There were two main attractions to spending Christmas and new Year in Spain.
The first, of course, was the potential for some decent weather. I must say that, for the first time, our weather expectations have been exceeded markedly. In stark contrast to the poor ol’ north of England and Scotland, our weather here since 15th December has been simply stunning. We have had quite literally just a few spots of rain but the skies have generally been clear and the temperatures have been in the low to mid twenties centigrade.
The second reason is that, whilst Christmas exists in Spain, it is much lower key. It has been so refreshing not to be constantly assaulted by those same irritating Christmas songs in every shop and the constant high-pressure reminders to spend because Satan Claus is around the corner – a corner that lasts between two and three months in the UK. It’s a good excuse for a feast with some friends but that’s about it. Christmas could actually become enjoyable again, here.
With Christmas mercifully behind us for another year, we approached New Year. This time we were being entertained by those we had ourselves entertained on Christmas Day. They live down in the valley on the opposite side of Jalón; a distance of about two miles. I jumped through a few mental hoops over driving down armed with a couple of bottles or walking down with a couple of bottles. The down is easy enough, it’s the back up our 1-in-3 hills at something past midnight after emptying said bottles that becomes daunting. Nonetheless, it was a pleasant enough evening requiring only a short-sleeved shirt and the thought of remaining sober enough to drive back was even less appealing, so walk we did.
Jalón was strangely quiet. One or two restaurants and bars were open but little was happening. I reminded myself, though, that it was only 7:00 PM and the Spanish have a reputation for not really starting their nightlife until about 10:00 PM. Things would probably kick off later.
We arrived at our friends and spent a very pleasant evening dining and drinking, then turning of the telly for a countdown and a few glimpses of fireworks. Difficult – the main countdown being an English one whereas we were an hour ahead, entering 2016 earlier. Paris had backed off fireworks due to the recent terror attack and Belgium had cancelled due to a perceived terror threat. What a wonderful world we now live in. We saw Berlin firing off a few desultory sparklers, though, behind the Brandenburg Gate. [Maybe they couldn’t afford much given the flood of more than a million immigrants that they’ve been swamped by this year.] There was a recap of a part of Sydney’s usually spectacular display centred around their impressive harbour bridge.
We opened a door to listen for church bells peeling in Jalón, perhaps some revelry in the streets, the Spanish liking a good fiesta. Nothing, nada, nichts.
We didn’t stay up to watch what would doubtless have been an impressive London display. Our own gathering drew to a close and we were kindly offered a ride by other friends back to the bottom of our steps. We gladly accepted. During the brief journey, we saw not other sign of life whatsoever. We have spent New Year in Austria during our skiing days and the Austrians go nuts letting rockets off from their hands and throwing bangers under passing cars – those that still have tyres intact, that is, from discarded fizz bottles. In Spain, apparently absolutely nothing.
Here, New Year seemed to pass pretty much unnoticed. I was reasonably gobsmacked. Well it is just another night and an artificially created boundary.
Artificial or not, a healthy 2016 to you.