Party in Ibiza

I think it’s safe to say we were all looking forward to a relaxing end to our trip in Ibiza. We had booked a hotel that had a great view, really nice pool and were looking forward to making good use of it.

Hotel Pool

When we booked this hotel months and months ago, we didn’t read all the reviews saying it was gay-friendly. No worries, we thought, we like gay people….it will be great. Well, when we got handed this map on checking in we twigged that it may actually be a bit awkward for us at the pool.

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That pool was that exact scene every day and when you’re 2 couples, you feel a little bit out of place. So, we settled for plan B – a quick walk around the area then chilling out in our room. Luckily, the weather wasn’t so great and we needed to save our energy for that night so we didn’t feel that bad. Later on, Sarah joined us for some drinking games and music before we headed to Pacha to see David Guetta! Unfortunately, by the time we walked to the club (which took about an hour) the buzz had worn off quite a bit and it was way too expensive to top up (at least 16 Euro) so we just had to power through.

Pre Pacha

Cath and I

Pacha

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Pacha

We were in for a long night

Pacha

Pacha

Pacha

David Guetta - Pacha

David Guetta - Pacha

At about 4am, my body decided I had put it through enough in the last week and I had to get out of the crowd. After a couple very expensive waters (8 Euros for a small bottle) and some fresh air, we all at the same point as this guy and decided to call it a night.

Pacha

Pacha

Finally, we had a whole day to do absolutely nothing and recover from the craziness of the past week. We slept until 1pm and did absolutely nothing else besides a trip to Burger King – it was well deserved.

The sun finally came out for our last day on the island and we soaked it up (and got a little bit burnt) while reading on beach chairs. It was the perfect end to an intense but awesome trip around Spain.

Coast

Sunset from our hotel

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One big tomato fight – La Tomatina 2013

We struggled out of bed after a night of drinking wine and throwing water at each other in Requena with the prospect of being pelted by tomatoes making getting up all the more challenging.

With some hangovers and blurry eyes in tow we boarded a bus to Bunol and had mostly recovered by the time we arrived.

There are quite a few different stories about how La Tomatina started but most of them involve a food fight in the 1940s where a vegetable stand was used as ammo.  The young locals tried to start it again the next year but brought their own tomatoes this time.  Police got involved to try and stop it every now and then but eventually the festival became a proper annual event and has been going strong ever since.

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

Soon after we arrived at our spot for the day, we unfortunately overheard one of the guys in the group right in front of us saying how he had to pee.  Sure enough, 10 seconds later and he’s peeing in a cup in the middle of the crowd.  I was half expecting him to be completely disgusting and throw the full cup over the crowd but he only went with quite disgusting by dropping down and pouring it on the ground at his feet.  This was gross but got worse when two minutes later a guy was on his hands and knees in the puddle of pee as he helped someone on to his shoulders.

One guy had a bit of an odd costume for the day.   I think you can probably spot him without a description from the photo below (it’s just like “where’s wally?”…or should I say “where’s willy?”).

La Tomatina

His costume came complete with a set of balls.  I came to know one of the balls quite intimately as he squished pass us.  Little did I know at the time that I would get even more well acquainted with one of the balls later on as it hit me in the head in the midst of the tomato fight (guess someone confused it with a giant tomato and ripped it off).

In its history, it had never rained on the day of the Tomatina festival but we were there for the lucky first time as a thunderstorm rolled in to soak us.  It got cold quick.

La Tomatina

The tomato fight begins when one of the locals manages to make it up a greased up pole and lifts off a ham that is sitting on top (aah the Spanish and their festivals – nobody could ever accuse them of lacking imagination).  Assuming a local doesn’t make it to the ham by 11am (the most likely outcome), the trucks roll in to start the carnage (bringing with them around 40 tonnes of tomatoes).  A large shot rings out to announce the trucks arrival.  Only problem with that was that I didn’t have a watch and the claps of thunder that rang out kept making me think we were kicking off.

Soon enough it was actually go time and we went from shivering from the cold rain to covered in a thick blanket of tomatoes (along with the exertion it took to help cover everyone else around us, it warmed us up pretty quickly).

