Sunday, 30 October 2016
Memories of a young traveller Childhood Spain - hotels
When we holidayed in Spain in the 60’s we stayed in hotels. My memories of those places are mainly about playing in the pool, learning to swim, making friends with children who spoke strange languages and getting very sunburnt. The younger children had a meal earlier in the evening than the parents and it was considered perfectly acceptable and safe to leave your children alone in the upstairs bedroom while the parents were at dinner and later dancing the night away in the hotel’s disco.
By the time I was seven or eight though I was eating strange Spanish foods at dinner with my parents and joining them for the evening’s dancing. One year there was a song that everyone requested, sung in Spanish but the chorus was easy and sung with gusto by alcohol happy Brits. A couple of months later it was the big summer hit in the UK charts, words now in English except that one line that all the holiday makers had sung so loudly - E Viva Espana!
As a child I made friends with German and Italian children staying at the hotels, as well as British. It didn’t matter that we spoke different languages as smiles and laughter are a universal tongue and our own inventive sign language made up the rest.
Over the first two summers my father taught me to swim, ironic as he himself at that time was still a non-swimmer. I repaid the favour years later when on holiday in Rhodes and helped him take his first hesitant stokes in the Aegean Sea! The hotel pool and beach were the focus of these early holidays.