It’s time once again to join the other travel belles for a much-needed chat across the cafe table – I miss those girls! The theme this month is festivals around the world – in particular favourite or wishlist festivals…
While not exactly a festival as such, the celebratory atmosphere in Britain at the moment is at an all-time high, and the arrival of the Olympic torch into my town yesterday definitely felt like a festival. The torch has been wiggling its way all around the country for quite a few weeks now, with a mixture of sporting legends and local people bearing the torch on its triumphant tour. It was easy to find a street-by-street route of the torch with times, so my friends and I headed down to one of the main points yesterday evening. People were lining the streets, ready with cameras for their glimpse of this piece of history in the making.
Like an auditory Mexican wave, we heard the cheer of the crowd before we saw the torch, then the woman dressed in white appeared, jogging down the street, flaming torch held aloft and we were cheering ourselves.
Before we knew it, it was all over and soon the torch was safely on its way, on the special Olympic bus, off to its next destination. I felt quite privileged to have seen it on one of its most prolific days – it had been carried by Sir Steve Redgrave in Henley and had been welcomed into Windsor by the Queen.
The flaming torch reminded me of another firey festival: the Festival of San Juan, celebrated in Spain every June. The saint is commemorated with giant bonfires and, generally, botellon – a lot of drinking. Not a particularly safe combination, but a very fun one! I just remember a balmy summer’s evening, people silhouetted as they walked around the fire, as I chinked bottles with friends and strangers alike and had a good giggle about something.
So for some reason, flames and festivals go together for me at the moment. Give me some fire and a happy crowd and I’ll be there!