Sunday, 29 September 2013

I'm a Spain Bound Rocketship


In a previous post I wrote about La Tomatina specifically...but I felt that adding my entire trip with that post would be a bit of a long read, so I just decided to make two posts. If you don't want to do any long reading, then SCRAM! Get off my lawn! Haha just kidding, but it is a bit long just to warn you.





So...my trip to Spain!




Day 1:
We got to the Southampton Airport hours early...almost 15 hours early. Living on the Isle of Wight, while great, has its downsides...it is so cut off of everything that it takes almost 3 hours to get off the bloody island. Sometimes it really felt like I was on the show Lost.

So we had to take the bus and ferry times into consideration and since we had an early flight we figured it would be best to leave late Friday night and just sleep at the airport instead of cutting it close. Now as much as sleeping at an airport has an appeal....that's all grand when the airport is open. Apparently the Southampton Airport is one of the only airports that isn't 24 hours! Well that was just splendid. Here we are in our pajamas ready to crash on the ever so comfortable (not) benches when the airport manager tries to kick us out. They tried to find a hotel for us to stay the night but because it was a Saturday everything was completely booked in the area.

Since I was not keen on paying a ridiculous amount of money just to sleep a couple of hours in a hotel, I was all ready to just find a nice patch of grass outside and sleep. Thankfully, the airport manager took pity on us and let us stay in the airport overnight with night duty keeping an eye on us. One manager was all ready to let us sleep in the restaurant booths which were much more comfortable but another one came right after and told us to stay away from the restaurant because they had 'infra-red alarms' near the bar. Sure they did (*rolls eyes*) he just needed to say that to cover his butt. Because I would be stupid enough to have a late night binge drinking session in an airport with night duty watching me after they were nice enough to let us stay in the first place. Ugh! It was frustrating only because we had to sleep on a rock hard surface instead of a comfy sofa. Regardless, it was still better than outside because it decided to rain that night.

Being alone in the airport was really weird...slightly creepy even. However I would not recommend sleeping there often because its not exactly 5 star accommodation.


Then we had a plane ride into Leeds, short layover, and another plane into Barcelona. Because for some reason it was cheaper to get a plane going from Southampton to Leeds and Leeds to Barcelona, than just a direct flight...don't ask me why, I'm still confused.

We almost didn't even make it on the plane to Barcelona because Fareeza didn't have her boarding pass stamped and RyanAir was trying to scrounge us for money (that's what you get for taking budget airlines), so she had to haul ass to get it stamped while I waited at the gate crapping my pants hoping that she made it back on time. It didn't help to have the lady at the booth telling me every 5 seconds that if she doesn't make it back in the next five minutes it would be too late -___- " One of the guys was on my side and was rooting for Fareeza so that stopped me from saying some pretty nasty things to that woman and getting us both kicked off the plane. But thankfully Fareeza made it back in time and I kept my mouth shut. Crisis Averted!

When we got to Barcelona it was later at night, so we met up with Luca (our host from couch surfing) and he took us to our rooms. He was able to get us a flat for 10 Euros a night in a prime location right next to the Sagrada Familia which was perfect. After we dropped our bags off he took us out to an Indian Vegetarian Restaurant which was so good. It was different going to an Indian restaurant and NOT ordering butter chicken...but it was still a great experience.


After dinner, Fareeza and I had our much needed sleep preparing ourself for a full day in Barcelona.

Day 2:
We woke up later than expected so it wasn't until 11am that we were out of the house grabbing breakfast/lunch. We went to a nearby supermarket and picked up some essentials: baguette, cheese, meat, cereal, milk, juice, tomatoes, pineapple and oranges all for the inexpensive price of 7 Euros. It was ridiculous how cheap it was! Saved us money since we could cook in the flat and it covered both our breakfasts and lunch for the both days that we were in Barcelona.


We then took the metro into Lesseps station and made the 20 minute trek uphill to Parc Guell, Gaudi's famous Park. The park is an architectural work of art that rests in the heart of the city and offers stunning panoramic views of Spain. I convinced Fareeza to walk all the way up to the top with me where we saw Gaudi's house and the views were even better. I saw a hill not to far from the house that was a bit of a trek but I couldn't convince her to go up any higher so I went up by myself.


