We'll soon be taking our first trip to Spain – in the past it's been too hot when a schoolteacher's vacation permits. We soon found that the week we arrive includes a national holiday – Oct 12th. And, since it occurs on a Thursday, many also take off the Friday and go away for the long weekend; to popular tourist places – i.e., where we also want to go.
In fact, all of the attractive hotels in Salamanca, a fairly small university town to the west of Madrid, were booked for the two days we had originally planned to be there. Fortunately we were able to switch those days with Segovia, to the north of Madrid. But we did wonder what was the significance of that holiday – we might decide to stay in Madrid if there were some interesting festival observances there.
Betty Lou called the cultural desk at the Spanish embassy, but the woman who answered knew neither the reason for the holiday nor whether there were any specific festivities anyplace. When we happened to mention this to our broker, she looked at her comprehensive desk calendar and found that its significance was that it was the day that Columbus first sighted the New World! Of course – although he was Italian, Ferdinand and Isabella were his venture capititalists!
It does seem ironic that, although Columbus Day is no longer celebrated as one of our national holidays, it is one of Spain's!