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Time to move to Spain

Medically retired at short notice our plans to move to Spain are brought forward by a few years. With little time to spare, this is our story.

December
23 December 2015 @ 23:06

December

This is my last blog of the year, and what a year! December last year I wasn't well, I wasn't sure of what the future held and we were awaiting Christmas in a village in Lancashire, complete with cold weather and the pub on Christmas Day. This year we enter December in the sunshine and it's a whole lot different. 

Torrevieja has many festivals and December is no different. The main one at this time of the year is 'Torrevieja Fiesta Inmaculada Concepcion' which took place between Friday 20th November and Tuesday 8th December. It honours Torreviejas patron saint la Inmaculada involving a series of events including parades, running of inflatable bulls, concerts, a paella competition and fireworks!

We returned from our short break to the UK with the festivities already underway but we were home in time to see the Sunday afternoon children's parade along the main road. Because we weren't aware of when and where a lot of the events were taking place, we often stumbled across them. The 1st Parade of the Giants and Big Heads was one such event. Because we are near the town centre we can hear a lot of the events taking place so we go outside and have a look. There were nine parades of the Giants and big heads, one of which surrounded us while we were enjoying a nice beach front drink one evening. The big heads were a group of people dancing and wearing... Big heads. The Giants, maybe 20 feet tall, would walk then run with people running after them. 

Giants and big heads

There were also free concerts & inflatable Bull running, tapas tasting & fashion parades and one Sunday afternoon a Paella Competition at the fair ground behind the day and night market. We weren't quite sure what was going on at the time as it just looked like one big party. Families and friends had gathered in small pens and were cooking paella and eating and drinking. There were lots of dancing and singing with rock bands playing and was all great fun. The whole thing culminated in a full day of events on 8th December and a massive firework display in the evening. 

Paella competition with areas cordoned off for participants

The following week saw an English carol service arranged in the church square which again proved very popular. Our local knowledge led us to a nice bar where we experienced it all in comfort. The bar appeared to be a drop off place for husbands while the wives went across the road to enjoy the service first hand. In general terms, Christmas as a whole is more religiously observed here than the UK, meaning it's less commercial, the decorations under stated and events revolve around the church. There was not a pop star from the Spanish version of X-factor (as far as I know) hired to switch on the Christmas lights. 

 

Church square

For years now we've watched 'a place in the sun' on TV and wondered whether we would actually make the plunge and move abroad. Sue will say it's more about when rather than if we moved. One of the things we had to decide was what type of lifestyle we wanted. Obviously Spain is associated with a more laid back approach to life and the benefits of the climate go without saying.    But the dilemma to go inland where you get more for your money or by the coast? quiet rural or a  busy town? Are other considerations. The one thing we both agreed on was that we needed to be where there was a bit of life hence we chose Torrevieja to start our journey. Some people have warned us about some holiday towns that are busy in the summer but become dead in the winter. That is not the case here. We are pleasantly surprised by how busy it still is. Many of the restaurants have closed, the fairground is a quarter of its capacity but it's still busy especially of a weekend. The festival I described above attracted many visitors and makes for a great atmosphere, and no matter how busy it gets, there's always a table available in one of the many restaurants that are still open.

I've previously mentioned our purchase of Internet TV and that our hands were tied as we have only rented our apartment. Unfortunately, despite the decent internet connection, the service is quite poor. The more reliable channels take an age to connect due to buffering and the channels with less buffering are u reliable and freeze regularly. Needless to say our viewing habits have changed considerably. It's noticed more in the winter as we stay in more in the evenings due to the obviously cooler weather. Still, when we make our move to a more permanent home, we will be able to purchase a better service. 

December in general is still warm during the day, often topping 20 degrees. The sun disappears around 6pm but cools between about 4-5 pm or so. People still sunbathe and even go swimming in the sea. The restaurants and bars all have outside areas which are under See through covers, some with heating for the cool evenings so you can still eat 'al fresco'. On the last Friday before Christmas we celebrated 'mad Friday' by going out in our Santa hats. People shouted hola to us as they passed and it certainly appeared that not only where we the only ones out in Santa hats, but were also the only ones doing mad Friday! In one bar we went in, one of the waiters went inside and came out with a Santa hat on. Within ten minutes, all the staff were wearing them. I'd hate to think we have started a mad Friday over here! We also read about panic Saturday in the UK where everyone goes out panic buying and the shops are chaotic. Strangely, there was no sign of it here. Our supermarket shop on 22nd December saw the supermarket... No busier than normal! I'm thinking that Spanish people maybe realise that as the shops are only closed on Christmas Day, there's no need to stock up as if there's a three month strike approaching. Indeed on panic Friday I had to wait all of 20 seconds before we I was served in a bar!

Impromptu mad Friday selfie with bar Staff! 

There are street decorations, people do decorate their houses but not so that that old guy on the moon can see them! There was a Black Friday but that was limited to a few signs in shop windows advertising discounts and the shops were no busier than on any other Friday. 

    

Christmas lights in Torrevieja. Notice the outdoor bars and restaurants are still open.

So we come to the end of another year. When we arrived in Spain in July it was certainly a lot warmer but then again I think we've only had two or three cloudy days in December so far, and two of them cleared up in the afternoon. We like the laid back way of life, friendliness and climate. We are frustrated at our struggle to pick up the language as online courses and books only take you so far. We enjoy our visits from people back in the UK and look forward to more in 2016. We embrace the differences that we find here and look to enjoy more of them next year. All in all we've had a good year and would like to wish everyone reading this a Merry Christmas and a happy new year! 



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3 Comments


foresternige said:
24 December 2015 @ 00:17

Great post and thanks for all your insight this year- what a 6months change for you!

Look forward to hearing more in2016 and joining you en espange albeit the cold poor Galician North!


DJF42 said:
26 December 2015 @ 14:48

Pleased that you settled into the Spanish without too much hassle.
As has been said we hope 2016 proves to be a good complete year in Spain.
Regarding watching UK TV, if you have a good internet connection download software "Filmon.com", best with a laptop, then use a HDMI cable to link laptop to back of TV and Bob's your uncle. All Freeview and stations throughout the world. No need for aerials, magic expensive boxes, etc. Good Luck. By-the-way, it's FREE. Just have to tolerate an advert every time you change stations.


DJF42 said:
26 December 2015 @ 14:49

Whoops! missed out "way of life" after "Spanish" in first line.


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