Part two of our 9-day Spaintastic trip was spent in Valencia, the third largest city in Spain. We arrived at about lunch time in the city center after an early trip from the city of Madrid and spent the rest of the afternoon visiting the famous Valencia Cathedral, La Lonja de la Seda and City of the Arts and Sciences (Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias), among others.
It was a lazy stroll around Valencia on our first day–the kind of day where it felt like we just dragged ourselves to see the tourist spots in the city… Unlike Madrid, Valencia had a gloomy feel on me. It was drizzling most of the time, except when we were at the City of the Arts and Sciences later that afternoon.
We didn’t get inside the science center; we just took photos outside of it, passing the time off before dinner.
The La Tomatina Festival, which was our main reason why we were at Valencia, was scheduled the following day. So we woke up early to catch the bus from the city center to Buñol, a small town which is about less than an hour away via bus. We arrived at Buñol at around 6am, but the actual tomato fight starts at about 11am. After signing up for the event, we spent the rest of the morning observing the festival’s participants. It was amusing to see people from different nations, with their own “sense of fashion, all for the festival!” :)
A few hours before the actual start of the festival, we squeezed ourselves into the crowd to watch people climbing a greasy pole to reach for the jamon, which accordingly, once someone is able to drop the ham off the pole, the start signal for the tomato fight is given (by firing the water shot in the air) and trucks make their entry. Simultaneously, the crowd worked into a frenzy of merrymaking—singing and dancing and drinking sangria, and got showered in water from hoses and rain! No one succeeded in dropping the jamon off the pole, so the tomato fight started as scheduled, at 11am.
The street was jam-packed with excited tomato fighters, and we had to make our way out of the crowd to find a good position before the fight starts—one where we won’t be squashed by the giants (because Iris and I are midgets, admittedly!:p). So we found a perfect spot in one of the corners; we were against the wall, and tall people were in front of us, which turned out to be effective shields against the flying tomatoes! :p
And we heard the sound. We saw the trucks pass by. And then there were tomatoes flying from all over the place, the rain adding to the excitement.
The fight lasted for an hour, and then all I saw was red–bloody red. I loved it, although the smell of too many mashed tomatoes was kind of awful. I love red. And then O-Tough’s battery went dead.
There were no decent shower rooms, so people cleaned themselves up at the sides of the streets where local people shared their water in hoses. There were no decent changing rooms, so people changed their clothes literally just anywhere. And we did the same, of course. That would probably be my fondest memory of Valencia. Although most of my companions were not open to the idea of attending the festival again, I think I would love to experience it again, as long as I’ll get the same (safe) spot during the fight! :p
PS: O-Tough did a good job during the La Tomatina Festival—she’s not just a water-proof camera; she’s now a certified tomato-proof camera! :p