It was a taxing journey, and I almost fell a couple times on the way up but it was totally worth it! The views of Spain were absolutely breath taking (although that was after the long uphill journey so I was already out of breath to begin with). The best thing was that I was one of the only people who was dedicated enough to make the trip, so I got to enjoy the complete and utter solitude peacefully. The best thing about the journey was that everything went downhill from that point...literally, not figuatively. It makes everything worthwhile when you know that you can enjoy the rest of the way down when you made the effort to get up there in the first place.


After we reached the bottom, we went to a nearby Spanish restaurant and ordered Paella and Spanish beer. We figured that it was only right to have at least one traditionally Spanish meal. I couldn't have 'proper' paella because it has squid in it and I have a strict NO SUCTION CUPS policy...but mine was still delicious.


Then we headed back to the flat to freshen up and take a wee nap. Later in the evening Luca and his friend Dario invited us to their flat to make us Italian carbonara. Since it is difficult to come by Italian ingredients in Spain, some of the ingredients had to be Spanish...so it was a pseudo-traditional carbonara cooked by Italians using Spanish ingredients...and yet it was still the best carbonara I have ever had.


After we finished dinner and the wine bottle rang dry, we headed into town to a popular Irish bar that had traditional irish music and dancing. It was a multi-cultured day to say the least.


Day 3: 
The next morning we woke up bright and early, ate breakfast and packed up our backpacks, ready to set out to our next destination: Valencia. A three hour train ride later we arrived in the beautiful city of Valencia and took a taxi to our hotel.

We had booked through a company called PP Travel who took care of everything to do with the La Tomatina event. For only £169.99 each we were able to get a 2 night stay in a 3 star hotel, entrance into La Tomatina as well as transport to and from Buñol, entrance to the Pre-party and the After Party, as well as a free t-shirt. We thought that after paying this discounted price, we were going to be stuck in a craphole hotel at best. Were we in for a surprise...


This room was a luxury for us, especially after having to sleep overnight in an airport. There were even two different type of pillows that we could take our pick from (soft/firm). We were in paradise to say the least.

After setting into the hotel room and taking a much needed shower, we made our way to the shopping centre to pick up booze, extra clothes for the tomato fight and sunscreen (which by the way is super expensive in Spain. Explains why everyone is so dark! But knowing that I burn from standing outside for 5 minutes, I had to shell out the ridiculous sum for a tube of sun cream that I couldn't even bring back with me on the plane because it was way over the 100ml limit. Absolutely ridiculous). On a side note, I did find cheap bathing suits for only 2 Euros!

Then we were off to the La Tomatina Pre-Party at High Cube Bar. This bar was totally posh, but a bit of a let down if you ask me. There weren't many people there and it wasn't exactly 'hopping'. I guess I can't really blame people for not coming because we all had to wake up early the next morning anyway so you can't exactly party TOO hard.


We did meet some nice Australian lads and had a good chat with them, and Fareeza met her favourite taxi driver so it wasn't a complete waste of a night.

Day 4:

The Big Day! La Tomatina! We woke up very early, bright eyed and bushy tailed, at 5:30am to make it to breakfast and board the coach at 6:45am. We wore clothes that we planned on ditching after the event and put our change of clothes in the boot of the bus. When we got to Buñol (only a 45 minute drive) we parked just outside the town and made our way on foot down the big hill into the town square. There were tons of vendors selling homemade Sangria, beer, and food along the sides of the street and people were also selling crazy hats and glasses for the event.

Since I already made a separate post about the La Tomatina event, I won't go into too much detail and I will just skip ahead a bit.

After the event we got hosed off, discarded our clothes and made our way back to the bus. Most of us were half naked at that point but it didn't really matter because it was better than being covered with tomatoes for the rest of the day. An hour was great, but a whole day reeking like a compost isn't pleasant.

When we got back on the bus most of us just passed out. It was a long, exhausting day! And everyone just wanted to get back to their hotel rooms and shower, possible sneak in a little siesta before the After Party.



