Archive for the 'Valencia' Category

Last Day in Valencia

We had to get back to the market and do a little shopping before we went back to the beach again. Our day started out with this sighting, so we knew it would be a good day.

After stopping to buy a fabulous dress we were off to the market where Sister made some friends who were trying to escape and bought her paella pan.



the sepia I talked about before, so delicious!

the sepia I talked about before, so delicious!

ostrich eggs anyone?

ostrich eggs anyone?

After that we wandered through the back streets to shop for gifts and treasures. We found an amazing olive tree, a wild boar photo op, some pure pigments, and of course lots of photos.

This girl explained how the pure pigments in the right of the photo are made

Then we walked back towards the center of the old city to check out the architecture.

Then we found a little back street with some Valencia orange trees, perfect for our last night.

They smelled amazing.

pimp my vespa (it's an actual show in Italy)

Then it was off to the train station, paella pan and all, to get tickets for our trip back to Barcelona the next day. We wanted to make sure we got them early this time and while we were waiting in line to buy them I noticed something extra being smuggled in the boys bag.

Valencia train station

Valencia train station

It was actually kind of sweet, he made the kitten a bed in his bag and even though he was talking with his friends he kept nervously glancing to make sure it was ok. For a while it was walking around but then it took an adorable nap.

Then we back tracked to a cafe we’d seen to get some delicious food and even some dessert.

seafood salads

seafood salads

sepia and seafood paella

sepia with garlic french fries and seafood paella

fruit cocktail and gelato, yum

fruit cocktail and gelato, yum

We wondered back and packed for the trip back to Barcelona early the next day. That night we continued our new tradition of having a dinner from the supermarket while packing and relaxing. Gracias Valencia for a wonderful trip!


La Tomatina 2008

La Tomatina is a festival that takes place once a year in Brunol; a small town near Valencia. It’s not completely clear how this tradition started but sometime in the 70’s they advertised it a lot and now there are mostly tourists. A lot of Australians, Kiwis, English and of course some Americans; and mostly around the 20-30 age range with an appetite for craziness.
My Sister and I had been warned about bringing anything of value so we put some money and our key cards for the hotel in a plastic bag and attached it to the inside of my Sisters bra. We also came prepared with waterproof cameras and goggles from the states. I had opted for safety goggles while my sister went for the swimming type. Here’s the before photo:

After having a lovely breakfast at the hotel buffet around 8am we took a double-decker bus from our hotel (one of four) to Brunol. We also brought a bag to leave on the bus with t-shirts and water which for anyone who plans on going I highly advise.

We got off the bus and found the beer pretty quickly; it’s not as strange to be drinking at 11am if everyone around you is also drinking. We casually walked into the center of the old town observing the festivities and scenery along the way.

Then we were in the crowd waiting to see what would happen next. We had read that there is a ham put atop a greased pole and once someone reaches it the trucks of tomatoes come. Before that though the locals dump water on the people walking by and so a sort of water fight commences.
We were too far back to see but we heard the starting noise (I can’t remember what it was exactly a bell or a starter gun) and the crowd quickly grew around us. We decided to move near a side street so we would have a way to exit if things got too intense. It’s a good thing we did because things got very intense.

Everyone was pushing and there was really nowhere to go, we were all just waiting for the tomatoes. The weirdest thing was the people with their kids; some of them toddlers! Really? Ok I have to rant a bit: You think a very small crowded street filled with drunk 20 somethings that have come solely for the purpose of throwing old tomatoes at each other is the place to bring your children? I saw one boy crying on his Dads shoulders cause he was obviously scared and I wanted to shake the parents; what are you doing?! Back up out of the crowd if you have little ones!
Some said later their feet were off the ground because they were so enclosed in moving people. And it was hard not to notice the occasional guy in the corner who was obviously peeing, so you knew that the ground was not just covered in beer, sangria, and dirt but also some piss. I tried not to think about it.
Then the trucks came and it went from crazy to insane.

