Christmas is the time of year for spending time with family and friends and having fun. At least, that’s the normal routine for many people. We left the UK in 2005 though, so it’s not quite the same for us. Over the first ten years we were able to celebrate in a different place every year. Now though, Spain is most definitely our home, and there is now a much more Spanish theme to our celebrations, although it is often followed by a trip away if we haven’t made it to somewhere exotic for the big day itself.
Some readers have requested an update to this blog post, so here’s a reflection on almost two decades of decidedly different Christmases, with the most recent years at the top and making our way back in time.
Whatever you are doing at this time of year, we hope you have a great time and that the new year brings you health, wealth and happiness!!
This year we will be at home again. It’s not that we can’t travel, but we do have a big trip coming up in January and February! Panama and Costa Rica await this time. Many friends have decided to take the opportunity to spend the festive period in the UK with family but we’ll still cycle down to the beach and brave the pool again! Chocolate and churros at Valor in Torrevieja on Christmas Eve though? Of course!
Another Christmas at home thanks to the pandemic but the signs were there that some semblance of normality was on its way. We braved the pool on Christmas Eve and again cycled to Guardamar for a Christmas morning cava with friends.
Lockdown was hard for us in Guardamar and we decided it was time to move to a bigger house with more outside space. That meant we could enjoy the weather even if the authorities forced us to remain at home. Luckily some of the restrictions were eased and we were able to mingle with a selected few friends. We even managed a Christmas morning bike ride to the seafront at Guardamar.
A Christmas at home in Spain. We had a great time chilling out and celebrating with friends. Not every Christmas needs to involve long distance travel! How were we to know that our lives were about to change and that travel would be distant dream for a while.
A real exotic treat awaited us in 2018 as we went to Tanzania on safari before spending Christmas on the tropical island of Zanzibar. Our trip then saw us travel through Tanzania on public transport before exploring Malawi for a few weeks. A really memorable trip.
We decided to spend Christmas in Thailand again in 2017 and had a great time in Bangkok before travelling into Myanmar for a real Asian adventure.
We stayed at home again and enjoyed some beautiful Spanish sunshine for Christmas. Salt beer and blue wine were the order of the day! A few weeks later we got away for a winter break in Thailand, Laos and Cambodia.
We bought a house in 2015 so we thought we really ought to stay in Guardamar for our first Christmas “at home”. Again it was a time of celebration with friends and this photo is particularly poignant as Tony has since left us.
Now living in Guardamar del Segura, a little to the south of Alicante, we spent Christmas morning enjoying cava and nibbles with friends who helped us to settle into the area so quickly. Still feeling restless though, we were soon on our way to Sri Lanka for an amazing start to the new year.
We spent Christmas in our flat in Mataró, Catalunya, because we were still recovering from a manic five weeks working in Libya! It was nice to wander around town looking at the window displays, and the Christmas concert given by the local big band was fantastic. Seeing the Three Kings arrive by boat at the port was something different for us too.
Finally living in Spain we were finding the winter in Pamplona a bit too wet and cold so we jumped on a plane and travelled around Morocco for a couple of weeks. The coastal town of Essaouira was our home for Christmas and seeing camels on the beach seemed strangely festive!
Now working in Vietnam we hopped over to Thailand for a magical adventure of night markets and beaches.
Still living in Tunisia but now living in La Marsa, close to the capital city of Tunis, we headed to Egypt for the festive season. Christmas was spent on a Nile cruise! Little were we to know that the Arab Spring was about to begin and our lives would change dramatically within days of returning to Tunisia.
Tunisia beckoned next and we spent a wonderful Christmas in Sousse enjoying the sunshine and the company of new friends. This is another bitter sweet memory as neither Bob nor Linda are with us now. A sad loss to all their friends and family. We had a tough time that winter and without them life would have been unbearable.
When I said Europe, I meant Europe, but it’s most easterly point if you exclude Russia! We ended up working in Azerbaijan but headed back to the UK for Christmas and the new year. We met up with friends in London and caught up with family in Lincolnshire. Unfortunately I caught the flu. Man flu I can handle, but this was the full McCoy – not recommended! Looking back at this selection of family snaps, it’s hard to grasp the reality that not everyone is still with us. Our nephews and nieces have grown up into fine young men and women though, so hopefully they won’t mind these photos being in the public domain!
After two years in Argentina it was time to head back to Europe. On the way we travelled extensively through Bolivia and Brazil, spending Christmas back in my old haunt of Santa Cruz de la Sierra, right in the centre of Bolivia, and visiting the new Biocentre Guembe, home to the world’s largest butterfly sanctuary.
After a successful year in Buenos Aires we decided to move north in Argentina to the city of Salta. Going straight there would have been too easy though. Instead we went via the southernmost point of the country – Ushuaia. There we took a boat trip to the “Lighthouse at the end of the World”.
Having made the jump and left the UK behind, Trish and I had recently arrived in Buenos Aires and found a place to live ahead of our TEFL course. We celebrated drinking beer in sunny plazas and went to the horse races on Boxing Day! Christmas dinner was roast Argentinian beef as it was a fraction of the cost of a turkey. We also visited the famous Cafe Tortoni for an amazing tango show.