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To stay or not to stay in Spain for Christmas – that is the question

Stay in Spain for Christmas If you are still in denial that Christmas is coming, it’s time to wake up and smell the mulled wine! We’re just eight weeks away from Christmas Day and so if you’re renting long term in Spain it’s time to make the decision on whether to stay here for the festive season, or make the annual exodus to friends and family elsewhere.

It’s a tricky decision if you’re settled here and have found your perfect long-term rental property, as you feel at home, love living in Spain and can probably already imagine the tree and the stockings by the fire. However think carefully, as Christmas can be lonely without friends or family around, so make sure that there will be enough people around, or that your loved ones are willing to travel over to the Costa del Sol to be with you.

There are loads of benefits of Christmas on the Costa del Sol, not least the weather, which is often good enough for a stroll along the beach after Christmas dinner. The Christmas lights in Malaga are a real highlight, the old towns are lovely to stroll around and do a little chilled out shopping and there are some lovely Christmas events organized by the Town Halls.

However, we want to be honest with you, it can be hard to get into the festive mood here in Spain, as it’s much more of a low key affair in general and let’s be honest, most people don’t associate Christmas cheer with a drink on the beach. Most expats living in Spain will probably head back home and the “traditional” Christmas events like the markets and carol services take place earlier in December to allow for this. So unless it’s your dream to escape the cold and dark in the UK, or you have a good group of friends around you, or the family is over, it can feel a little sad to be living abroad at this important time of the year, so if you’re not sure we’d recommend you head home.

Travelling from Malaga or Gibraltar to the UK is surprisingly affordable before Christmas and after New Year. Be warned though, travelling back to Spain between Christmas and New Year can be expensive, if you’re looking for the most affordable fares and don’t mind much about New Year’s Eve, then travelling on 31st December or 1st January is a real bargain!

Kids are at school until 23rd December, but then their holiday lasts until 7th January because of the Three Kings. Also bear in mind that here offices tend to be open right up to Christmas Eve and only have Christmas Day as a public holiday, going back to work on Boxing Day, so make sure you book holiday asap if you’re working.

We hope this post has helped you make the decision on whether you’ll be staying over Christmas or not, if you haven’t taken the plunge and moved over here yet, we have more great advice on life in Spain on our website, not to mention loads of great Costa del Sol long term rental properties.

If you want to stay, then in our next post we’ll be sharing our tips for making the most of Christmas on the Costa del Sol.

Get to grips with the Spanish holidays!

bigstock-Teenage-flamenco-dancers--81977894We’ve just had Labour Day (Día de los Trabajadores) and then a surprise extra day on Monday when many schools were closed and a lot of expats we know are heading into the summer with trepidation wondering when the next holiday is due.

Did you know that last Sunday was Spanish Mothers’ Day, or did it pass you by? Don’t worry if you missed it, you are not alone, because it is different to the British Mothers’ Day it catches a lot of families living on the Costa del Sol out. The first many of us know is when their child comes back with something from school!

The Spanish love their holidays and they are peppered through the year, giving those expats lucky enough to live on the Costa del Sol a nasty surprise when they suddenly realise their child doesn’t have school, or that all the shops are closed. So here’s our guide for all you long term renters to make sure you don’t miss out, or get taken by surprise!

01-Jan

New Year’s Day

06-Jan

Día de los Reyes Magos/Three Kings

19-Mar

Father Day´s

02-Apr

Maundy Thursday

03-Apr

Good Friday

05-Apr

Easter Sunday

06-Apr

Easter Monday

01-May

Labour Day

03-May

Mother’s Day

24-Jun

San Juan Night

15-Aug

Feast of the Assumption

12-Oct

Spanish National Day

01-Nov

All Saint’s Day

06-Dec

Día de la Constitución

08-Dec

Feast of the Immaculate Conception

25-Dec

Christmas Day

You will also have your local feria and saint’s day which will be a local holiday, so check your local town hall calendar if you’re not sure. For more advice on living and renting long term on the Costa del Sol please browse our blog or feel free to ask, we’re here to help!

