them on the plane? There are probably still €100 worth of weights sitting under a stairs in Tenerife South Airport!