Tenerife conjured up many images in my head before I visited. A beautifully landscaped botanical garden, swarming with penguins and sheep was not one of them.
As Europe’s biggest carnival (that I’d never heard of) approached, the Parque García Sanabria was full of local primary school children dressed up in animal costumes to celebrate outside. The cold, bitter weather I’d left behind in England seemed a thousand miles away.
Tenerife might have a reputation for concrete hotels crammed along its southern coastline, but the north of the island couldn’t be more different. As a taxi driver said to us “the south is like a different world”.
Santa Cruz is not the most stunning capital you’ll ever visit, but the ramblas, tropical plants and green mountains were enough to seduce me. Being able to stroll along in just a T-shirt and skirt in February had me easily convinced.
From the typical Tinerfeño balconies (for more hop on the tram up to UNESCO-listed La Laguna) to simple fresh fish with mojo sauce, there’s easily enough to fill a few days, especially if you take a trip up to the stunning volcanic landscape of Teide which looms over the centre of the island. Legend (and the video in the visitor centre) has it that Guayota, an evil spirit still lives inside the mountain, just waiting for someone to disturb him and the lava to flow again.