The Christmas markets in the Plaza Mayor and Plaza España are now open, but not all the stalls had been set up when I visited them yesterday. In fact, at mid-day yesterday there were only about four stalls open in the Plaza España, although a few others were in the process of being set up. These stalls sell gifts while those in the Plaza Mayor sell Christmas decorations, sweets such as turron, and figures for the Nativity Scenes. Most of the regular stall holders were there, and my initial impression was that prices have gone up and quality has gone down. Don't make the mistake of thinking that goods must be cheap because they come from a market stall: some of the larger sets of figures for Nativity Scenes (the Virgin, St Joseph, the infant Jesus, ox, ass and stall) cost more than 350 euros. Even the small clay figures seem to have suffered from the euro rounding-up process: tiny animals which used to be 200 pesetas are now two euros. The markets will be open until January 5, from 9am to 9pm non-stop, including Sundays.

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