The latest on visiting Spain in 2021
Coronavirus numbers have gone up here in Spain and many provinces have stepped up their restrictions, limiting movement between provinces and on the opening hours of stores. The good news is that while infection rates have gone up the numbers are not as bad as most other countries in Europe and the death rate has dropped (in February more than a 1000/day were dying from Covid in Spain. Right now it’s a little over 100…but has been gradually climbing).
Tourism is a big income earner in Spain and the government wants to have the country open to tourists by June. The EU is working on having a “vaccine passport” system where European travellers with this passport (they’re calling it a “Digital Green Certificate”) can enter Spain without having to go into quarantine or have a Covid test. More here. Non-Europeans are not included in this plan. Right now no 3rd country nationals are allowed to enter Spain (except for special circumstances) and that might not change for a while.
If you can come to Spain this summer, people should know that masks have to be worn everywhere including outside (although not at the beach – the government reversed its law on that last week after a lot of protests).
This article in Forbes sums up the rules and plans for European countries. As of right now, only 3 countries plan on opening this summer to vaccinated international tourists (Greece, Malta and Denmark).
Vaccines. One of the reasons for the continuing restrictions in Spain (and the rest of the EU) has been the slow rollout on vaccines. But the speed is picking up. Here in Spain 18% of the population have had at least one (of two) doses. They’re mostly essential workers and the 80+ age group. We’re told that people in their 70’s will start being called this week.
Being in our 50s (but below the 55+ category) we’re a long way down the list for the vaccine. According to my readings it won’t happen until sometime during the summer.
Note: My mom in Mexico got her first dose of the Pfizer vaccine 3 weeks ago and is getting her 2nd this week. My dad and his wife in Canada are supposed to get their first vaccine this week. Either way, they’re both ahead of where we are in Spain.
So nothing has changed. As I repeated a few times on our last Newsletter, we’re living life on standby.
Odds and Ends (mostly on sports and stuff we’ve been watching)
Since we haven’t been doing much of anything, most of what we do (when we’re not in our backyard or walking around Nerja) entails reading the news and watching stuff on our computers. A few tips, suggestions and musings…
– If you want to understand how the former Yugoslavia broke up and went to war, watch The Death of Yugoslavia, produced by BBC. It’s 5 hours long but it’s excellently done. It portrays the Balkans in all its absurdity.
– If looking for other documentaries, DW (Deutsche Welle, Germany’s public Broadcaster) has excellent documentaries on a lot of subjects. DW Documentaries.
– Sports. I’ve been watching a lot of hockey on TV these days. Watching hockey makes me happy, it brings me a sense of normalcy. Lissette’s of the opinion that things in the world are complicated right now and doesn’t understand why leagues need to play. “It’s not essential”. Maybe where you stand depends on whether you’re a sports fan or not. But I can tell you that every game is something I look forward to (I’m a Montreal Canadiens fan which can be a frustrating thing to be these days…)
Note: In the past I would sign up to NHL.com to watch hockey on my computer. Then this season, after paying $180, it didn’t work. I wrote them, I waited on the phone for an hour, I tweeted them. Nothing. I gave it a few days. Still nothing. So I contacted my credit card company and had the charge reversed. While this was going on someone gave me a website where I could watch all my hockey for free (if you write me personally I’ll tell you, I don’t want to post it here because I’m not sure if it’s legit or not). Anyway, the quality is 100%, the same as NHL.com. A month later I received a 1-line email from NHL.com telling me to contact Rogers (the Canadian cable provider) about customer support. Terrible. I’m never ever using NHL.com again.
My best “sports celebrity” memory. I lived in Ottawa as a kid. One day my mom arranged that we take the bus to Montreal to watch the Montreal Expos play (Montreal is 2 hours away from Ottawa). I must have been about 14 years old at the time. After watching a really exciting game, someone told us that a really good place to meet the players is at the garage level of the Olympic Stadium. So my mom and I went down there. I had my pennant in my hands hoping for a signature. One by one, players would come through the doors leading from the locker room and kids hoping for signatures would congregate around them. I got to see Andre Dawson, Warren Cromartie, and Ellis Valentine and had my pennant (grudgingly) signed by a couple of them. They weren’t very friendly. After those few signatures, my mom and I were standing off to the side, about to leave the garage for the bus taking us back to Ottawa. It was then that I heard someone behind me call out: “Hey kid, do you want a signature?”. I turned around and saw Gary Carter. He was with his family, putting things away in the trunk of his car. I went over to him. He asked me where I was from, made a little chit chat, and signed my pennant. I just remember the big, friendly smile he was known for.
A few years back I heard of Gary Carter’s battle with cancer. He died in 2012 at the age of 57. He was father of 3 kids and was well known for his philanthropy, raising lots of money for leukemia and to help kids living in poverty. I found his death incredibly sad.
I also remember my dad taking me to a hockey game in Montreal which was another memory I’ll never forget. They were playing the Detroit Red Wings and it was the first time I got to see Guy Lafleur, my hockey idol, on the ice. Coming to Montreal, “the big city”, was always exciting for me as a kid.
RuPaul’s Drag Race. We’ve always been fans of the show as I’ve mentioned here before. This season, season 13, was filmed during Covid. I don’t know if that’s got anything to do with it but it hasn’t been a very exciting season of Drag Race. Something is missing. Also, for the first time they have a transgender person on the show – someone who was born a girl, became a boy…who’s now dressing in drag as a girl. I don’t know if that’s right. Drag is supposed to be about guys dressing as women, seems to us if you were born a girl you have an unfair advantage.
I know. We have to start travelling again and stop watching TV.
It’s been 6 months now that we’ve been living in Spain. We’re liking Nerja more every day – the Spanish are very nice and we have nothing but good things to say. We’re also getting to know our neighbors.
We received the above plant from our Swedish neighbor today. She has 2 dogs and 4 cats (all rescues) and one of her cats likes to steal clothes. A few days ago she had somehow managed to get into our yard and steal one of Lissette’s socks from the clothes rack. So she felt guilty and bought us this beautiful plant.
I’ll be writing more about Nerja and the cost of living here in the next little while on our Spanish website, Mapping Spain. You’ll see what Nerja looks like on this post: What is the Town of Nerja like?