valencia, ibiza, valencia, seville, granada
13.09.2011 35 °C
We arrived in Valencia, got very lost trying to find our hotel (its becoming a habit it seems!), but it was very nice when we arrived. A private room! And there was a tv and air-con! Met Lou and Claire and we had paella (a spanish rice dish) and sat in the church-y plaza catching up. it was so nice (and weird!) to see people from home, claire seems to love holland and lou is going to morrocco for 2 months. super jealous.
Olivia and i didnt wake up till 11 the next day, which was awks because i said id call lou at 11 and we'd meet up... it all worked out though, and we met in the afternoon. we ate ice cream, chocolate biscuits and a piece of fruit (which turned out to be our entire dinner) and were planning on going to bunol with them, to see some of the celebrations before la tomatina. but we were so sick (and this will become a theme in this post...) so we wished them well (and good luck, they didn't have accommodation and were going to pull and all nighter) and went to bed.
La Tomatina Day! 31st August 2011. Arrived at hotel valencia nice and early, half an hour before the departure time. with 10 minutes to go and nothing happening, we are told we are meant to meet at Hotel Venecia... see the slight spelling difference? yeah, we didnt. so we power walked there and made it on time, signed off, picked up our t shirts and swimming caps (which we didnt wear, BAD IDEA!!! do you know how disgusting your hair is after being smushed with tomatoes for an hour??? i have never felt so repulsed...) when we arrived in bunol, we followed the crowd to get to the centre of the action. we hadnt eaten, had hardly anything to drink, and it was so hot, which ventually took its toll on olivia, who was sick. we didnt want to drink th copious amount of alcohol available though, we'd been warned there were only 3 public toilets in the whole of bunol and 30000 people. funtimes!! after pushing through the crowd, for a surprisingly short period of time, we reached the greasy pole with the ham. watched for about an hour and a half as people pushed each other up, pulled each other down, and at one point someone had a broom, and people were yelling 'push him up with the broom'. interesting idea, if you think about it... locals on the balconies of houses threw water on us, we saw 2 guys in flamenco dresses, and a couple of japanese people in traditional dress, was definitely an interesting morning! and finally, someone got the ham. first time in 5 years! a huge cheer went up and people eagerly anticipated the tomatoes (traditionally, as soon as someone gets the ham, the fight starts, but due to the fact its hardly ever got, the fight now starts at 11 regardless) at 11 there was a shot, to signal the start of the fight.
you could slowly feel the crowd getting denser and denser as the trucks rolled through the packed street. and then it was upon us. people in the truck were throwing tomatoes at us, and as soon as they hit the ground the crowd picked them up and threw them again. i have never touched so many people at one time, as when the trucks rolled past. imagine 1 metre, 10 people in a line. you couldnt breathe. the first thing that happened was a guy picked up a handful of gloopy-already-on-the-floor tomatoes and squashed them into my head. yummy. and basically that was the theme of the hour long fight. trucks came, we were squished and couldnt breathe and then you had tomatoes pelted at you. despite the suggestion to 'squash and throw' i still manages to get 2 very intact tomatoes in my eye and ear. tomatoes hurt!! managed to throw a few tomatoes, dont know if i actually hit anyone, but by the end i was so ready for the fight to be over. jess (a friend, may have already mentioned we met in san seb) and i huddled up against the wall with 2 other girls and waited the last 20 minutes out (turns out there was a reason i was so tired by the end of this, i was getting the flu). at the sound of another shot at 12, the fight was over. jess and i pushed our way through hundred of people, trying to work out how to get out. again, it was a case of following the crowd. the local kids had hoses out the front of their houses and were spraying people clean (well, cleaner) and we got a good soaking. (i was SO fed up by this stage, smelling like tomatoes and feeling gross and really tired! so being relatively cleaner was amazing!) we got pretty dodgy paella and some water on the way back (which i still owe jess the money for, she lives in bendigo, road trip? to bendigo... maybe she can come to me ha). was so relieved we had a bus to get on, and werent catching the train!! got to valencia and i was feeling, the definition of shit, so while olivia got hungry jacks (yeah, we're healthy...) i went to bed after a long hot shower.
met lou again the next day, but liv and i were just desperate to get to our next hostel on the beach in valencia and sleep, so we said a short good bye and left. this hostel was called 'moonbeach guesthouse' and it was really nice, but very badly run. there was no reception and we rocked up to find no one there (happened to nearly everyone there apparently). after checking in, we found fruit and the internet and so we spent the rest of the day, trying to repel the inevitable cold. and on the internet. productive! next day, tried to check out, but the guy wasnt there. we hadnt paid, but luckily we werent leaving til the night anyway. we went back to the internet and basically bummed around til it was time to take our 10pm ferry to ibiza.
(this part is a) funny, b) stupid and c) very unlucky!) arrived at 2am in ibiza. got off the ferry and onto the bus. got a taxi. called the hostel. found out our booking was for october not september and there was no beds. walked up and down the streets trying to find somewhere to sleep. ended up sleeping on deckchairs on the beach at 5am. moved to maccas at 7 when it started raining. i woke up with the flu, olivia with conjunctivitis and tonsilitis. went on the internet and had a cry to mum and dad. checked into the hostel and slept. had bolognaise for dinner, then slept. slept the whole of the next day (interspersed with coughing fits and blowing of the nose) and olivia went to the doctor. next day, moved to another hotel on the other side of the island. slept. woke up, bought some postcards, caught the bus to the ferry and left. what a fun 4 days!!! but really, the potential for ibiza to be amazing was HUGE. there are so many clubs!! on the night we arrived, tinie tempah and pendulum were at the same club, and every night there is something on. (granted, to get into the club cost 55 Euro plus, ie $80. so you need to be rich). and we ended up sleeping. haha. not.
