Posts Tagged ‘ Spain ’

Spain’s La Tomatina Festival!

Have you ever joined a food fight? Or at least, wanted to be in one? Well then, pack up your bags and go to Spain coz this is where the world’s biggest food fight is held annually during their La Tomatina Festival.

Goin' loco over tomato!

Goin’ loco over tomato!

First things first, what is that festival all about you may ask? Held annually every last Wednesday of August in Buñol, Valencia, people throw tomatoes at each other for an hour of crazy fun!

It started the last Wednesday of August in 1945 when some young people spent the time in the town square to attend the Giants and Big-Heads figures parade. The young boys decided to have a place among the retinue of a parade with musician, Giants and Big-Heads figures.

The energy of these young people made that one participant fell off. The participant flew into a fit of rage, started to hit everything in his path. There was a market stall of vegetable that fell victim of the furious crowd: people started to pelt each other with tomatoes until the local forces ended that vegetable battle…

…Since then, the number of participants increased year after year as well as the excitement about La Tomatina Festival. In 2002, La Tomatina of Buñol was declared Festivity of International Tourist Interest by the Secretary Deparment of Tourism due to its success. – La Tomatina

Early morning bus ride to Buñol

Early morning bus ride to Buñol

It was only in 2013 – the year we attended – that the Spanish government started selling tickets for the festival. Tickets are sold for 10euros each. From Valencia, we rode a bus to take us to Buñol early in the morning. It was a 40minute drive. Still quite sleepy really. Upon arrival, we had to queue for our luggage to be stored. We then exchanged our tickets for bracelets. And then headed over to the entrance of the festivities all the while basking in the high energy of the people around us. There were groups of people wearing colourful wigs. Some girls wore flamenco dresses. Quite a few wore tomato outfits too! Foreign visitors wore their flag on their shirts or dressed in national costumes (ie kimono for the Japanese). It was pretty exciting! We got ourselves some drinks. And we’re ready! :D

The tomato fight begins after someone is able to successfully climb a greased pole to get the ham tied to the top of it. When this happens, water is fired into the air which signals the entrance of the trucks carrying tons of tomatoes and the start of the tomato fight. It is interesting to note that the town is preparing for this festival by covering the front of their houses with tarpaulins to keep it safe from all of those tomato juices!

Buildings are protected by tarps and other covers!

There are a few rules that everyone must follow:
Throwing tomatoes begin after the first water signal.
Tomatoes have to be squished first so as to avoid injuries.
Only tomatoes should be thrown around. No other projectiles allowed.
No tomotoes should be thrown once the signal to stop is given.

Still able to smile and go on with the tomato fight after being hit in the eye!

Some tips:
Wear clothes you wouldn’t mind throwing after as the stain is difficult to remove.
If you’re keen to take pictures, use a waterproof camera.
Wear goggles!!! Jess and I can’t emphasize this one more than enough. We were surrounded by Spanish guys who were taking most of the hit when she got hit in the eye. I looked at her. Told her it looked alright then we got back down to business. hehe Less than 5mins after, I got hit in my right eye! I ended up crouching coz of the pain so she looked at it. There were some bits of tomato that got stuck she said. That’s why she led me to a fountain to wash it off. I was only able to open my right eye after! Phew! I had taken my goggles off a minute before getting hit as it was covered with tomato juice! While I was recovering from my tomato injury, my travel buddy is chatting away to a cute Frenchman (her description not mine) who saw her sorting me out by the fountain. hehe :))

Top of the agenda after the tomato fight finished was to get a wash to be some sort of decent. Fire trucks parked were hosing down people for an impromptu shower. We then joined the massive queue to get our things back. Got on a bus back to Valencia and to our hotel. I was wearing a pair of sunglasses on the ride back. When we got to the hotel, I asked for a cup of ice at the reception. Too lazy tired to explain, I pulled my glasses off. No further explanations needed. They got me my ice. We were supposed to go out after our warm shower but we ended up falling asleep. Tired from a week’s worth of travel. :D

 

Have you been to La Tomatina? Are you wanting to go? It’d be great to hear of your experience too! :D

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2012: Exploring Europe

2012 is coming to an end. Many were even saying that the world is literally going to end but December 21 had gone and passed us by with the world still intact *whew* and here’s another end-of-the-year post to celebrate the year that was!

November 2011. The most amazing gift that I’ve received was the fact that I was finally able to relocate to UK, the country where I wanted to go to since I was a little girl. And live in London at that! 3months after, I got my Schengen visa which made visiting European countries not just a dream but a reality for me! :D

Here are the list of places that I’ve been to in this small but delightful and utterly charming continent ;)

1. France
Paris, Nice and Cannes
March, November

First stop is our neighboring country, France. Everyone encouraged me to apply for a Schengen here. According to friends they are most likely to give you a multiple entry for several months. Well, I was given a 3months multiple entry for my first application and a one year multiple entry for my second! :D

I totally enjoyed it here. I got to see famous sights like the Eiffel Tower, Louvre Museum and Notre Dame Cathedral just to name a few. I made lots of new friends! I was hosted by a CSer that I met back home. He was plain great! He hosted me for 8 days, you see. ;) I like French foods and they know how to have fun. Would love to go back again and again here!

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With Paris’ iconic Eiffel Tower :D

Versailles' vast garden!

Versailles’ vast garden!

2. Belgium
Namur, Brussels and Antwerp
March

Whilst in France, I was invited by my friend to visit him and his wife in Belgium. I accepted his invitation coz it’s always nice to meet/ catch up with friends! It was nonstop waffles, chocolates and beer (well, not much beers for me hehe). Mmm! It was interesting how the southern part speaks just French and that the more north we go, they speak more Dutch (and thankfully, English too).

