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                               A Taste of Tenerife

                              Photos by John Carr

Let’s face it; the Costa del Sol in August has its challenges, what with the extreme heat, crowded roads and the annual invasion of tourists from the north of Spain and Europe. Bowling is out of the question except for the odd early morning or late evening roll-up. So many of my friends questioned the logic of visiting Tenerife, the largest of the Canary Islands, situated 2 hours flying distance from Malaga, for a short break from the Costa, during August. Despite warnings that we were crazy swapping the comparative serenity of our Estepona locality on the Spanish mainland, for this popular tourist island resort, “very similar to Benidorm or Torremolinos” – i.e. slightly over-developed, I managed to persuade my Spanish wife, Olga, a non-bowler, to join me on the trip. To be fair, I did mention that as well as sampling some of the attractions of Tenerife, we would be visiting the newly opened Winter Gardens bowling complex, already featured on the website, www.bowlinginspain.com, and any other clubs on the island I could locate.
Three pleasant surprises awaited us on arriving at the excellent Agua Marina Golf hotel, located in the very south of the island, in the area appropriately named, Golf del Sur. Firstly, the slightly lower temperature was accompanied by a refreshing breeze. Secondly, the surrounding area in that part of Tenerife, at least, although not dramatic in landscape terms, was very tranquil and very much under-developed compared with some of the more popular resorts on the mainland. We were to learn, to our delight, after visiting a variety of areas in the island, that Tenerife has many different faces. Our last surprise was indeed pleasant, in that, more by luck than planning, we had chosen to stay 5 minutes walk away from my first bowling port of call, the Winter Gardens BC.
Despite the kinder climate, bowling conditions in the summer months are not comfortable in Tenerife. This was borne out by the comparatively small but friendly group of bowlers, whom I joined on our first full day to participate in club day. I was at once impressed by the quality of the artificial bowling surface and perhaps more importantly, the overall concept of the Winter Gardens project. The normal process for creating a new club seems to be to find a plot of land and build the green or greens with a clubhouse and some parking, (if you are lucky). In this case the bowling green represents the centre piece, (not an appendage added later), of a complex of apartments, restaurants, shops and other amenities that support the resident or visiting bowler. A number of these amenities accept all major credit cards. In other words, the Winter Gardens complex was designed to be a near self-contained bowli > ng > mini-resort and the developers deserve much praise for their endeavours. > At the pool-side restaurant, near the green, I sat with the local bowlers to get an idea of their thoughts on bowling in Tenerife.


Winter Gardens BC green.

The general impression I got was that the gentle island climate was a big attraction to the ex-patriate community, including bowlers. As far as I could determine, there were only two other active bowling clubs, Happy Days, located at nearby Costa de Silencio and The British games Club at Puerto de la Cruz, in the north-west. A bowling colleague on the mainland had mentioned a small club at Los Gigantes on the west coast.
Among the bowlers that day were a small group from the British Games Club and Club Captain, Alan Cliffe, invited Olga and I to visit the club and sample some of the delights of Puerto de la Cruz, later in the week. During the rest of the holiday Olga and I donned our Dr Livingstone attire to visit some of the island attractions and track down the other bowling clubs.

Most routes in Tenerife tend to circumnavigate the island, as the centre is dominated by the massive volcano, El Teide and the National Park that surrounds it. The T1 motorway, which starts in the south at Los Cristianos, runs along the east coast and finishes at Puerto de la Cruz in the north-west, forms the easiest and fastest part of the circumnavigation process.

On our first expedition we decided to take the mainly non-motorway route to Los Gigantes, (“The Giants”), a famous beauty spot, via Los Cristianos and Playa de las Americas, two popular, but very commercialised resorts. Arriving at Los Gigantes, via the vast banana plantations on the west coast of the island, we were overawed by the stark natural beauty of the cliffs. The Los Gigantes resort is very attractive and relatively unspoilt by mass tourism and we actually located a two rink bowling green at the Oasis recreation park.
Our next trip took us to Costa Silencio, a very attractive resort, slightly east of where we were staying and the home of the Happy Days tennis and bowls club. We were greeted in the clubhouse/bar restaurant by the convivial Belgium owners, Michel and Cristiana Chushane. We watched the members bowling on the six rink artificial surface on a Club Day and were struck by the extremely informal atmosphere that pervaded, (dress code optional!). One visit in the height of summer was insufficient to judge the bowling standards, but we came away with the impression that this was very much a social bowling club, as the name “Happy Days” would suggest.
Our next target was the British Games Club, where we met Club Captain, Alan Cliffe and some stalwart members at the Alvaros Tennis Club, Puerto de La Cruz. Alan explained that the previous premises of the British Games Club had been closed and that their current venue, although not ideal, allowed the Lawn Bowling section of the club to survive. Alan informed me that despite this setback, the membership was very keen and supportive. I was introduced to Ralph Tas and Pat Rowe who will represent Tenerife at the upcoming European Bowls Tournament.
Olga and I were treated to a brief tour of the principle attractions of Puerto de la Cruz, a large well developed and stylish resort, which still retains its Spanish flavour. After a visit to the famous Lake Martianez complex, right on the seafront, we joined a small group of club members for a very tasty dinner.
As I mentioned earlier, Tenerife has many different faces and I am pleased to say that, between visiting the bowls clubs, we did manage to sample some memorable attractions. Near to Puerto de la Cruz, where I would really have liked to spend more time, we visited Icod de los Vinos, famous for its ancient Dragon Tree......
.....and a remarkable butterfly zoo.
Olga poses in front of the wild and rugged seafront at Garachico, the most western point of the island.
I pose in front of the highlight of our touristic endeavours, Tenerife’s Jewel in the Crown, El Teide, a volcano surrounded by outstanding countryside interspersed with lunar type volcanic landscape. From the base of El Teide, the highest point in Spain, you can ride by cable car to the peek, from where, on a clear day, you can view other islands in the Canaries group.
Time did not permit us to explore in detail the capital, Santa Cruz, the famous rugged mountain passes of Masca, nor visit the Loro Parque, (“Parrot Park”), situated in Puerto de la Cruz. Next time we visit Tenerife – a there certainly will be a next time – we will place these sites at the top of our agenda.
Thus ended a very enjoyable and relaxing holiday in Tenerife. Would I like to live on the island? Certainly the climate is a very positive factor and the areas of natural beauty abound. As a keen bowler, I would probably miss the competition between the many clubs on the Costa del Sol and other areas of bowling concentration on the Spanish mainland. I suppose it really depends on your individual priorities. Anyway, why not get a taste of Tenerife yourself one day?