We were in a packed street and every time one of the trucks came along we would have to squish up against the sides of the street so it was a little claustrophobic.  We thought we were messy after the first truck rolled past but it was ridiculous by the time the last one rolled by.

La Tomatina

Everyone says that the tomatoes don’t hurt because you have to crush them before throwing them.  Well that’s a nice idea but after the third or fourth hard tomato in the head, I decided that all the people mentioning the crushing of tomatoes probably haven’t been there.  A few of us opted for goggles which were great for about 20 seconds until they became completely covered in tomatoes and we were left with two options: blindly grope about for tomatoes and keep your goggles on or take the goggles off and be stuck with burning eyes from all the tomato juice.  It was a tough choice.

Near the time the last truck was crawling through we decided we wanted to try get to a spot with a bit more breathing space so started squeezing our way through the crowd.  It got pretty intense for a bit and before you know it I was lost completely with nobody else near me, Dayna and Sarah were off down a side street and Cath and Jono were somewhere else in the crowd.  I learnt that  tomatoes are a great disguise – everyone looked the same to me so I had no chance of finding everyone despite spending the next hour and a half trying.

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

La Tomatina

We got a bit of shaky video as well which includes another round of “where’s willy?” (and his balls – bonus points if you spot one of them being flung up in the air) for those who enjoyed the earlier version – it gives you an idea of what it was like.

Once the tomato fight had ended it was still a messy, long walk back to the bus in the crowds.  Locals have hoses set up to help clean the tomato off but it was tough going.  20,000 people sharing the limited number of hoses made it hard to get a share and the tomato was EVERYWHERE.  We all regrouped at the bus and had the difficult job of wiping off enough tomato and tidying up enough to be let back on the bus.

We were pretty wrecked by the end of the day so the bus ride home was a quiet one.   The shower at the hotel was amazing even though we were still finding tomato on us hours later.

Tired out

A worn out Jono and Cath after the tomato fight.

And to think, we still had David Guetta in Ibiza the next night to pull ourselves together for…

The Water and Wine festival

The first time we had heard of the Water and Wine festival was when we booked our tour for Tomatina and there was a £20 add on for it.  The tour company rep did a good job of selling it to us and we signed up straight away when we heard it involved a water fight with the locals and a bunch of free wine.

Roll forward a few months and we looked in to the festival and were a bit surprised by some of the details.

We would be leaving our hotel in Valencia shortly after 8pm in the evening to get to a small village called Requena where the festival is held, an hour or two’s drive from Valencia.  The festival would kick off around 11pm and go on until our bus would take us back at 4am.  So we would be getting back to our hotel and in to bed about two hours before we would have to be getting up for La Tomatina the next day.   Eek.

Water and Wine

At the start of the night

With the late night in mind, we planned ahead with some redbull, a giant bottle of cheap wine and also sorted out our vessels for the evening.  The vessels came in handy for the wine part of the festival where trucks with big wine vats wind around the village pouring wine in to everyone’s cups, buckets, bottles or, in my case, watering cans.

Heading out to the Water and Wine festival.  Watering can is Matt's vessel of choice and yes that is a 1.5L bottle of red wine (that cost 1.50 Euros)

Water and Wine

Before the wine trucks roll in, the festival starts in the village’s bull ring with dueling local bands supporting their teenage boys in a “coming of age” thing where they play at being acrobatic matadors with young bulls.  The bulls aren’t harmed at all so it sounded like fun but we opted to save the cash for the entry to the bull ring and relaxed outside playing drinking games instead.

Water and Wine

As close as we got to the Bull Ring

It happened to roll over to Jono’s birthday when it hit midnight so we decided to get the party started by soaking him in wine.

Water and Wine

The plan after leaving the bull ring was to just follow the local bands around a long circuit of the village and fill up with wine whenever a truck stopped near us.  Locals lined the streets and helped us wash off the wine by tipping buckets of water or turning hoses on the chanting crowds below (“AGUAAAA, AGUAAAAA” etc).

It didn’t take long before the rest of us were as soaked as Jono.

