Today Linda tells us about her hometown El Médano on the sunny island of Tenerife. Linda decided to relocate herself and her young family to Tenerife 30 years ago. In 2008 she started keeping her blog www.islandmomma.wordpress.com which is a fantastic collection of memoirs about island life. She writes honestly and gives a really good insight into her life, the highs and lows of an expat lifestyle in Tenerife. Check out her fabulous blog here
Where are you living?
I live in El Médano, a coastal town on the Canary Island of Tenerife. Whilst the Canary Islands are very well-known throughout Europe, mainstream tourism kind of passes us by. That’s mainly because of the almost constant stiff breeze, which makes it perfect for windsurfing and kite boarding. Hence the town attracts a “different” kind of tourism, one with a more active base than you generally find in the more famous resorts here.
Tell us about yourself?
Although I don’t windsurf or kite board, it was the energy generated by aficionados of those sports which attracted me here in 2003. Before that, I’d spent 15 years in other parts of the south of the island. El Médano for me, is much more real. My “sport” is hiking, and I am lucky to have interesting short hikes right from my front door, along the volcanic coast, but my preferred walks are though forests in the mountains. Landscapes from surreal volcanic to lush woodlands are only an hour or so from here; as are museums, exhibition centres and theatres in island capital, Santa Cruz, where I like to wander when I have time. When I “retired” I began to teach myself photography. I’m not doing as well as I would like, but it’s great to combine my two main interests.
What is your favourite thing about El Médano
Well, the vibe here is definitely my favourite thing. As well as sporty types, the town has attracted creative people too. It has a certain bohemian quality. All of that leads to a variety of places to eat, from local, Canarian cuisine, to vegetarian, to great burgers, to to-die-for pizzas. A lot of local eateries use fresh, local produce, which is of course, a big plus. We do get swamped a bit in August with day trippers and families vacationing, but the rest of the year, the vibe here is eclectic, and there is much more energy than in the west coast resorts, where folk just roast on the beaches all day.
What is your favourite thing to do in El Médano a day off?
Hmm. If I am not walking, exploring the island, taking snaps or eating (because I feel like I covered those!) I have to say the beach. To be honest, Tenerife’s beaches are not the prettiest overall. They are not palm-fringed and white, and many are black, volcanic sand, which some folk don’t like (never wear a white swimsuit here was something I learned early on!), but I love all beaches, and outside of August, I can usually find a quiet spot somewhere to chill and read a good book.
What in your opinion is the one thing you can’t miss when you visit El Médano?
Much as I like living here, I always advise people to spend some time elsewhere on the island if they are visiting. El Médano is great for relaxing or sports, but there is little else. Car hire is quite cheap. I’d say hire a car. The island has quaint villages and a lot of history, but if I had to say one thing I would say the Teide National Park, which is a World Heritage Site – home to the highest mountain in Spain, Mt. Teide, which is a dormant volcano. I had only ever seen surreal landscapes like the ones in the caldera, in movies until I moved here. If that’s not your thing, then the city of La Laguna, also a World Heritage Site, is the beautiful and historic original capital of the island.
Any top tips where to go or what to do on a rainy day?
The worst thing about El Médano might be the lack of activities for rainy days, but there are very few of those. The Canary Island climate is often described as perfect. It’s subtropical, and in the south, life is very much outdoors. However, if anyone is unlucky enough, I would say get thee to island capital, Santa Cruz, where there are some great museums, from natural history to military, (one exhibit is the cannon which shot off Lord Nelson’s arm at the Battle of Santa Cruz in 1997), and there is good, covered shopping in the Meridiano Shopping Center. If you are a cinema fan, then the Gran Sur Shopping Center in Costa Fañabe usually shows at least one movie per week in English.
Where is your go-to restaurant?
There isn’t the same definition between bars and restaurants in the Canaries that exists in some places. My unhesitating answer to your question is Bar Veinte 04 in El Médano town square. The square is alongside the main beach, so you can sit outdoors and watch the world go by, or you can sit inside and enjoy its surf-y, funky décor. Most of the eateries around the square are aimed at tourists, but Veinte 04 is very popular with locals. Thursdays and Saturdays they have live music, and in winter they often host other local events. The food is prepared using as much local produce as possible. It’s casual, burgers, sandwiches and baguettes, pasta and every day a “dish of the day.” They also sell local craft beers, and the staff are super friendly. I used to love their burgers, but recently became vegetarian, so I would go for the vegetarian lasagne, unless the menu of the day was vegetarian.
And where do you suggest going for a drink in the evening?
Everywhere here super casual. It’s much more of beach town than a resort town. I guess my favourite place in the evening is Bar El Timon, which is right on the ocean. When there are stormy seas, the waves crash against the sea-facing wall, but otherwise it is so relaxing to nibble seafood tapas and sip your favourite tipple watching the moon coming up over the sea. It also helps that they do the best mojito on the island, and that was confirmed to me by Cuban friends!
Is there one thing not many people know about El Médano?
Speaking of El Médano, I think its very existence is unknown to mass tourism. Speaking of Tenerife, which is famous with the sun/sea/sangria brigade, there is just so much more here than just that… Almost any sport you can think of (given the climate most can be practised year round); a rich history; breathtaking landscapes; vibrant fiestas celebrating local traditions, and much more. However, the thing which always amazes me is how little known Carnival is. The Santa Cruz Carnival is the second biggest in the world, after Rio!
It all sounds pretty ideal and makes relocating sound very appealing! Read more about island life at www.islandmomma.wordpress.com
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