Wednesday, 6 January 2010

Los Reyes by Theo

Today is a holiday in Spain - Los Reyes - a day that celebrates the arrival of the 3 Kings in Bethlehem and is traditionally when the giving of gifts takes place in Spain, which makes a lot of sense. We're having a nice lazy time of it, enjoying the last day of the holidays, as I start work tomorrow.

One of the key features of Los Reyes, is the Calbagata, a huge parade, which takes place the night before. Many barrios have their own, smaller parade, but we decided to go and watch the main one along the Paseo de Castellana. We arrived a good 45 minutes early, but that wasn't anywhere near early enough. There were loads of people there already and, as this is an event mainly aimed at children, some thoughtful parents had brought step-ladders.

It was our bucket-at-a-festival trick taken to its logical conclusion, but obviously meant that unless the floats were very high we weren't going to see much. We shouldn't have worried as, after a mounted band, the first 'float' was very high indeed, being an aerialist suspended beneath several dozen helium balloons and followed by massive giraffe puppets.

A huge, mechanical elephant puppet was also in the parade, possibly the highlight of the spectacle although the floats - all sponsored by services and companies such as the fire-brigade, post office and TV stations - were also pretty impressive.

As each float passed, the crowd was showered with hard, edible, projectiles flung from those on the floats or following on foot. Trying to catch one was pretty hard, though I did manage it, especially given that the natural Spanish tendency to cheat had led some people to exploit the height of their position on step ladders by opening up their umbrellas upside-down to catch the sweets. Kate and I were taking note of tactics for future reference!

It was a fun afternoon out - we'd been browsing in Sol beforehand - and on the way back we picked up our traditional Los Reyes Roscon, a large doughnut-style cake. Ours is just a tiny one - the family-sized ones are huge - and we opted for a non-cream filled one. Whichever of us gets the bit with the favour in has to pay for it!

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