Wednesday - caught the train to seville the day after we arrived back in valencia. the ride was SO LONG! so far i think we've had high speed trains which go up to 300km an hour. this one stopped often and stayed at the stations for 20 minutes! found oasis backpackers tucked into the corner of one of the 'mushroom plaza' (said with disdain by the locals, who think the mushroom like thing over the plaza is awful...). not sure we did much else that day...
Thursday - we did the free walking tour, which was interesting, but the guide was SO RUDE!!! someone had to leave early, and they gave her some money as a tip, and she looked at it as if to say 'is that all???' i was like, right, no respect for you! you say its a free walking tour based on tips, and then complain when its not enough. she also tried to tell us that an average tour costs 20-25 euro which is rubbish. the tour BUS, only cost like 15. gahhhh. so we didnt tip her much. that evening we went on the tapas tour and to a flamenco show! the tapas were... interesting, keish with tomato soup over it, tasteless paella and potatoes with gravy. hmmmm, not the gastronomic delights i was expecting! but the flamenco show was really good!! there was a guy playing spanish guitar, one clapping and singing (wailing, if you ask me) and a lady who clapped and danced. the dancing is so proud and i feel like they are trying to justify themselves when they do it (does that make sense, i know what i mean, i dont know how to say it...). but her feet moved so fast and basically it was just really good. i couldnt get over the fact i was seeing flamenco, in spain! luckily on the way home, we found a couple going the same way and they led. we would never have arrived.
Friday - we were going to go to the cathedral. lined up for 5 minutes, but olivia suddenly felt very ill. i took her back to the hostel and she slept for most of the day, while i bought food for salad (finally healthy food!!!). made salad for lunch and ate 2 massive bowls, then i went to the cathedral alone. it was really beautiful, didnt match the one in madrid though. i just felt though, that the church has/had SO MUCH MONEY, seriously, these things are pure gold, and yet people were dying. and they say that they help poor impoverished people, but really, PEOPLE WERE DYING from stuff like starvation, and freezing to death in the winter... and really i dont have enough knowledge of religion or where the money goes, but sometimes, i really dont like religion and the religious institutions at all. (hence why ive decided id like to study theology!)
Saturday - we caught a train to granada at 12 oclock and arrived at 3 (yay for nice arrival and departure times!) and made sandwiches for lunch on the train. a lady looked at us and laughed. in a nice way it think... our hostel is in the arabic quarter and as we were walking through to it, we fell in love (and extended our stay here ) we found a resturant and i had eggplant stuff, then meatballs and couscous and then arabic ice cream. it was so so delicious (a note on granada, it was the last place place in spain with muslim rule and so it has a heavy north african influence). after this we just walked up and down the market rea on the street in front of our hostel. they had SUCH nice material and nick nacks and things. its so hard not to buy! and you'll be glad to know ive resisted but for one thing
Sunday - did the free walking tour in the morning through the albacyin (spelt something like that...) which is the moorish area of granada. was planning on doing the afternoon street art tour as well, but we crashed and slept!!
Monday - was planning on doing the waterfall walking tour but not enough people showed up! the guys running it showed us on a map how to do it ourselves so we decided to do it anyway. we caught the bus and arrived in the small town nearby and then started walking. i didnt realise a) how long the walk was and b) that it was all uphill. and there was no shade!! we got lost for a bit before we got on the right track and we were trudging along when a car was coming, i stopped and threw up my arms as a half joke to olivia, saying lets get a lift, and the car stopped. an italian couple were trying to find the los cahorros as well and they offered us a lift. after a bit of hesitation, we got in (sorry mum and dad if youre freaking out right now, we are alive, and it did seem safe!) we drove up the mountain for ages and olivia and i were like'we would never have been able to do this!' and then we realised we'd gone to far. the car park was about 100 metres from where the couple picked us up anyway! we got our, said our profuse thank yous and parted ways as olivia and i went down to the little restaurant nearby to use the loo's. we got back up to the car park and walked for while in circles trying to find the right way. we walked and walked and walked and it seemed like we were on the right path, but there were no waterfalls! the scenery was really beautiful though. green and leafy and cool, with enormous mountains on either side of it. despite the trouble it was, i really really loved the walk and the area we were in. we crossed a few suspension bridges and climbed through gaps in rocks to get to little pools of water, and found a place to sit and paddle. we really wanted to swim, but after dipping my feet for 5 minutes, they were aching! i knocked olivias shoe into the river, like the retard i am, chased it a bit and got it, but she had to wear a wet shoe for the rest of the day (i did offer to swap hers with mine!) apparently the whole walk is a circuit, but we didnt know how big it was and one couple said it was blocked off, so we turned around and came back the way we came. but the whole place was amazing. i can really describe it. huge cliffs and steep hills and a running river. it was stunning.
Tuesday (today!) - today we went to the alhambra. we had been told we HAD to go, but we didnt know anything about it. also, i wasnt convinced. we arrived bright and early and got in and walked through the gardens. didnt realise at the time, but turned around before we reached the generalife palace, so we missed that bit, but the gardens and view of granada was pretty. went to the nazarais palace and that was nice too, but it really just felt overrun by tourists, and i didnt/still dont really know whats special about it besides the fact its old. i think its famous because of the amount of moorish artwork in there. apparently this is amazing, but just go to north africa and you'll be surrounded in it! its not that hard! anyway, think it went over my head. now we are waiting for 10 pm to catch the night train to barcalona. fun times ahead!
Also, its hot!!! 35 degrees! and oasis hostels are really really nice.