Water and Wine

Waiting to be soaked by some buckets of water

Water and Wine

Early enough not to be soaked yet

Water and Wine

Not so long afterwards…at least it got rid of the wine

The wine actually didn’t taste half bad so we did end up drinking plenty of it (at least some of us did) and were getting a bit merry by the end.  It kept us warm while being soaked in water though so it was probably a good thing.

Water and Wine

Water and Wine

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Water and Wine

Water and Wine

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Water and Wine

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It got a bit mad later on with the crowds all pushing to get wine but rather than trying to describe it , here’s a bit of a montage from the night.

Roll on a few hours and we were struggling out of bed to pelt each other with tomatoes but that’s another blog I think…

Hola Barcelona

When we first booked this trip it was Matt & I and Cath & Jono. The itinerary was:

3 nights in Barcelona then train to Valencia to join First Festival for a 3 day tour including Water and Wine Festival and La Tomatina before ended in Ibiza to soak up the sun and party with David Guetta at Pacha.

As word of our epic trip spread, Bronnie, Sarina, and Sarah got amongst it (the latter 2 joined us in Valencia). More the merrier! I personally love travelling with a group of friends and it really made the trip even more awesome.

Normally we use low cost carriers for our flights but when booking this trip, we found that BA was the cheapest way to fly which meant leg room! Free checked bag! 2 pieces of carry on! Food! And most importantly (especially on a Friday night), free drinks! We definitely made the most of that last one by somewhat sheepishly asking for two wines (me) and a beer and gin & tonic (Matt). The rest of our group were in different areas of the plane but we all did the same thing. Hey, gotta make the most of those free drinks!

Drinks on the Plane

After a quick and easy ride on the airport shuttle bus, we went in search of our apartment. Luckily, we picked a great location just off La Rambla so it was easy to find. It wasn’t anything flash but it was cheap and there was a grocery store just around the corner.

The next morning we set out on a self guided walking tour of Barcelona which lasted about 6 hours! Barcelona is a good city to walk around as it’s mostly flat except for the really steep hill heading up to Guell Park.

Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya

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Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya

Plaça de Catalunya

We took in all the Gaudi buildings but the €30 entrance fee dipped a little too far into our sangria fund so we gave it a pass.

Casa Batllo

Casa Batllo

Casa Milà

Casa Milà

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

View of Barcelona from Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

Guell Park

After a quick tapas and sangria stop, we ended up at Sagrada Família. Now, I’ve seen A LOT of churches/cathedrals in our travels around Europe so I wasn’t particularly looking forward to seeing another one. Designed by Gaudi, this was one of the most beautiful, massive, and unique cathedrals I’ve ever seen (even with the scaffolding)!

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

Sagrada Família

By the time we arrived back at La Rambla, we were all pretty thirsty so we decided to go to the grocery store and load up on all the cheap alcohol and food. Thanks to €1 litres of wine we made our own sangria for 1/4 of the price in restaurants and had a great night in!

Sangria

After a bit of a sleep in (perhaps the fault of sangria), we decided to walk along a different area of the city. We found ourselves in the Old Jewish Quarter next to a walking tour group whose leader was giving some very interesting information about WW2 and other historic events. We kept within earshot and followed them around for a little while. They were going to the same places we had planned to so it worked out well!

Jewish quarter

More Cathedral

Hotel Colon

Hotel Colon

La Tapas

If you don’t like tapas then I don’t think we can be friends.

Inside Eglesia de Santa Maria del Mar

We decided to take a break from walking and hit the beach! The weather wasn’t amazing when we first arrived but after a little while it cleared up a bit. Of course, the clouds tricked us into thinking we’d be safe from the sun and we ended up a wee bit pink.

Stormy beach weather

At the beach

 

We finished off our time in Barcelona with a walk along the waterfront and La Rambla, and of course, gelato! I think we all agreed we’d go back in a heartbeat. Barcelona is one of those great cities that has lots going on and is overflowing with culture. Loved it!

Palm trees

La Rambla

Columbus Monument

Gelato

 

Barcelona ended up being the most relaxed part of our trip but I’ll leave that for another post!