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Spanish Secrets: Feliz Año Nuevo - Happy New Year

“Our celebrations to see in the New Year began with a high-speed race through the country lanes and village streets of Lanzarote….’’ Craig Briggs and his wife Melanie thought their driver must be related to the Spanish F1 motor racing ace Fernando Alonso when they set out to celebrate New Year’s Eve on the holiday isle of Lanzarote.

Our celebrations to see in the New Year began with a high-speed race through the country lanes and village streets of Lanzarote.

After waiting on a street corner for almost half an hour, we’d virtually given up on our would-be racing driver. The wait was pleasant enough; a warm and cloudless evening with a gentle breeze.

The blackness of the moonless night was suddenly pierced by the bright beams of two headlights. Blinding shafts of light dazzled our eyes as the car bumped along the street on its rapid approach. A dimly lit roof-top sign soon became distinguishable as the word, Taxi.

A gleaming white Mercedes sporting a tan roof jerked to a halt. We took our seats in the back and the race began.

The journey was exhilarating, at times slightly terrifying. I felt sure the driver was a distant relative of the Spanish F1 motor racing world champion, Alonso. He sped through narrow streets and local back-roads with all the experience and knowledge only taxi drivers possess. The finishing post was the coastal resort of Costa Teguise.

We wandered through the narrow streets and alleyways of this bustling town before stopping at a tapas bar for an aperitif. The bar backed onto a busy courtyard full of holiday makers sitting outside enjoying the warm evening.

A brief stroll from the courtyard was The Slow Boat Chinese restaurant, our chosen dining place for the evening. A rare treat for Melanie and I; such culinary pleasures are few and far between in our home in Galicia.

The food was delicious. Crispy spring rolls, smoked chicken wan tans, honey roasted spare ribs, lightly battered deep-fried tiger prawns and prawn toast provided our starting treats. We followed this with crispy duck pancakes and fillet steak in Cantonese sauce served on a red-hot sizzling plate, spitting and popping as the waiter lifted the stainless steel lid.

By the time we’d finished our oriental feast the midnight hour was fast approaching. We settled the bill and left in search of a busy bar in which to see in the New Year.

Just as we entered a throbbing bar the assembled patrons roared in unison - ten, nine, eight... one – Happy New Year! A loud cheer went up; a scene replicated 24 times the world over, every hour, on the hour.

The bar looked out over a horse-shoe bay surrounded by hotels and holiday apartments. Hundreds of party-goers and revellers were soaking up the atmosphere. The sea was calm, bright lights from beach-side bars reflected in the shimmering waters. Occasionally fireworks would launch into the sky exploding with a deafening bang.

By 1:00am the crowd had thinned, but this early New Years morning still had a surprise in store.

On the far shore of the bay a captivating fireworks display began, lighting up the black sky with bright phosphorous bursts. Huge explosions of light, colour, and sound filled the sky. Magical pyrotechnics were launched into the sea, exploding on contact with the cool water and sending bright fiery starlight cascading over the Atlantic Ocean.

Our evening ended as it had begun, waiting for a taxi. Thankfully our journey home was at a much more sedate pace.

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Copyright © 2005 Craig Briggs


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