Now I was super stoked to go to the after party which was originally supposed to be held at a bar/nightclub that had a water park in it (how cool is that?!) but unfortunately since it rained that day, the water park flooded so they had to change venues. The new venue was definitely a letdown in comparison, but considering the circumstances we decided to make the most of it.

Another letdown was the fact that you had to wait in a line to purchase drink stubs and then wait at the bar to buy a drink with the stubs. It was very annoying. The only positive was that you saved money since you didn't want to wait in line to buy more drink tickets.



As the night progressed the party kept getting better (I feel that this may be a result of the amount of drinks I have consumed). Fareeza left a bit early as she was tired from the exhausting day that we had (I don't blame her) and still hungover from the day before.

After she left I hung around with my mate Mitch (one of the Australian's we met at La Tomatina) for a bit. We were thinking of calling it a night when one guy handed us a large stack of drink stubs and told us to have a nice night. Now he could have been rich and bought all those tickets or he could have stole them, regardless it was the drunken equivalent to receiving a million dollars...well not quite but at that moment we didn't really care. Since neither of us had a death wish, we realized that we couldn't use them all to ourselves so we split the stack and spent the rest of the night being 'sugar mamas' to people who looked unhappy. I found people that looked upset and gave them tickets to buy themselves and the girl/guy next to them a drink...I actually set up some pretty cute couples if I do say so myself! I was the next Jane Austen's Emma...except exceedingly more intoxicated. Well we ran out of drink stubs within the next hour so we spent the rest of the time bringing people happiness through dance. I know, I know...but I kid you not, this happened. And the good thing was that everyone else was wasted so they didn't notice my questionable dance moves...which mainly consisted of the sprinkler and the funky chicken because I am that original.


At around 3 or 4am we decided to head back to our hotel, but Mitch couldn't remember where his was so we spent the next 30 minutes wandering about. As we past by the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, an armadillo shaped architectural work of art, I thought "why the hell not?" and decided that what better way to spend the early morning than taking a dip in a public fountain. Since Swim in a Public Fountain was one of the tasks on my bucket list, I figured that it was a good time as ever to check it off the list. Mitch wasn't too keen to swim in the fountain, but after I convinced him it wasn't cold he came in as well. Now before you think I was going the risqué route...No I did not skinny dip. The water only reached up to my knees so that would have been a little awkward.

It wasn't until an hour later that we saw the police cars and the vespas making their way towards us...


This is the part where we ALMOST got arrested...in Spain. Thankfully we didn't. Kind of makes a good story though doesn't it?

Since our shoes and stuff were on the opposite end of the fountain, we couldn't exactly make a run for it. So instead we made our way very slowly across the water while the security guards waited outside of their cars. There was no point running since we were already caught, I just figured that if they questioned us I would use the tourist excuse of "oh sorry I didn't know" seeing as there were no signs that forbid us from swimming...well there could have been a sign but if it was in Spanish I obviously wouldn't have seen it (and I don't think that would have stopped me from going in). We just grabbed our stuff and left, while the guards looked at us as if we were crazy. I guess things like that don't happen very often there. Shame because it was really nice :P

Day 4: 

A bunch of our mates booked an extra night at their hotel and invited us to stay with them, so after we checked out of our hotel we dropped our stuff off in their rooms. We then spent the day walking around Valencia and just chilling out. We were so exhausted from the day before that we just wanted to relax for a bit before we headed back home the next day.


Food turned out to be our main priority for the day. We had an amazing lunch at a Spanish All you can eat buffet and a delicious mexican-style dinner of beer, tacos and taquitos. I was in heaven :)


After that we met up with the others and played the Coach Carter drinking game for the rest of the night. This ended in us being very, very intoxicated before we even finished the movie...sign of a good night? I think so!

Day 5:


The Dreaded Travel Day


And as all great journeys come to an end...this one was longer than most. After a train from Valencia to Barcelona, Metro to the airport, flight from Barcelona to Edinburgh, 7 hour layover, flight from Edinburgh to Southampton (again for some reason it was cheaper), bus to the pier, ferry to the Isle of Wight, and two more buses later....we were back on centre, concluding our amazing La Tomatina trip.



Was it all worthwhile? 



I'll let you figure that one out!

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