EL CAMINO CONDUCE EL SUR –Malaga
Trever Leeden (Lord L) continues the family journey through Spain’s southern coast and chronicles their visit to Malaga to open the New Year
We arise to a sunny last day of 2013. First it’s off to the Picasso Museum. He was born in Malaga but left at an early age. There’s nothing to suggest the town had any impact upon his work, however it was apparently a long-held desire of The Man that some of his works be on display, and the museum opened 10 years ago. The Picassos are bolstered by some Matisse, Gris and Renoir works; it’s good but not great. We stroll around the town, taking in the Alcazar and going up to the rooftop of the Palacios Hotel for merienda and sweeping views of the town.
We’re going to Constitution Plaza (where it all happens!) for New Year’s Eve celebrations but first need to eat. Keeping in mind that this place is infested with English and German tourists, it’s incredulous that all bar 3 restaurants are SHUT. We locate a Galician seafood bistro and wait 30 minutes for a table – it’s worth it as the food is delicious, and they even give each of us a little bag containing 12 grapes. There’s a Spanish version of ABBA belting out songs when we get to the plaza, and we stand in the crowd waiting for the countdown.
Midnight strikes and the MC leads the huge crowd in Las Doce Uvas De La Suerte (The 12 Grapes Of Luck) ritual, a Spanish tradition that dates back to at least 1895. It consists of eating a grape with each bell strike at midnight (it is linked to the Puerta Del Sol bells in Madrid, where the tradition started).
This leads to 12 months of prosperity and it is believed that the tradition wards away witches and general evil. It’s quite eerie actually, because instead of raucous revelry as normally expected, there is almost total silence as everyone concentrates on scoffing a dozen grapes, before ultimately exploding with laughter. Dulcinea and Don L successfully manage to do it. Aimee struggles because the grapes have pips (seeds) and Buzzy starts to dry retch because he managed to somehow get all 12 grapes into his cakehole without chewing and swallowing any !!! Happy day and it’s hello to 2014 as we watch maniacs setting off rockets in the crowd from hand held bottles–time for bed!