Happy Fiesta Nacional de España! Essentially, today is the celebration of the day Columbus arrived in the Americas long ago. It is a national holiday always celebrated on October 12 and most everyone gets the day off. I woke up this morning and headed to la Plaza de Colón (named after the big man himself) to find a spot to watch the grand military parade held every year. I was not sure what to expect but thought it would be worth checking out.
I followed hoards of people waving and wearing the Spanish flag to the plaza and squeezed my way into a prime viewing spot. The sun was beating down but I stuck it out and watched on the big screen all the processions involving the Royal Family and every other important Spanish figure who were at another plaza down the way. It took awhile for the parade to reach us but once it started picking up pace, I was amazed by all that I saw.
Now I may have grown up on an Air Force base but, as a disclaimer, I recall very little military terminology so pardon my naive descriptions. It basically began with parachuters donning the Spanish flag jumping out of airplanes followed by multiple flybys (one group of planes even had red and yellow smoke streaming behind it), some of the largest tanks I have ever seen, every single member of the Spanish Armed Forces (and there are a lot), horses and horse drawn carriages, military bands, and even goats (still need to figure out the significance of that one).
I’m not going to lie, navigating my way through the throngs of people and closed off streets after the parade was a huge test of patience. One that I might have failed. To calm my nerves, I headed to El Brillante which serves up one of my favorite fried calamari sandwiches. It made me feel a little bit better but, one things for sure, it’ll take me a little bit more time living here to truly party like a Spaniard.
Check out some of the pics I snapped on my iPhone below. I threw in one from my picnic in Retiro on Friday because I think it’s so classically European and three of my favorite things: bread, brie and grapes. Perfection.