Tuesday, 6 September 2011

Sun, sea and thousands of tourists

Up until now, most of our holidays have involved exploring towns and cities, usually in France and Spain. My basic requirements are to get half a day on the beach somewhere along the way and try plenty of local food.

This summer, we tried something a bit unusual for us: 6 days in the tourist trap that is Tenerife, the largest of Las Islas Canarias. Guaranteed warm, sunny weather and beautiful ocean were the main selling points, along with the vague knowledge that there was plenty of exploring to be had.

photo by krycisphotos

When I booked, I knew that the area  (Playa de las Americas) was very touristy, but nothing prepared me for arriving at 8pm, just as everyone was heading out for food! For a minute I thought I'd made a dreadful mistake - bright lights; restaurants serving burgers and chips; hawkers trying to persuade passers-by to part with their money in exchange for a small plastic toy; and thousands of British people. The hotel did little to allay my fears - columns, a pyramid and loud entertainment taking place!

However, despite the slightly over-the-top design, the hotel (The Cleopatra) turned out to be quite lovely. Our room was spacious and handily placed on a corner, facing the sea as opposed to overlooking the (occasionally noisy) pool area. Breakfast was a huge buffet affair, including the option of champagne for those who felt brave. On most mornings, our breakfasting was even accompanied by a pianist!

During the day, the pool was beautifully calm. I spent a couple of mornings relaxing on a sun lounger and enjoying the odd swim. One afternoon I hunted out the bar for a cocktail by the pool - prices were about average (€6-7), but the portion sizes were very generous (the gin and tonic had at least 3 shots of gin in!).

In all honesty, we didn't spend a huge amount of time in the tourist areas, preferring instead to work the hire car as hard as possible! There are some really stunning places on Tenerife such as Mt Teide and the national park that it sits in. We also packed in some experiences to keep us busy: horse riding, surfing and a fishing boat trip. I'm sure I'll dedicate separate posts to some of my favourite places and activities so watch this space!

Feeling totally relaxed

I thoroughly enjoyed Tenerife - as long as you put the effort in to travel about, then there is plenty to see and do. The Tenerife people are very friendly and particularly appreciative if you attempt to speak the language (the bloke in the newsagents lightly teased me about asking for "estampas ingles" (English stamps) instead of "estampas para inglaterra" (stamps to England)!).

Would I go back? Maybe, but there are so many other places in the world that I still haven't visited...

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