Belgian beers. ;)

Belgian beers. ;)

3. Netherlands
Amsterdam
April

Browsing around the CS London thread, somebody mentioned that Megabus has a £1 one-way offer to Amsterdam and that it was going to be their Queen’s Day (Koninginnedag) weekend. I was kinda in a party mood then and I thought it’d be great to go to Amsterdam so even though I knew no one there, I booked the tickets and had a wonderful time with other travellers! I never really liked the colour orange but seeing the whole city awashed in it was pretty cool!

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The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

The city of Amsterdam bathed in orange! :D

4. Sweden
Gavle and Stockholm
June

Scandinavian countries aren’t high on the list of my places to go to for two reasons the cold climate and the high expenses. But for a friend, maybe I’ll give it a try. Well, she did say she’ll host and take care of me there. No complaints on that one! ;) haha I went there during their midsummer festival. The fact that it was around 21 hours of daytime was a nice experience.

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Setting up the maypole flag for the midsummer celebration!

Traditional Swedish foods :)

Traditional Swedish foods :)

5. Spain
Madrid, Salamanca, Montserrat and Barcelona
July, November

The first time I went to Spain was to join a travel buddy of mine in touring Madrid and to be hosted by him in Salamanca where he was studying Spanish. It was crazy the day I got to Madrid. Some austerity measures had just been passed into law. On my way back to the hostel in the middle of the city, was a riot in protest of the austerity package. I almost got caught in the middle where it not for the kind waiter who pulled me inside their restaurant before barring their doors. Salamanca on the other hand is a big party place. It has many Spanish schools and people from all over go there to study the language. Clubs everywhere, they do not ask for IDs, no entrance fees and shots cost a euro! That’s the reason why the Spanish phrase I was thought there was “estoy borracho.” lol

Second time was for my birthday celebration. To sum up how varied my interests could be: on the morning of my special day, we went up to the mountains of Montserrat to visit a monastery and a sacred site then an aquarium early in the evening and partied after dinner! :D

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Panoramic view of Montserrat

Madrid's Palacio de Cristal

Madrid’s Palacio de Cristal

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

Happy 27th from Barcelona! :D

6. Austria
Vienna
September

Mozart. Classical music. Schnitzel. Sachertorte. Some of my favourite things in this charming city! It’s true that I didn’t expect much but I was very happy to be proven otherwise. I had such a wonderful time in Vienna with my good friend and host, Diana, that I would come back for sure! :D

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Schönbrunn Palace

Must do: attend a concert!

Must do: attend a concert!

7. Czech Republic
Prague
September

A question that  was a bit confusing for our host in Prague is when he’d ask me and my friend where we’re from and how we met, why we’re travelling together. Our answer?
My friend: I’m from Romania but I’m Austrian. I live in Vienna.
Me: I live in London but I’m originally form Manila, Philippines.
Us: We met in Bangkok. When Cat was still living in the Philippines. She visited me in Vienna from London. Then I joined her on this trip to Prague.
Everyone I know had been telling me that Prague is their absolute favourite European city so that kinda built up the expectation that unfortunately wasn’t met. I can’t say if it was because of the rainy weather. I was cold because I was (more) prepared for a warm climate since I was headed straight to sunny Italy. Oh well. I’ll give it another chance for sure! :)

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8. Monaco
Monte Carlo
October

A quick sidetrip to Monaco was in order when a friend and I went to Nice. The one place that we went to here is the casino since I was too sick to actually explore around. This place is a billionaire’s playground. You’ll see it in the expensive cars being driven as well as the high end stores everywhere!

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9. Italy
Rome, Florence, Venice, Sardinia, Naples, Procida Island, Pompeii, and Amalfi Coast
June, August, September, October

Italy is my definite favourite country that I’ve been to here in Europe and the one that I kept going back to and would definitely visit again! I’ve dreamt of going there since I was young. I love pizzas and pastas, renaissance, architecture and history and they have it all and much more in overflowing abundance! The first time I was there, I did the typical route of Rome-Florence-Venice, I didn’t make it to Milan coz I had no time.
The second was when I went to the island of Sardinia. It was a week’s worth of beach hopping! The water was amazing but I’d have to say that it doesn’t come close to the beaches that we have in the Philippines and this is me trying to be objective. ;)
The third time around, I headed south. Rome-Naples-Amalfi Coast was the route that made me fall in love with this country more! Pizza in Napoli is just mmmmm! When I got back to Rome, the pizza there that I liked a lot before became just alright for me. haha And Amalfi Coast? It is truly deserving of its UNESCO world heritage site title, I would have to say that it’s the most beautiful place I’ve been to so far in this continent!♥
My last trip was a quick one to Rome. I went to attend the canonization of the Philippines’ second saint, Pedro Calungsod and heard the mass that was presided over by Pope Benedict XVI. :)

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Breath taking view of Positano ♥

Breath taking view of Positano ♥

San Pedro Calungsod's canonization at the Vatican

San Pedro Calungsod’s canonization at the Vatican

It was a pretty busy year full of wonderful sights and amazing experiences. I’ve been to 9 countries and even returned to some of them several times! I’m definitely lucky! I was corrected by a friend once and was told that… we’re not lucky, we’re blessed. I couldn’t agree more!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Happy travels everyone!!!

Cheers 2012! You’ve been way awesome and nice to me. Looking forward to 2013! :D

blogcarnival

This is my entry for Pinoy Travel Bloggers’ Blog Carnival for the month of December with the theme ‘2012: This Year in Travel’ hosted by Gay Mitra-Emami of Pinay Travel Junkie and Regine Camille Garcia of Between Coordinates.
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