Learning Spanish – Christmas shopping

The Costa del Sol is an enchanting place to be at Christmas time and a great chance for you and the family to learn about Spanish traditions. Pretty Christmas lights are sparkling in the towns, the restaurants and bars are once again bustling and the supermarkets are stocked with juicy turkeys and all kinds’ of festive goodies ready for week-long celebrations of the Three Kings.

Now that you are renting long term on the Costa del Sol, a great way to really feel settled in is to learn the lingo and Christmas is a great excuse to get started! Here are some Spanish tips so now you can do your Christmas shopping in Spanish too.

Christmas Tree

¿Aquí se vende árboles de navidad? – Do you sell Christmas trees here?

¿Cuánto cuesta por metro? – How much do they cost per metre?

¿Se entrega a domicilio? –  Are they delivered to the house?

¿Cuándo se puede entregarlo? – When can it be delivered?

¿Viene con raíces o está cortado? – Does it come with roots or is it cut?

Presents

Busco una camisa para hombre. – I´m looking for a man’s shirt.

¿Hay de seda / algodón? – Is there anything in silk / cotton?

Busco algo clasico / de moda. – I´m looking for something classic / fashionable.

¿Puedo devolverlo si no le gusta? – Can I return it if he doesn’t like it?

Tiene que devolverlo dentro de catorce días con el recibo. –  You have to return it within 14 days with the receipt.

Me podría dar un reembolso o tengo que cambiarlo para otra prenda? – Can I have a refund or do I have to change it for another garment?

Aquí tiene el recibo. – Here´s the receipt.

Me gustaría un reembolso. – I would like a refund.

Es para regalar, ¿se puede envolverlo? – It’s for a present, can you wrap it?

Shopping for Christmas dinner

Nata montado – whipped cream,      nata para montar – whipping cream,      jerez – sherry,      chirivía – parsnip,      castañas – chestnuts,      pavo – turkey,      pastelillo navideño relleno de frutas – mincepie,      relleno de frutas – mincemeat,      pastel de frutas secas que se come el día de Navidad – Christmas pudding,      col de Bruselas – Brussels sprouts,      tarjetas de Navidad – Christmas cards,      papel de regalo – wrapping paper,      lucitas de Navidad – Christmas lights,      nueces – walnuts,      frutas secas – nuts (general),      adornos navideños – Christmas decorations,      bolas de Navidad – Christmas baubles,      turrón – typical Christmas sweet made of nougat and chocolate.

¡Feliz Navidad! – Happy Christmas!

Michelle Lewis is a Spanish Teacher, Translator and Interpreter. She can help with a wide range of issues in Spanish including; NIE, residency, registering at the medical centre, medical appointments, importation of cars, problems with the Town Hall, the gestor, the police, or Telefonica. Email michellejlewis@hotmail.com or call 680 155 254 for more information.

Marbella Carnival February 10th – February 28th 2012

It’s that time of year again, the days are staying lighter longer and we are all looking forward to Spain’s famous fiestas this summer!

Until then though its carnival season, and the fun kicks off this year with the fabulous Marbella Carnival taking place from the 10th February to the 28th February 2012 in four different areas of the city – Marbella Central, San Pedro de Alcantara, Nueva Andalucia and Las Chapas.

The first event commences at 4.30pm with a comedy parade from Avda. Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, followed by the Gran Fiesta de Carnaval (the big party) at Plaza de la Parroquia Virgen Madre de Nueva Andalucía. Entrance is free for this event and there will be entertainment, bouncy castles, workshops and a costume competition for children under 14. Continue reading “Marbella Carnival February 10th – February 28th 2012”

San Juan Night Celebrations

Bonfires on the beach, great food and drink, and all night entertainment, San Juan Night is one festival not to miss. Held on the 23rd June every year until the early hours of the 24th, San Juan is a traditional festival commemorating the shortest night of the year in Spain. Originally a religious based celebration, the occasion is mainly now an excuse to have a memorable night with friends on the beach. Legend has it that strange spiritual occurrences can happen on the shortest night, and many people partake in activities believed to cleanse and purify them.

