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Life in the not-so-fast lane
(Monday, 15 October 2007) Written by IslandDrives

I frequently have to travel between Puerto de la Cruz and the south of Tenerife. The quickest way of doing this, if not the most scenic, is to take the TF1 and TF5 autopista. The time it takes me, about one and a half hours, has been reduced a little by the recent widening of the autopista outside Candelaria. I say a little because I’ve noticed that a lot of Canarians seem a tad perplexed by the extra lane. They seem to treat it with suspicion, preferring to stay in the lane that they’re more familiar with, having driven along it for years; unfortunately that lane has now become the middle lane. The result is an inside lane which is almost devoid of traffic for as far as the eye can see, whilst everyone squeezes into the other two lanes; it’s just one of those little quirks that’s part and parcel of driving on Tenerife.

 

When there’s no time restraint, I much prefer taking to the country roads. The scenery is stunning and the roads, generally speaking, are quiet and a pleasure to drive on. You find that a lot of Tinerfeños on these roads drive with a style which reflects their attitude to life; they’re in no particular hurry to see it move along too quickly. Recently I’ve read reports from people warning visitors who are thinking of renting a car of the need to be careful when driving on Tenerife’s serpentine roads. Clearly sound advice, but only in as much as it makes sense to take care when driving on any road, especially unfamiliar ones.

The serpentine road that leads to the hidded Shangri-la of MascaThe road that the reports are usually referring to is the ‘Masca road’ and fair enough, the first time I saw the series of seemingly never ending switchbacks descending into a deep ravine I thought: ‘Wow, this has been designed by a road planner with a twisted sense of humour.’ It’s quite simply a breath-taker. But in truth, the ‘Masca road’ isn’t as nerve-wracking as it first appears; everybody has to take it slowly, so there’s no chance of a boy-racer suddenly careening around a blind corner at breakneck speed. And, despite reports to the contrary, in most places the road’s wide enough for two cars (as long as both drivers possess a modicum of spatial awareness). On the other hand, a resident told me that her husband had to drive one tourist’s car back out of Masca because the woman was far too terrified to attempt it herself.

Masca aside, most of Tenerife’s roads hold no difference than, say, driving in the Scottish highlands or the Brecon Beacons and won’t pose any problems to confident drivers. Let’s put it this way I’ve driven along most roads on this island and I’ve driven in Manchester, Birmingham and London; it shouldn’t need a mind reader to figure out which I thought were the most stressful.

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