After a really tough 26 hour sail from Lanarote to Tenerife, we arrived a little battered and bruised but excited to explore pastures new. With no time to waste, we headed out on our first night to get our bearings and something to eat. We knew that Christmas in Santa Cruz would be special, but we weren't prepared for what greeted us as we left the marina.
To reach the town from the marina, you have to walk cross over a pedestrian bridge that is above the main road. The bridge leads into Plaza de España which is the main plaza in Santa Cruz, which was alive with music, foodstalls, pop up bars and a Christmas Market. After the journey we'd had, it was a bit of an assault of the senses, but in a good way.
The square was lit up with thousands of lights in trees and the streets, on statues of the 3 kings, bells and carriages, Christmas trees on every corner and the most beautiful illuminated belen. There were people milling around, singing and dancing, children playing and riding on fairground attractions and just a general atmosphere of fun.
We had dinner in a great little restaurant in a little street lined with small bars and restaurants and full of locals. Whilst eating dinner, we heard children singing in the builing opposite us, so Mark asked the waiter if the children were rehearsing for Christmas. He gave us a bit of a blank look, so Mark repeated the question again and pointed to the building. Ah, no he said, that's not for Christmas, that's for the carnival.
Crikeys, if all this was only a prelude to the carnival, we knew that we were going to have a good time here!
After a good night's sleep, it was down to work, sorting out Offbeat and getting her ready to be a festive home for the next few weeks, as we had decided to stay until after King's night on the 5th January, possibly leaving on the 7th January.
I was dispatched to the shops to buy some Christmas decorations for Offbeat whilst Mark tidied and washed down the decks. But, true to form, I had to do a bit of exploring as well. I had a wander through the main shopping area and wasn't disappointed with the selection of shops. All the Spanish high street names plus quite a few individual shops. I was going enjoy shopping here, even if my bank balance didn't.
Armed with as much Christmas tat as I thought I could get away with, I headed back to Offbeat to get her ready for Christmas. By the end of the day, she was good to go!
Unlike in England, where the nativity scene is quite basic, in Spain, the nativity scene includes all aspects of village life.
A visit to see the Belen is almost on a par with going to Church at Christmas, with families making an outing of a visit.
Time passed very quickly and before we knew it, it was Christmas eve. We had a table booked at the restaurant we'd gone to on our first night and later there was going to be a bit of a party on the pontoon.
Dressed up in our Sunday best, we headed off to the restaurant. In Spain, they celebrate Christmas eve known as Nochebuena which translates to "the good night" by having large family get togethers and then going to Midnight Mass. The giving of present is saved until the 6th January.
The restaurant was really busy, filled with Spanish families and friends having lunch together. There was a great atmosphere and everyone was really friendly. Safe to say, we had a rather spiffing time.
Back at the boat, we joined other boaties on the pontoon for drinks. It was nice getting to know our neighbours and to share stories and plans.
But, I had planned to go to the early Mass as I didn't fancy wandering around by myself at midnight, so I left Mark too it. Let's just say, he had a wonderful time and by the time I'd returned, he was a bit worse for wear!
As much as I love our life, it's on occasions like this that I really miss being around the girls and grandchildren. But, having said that, we had a lovely day and went out for a walk in the evening.
There was a big classical concert taking place in the car park in the marina, so we watched that for a little while and then went to the square where more live music was playing. There had been something on every night, different bands and cabaret acts, all free of charge. The square was buzzing, so we stayed there just to soak up the atmosphere.
Heading back to the marina, we were treated to a wonderful firework display. Rather fitting end to the day.