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Thursday, March 19, 2009

A complete idiots guide to Tenerife

Tenerife's elephants at the Loro Parque. Photo: Gerald England.

From research carried out by The Association for British Travel Agents (ABTA) and Thomas Cook, The Telegraph this week has compiled a list (via Boing Boing) of 20 ridiculous complaints made by holidaymakers (obviously, this is a companion guide to their 20 stupid questions asked by tourists.) Stories like this make me want to crawl into a hole or apologise profusely for being British, but it helps one to understand why people have some pretty weird perceptions about Tenerife, when you discover that this is the way some folk's brains work (well, using the terms "brain" and "work" loosely.)

So, for those who still harbour misconceptions, here are answers to just some of people's stupid questions, as they apply to Tenerife:
 
Lots of the sand in Tenerife is black. It's not yellow (except the imported bits) and it's not white. It's black and this doesn't mean it's dirty. It may still be too sandy for some people, but the colour is a bonus, designed so you can clearly see the grains in your egg sandwiches (paraphrasing TV presenter Juliet Morris on a visit to Puerto de la Cruz.)

You'll generally have to leave the resort to see too many (Canarian) Spanish people in Tenerife! It only takes about 4 hours to fly back to the UK (depending which airport) from Tenerife, about the same amount of time as it took to get there. And, if it makes you feel better, it will take the Americans much longer, because it's their turn to cross the pond. (Air Europa will be flying direct from Tenerife south to Miami USA in the spring, using the Airbus 330 with a flying time of eight and a half hours, it is thought.)

You'll need swimming trunks (or cozzies) and towels at water parks, because the water in Tenerife is still wet.

Ray Ban sunglasses bought from street vendors in Tenerife are still fake.

Al Campo, La Villa Shopping Centre in La Orotava

Shopkeepers are often still lazy (!) and take siestas in towns and cities like La Laguna and Santa Cruz, but have no fear they're far too keen to take your money in the big shopping malls or the resorts to slack off at these times.

Putting a 3,718 meter / 12,200 foot volcano in Los Rodeos flight path was not the cause of the 1977 disaster.

There's no lake at La Laguna (it means lagoon, or lake), nowadays, but you can find man-made lakes at Erjos where you can go bird watching. But the Teide National Park was not man-made! And all of the caves and galleries are underground. Get used to seeing topless, bottomless and totally naked sunbathers. As well as naked male hikers.

Unlike Wales, Tenerife is not closed in winter, because it's Eternally Spring all year round.

The mosquitos still bite in Tenerife and, while it's not considered a risk area for humans (for neither malaria nor West Nile virus), for those of you who live on the island and have pets, it IS inside a risk area for heartworm. Don't worry, there won't be fish in the sea for long, if the authorities get their way and contaminate it with their industrial port in Granadilla.

They don't turn the mist off in the island's Laurisilva cloud forests, ever.

Scottish shortbread on sale in Al Campo, La Villa.

They do sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts in Tenerife, as well as Bourbons, many other brands you'll recognize and whole racks of Scottish shortbread, for some unknown reason. (Ironically, their own - French - brand English Breakfast Tea is the nicest I've had anywhere in the world.) Try the local home made biscuits too though.

There are a LOT of hills and some dodgy pavement surfaces in Tenerife, so you might not want to wear high heels, unless you're a bloke at Carnaval, of course.

Queuing is a whole lot different, more relaxed and casual, in Tenerife, but if it's being done outside, you'll still find that there's no air conditioning!

To get from one Canary Island to another, you should catch the same type of bus as you might to get from the Orkney Islands to the Shetland Islands!

Mojo sauce spread over Canarian wrinkly potatoes

If you don't like spicy food at all, you're in luck in Tenerife, because the locals seem to be scared stiff of it too. Just steer clear of the red mojo sauce - which is the one exception.

People (women, mostly) get pregnant in Tenerife in much the same way as they do anywhere else in the world and still just as unexpectedly (but if you stay on the island to have the baby, you'll find the level of care far exceeds what one would expect in the UK.)

Sorry, we don't have any information about Samantha Fox's boobs either, but apparently we do have some data concerning Jennifer Lopez' bum.

A Playa is not where the Gangstas live in Tenerife. Actually, scratch that!

And, finally if you're a man of a sensitive nature, coming to Tenerife for your honeymoon, you'll be relieved to know that the elephants pictured above are the only ones we know of in Tenerife (at the Loro Parque) and, hopefully, that's as aroused as they'll ever get.
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