I captured this photograph on December 6th, 2012 as thousands of people were out visiting the Christmas Market in Madrid, Spain’s famous Plaza Mayor.
The centrally located Plaza Mayor dates back to the Habsburg period, has nine entrances feeding into the square, and today is a major tourist attraction. Under normal conditions, Plaza Mayor is a magnet for tourists looking for tapas bars, restaurants, boutique shopping, and wonderful people watching.
However, during the Christmas season, Plaza Mayor is taken over by hundreds of vender stalls where Madrid residents can purchase Christmas trees, decorations, statues, and the materials needed to build a nativity scene which the locals call a Belén.
As we walked among the throngs on the ancient cobble-stones, I couldn’t help thinking that my wife would have a far easier time getting me to enjoy Christmas shopping if we had such a venue available. This was certainly more festive than a traditional American mall.
Here, the sun was shining, the air was a brisk 50 degrees, coffee venders were selling piping-hot glasses of cortado (expresso cut w/ a small amount of warm milk), little children walked around with wide-eyed wonder, and the festive mood was so evident you could nearly touch it.
And, perhaps the most fun of all, these weren’t tourists. These were local Madrid residents out doing what local Madrid residents love to do. What a glorious opportunity to have the chance to blend in with the locals rather than mobs of tourists.
Bio: The Roaming Boomers is a luxury travel blog spotlighting experience, adventure, learning and exploration. David and Carol Porter, Michigan natives who retired to Scottsdale, started the project in 2008 after the market collapse took away almost half of the savings they’d carefully put together to be able to retire at age 50.
The couple combined their years of entrepreneurship with a love of travel and set off to see if they could build success. The Roaming Boomers do occasionally accept free lodging, food and other gifts, but disclose that in their posts. They hope to build an audience of Baby Boomers who join them vicariously on their adventures. But they also hope to instill their love of travel so that the coming bubble of 79 million Boomers will join them.