The first part of the night is about fire. Hundreds of bonfires are lit on the beaches, and fireworks display in the sky. Some people believe, if you jump over the bonfire 3 times on San Juan night, you will be cleansed and your problems burnt away. Sometimes, massive paper maché dolls are burnt along the beaches around midnight. This is supposed to bring good luck, but mostly it’s just good fun.

At Midnight, masses of people enter the water to wash their faces and feet 3 times. Apart from being good for the skin, it is believed to grant 3 wishes, purify them, and bring a happy year ahead. If anything, just the atmosphere and sight of thousands of people on the beach doing this is something to be experienced.

After a night of entertainment, music, fireworks and general celebrations, everyone will watch the beautiful sun rise from the beach on the 24th, which rounds off a magical evening.

If you are heading to the beaches to celebrate San Juan Night this year, its a good idea to bring a jacket or jumper for the early hours, and maybe a towel if you feel daring enough to get in the sea from some cleansing! Spain holds many fiestas throughout the year, which is a great opportunity to get to know the local culture if you are renting long term in Spain. Look out for news on all the Spanish Fiestas on this blog.

Marbella Fair – La Feria de San Barnabé

If you’re living in the Marbella area and looking for something traditional to do with the family, then you should definitely visit the Marbella San Bernabe annual fair. It’s a chance to soak up the Spanish culture and a fantastic way to meet local people and feel part of the community. It’s a fun filled week and will especially keep you busy if you’ve got children to entertain. This year the fair will be from 6th-12th June. Continue reading “Marbella Fair – La Feria de San Barnabé”

Keep up to date with your local and national holidays

Living in Spain can offers you a more relaxed lifestyle, fantastic weather, food and plenty of culture. As if this wasn’t enough, you also enjoy the most bank holidays in Europe with a whole host of national and local holiday days to experience.

The holiday days are a great excuse for a party and a fantastic part of Spanish life, but it can be hard to keep track of when they are and what this means in terms of shop opening times, parades and even road closures for parades. If there is a holiday on a Thursday or a Tuesday, the Spanish like to take a “Puente” or a bridge day to take them to the weekend, so you can be caught out by finding the shops closed for several days in a row. Website AngloInfo have produced a very useful list of Spanish public holidays, we’d suggest that you go through and mark them in the diary in advance so you can make sure you’ve got the cupboards stocked and can take full advantage of the party!

Spain guide – Bullfighting

Although for many non-Spaniards the ethics of bullfighting are questionable, what is beyond doubt is the sport’s enduring status as one of the defining icons of Spanish cultural heritage. Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles were both fascinated by the art, so much so that Hemingway immortalised bullfighting in his book “Death in the Afternoon”, whilst Welles’ immersed himself so deeply in the bullfighting world, his ashes are interred in a well in the country estate of a Spanish bullfighting legend called Antonio Ordoñez.

If you want to go along and see the spectacle for yourself, the bullfighting season runs between April and October and throughout the season bullfights featuring some of Spain’s most celebrated bullfighters or ‘Toreros’ are staged at both Marbella’s bullring and at the bullring just outside Puerto Banus. Tickets can be bought on the day of the fight from vendors outside the bullring. Continue reading “Spain guide – Bullfighting”

The etiquette of kissing in Spain

If you’re going to live in Spain and want to integrate into the Spanish culture (highly recommended) you will find yourself kissing a lot of people! This is a bit strange for us restrained Brits, but the two kisses when you meet is standard between two women and a man and a woman, even if you are introduced to them for the first time. However, stick with the handshake if it’s two men. 

This can be a bit overwhelming when you first arrive, especially as the “rules of engagement” aren’t very clear. Justin Parks from Eye on Spain has written a great article on the subject, trying to pin down when, where and who to kiss. It’s funny and informative and is a great way to familiarise yourself with kissing in Spain. Thanks Justin!