While I am not one to swoon over epic plans for December 31st, I have to say that if you are hell-bent on bringing the New Year in with style, the best way I have found to do that is twice within an hour, traveling between Spain and Portugal.
First, a disclaimer: if it were up to me, I would start a tradition of a low-key party every 30th of December – because no one ever has any plans for that day or expectations of what should or shouldn’t happen, and spend the 31st in front of the fire reading a book and sipping on a glass of whatever my beverage of choice is on that day.
Because as far as I am concerned, New Year’s is one of the few days of the year where everything is packed, prices skyrocket, and restaurants, bars, and squares are brimming with people full of high expectations looking for perfect selfies to prove to the world they had an incredible night.
That being said, if you’re keen on the countdown and midnight kiss, why not do it twice within an hour, to welcome the new year with double the fun?
Here’s how we did it:
Dinner was booked for 9pm at Zascandil gastrobar & restaurant, a small hole-in-the-wall address for food lovers in Ciudad Rodrigo (province of Salamanca, Spain). It took us about an hour to get there through what looked like deserted highways and border towns.
The food was mostly delicious; a seven-course meal with items like a mushroom tartare with egg yolk and truffle sprinkles (see photo on the left), smoked langoustine, and a parmesan cracker and jamon iberico volcano. Dessert was an unexpected cheese ice cream dish that didn’t quite cut it by my books. Just before midnight, we were each given a small glass with twelve grapes – it turns out the Spanish have a tradition of eating one grape at each stroke of midnight for good luck.
I was doing ok with my grape-gobbling until I looked up and saw the intense focus of everyone at my table, at which point I collapsed into a fit of laughter from which my twelve-grape challenge never recovered. So much for an easy way to get good luck for the year!
We wished each other a Happy 2018, paid the bill, and within the first few minutes of the New Year in Spain, we were back in the car racing – within the speed limits of course – back to Guarda, Portugal.
Some 47 minutes later, we had traveled back in time thanks to the one-hour time difference between the two countries, and parked near the main cathedral and square. As the clock struck midnight in Portugal, we stepped out into the streets just in time to join the bustling crowd of happy Portuguese who had bundled up (Guarda is 1000m high after all) and come together to watch fireworks and dance to the beat of an apparently well-respected DJ.
We bought 1 euro glasses of champagne, let our hips and shoulders do their thing, and wished each other a Happy 2018 once again!
For someone who wasn’t a fan of New Years, I have to say I loved celebrating it twice in one night. It helped that there was great food, delicious wine, fun people, no expectations, fireworks, and champagne.
Next year, if I’m not sitting by the fire, you can bet I’ll be going for the double whammy once again – with perhaps a bit more time to walk around Ciudad Rodrigo before dinner and testing another restaurant out of curiosity.
Ps. If this double New Years made is now on your list of life goals, get in touch and once we’re set up maybe we can make your dreams come true!