Travel tales and tips – Christmas in Toledo, Madrid and Seville

You may be thinking that it’s a bit late to post a blog about Christmas as the 25th of December has passed. Well, I am very happy to report that Christmas in Spain is far from over and doesn’t officially end until after the 6 of January. This is my little heaven, when every day is Christmas until January!

Let me stat by describing Christmas in Toledo where I spent Christmas eve and day. I stayed in a charming and characteristically old hotel called Enrico which I was happy to discover was practically next door to the majestic Cathedral of Toledo. I loved lying awake at night listening to the sounds of the cathedral bells ringing. I’m not sure how other people feel having the time told by a cathedral ringing bells for every stroke of the hour but I love it! For some reason I find it delightful and soothing. Christmas eve in Toledo is magical. They have the prettiest Christmas lights I have ever seen, including one sea of golden lights above your head that drapes gently down and continues all the way down the long windy narrow paved street. It was fun following the sea of lights above my head just to see where they led and I was not disappointed. The narrow ancient street lined with shops opened up to a large square full of hundreds and hundreds of locals and tourists enjoying the hundreds of Christmas lights. The trees were covered in lights and if you looked long enough they had hidden little lights that illuminated like little stars dropping from the heavens. It was a wonderful atmosphere, children wrapped snugly against the cold running around laughing, adults singing and dancing and one old man ad his grandson walking around singing and playing drums. Now that is how you celebrate Christmas! Be prepared though for a different approach to Christmas. Unlike Melbourne in Australia where shops stay open until midnight to accommodate last minute Christmas shopping frenzy, in Toledo all the shops and food places close at 4 pm. You might get lucky finding a MacDonald’s in the main square but who wants that when in Spain?? Christmas day is even more quiet as everyone is celebrating at home. That’s why we had to eat in a Chinese restaurant on Christmas day. Plan ahead and visit the small supermarket in Toledo . It has all your basic needs covered and you can even find gluten free chips. A couple of tuna cans and toasted Crips breads and you won’t starve.

Madrid prepares for an annual large parade for the 5th of January so even tough 25 December has passed, Christmas lights are still turned on every night and the festive spirit is very much alive. You may notice that some streets have more elaborate and prettier lights than others; that is because in Spain neighbourhoods pay for the Christmas decorations and some can afford to spend more than others. In Toledo, one street used recycled plastic bottles to create star shapes to decorate the strew. Budget cuts result in an ingenious idea and the  Christmas spirit continues to live despite lack of money.

Seville – for the first time in my life I saw a black man sitting on a throne with little children lining up to sit on his lap and ask for presents. It took me a minute to realise that he is supposed to be one of the three wise men who bring gifts at Christmas. In Spain Santa Claus is a relatively new tradition and the main gifts are delivered by the three wise men. So the lucky little children get two sets of Christmas!

Merry Christmas everyone!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAToledo

Toledo

A sea of Christmas lights in Toledo with the majestic Cathedral illuminated in the background

Cathedral of Toledo a beacon of light in the foggy winter nights

Cathedral of Toledo a beacon of light in the foggy winter nights

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