There weren’t that many tomatoes at first so everyone was pushing to get to them and the trucks were literally being pushed along by the crowd around it. That’s when Sister and I got out to catch our breath. Then Sister, who was elbowed in the ribs by a girl being pulled in two directions, started feeling faint from the claustrophobia. Plus we kept seeing people coming away from the trucks with ripped shirts, covered in tomatoes, one guy was being carried out, and some girls that looked very upset.

Here’s a photo I stole from the internet:

We walked up a back street that was a lot less crowded, caught our breath and found where the trucks finished. That was great because there were about a fourth the amount of people and much more space so we threw tomatoes at each other and some locals, took some photos, and had a great time.

Later on the walk up the hill we got some more beer. Sister got a t-shirt and some paella (which was the best we had in Spain) being made by locals and sold from their houses. All the locals had garden hoses running out of their houses and people were lining up (and sometimes paying) to be hosed off. We were lucky and caught a small group passing a hose around so we were able to spray off some of the tomato bits that had started to harden in the sun.

Later we ran into this tomato in a club in Valencia

Then after the most disgusting porta potty experience either of us has ever had (I won’t do into detail here) we went back to the bus to wait in the sun and swap stories with the others.

I slept on the bus but, Sister told me later that about half way back a guy opened a bag in which he’d put his tomato soaked clothes in while he waited for the bus. The whole bus did a simultaneous “uhhg” (grossed out noise) from the smell. And the hotel smelled pretty bad too, all the elevators had tomato muck and there was a line of people (covered in tomato) waiting at the front desk because they had lost their keys in the commotion.

our clothes soaking in the hotel tub

Thankfully we had not so we raced upstairs to take showers and soak our clothes.

After some long hot showers and a bit of rest and sangria at the hotel we were ready to go again and headed into the old city.
A side note: It was this day that we found out McCain had chosen Sarah Palin (there was a lot of coverage of US politics in Spain) to which we both responded, “What the fuck?!” Personally I find it insulting that McCain thinks he can get Hillary supporters simply by choosing a woman. She has so much less experience and completely different ideas. Ugh, I’m so happy I’ll be away from all the stupidity of American politics for the next four months!

First we went to dinner near the beach, we got paella but it wasn’t as good as the stuff in Brunol (although the menu was interesting). We liked the view of the beach but that area of town seemed a bit expensive so we headed back to the old city to the same Brazilian club we had been the other night. It seemed kind of dead and we were about to leave when:

That got us in the mood to dance so we moved onto a bigger club where everyone was kind of standing around; and I have to say we brought the party. We walked in kind of sweaty and excited from the last place and just started to dance and all of a sudden everyone was dancing and singing with us. It was great!

Old City in Valencia

One of my favorite things to do while traveling is going to the grocery stores. I’ve always loved it. There is so much to learn about a culture simply by looking at what they buy. In Spain there were the legs of meat, smaller portions (of course),horchata flavored slushies, etc. Always one of my favorite experiences on a trip, and fortunately there was a giant super market/ mall right next to our hotel.

Our hotel was also just outside the old city so we decided to go for a walk into town to get to know Valencia. Along the way we took some portraits in the beautiful (and quite empty) park.

We heard a very strange bird call so my Sister said, "What?!

Then through the gates of the old city which are very castle like. It’s kind of strange to be walking along and then oh, there’s the castle that is totally normal for me to see everyday. Oh Valencia, you so crazy.

After walking around the old city and taking a lot of photos we stopped for some coca cola lite (in glass bottles with ice and lemon-perfect) and post card writing in the center.

we stopped inside this church

we stopped inside this church

Then more photos on the walk back and we went for a swim on the roof. Unfortunately it was much more crowded this time so we didn’t stay long.

