Parque García Sanabria
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The truth is that once you reach the heart of the city, you’ll find an interesting and friendly city with many beautiful corners and yet it still doesn’t figure on many visitors’ ‘places to visit’ lists.
As it turned out my friend was completely charmed by Santa Cruz; by its architecture, the friendliness of its residents, its museums and art galleries, restaurants and bars, historic streets and especially by one of the most imaginative and delightful parks you’re likely to find anywhere in the world - Parque García Sanabria.
Apart from a three year facelift, from 2003-2006, the park has acted as a tranquil sanctuary for Santa Cruceros escaping the hot and sultry city streets since the eponymous mayor opened it in the 1920s. It’s a fantastically imaginative use of city centre space; every inch has been planned to surprise and enchant those who venture into its dappled shade.
The best way to explore it is to begin at the constantly changing floral clock, donated by the Danish Consul in 1958, and follow the spiral path which circumnavigates the park, revealing treasures as it meanders in ever decreasing circles towards the park’s heart. Abstract sculptures, tropical plants, floral arches, an emerald bamboo tunnel, lily ponds with chuntering frogs, Santa Cruceros performing gentle aerobics, fountains, squabbling parrots and quirky touches assault your senses at every step.
Along the way benches provide welcome spots to rest, contemplate the mini wonders all around, try to identify plants and trees, or, if the romantic setting is just too much and your partner’s up for it, have a quick snog like many of park’s younger visitors.
That’s one of the beauties of Parque García Sanabria; it can be different things to different people; a sub tropical botanical garden, an outdoor art gallery, or just a delightful spot to recharge the batteries, read a book and simply chill out.
The spiral path continues onward until it reaches the heart of the park and its pièce de résistance, ‘Fecundidad’, by artist Frances Borges Salas. Framed by dancing plumes of water whose misty cloak makes her naked splendour even more sensuous, this magnificent sculpture alone is worth a trip to this most amiable of cities.
The park is a photographer’s dream. Point the camera in any direction and you’re pretty much guaranteed an interesting shot. One of my favourites is the bamboo tunnel, especially when the jacaranda tree is in bloom and the sand path is littered with lilac petals which contrast with the emerald bamboo shoots.
However, the star of the show is ‘Fecundidad’; either during the day or at night, when she’s lit, she’ll reward you with a good photo. The real test is to try to catch a rainbow in the mist that surrounds her – good luck, so far I’ve not managed it.