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Breaking Away

Aug
24
2006

If you’re a vacation lover, at some point you’ve probably fixated on the fact that Europeans get six months of vacation a year while Americans get 15 minutes. And you’ve probably been jealous, and a little bit whiny, saying, “Why not me? I could be European, I look good in a beret. Give me more vacation, please.”
But really, you don’t want all that vacation time. What do Europeans do with it? They empty out of their sweaty cities en masse and go sit in their tiny cars all together in sweaty traffic jams and head to the shore to flock together in a sweaty, sandy mass of sunburned-and-then-tanned flesh.
Oh no, you do not want to vacation as a European in August. Really. It’s like the restaurants that are so crowded, nobody goes there anymore.
Stay home in August if you live here. It’s cooler in August than in July. Your noisy neighbors are gone. You can get chores done faster in any office that’s open – shorter lines. Spain’s summer sales are still going on so you can get back-to-school shopping done.
In Spain in the summer (well, September too) you also run the risk of running into a town’s fiesta. Some people would probably be charmed by these sometimes raucous outdoor celebrations – usually with some element of loud music, amplified carnival barkers or noisy revelers going late into the night – that towns hold to honor their patron saints.
But some are more family friendly than others. We were stopped at a tourist office near one city this summer that was in the middle of its fiestas. I asked about visiting the city, and the tourist office guy took a look at our family crowd, doubtless took into account my foreign accent (suggesting less tolerance to typical Spanish noise) and said, “I’m not going to tell you to visit, what can I say, you’d get a bad impression.” Now if even the tourism official steers you away… The implication was that there was too much outdoor drinking and confusion for my gang that weekend.
Look at one how one local village is concluding its more than two-week fiesta, which opened with a couple of days of events involving bulls in the streets. Highlights from the schedule for the closing two days: 8 a.m. fireworks barrage, 2:30 p.m. fireworks barrage, 10:30 p.m. parade, 12:30 a.m. outdoor party with bar service, 1 a.m. fireworks barrage, 1:30 a.m. outdoor performance, 6 a.m. processional in honor of the town’s patron saint, 7:30 a.m. outdoor mass, 9 a.m. fireworks barrage, 12 p.m. musical parade, 2 p.m. fireworks barrage, 8 p.m. processional with bands, 1 a.m. fireworks.
Now imagine if you had gone there for a little peaceful break. Imagine if you had a baby you were trying to get to sleep. Yeah, you’d need a saint’s help on that one. Of course, people from the Valencia region are especially fond of fireworks, bless their hearts.
So stay home in August. September, now, that’s a really good time for a break. Most of the other tourists are out of your way. There’s just one small catch. I wonder if my kids’ teachers would mind.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 7:06 AM | Permalink

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