Friday, 20 September 2013

Ola Amigo's

So to start off our Spain trip we missed our flights, ended up costing about $3000 Australian dollars for the one flight from Athens to Spain, i mean there had to be some hiccups i was expecting that but did it really have to be a $3000 (insert EFF Word) mistake via Moscow?

So we land in Barcelona late at night, get a bed for the night, sleep and are up early and on the bus to San Sebastian! Once we arrive its dinner time so we grab i bite to eat and pretty much head to bed like a couple of nana's. Little Spanish Hint: Beware i ordered a cider with my dinner and Spain have this thing called Sidra and of course when the bar attender asks if i would like a bottle or a glass i say a bottle thinking you know a normal bottle of cider but i ended up with a wine bottle of the most foul tasting drink I’ve ever had and couldn’t even force down a glass! C.I.D.E.R.
So next morning we take a walk around San Sebastian and find the stunning beach full of people sunbathing (including a few topless grandmas!) its not warm enough for me to put my bather’s on though so we head into the part of the city with lots of bars and little shops. All the tops of the bars here are filled with plates and platters full of Pintxos (tapas), so you either ask for an empty plate and fill it with whichever Pintxos you like the look of or you can grab a napkin and just pop one on there order your drinks and then pay for it all over the bar, you can then go sit outside in the street or sit in the bar and eat and drink. Once your done you head to the next bar and do the same thing, basically grazing, so by the end of the night you are full and drunk. What a brilliant set up, it really just works so well. The tapas were some of my favourite food we have eaten so far in Europe, they were things like little slices of crusty bread topped with prociutto and camembert, toothpicks with olives wrapped in anchovies, skewers of fried prawns, mini burgers, croquettes and lots lots more. The other bonus is i didn’t have a bad red wine while i was in San Sebastian, i ordered a house red at most of the bars we went to and they were all drinkable and most i would describe as delicious. As we are making our way down one of the main streets eating a drinking there is obviously a soccer game on for a team called Bilboa which is not far from San Sebastian but is not San Sebastians local team. The streets are full of people in red and white stripes chanting, drinking, eating, blowing whistles and having a great time. It was such a cool experience to be there and be a part of that atmosphere! Kyle dared to ask one of the local store owners what happens when San Sebastian is playing Bilboa, he just widened his eyes and said it gets very crazy, people are crazy.
Next morning we headed to a lookout that has views of the main beach cove in San Sebastian. It is stunning, at the very top of the look out there is a big jesus statue that looks over San Sebastian. We had a late lunch of pintxos and wine which slowly turned into dinner, more pintxos, more wine and then checking out a few local clubs for a few more drinks, the clubs and bars in the main streets are packed every single one has people in it and the popular ones with loud music you can’t walk through you have to squeeze sideways through the crowd!

