Express News Service

How do you spend an afternoon in Tenerife, Canary Islands, Spain? You could grab your towel and head to one of the many beaches. The volcanic origins of the islands lend them unique, pitch-black sands. You could try your hand at various water sports, from a speedy jet ski to a banana-boat ride; or sit back and relax on a yacht, armed with champagne. Or, you could sample some local cuisine at a beach-side restaurant. Dig into a grilled vieja or parrot fish, which is a Canarian favourite, and wash it down with the local Malvasia wine.

You could also make a day trip to Teide National Park, known for its ‘Martian landscape’, characterised by boulders rising from rust-coloured soil in an arid desert. But if you’re looking to combine nature’s lush landscape with hints of history, head to Parque Garcia Sanabria, the largest urban park in the Canary Islands. Located in the heart of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, the capital city of Tenerife, this park is referred to as the ‘green lungs’ of the island. Spread across 17 acres, it is a maze of meandering walkways lined by gigantic trees. Don’t miss the artistic sculptures, some hidden in the midst of thick foliage.

One of them is a towering monument to the former mayor of the city, Garcia Sanabria. Passionate about nature, he had approved the construction of the park which was inaugurated in 1926. After Sanabria’s death, the monolith was erected in 1938. The pillar sits in the midst of water fountains, and is flanked by an intricately carved statue of La Fecundidad (a symbol of fertility).

The floral clock

While the park may date to 1926, it holds remnants of history from centuries ago. Christopher Columbus stopped in the Canary Islands while sailing his first fleet of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria. Soon, the location of these isles led to them becoming an important port for ships looking to refuel. Centuries later Alexander Humboldt—a naturalist Charles Darwin revered—made a stop in Tenerife to study the isle. Over the centuries, experiments in botany led to the introduction of plant species from across the globe, which continue to thrive. You can spot as many as 300 different varieties within the park.

As you walk around, you’ll spot the legendary native ‘draco’ or dragon tree. Locals say—with much conviction—that deadly dragons once populated the island. They didn’t die; a hex simply converted them into massive trees. There is the mango tree, introduced from the Philippines; the Gingko settled here all the way from China; and the origins of the tamarind tree are credited to sailors from Madagascar.

As you walk the pathways, you’ll be greeted by many birds; the bright yellow Atlantic Canary will likely make an appearance. Look out for butterflies flitting around white-and-yellow plumerias that grow in abundance. Beware of the Southern Tenerife lizard—the blue-brown male lizard, which is more vibrant than the female.

There is a floral clock, a gift from the consul of Denmark. It is a Swiss-crafted masterpiece adorned with flowers in various hues and is the most photographed element. As you stand within this garden, while the clock ticks, you know you’ve chanced upon a portal to the past.

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