Then I blogged for a bit while my Sister ran around town trying to get money that Visa had wired to a local Western Union. The first western union she went to said they were out of money, so she went across town to another, thankfully they gave her the money and she was happy.

euro euro bill y'all

euro euro billz y

That night we went back to the old city for dinner and were surprised to find it filled with tourists. It was mostly British and Australian groups that had come for La Tomatina, it was like being in a college town on a Saturday night. Plus everyone was wearing matching t shirts and getting hammered. During dinner we were annoyed but later that evening we joined them in drunken dancing.

apparently it's common to come to La Tomatina for your stag party, this groom to be was partying in a bridal get up.

Apparently it’s common for British guys to come to La Tomatina for their stag party because we ran into a few groups doing this. This groom to be was partying in a bridal out fit.

it was very hot in the club and we were dancing a lot

it was very hot in the club and we were dancing a lot

This Australian was backpacking for four months around Europe.

This Australian was backpacking for four months around Europe.

The walk home through the towers of the old town

The walk home through the towers of the old town


It was time to leave Barcelona, we loved it but needed a fresh start. So we packed up our things said goodbye to the Born Portal 3.3 apartment and headed for the metro to the train station. I am going to Italy after this to live for four months so I have quite a bit of stuff; one weekend bag, one large rolling bag, and one (larger than average) carry on rolling bag. The metro wasn’t so conducive to carrying all this stuff but we were determined to do it. Then we ran into some missionaries from Michigan who helped carry our stuff up and down some stairs; it makes me uncomfortable how many American missionaries are in Spain but I appreciated the help.

Goodbye Born Portal 3.3!

Goodbye Born Portal 3.3!

Then the train we wanted was sold out and we were so exhausted that after a long wait in line we decided to spring for the 1st class (Preferante) tickets for the next train instead of wait until the evening and arrive in Valencia very late.

a good omen in the first class lounge

a good omen in the first class lounge

With the 1st Class tickets we got into the 1st class lounge where we were thrilled to be able to enjoy free café, juice, nuts, and cookies. I had a chance to go to the photo booth (as I make it a goal to get them as often as possible) and Sister got a chance to buy some medicine at the Pharmacia because she had some bad congestion.

The train was great, the 20 extra Euros for 1st class were definitely worth it. We were served juice and champagne, lunch, and could watch a movie. We of course continued out Rummy tournament (I was still in the lead at this point) and took naps.

The station in Valencia is so gorgeous complete with stain glass squares that say “good trip” in each language. We hopped in a cab and went to the Hotel Expo where we had booked a room for the week. So the reason we booked this hotel: roof pool and terrace bar. The minute we arrived we dropped our things and changed and ran up to enjoy the pool. The view was spectacular and the pool although small felt amazing.

Afterwards we shared a bottle of wine on the terrace and met a group of English guys that were in town for “La Tomatia” (The Tomato Festival which takes place in Brunol a small town near Valencia). They were there for a Stag party and had been the previous year as well so they gave us some advice (goggles, bring extra clothes, etc) and told us about the bus that left from the hotel so we wouldn’t have to take the train. Perfect, Valencia seemed to be welcoming us with open arms.

We ended up enjoying the view a bit too long and once we realized how hungry we were it was pretty late, even for the Spanish dinner. So we went around the corner to a cheap place called “Golden Gate,” I’m a tad embarrassed to say it was perfect. We didn’t order Paella (Valencia is famous for it) or Tapas but instead some simple pasta dishes with red sauce. It wasn’t fancy or specific to Spain but it was necessary comfort food and good wine so we had a good time.

The hotel was just what we needed after all that happened in Barcelona and all the stairs with our luggage on our way out. We were sore and in need of the separate, maid cleaned rooms, with elevators, English news, and a seventh floor view. It was nice to be taken care of, even still my Sister kept our passports in the back of the mini fridge (which locked and had a key). By the way Chad, this reminded me of you cause you were the first person to tell me to keep my documents in the freezer.

So we watched the DNC and sprawled out on our beds and decided we loved Valencia.