One weeks work done and time to get cray… La Tomatina!!!!!!
I spent five days in the vivacious Valencia and wow! I forgot how much the Spainish like to party.
Day one I caught up with some friends from Oxford and of course drinks and food followed. We had a born a bred Valencian with us to provide guidance to the true Valencian food and eating customs. One that I would have never have thought to try was horchata and fartons. You dip the fartons, a sweet pastry, into the horchata a kind of milky drink made from the roots of chufa. A nice refreshing drink and afternoon snack. The main event was of course the amazing paella!! We had two types, traditional Valencian Seafood and a chicken and rabbit. I was a bit apprehensive about the rabbit at first but it proved to be my favourite. Infused with rosemary and all sorts of goodness.
Day two and we just had to go to the Central Food Markets to stock up on food for the Water and Wine Festival that night. Not sure we quite needed lunch after sampling as much as we could from the plethora of gourmet delis. Delicious!!
So the Water and Wine Festival, ah-mazing! This crazy festival is set in Requena, a tiny town about an hours drive from Valencia to celebrate the local wineries grape harvest. The night begins with the mayor blessing the festival and then heads to the local bullring ring where the crowd gathers to watch the young and reckless dodge the potentially lethal bulls horns in the arena.
The show is as much about the bulls as it is the bands. There are 5-6ish bands playing in the stadium and they essentially have music wars back and forth during the evening which adds to the atmosphere of watching people toying with their lives. One guy, an Australian if you couldn’t already guess that, decided to give it a go and got absolutely pummelled. Bull horn bruises up his chest and scratches everywhere didn’t faze him, he was more concerned about the near miss to the nether regions proved by the ripped shorts. Enough about the bulls, time for wine!
The bands march out of the stadium followed by a wine truck, yes wine truck. Most sensible people take a cup as their ‘vessel’ but my night was made when I saw someone drinking out of a gumboot! Essentially you follow a band and truck meandering down the streets to the main town. When you feel like a beverage you give the guys on the truck your vessel which they promptly fill with wine. Now with this much wine freely flowing wine fights ensue. If you wear white you become an immediate target. I got hit with the first wave of wine attacks within three minutes.
So that’s the wine part covered and you’re thinking we’ll what’s the water part, a water truck giving out free water to those who can’t handle their alcohol? Hell no H2O! The locals stand on their balconies and to chants of of ‘agua, agua, agua’ throw water on the passers by below. A Spanish festival that truly exemplifies how crazy the Spanish really are. Awesome fun!
Day three, two hours sleep and it was already time for the main event. Not sure if groggy from lack of sleep or still intoxicated, whichever, I didn’t feel great. The walk down to the town of Bunõl slightly lifted my spirits to be dampened by the rain storm minutes later. Cold and already wet we waited for the start gun to signify the beginning of the tomato throwing.
Words can’t describe how insane this festival is but lets just say I wouldn’t be surprised if a tomato vine starts growing out of my ear. So much tomato. So much red. So much fun!
Days four and five were spent recuperating and relaxing. Read: sleeping and eating and of course catching you all up on my most recent adventures.
So, the day had arrived. I had to say goodbye to the parents for who knows how long. I must say, I am a lot better than I was leaving Sydney, where I cried at the drop of a hat.
On a train to Dartford in county Kent where I spent the next week working at Darent Valley Hospital. I can’t say I missed work, even though it was nice not to have to fill a whole day with activities. I felt productive and useful to society again but the most exciting thing I saw was…… A SNAKE! Yes, you read that correctly. I was too stunned to even contemplate being scared. I’ve never seen a snake just chilling, well I guess that’s warming, on the path in Australia.
I got a taste of Kent and its lush, green pasture. So close to London but so far. I’ll be back to explore here.
So the parents had to return to Aus earlier than expected so I find myself in London to spent a little more quality time with then and then off to Kent next week to work before jetting off to Spain. I going to miss this life when I finally return home!!
Initially, the hustle and bustle of London was overwhelming after being in a town of 2,500 residents. It didn’t take me long to readjust and feel like I was in my second home. Or is that third home after Brisbane?
In true British style it was straight to the pub, and cider, my old friend, I have missed you!
The next few days in London were spent relaxing, eating (as if we hadn’t done enough of that!), shopping, watching the Wallabies lose to the ABs (again!!) and a West End show, Rock of Ages. Not exactly what I thought it was but overall entertaining. The narrator ad libbed for much of the show and had the audience and cast member in stitches. Well worth a look into if you are in London in the next few months.
So to get a more authentic experience of France, the parents decided to book a weeks accommodation somewhere near the Pyrenees. A nice, small town called Prayssac. It’s not the most happening place but does offer a village of beautiful people in the most picturesque valley with sensational local wine, cheese and fresh produce.
Utilising the hire car we travelled to surrounding villages and I’m definitely getting a more Mediterranean vibe from the architecture and food. One of my favourite places is Puy l’eleques, a sleepy medieval village that meanders its way down a hillside to meet the river. A place where you could sit all afternoon with a picnic and some good wine and watch the sun go down.
Of the more touristy sights from this region of France we also saw Rocamodor, a village and chateau set on a cliff face, castles that look like they belong on the set of Arthur and the stunning Gouffre Berger cave system.
After driving for approximately 3 hours to see ‘random caves’ I already was not impressed and then I saw the line. Really. Not. Happy. I didn’t say much as the line progressed closer to the cave entrance in the blistering heat. dad tried to appease me with some food which almost worked but me being impatient and disliker of crowds was still sullen. Not for long, these cave are without a doubt are the most stunning sight I have ever seen! I was impressed by the giant stalagmites and stalactites but then we got reached an underground river and were punted downstream to another area of the cave system and more stunning geological wonders. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed to take photos. I did manage a few sneaky, low quality snaps on the trusty iPhone but most I’ve put up are from various talented photographers and google. Truly sensational.
Insider tip: take a jumper!
Our last day in this lovely village were spent in true local style. A walk into town to buy food for breakfast and lunch, a lovely mid afternoon siesta and then down to the local pool for a dip. The day finished with a gorgeous meal at a local restaurant, tapas and sangria!