Updated: Jan 4
An English tourist has survived a 'holiday nightmare' after visiting Zaragoza, the fifth largest city in Spain only to find it completely deserted. Barry Wigan, 43, from Warrington, has described his experience as "bloody typical."
"We wanted to go somewhere different like, because everyone's always banging on about Barcelona and Madrid, we saw this article in the Guardian about Zaragoza and it sounded dead good" he said. "We noticed things were wrong as soon as we landed, the Spanish folk started clapping, I guessed they're about 20 years behind over there so maybe the whole plane thing was a bit more impressive. We never saw those people again, I stepped outside and it was 40 degrees. I couldn't believe it, I like it hot but it was ridiculous, I had to have a sit down, when I got up again, they'd all disappeared."
Barry and his wife had booked a week in the Hotel Toro in the city centre, expecting a city break brimming with culture, night life, exotic local food and customs, nothing could have been further from the truth.
"We were the only people on the bus into town, I was looking out the window wondering where Spain started, it was just empty fields and empty houses for 45 minutes."
Relieved to arrive at their destination, in the city centre, Barry's hopes grew when they encountered a local.
"We were walking through the streets and there weren't any people, it was like a ghost town, the only sound was the wheels on my case clacking. This woman came up to me and I tried to speak to her in English, she just put this bit of a plant in my hand and gestured for me to pay her." Barry's first encounter had been with a local con-woman preying on tourists, forcing Rosemary or Thyme into unexpecting hands in exchange for money "I just gave her 10 euros to leave us alone, she was very insistent."
10 million euros a year are extorted from tourist pockets by deviants selling bits of tree, tourists are an ideal target since they don't really understand the Euro or the exchange rate and will pay out of embarrassment.
The English couple arrived at their hotel, to find that like the streets it was deserted.
"We stood in reception, ringing the bell and shouting for half an hour. Eventually, a man arrived and unapologetically said he had been having lunch even though it was 5pm. I let him know we weren't happy by giving him a look."
The Wigan's horror extended throughout the week, as they found abandoned tourist attractions and streets. When trying to indulge in the local cuisine and nightlife they found shops, bars and restaurants with the same signs advertising their absence "there were notes in every window, we used an app to find out it meant 'closed for vacation' who's vacation I said? Ours?"
With soaring temperatures of up to 42 degrees, most Spanish city dwellers will head to the coast to keep cool during the high season.
"My sister had just got back from Benidorm and had a terrible time since there were too many Spanish people...well I guess I know where they all came from now. Absolute joke."
The Wigans spent the rest of their holiday in their hotel room surviving on a diet of tea and complimentary biscuits. The agency Deep Sol Breaks has refused to refund the trip and is unavailable for comment. The Wigans have decided to venture to the English coast for their next vacation "it were 30 degrees back home, you can drink the water and there are people" says Barry, predicting a trend in staycation's for 2019.