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A Tenerife Lazy Sunday Afternoon
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Contributed by Jack Montgomery   
Thursday, 21 February 2008

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I recently experienced the most perfect Sunday afternoon. Normally I make it a rule not to venture far on a Sunday. It’s not that I have anything against Sundays; it’s just that it’s a big family day out on Tenerife and, away from the autopistas, the roads can be incredibly busy. Added to that there can be any number of unexpected obstacles which can scupper plans.

Before I got wise to this I have, at various times, been caught in the middle of the annual round island 3000 strong motorcycle parade. A Harley Davidson cruising at 15 kph just seems like motorcycle abuse to me. I’ve also found myself surrounded by scores of would-be Lance Armstrongs during one of the many ‘Tour de Tenerife’ cycling races and have found key roads blocked because of car rallies. Admittedly it makes taking to the road a bit like a magical mystery tour, but when you’ve got a specific plan it can be a tad frustrating.

Chio Recreation Zone

Although saying all that, I do enjoy taking visitors on Sunday picnics. Tenerife’s blessed with an abundance of ‘zonas recreativas’ – basically picnic areas with tables and stone barbecues. At weekends these are packed to capacity with Canarian families laying out banquet sized spreads and decorating trees with balloons and streamers; some even bring guitars and have a sing-along. They’re great places for eating al fresco and range from large sites like Las Raíces outside La Esperanza, La Caldera above Aguamansa and Las Lajas near Vilaflor to small more intimate areas like the tables dotted throughout the woods on the Puerto de la Cruz – Teide road. Incidentally, I made the mistake once of planning a picnic on the south coast. Could I find a zona recreativa? We ended up cold and wind beaten, huddled in the midst of a bruma outside a little town near Guia de Isora. I couldn’t figure out why the south coast didn’t seem to have any picnic zones, then it clicked. They tend to be located in the dappled shade of a forest. Therefore no trees equals no zonas recreativas.

Los Lavaderos

Anyway, back to my perfect day. I’d recently been carrying out some research in El Sauzal and had stumbled across what looked like the most idyllic spot to chill out. It was a small stylish café called Chocolaté, tucked away amongst the tumbling gardens of the former communal washing area of Los Lavaderos. I made a mental note to return when I wasn’t working. The arrival of a friend last weekend provided the perfect opportunity, so we bought the Sunday papers, headed to El Sauzal and plonked ourselves down at the last remaining table overlooking these fabulous gardens.
El Sauzal has some of the best views of Mount Teide that you’ll find and we could see right down the northern coast all the way to Buenavista del Norte. It was a beautiful day, hardly a breath of air despite the warning of gale force winds for parts of the island. We ordered some spiced tea and a couple of beers (an odd combo I know) and sat with the sun on our faces listening to the sound of gently trickling water from the garden’s natural fountains. It was perfect…almost. There was one final ingredient. I grabbed the sports section of the newspaper, opened it at the report of the previous day’s FA Cup match between Manchester United and Arsenal and sighed. I could almost hear Lou Reed singing in my ear, “Such a perfect day…”

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