Road trip across Spain, well kind of.

One week ago I was in Valencia celebrating Las Fallas. It’s crazy how fast time goes but it still seems like a short amount of time. I travelled from Salamanca with a student society thing as it was the cheapest method to get across the country. We got the coach travel and an entry into a nightclub, but we didn’t stick with the Salamanca people, for €49! That’s pretty impressive seeing as the travel is nearly that much on it’s own.

I went with Toñi and Chrissie, which definitely made the 7 hour drive more bearable. On the way there I didn’t sleep at all and I hadn’t sleep much the night before; I think it was around 50 minutes that I actually managed to sleep. So imagine my surprise when I was able to stay awake until half 5 the next morning, but I guess that’s what adrenaline does to you. Even though I was celebrating this festival, I didn’t know what it was for and neither did the people I asked. I’ve just looked it up though and apparently it was an old festival to celebrate the beginning of spring and instead of massively elaborate statues, people just burnt old stuff that they needed to get rid off. Interesting, right? Although I’m guessing that it’s not about that as much now.

So our journey started at 8am on Tuesday 19th March and we didn’t get into Valencia until 3pm, we did have a 20 minute break so it wasn’t too bad but I was glad to finally get off the bus. As soon as we could, us 3 left the rest of the group to go exploring on our own. We’d been told that we had free time all day but everyone went in the same direction to start off with so we’re thinking that they went to see all the main Fallas-structures together. I preferred being able to go at my own pace though as it meant that we could do what we want and not have to worry.

After taking a few photos and trying to find out where Holly was (a friend from Bangor who is in Alicante for her YA) we decided to go in search of  McDonald’s. I know, how English! But we’d wanted to buy a breakfast meal to take on the coach with us but Spain doesn’t believe in early opening times so we weren’t able to do that! Also, when you’ve not eaten for hours it’s nice to get something quick and cheap. The one we managed to find was opposite both the Northern Rail Station for Valencia and the bull ring and didn’t take us too long to find once we’d use google maps on my phone to help us out.

We still had hours so we decided to use the map that we had been given by the group people and have a look for where and when things were happening. We had around 3 hours to go looking at structures before the fire parade started, so we set off going in the opposite direction to that so we could loop back round on ourselves.

There were a few strange structures but there were so elaborately created that it was difficult to not look at them in awe whilst at the same time laughing or being in shock.

This was supposed to represent the history of the apple and if you look closely you can see Steve Jobs sat on top of the tree with a Macbook in front of him. It was this sort of attention to detail that made me realise how much work had bee put into creating these things. It was later that I realised that people work on these structures all year round and it is an actual job for them. It’s amazing how a festival like this can give people a job.

Whilst I was looking up information on the festival I found out that the structures are normally satirical but I still can’t figure out what this one is meant to be satirising. Toñi suggested that is has something to do with how black people are better at sports or something but I’m not entirely sure on that regard. It was still good just a little shocking to us when we realised what was going off.

Since we were in Valencia Chrissie and I wanted to be able to get some postcards and souvenirs so we both got two postcards each but I can’t a badge as well. It’s only small but it’s so cute. It’s blue with a bat on it with Valencia written underneath. I don’t know why there’s a bat on it but that’s what made me want it more, the best €2 I have ever spent in my opinion. Also, they have a thing in Spain where you buy these things called panuelas, it’s literally just a bandanna or scarf like thing with a print of the festival/holiday on it, so we all got one of those but I don’t think I think I have a photo of it so I can’t put a picture up of it.

I think there was practically a structure at the end of every little street because as the day went on we found loads of little ones hidden down side streets that we wouldn’t have known about if it hadn’t been for walking around randomly and getting a little lost every now and again.

Anyway, we met up with one of Toñi’s friends in Starbucks before the parade started, but we didn’t get that much time to see her as she took ages to meet us and then we had to rush off to get to the parade and find somewhere to stand where we could see what was going off. I didn’t take that many pictures of it as I was too busy filming it but here are a couple that I managed to take.

Las Luces

We managed to eventually find Holly after the parade but we only saw her for a few minutes as she was with a big group of people and they were wandering off to look at some market stalls. We also got to see Sasha but for even less time. After that we had to try and find Toñi’s other friend, Charlie, who we had promised to meet up with for tea. But unfortunately we got slightly lost and it took us longer to find her than we had first believed it would but after many messages on whatsapp and a phone call or two we were finally able to find her near this thing called Las Luces, and quite aptly don’t you agree?

It was getting quite late by this point but before any of the fallas were burnt we sat outside the train station having a botellón, which is pretty much drinking on the street. Normally, that sort of behaviour isn’t encouraged but apparently during this time of year people turn a blind eye as it is such a huge celebration but we were told to move on once the train station was closed. So that’s when we went to watch the winner be burnt (all of the fallas are judged and the one that wins is the last to burnt before the end celebration). It was amazing to see and they had fire fighters there for when the structure set on fire so they could douse all the buildings surrounding it in water, unfortunately it meant that the people closest to the front were a little drenched as well but it was worth it. The worst part was I had two people in front of me who kept on pushing backwards on me once the fire was going because they couldn’t stand the heat and it really annoyed me. If you can’t stand it, go somewhere else! It meant that I couldn’t take some photos as I was being jostled a lot but here is what I did get .

  After seeing the structures burn we went to a nightclub until we had to leave to head back to get the coach. I was amazed at how much we were able to see and do and I was even more surprised that I was able to sleep on the coach at all. But when I got back home I went to bed and slept for a few more hours.

There’s not much else to add onto this so I guess you will have to wait and see what happens next.

Hasta la fuego

Lauren x

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