By Nancy Todd
With the holidays taking center stage, events in Spain are a little slimmer this month. Here’s what your Scoopettes suggest:
1. Experience the colorful Christmas markets in cities and villages all over Spain. They run from the beginning of December through January 1. A great way to know the culture and customs of Spain. Religious figures, mistletoe, ornaments, silly hats, and gifts abound. I bought my family reindeer ball caps which they cannot live without. Markets are outside in the plazas and especially beautiful at night.
2. Eat torrones. This is a traditional Christmas candy, usually found only during the holidays. Made of honey, almonds, and lots of sugar in case the honey wasn’t enough. They can be as hard as a stone or chewy. Best to buy the highest quality from the bakeries and candy stores. Torrones from the grocery stores will break your molars. You do not want to go to a Spanish dentist.
3. Take a break from shopping and eating. Warm up at the Royal Botanical Gardens in Madrid with over 5000 species of plants from all over the world including the Namibian desert. With several greenhouses, different natural habitats are created. I love the carnivorous plants. You could feed them hamburger bits. Kinda like feeding pigeons.
4. Hungry? Cheap street food is in abundance all through December in Spain. The chestnut roasters are on the streets in Seville, Barcelona, Granada, and other cities. A nutritious snack and they warm your hands.
5. Experience tradition looking at the belen, or nativity scenes. They are in plazas throughout Spain and, in the South, frequently in store windows. Some are featured with real people and animals. Although it is mostly the older people who attend church in Spain, all ages turn out to wait somberly in long lines demonstrating the long time grip of the Catholic Church. For me, it is an event to learn about another aspect of Spain. On the boredom scale, The Scoopmeter gives it a 10. As in high boredom. But worth a visit once or twice. Yawn.
6. New Year’s in Madrid! Spend a few days in Madrid to finish off 2011 and welcome in 2012! Party down at Puerta del Sol on the 31st and partake in the Spanish tradition of eating 12 grapes along with the 12 chimes of the clock tower. Not for me, but thousands of people attend and if you like rowdy crowds, this is the Times Square of Spain.
Related Spain Scoop: Details on New Year’s in Madrid
Hotels in Madrid: The Scoop trusts easytobook.com for reservations in Spain. Check them out. They’ve got great deals all over the Iberian Peninsula.
Do you have an event we should know about? Send us a Tweet @Thespainscoop or leave a comment below