This week was Semana Santa or Holy Week here in Spain. Unfortunately I completely forgot that we had a long weekend this week and was a tad late trying to rent a car so I could get out and see more of Spain. I was finally able to book a car online but when I got the confirmation it said that all cars were supplied by a company that I had tried to book through that had said they had no cars available. I showed up Friday morning hoping that somehow there would be a car available but I was quickly informed that my booking had not been confirmed. I pointed to the online receipt I had printed out which clearly stated the reservation was confirmed but the man told me that that simply meant that my reservation was confirmed but not c-o-n-f-i-r-m-e-d. Oh well.
So my co-worker Sander emailed me and said he was coming to La Linea with his girlfriend Sarah for the Semana Santa festival and asked if I wanted to join. He had also booked reservations at Patagonia an Argentinian steakhouse which is supposedly the best restaurant within an hour drive. I was sold.
We met outside of the main church at La Parada, a restaurant we had been to previously. We walked over to Patagonia which is off the main strip on a parallel running street across from a jazz bar. We were ushered upstairs to a dimly lit room. We ordered a few pints a beer before the waiter took our order. I had the skirt steak. We ordered several appetizers of which the chorizo was simply fantastic. The wine was a typical Spanish red that I don’t necessarily remember the name of. The skirt steak was absolutely mind blowing. A few more bottles of wine washed down the meal and an Irish coffee gave us back the zip to hit the procession just about to start outside.
The Semana Santa is marked by several processions that take place throughout the day. The procession begins at the church in the town center and weaves its way through the streets of the city. As one might imagine the theme is the death of Christ and the mourning of his mother Mary so the tone is extremely somber with a brass band playing funeral hymns to drive the point home.
The penitential robes worn were originally a way of being able to publicly perform penance while still masking one’s identity. Ironically, the KKK borrowed the idea for their uniforms though they are very anti-Catholic.
In other travel news: I’m off to Thailand next week. I’ll be visiting Phuket, the tiny island in the southern region of the country which was devastated by the tsunami in 2004. The last time I was there I left thinking it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful places I had ever been in all my travels. I’m looking forward to returning and seeing how much (if any) the place has changed.
I scored a killer deal on airline tickets this week. Someone in the office clued me into a sale British Airways was having. Gibraltar to Madrid 9 GBP each way. I booked a holiday weekend in June figuring the absolute worst that can happen is I can’t use the tickets and I’m out a few bucks.