And Christmas rolls on. Last night we decided to take a drive on a stormy night. Down south to the town of Lalin. It’s about 40 kms from home. So not that far. Excepts, like most roads in Galicia there isn’t a straight one to be found anywhere.
I volunteered to drive since we were going at my urging. You are probably asking why we would venture out in the dark. But it’s Christmas time. And if we want to see the lights we need to brave the elements.
Driving on roads I have never driven on during a squall isn’t my favorite. I imagine it is not Jeff’s preferred method of transport since he sat next to me making gasping noises, clenching and physically shying away from guardrails he deemed too close. And generally white knuckled. But I an writing this so you know we survived.
On the way we passed from our house in Lugo province through the three other provinces of Galicia as we and Lalin are on the borders of all four and the road winds in and out of all of them. Like a ski run. A Coruña, Ourense, and Pontevedra. Lalin is in Pontevedra.
Lalin is a much larger town than Melide. That surprised me. And it is much more charming with more old buildings preserved. A more charming town centre. The Camino Invierno runs right through it. A route that I seem to run across every couple of weeks these days. Perhaps it is calling me. I could take a little walk before I open up again in April.
Lalin has some epic Christmas displays. And I wanted to see them in person after some photos I saw on the Secret places in Galicia FB page I follow. And I am very glad we went. Especially on a rainy random Tuesday night.
As with most place in the word right now, flu, Covid and other contagions are raging night now. We have started wearing masks inside businesses, again. Both of us have caught a bug or two this winter. So we were pleasantly surprised that Lalin was virtually deserted. Hardly a person, dog or cat on the street. As we drove towards the center of town Jeff commented on it.
‘It’s like a movie of the zombie apocalypse. Or where aliens have taken all the people. They’re just gone.’
Even the houses and apartments were dark. But the Christmas lights and the little villages all over town that they are famous for were all lit up. And that is what I came to see.
The first tiny village is for gnomes and fairies. A village in the trees for the fairies and the one on the ground for gnomes.
The second village was placed below the first and reflects the moorish past of Spain. I smiled when I saw the statue of St James. Of course.
We walked up through town. You can see how deserted the streets really were. Not typical for 9pm on any night. Especially during the holidays.
A train will transport the littlest, and perhaps over tired children, from one village to another. Each little village is themes and are designed to encourage kids to go in and play.
It may seem odd I wanted to go see something that is built for 5 year olds. But it takes me back to when I was a kid in Portland. We would go to a local dairy called Alpenrose. They are long gone now, I think. But back then, they were run by the Alpenrose family and they put up similar villages that were very elaborate. Selling hot chocolate with whipping cream. And free peppermint candy canes. Like a magical place we looked forward to every year. I hadn’t thought of the Alpenrose dairy in more than 40 years until I saw the photos of Lalin on FB.
If you’re in Galicia and are inclined, perhaps take a drive out to Lalin to see the villages. After all, at Christmas we are all children at heart. And no matter how ridiculous, we can all use just a little bit of magic in our lives. From wherever it might come.