Our first Christmas and new year in Torrevieja. We actually went back to the UK last year where it rained heavily all but one day. This year we decided to stay here as this is our home after all. For the more traditional christmas activities including the nativity scene, big heads and carol services see my blog for December 2015. This year we have my dad staying with us for both Christmas and new year and my son and his friend for Christmas. For those of you who have spent this time of year in Spain you may have spent time on the beach on christmas day or done other things. This is our story...
We were hopeful that the weather would hold for Christmas as one week earlier we had been subject to quite severe storms over about three days. It resulted in floods throughout the region. A thunderstorm continued almost constantly for the three days and often appeared to make the house shake. Despite our Villa being victim to some very minor flooding and water leakage we counted our blessings as some parts of Murcia were victim to very severe flooding which resulted in the death of five people.
Last year, because we went back to the UK our christmas presents were all ordered online and sent to the UK. This year was different and had to be bought locally apart from the odd mail order item. We also had to make sure that any visitors presents had to be small enough to fit into hand luggage.
The fine weather returned and cloudless skies promised a fine Christmas. Our plan was to visit La Zenia beach on Christmas Day with a picnic. We would then return home for a traditional Turkey dinner. I think i’ve mentioned it before but its often a good idea to research before you plan to do something you haven’t done before. OK it wasn’t a disaster but word of our night out in Torrevieja on Christmas Eve didn’t get out, or at least very far. It was dead! In my younger years, Christmas Eve would mean going out on the tiles for what was usually a great night out. Children grown up and I could do it again. Sadly that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, even in my home town, Liverpool. A few years ago my eldest son came to visit and went out on Christmas Eve before returning around midnight as everything was ‘dead’. Most places in Torrevieja closed before 11pm and we found ourselves in Monroes Rock bar which was the only place that had any life in it. We found out later, from locals that most people would be out on christmas night where entertainment would be provided in many places.
Christmas day we headed for the beach like everyone else it seems. It was heaving and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. We managed to get a parking space quite easily but there was very little space in the surrounding roads. Most people were dressed for July with the addition of a Santa hat, unfortunately some wore speedos with a Santa hat only! (One of those sights you wish you could unsee). Tables, chairs and barbecues filled the beach and some hardy (I would call it stupid) souls were swimming in the sea. One toilet each for male and female were provided but the queues were very long. Sue decided she would paddle as did the lads. There was a band playing and we drank cava before returning home for our Christmas dinner.
Mid afternoon, Christmas Day, La Zenia beach.
We had a few options for New years eve but we had to take into account dad who is a sprightly 81 but often can’t do the all nighters. We didn’t want to chance going into town given our experience on Christmas Eve we weren’t even sure anywhere would be open and if they were, would we be able to get a taxi home? We settled on our local bars which are only a five minute walk away.
There are, at my last count, twelve bars/restaurants in our local centre. Plenty for us to be going on with. El Balcon was where we started and after one drink we took a route round the perimeter of the centre in order to decide where to spend the bulk of our night. that’s where we struck a problem. One by one as we passed were… closed. The last bar we tried was the Irish bar which would surely be open… it was! But there was no one in it. Ive never known an Irish bar empty at 9pm on new years eve and doubt I ever will do again. May I add here that i’ve never been one for big new years eve celebrations, in fact you can count the decent ones i’ve had on the fingers of one hand. But this was our first Spanish new year and Sue has had a much better experience of new year than I have over the years so we had to at least try. There was no way were we staying in an empty bar so we went back to where we started.
At least the El Balcon was full, there was a karaoke which, even if not to your taste at least meant for a lively atmosphere. This is a traditional Spanish bar but there were many other nationalities present. The bar caters a lot for the local community including quiz nights, darts and language classes so it was no surprise it was popular. They had advertised a new years eve meal which is why we decided to go elsewhere as we weren’t eating out. It’s a family run bar and everyone was very busy serving. The usual protocol of being served at your table was abandoned for the night for traditional service at the bar which wasn’t a problem. We also managed to get ourselves a table which I didn’t think we would when we returned. About 15 minutes to midnight the staff came round with party bags with hats and streamers etc together with small bowls of grapes for each person. For those who don’t know, one grape is taken with each stroke of midnight. The chimes were broadcast on the TV and the grapes were eaten… Have you ever tried to eat 12 grapes in 12 seconds? It took maybe three before I started laughing but it wasn’t going to beat me. Within 12 seconds I had 12 grapes in my mouth, result! Then followed a firework display on the bars terrace when everyone went outside to watch.
The party carried on another hour when the bar owner put the TV back on so that the British people in the bar could enjoy the British new year. It was a nice touch although not really necessary. I resisted the temptation to sing karaoke, my usual songs being ‘I fought the law’ and ‘cigarettes and alcohol’, the patrons appear to have had a lucky escape. The whole night was set in a friendly party atmosphere and even though we didn’t spend the night quite how we planned it we thoroughly enjoyed it. We lasted another hour or so before we set off home.
I don’t know how christmas and new year compares with other parts of Spain and I imagine ours was pretty low key compared with some. In the lead up to christmas and new year, including new years eve, we encountered no increased prices or admission fees which often happens in the UK. We still had the three kings visiting on 5th January when Spanish children receive their christmas presents to look forward to which meant our decorations, usually taken down after new year were kept up until 6th January. All in all our christmas was different than usual and outside at least, significantly warmer.
To everyone who reads this post,
Feliz Ano Neuvo!