Tuesday, April 5

Por dios y los santos!

It was a relaxed St Paddy's Day in Almunecar at the Mississippi Irish Pub. Drinking a few beers (Guiness of course) to get the honorary hat and try to exchange our gifted "buttons" for the fancy Jamison hat. We did succeed in getting a green Boa though!  That night I also meet a German-Leprechaun (pictured on the left). My Austrian Couchsurfer, Joaquin 2, had started talking to him outside and invited him in to join us. I guess Mr. Leprechaun is squatting in a farm in the mountains behind Almunecar and only comes to town once in a blue moon.

Sadly, it had to be an early night because I had to get up to catch a 6am bus to Granada to start the EPIC JOURNEY TO VALENCIA! (I missed it of course)

La Falla about Spain

The Reason: Las Fallas
Las Fallas is a traditional Valencian festival to celebrate St. Joseph. Essentially it is like the Fourth of July times A MILLION. Fireworks, explosions, more fireworks and fire - Earplugs are a necessary accessory. Each neighborhood creates (or buys) its own Falla, or float, to burn on La Crema (the last night). 

Why wouldnt anyone want to drive across Spain to watch fireworks and some impressive creations of cardboard and stryofoam burn?

With some friends from Granada, two rental cars, a map and a vague sense of direction, we started our journey east to Valencia. Through the communities of Andalucia, Murcia, Castilla la Mancha, Murcia again, Castilla again and then finally Valencia. Our little group saw alot of Spain that day: pig farms, small towns (Jumilla - we had a little side adventure there), cave homes, lots of castles, olive trees but no tumbleweeds sadly. After about 8 hours, we made it to our apartment in Soplaya (4.5 km north of Valencia) just in time for sunset. 

The next day, we spent the morning on the beach, catching the rays and enjoying the lovely sandy beach. The water was extremely cold, it actually hurt to stand in it (that is only my opinion though).

While on the beach we were surprised with a fireworks display. Each day at 2pm during Las Fallas, each neighborhood has their own fireworks display called the Mascletà. First, we had no idea what was happening. But this is Spain, so just go with the flow. The display went on for about 10 minutes and had a lot of smoke and noise. I would not want to be staying in the apartments next to it!

 Women wearing amazing dresses, Las Falleras, gathered before the fireworks display began. They are the Spanish beauty queens, each trying to become the Queen of Las Fallas. I loved looking at their dresses and intricate hair pieces (similar to Princess Leia). Later that night we spoke to some Falleras and they said the dresses did not weigh too much but did cost thousands of euros.

At a cupcake store in Valencia, they even had cookies with the hairpieces! I should have boughten one. Next year! 

Our day in Valencia mainly consisted of searching for Las Fallas, who were spread out in various neighborhoods. You would walk down one street and catch a glimpse of one out of the corner of your eye. Then you would try to find the pathway to it. It was alot of fun.

Other activities included dodging fire crackers, eating pumpkin doughnuts and  listening to a brass band playing ABBA covers on the street. I cannot express how much fun it was listening to them and watching the people dance. I felt like I was in New Orleans for a few minutes, instead of Spain.

 During this festival, every morning brass bands wake up Valencia by playing lively music in the streets and are usually followed by people throwing firecrackers. This activity starts at 5am, which is why it is called la despertà, or the wake up call.

From my observations, no one gets much sleep or quiet during this week.

Finally, at about 10pm the first of Las Fallas burns. According to the locals, only three out of hundreds of Las Fallas burn on time: the first one, the first prize and the one in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento. The rest go off when the firemen finally get there. I understand why the firemen are needed: the fire is intense hot (we usually ran back a bit once the fire started) and Las Fallas were sometimes located quite close to buildings. Look how close the buildings were to the American themed Falla!

After another adventure trying to catch a taxi back to our apartment and a failed attempt at hitchhiking, our group made it home about 6am the next morning. Then started driving back home to Andalucia later that day, but that was after mistakenly driving towards Barcelona for about 30 minutes, and then getting distracted by a water park and missing our exit. But without getting lost, where is the adventure in road tripping? (Spoken by the backseat passenger)

I definitely need to return to Valencia soon. 

No comments:

Post a Comment