Our last day in San Sebastian was very quiet thanks to a couple of sore heads so ill skip to the part where we catch the train to Zaragoza and then a bus to Valencia, we stayed at the Expo Hotel for the night before we start our Busabout 3 day LaTomatina tour the next day. The Expo Hotel is excellent, it cost us (50.00 Euro) the same as it has for two beds in some of the hostels for a hotel room and it was a nice central location and nice size clean room! Highly recommend for anyone going  on holiday to Valencia on a budget or who just wants a break from hostels. The next morning we head out to find some seafood paella and sangria for lunch before we start out Busabout tour at 2pm. When in Spain!
First impressions of Busabout is well the campsite is not the one they show on the website and the tents are so small our backpacks only just fit inside with the two single matresses but there is a pool party going on and the pool is really nice so we head over for a dip. After the pool closes there is a “sangria party” going on in our campsite and by “sangria party” i mean everyone is drinking from 1.5L bottles of sangria you can buy from the camp supermarket for 3.00 Euro and sitting between tents in groups having a chat/singing/playing games. This is where we met Mel and Mark who are from Sydney and one of the coolest fun couples I’ve met on the trip, we pretty much instantly clicked as friends. As you can imagine the sangria party ends sometime after midnight at its classy best it can be after 1.5L cheap sangria bottles have been consumed all afternoon.
After a not too bad sleep in our squishy tent today is La Tomatina day, yay! Busabout makes us the worst stale bread, egg and sausage breakie sandwich I’ve ever tasted and we head off about 6am by bus towards Bunol the city that holds LaTomatina each year. This year is the first year LaTomatina has required tickets and entrance bracelets which cost 10.00 Euro each and there is only 25,000 tickets available, considering over 40,000 people attended last year i feel lucky to have a ticket! So when we arrive its about 7am and we head straight for the main square as we are told it gets so packed with people it will be difficult to get to if we wait until later. By about 8.30am we are standing in the main tomato fight street at the entrance to the square. It is already fairly full of people. Everyone is watching the main event before the fight which is the ham on the pole retrieval. Ill explain how it works, in the front and centre of the square there is a pole maybe about 2 stories high and on top of that hangs a big Christmas ham in a cotton bag. Everyone is attempting to climb the pole to retrieve the ham, if the ham is retrieved it is the signal for the first trucks to role through the main street with tomato's and the fight begins, if no one retrieves the ham the tomato fight starts at 11am. One small detail i need to mention, the wooden pole the ham hangs off... has a thick coating of slippery ham fat all over it! So we are watching these people desperately trying to be the hero and retrieve the ham, the closer to 11 am it gets the more frantic it gets, there is a big group of locals and tourists at the bottom literally climbing over and on top of each other to get close to the ham, i mean literally, its rough, there is boys stepping on girls heads and clothes being ripped in the scramble but majority of the time once they get close there is a fresh layer of ham fat on the pole that no one has reached yet and they slide down not being able to grip. Sometime between arriving and 11am the locals had also started throwing cold buckets of water at us from their balconys above the street where the crowd is gathered. Just before 11am the atmosphere is crazy everyone is PACKED in like sardines in a can, i can’t move, there is a (friendly) game of push and shove where the whole crowd is swaying back and forward into each other and im just being squished practically not even walking just moving with the crowd! Getting very INTENSE! At 11am the start whistles are blown and the first of five trucks starts slowly driving through, you can imagine how packed i was saying it was well everyone manages to squeeze together against either side of the road and fit the truck through the middle. The truck has an open top trailer and there are people standing in the tray pelting tomatoes at the crowd as well as a small opening in the back of the truck is letting them tumble out filling the street and the fight has begun! All tension is gone its like everyone is relieved and letting it all out going crazy throwing tomatoes at each other! It was one of the funnest, craziest and a little bit scariest things ive done, grabbing handfuls of tomato and aiming for someones head in the crowd and then bobbing down below the crowd so they cant see who got them, all while there is constantly tomato flying at your face and raining down on your head. Kyle was a few metres away from me and was my sneaky target a fair few times HAHA, can’t wait till he see’s this). It really is a unique experience and I’m so happy to be able to say ive done it, if anyone is going to Spain in any future July’s its 100% something you should do, its an experience that is different to anything else! Anyway by the time truck number 5 rolls through the floor is unseeable, I'm covered head to toe in tomato, in my hair, ears, pockets, shoes everything is full of smooshed tomato and i can barely recognise Kyle in the sea of red! After the signal for the fight to end at 12 some of the locals come out of their houses with hoses and help to wash us off as we walk through to the outdoor shower's to rinse majority of the tomato off before we walk back to get on the coaches waiting for us. The further you walk with tomato in your hair the more it begins to smell, its a smell ill never forget either and i don’t think we will be eating tomato's again for a little while.
That night Busabout took us on a pubcrawl with the other people doing Busabout tours in hotels and hostels as well, i think there was 1500 of us all up! We first grab a few pre drinks & dinner with Mel and Mark at a pub we found that serves Pintxos, i actually had a really amazing mini tart shell filled with apple strudel and topped with sweetened goats cheese top it was so amazing! (Add it to the list of things to make at home) and then we head to meet everyone at the first pub at 9ish. We ended up going to 3 pubs and then a big nightclub last. It was pretty much just a blur of Malibu Cola and pubs.

Our last day in Spain was spent fairly quiet as im sure you can imagine, we had a much better breakie today with Busabout but I've noticed I'm COVERED in bed bug bites all down my sides and back. It was really gross and itchy and ugly cant wait to get to a washing machine to steralize EVERYTHING. :( That afternoon Kyle and I head to Madrid to catch an overnight bus to Lisbon!

One of the many bar's in San Sebastian full of Pintxo's, Drooling right now.
 Cartwheels on the way up to the lookout in San Sebastian
 
 Graffiti wall that goes on forever.. okay I really just wanted to show off my tan
 I had to pay him to take this photo with me
 As the street starts to fill with Bilboa fan's
 Kyle and his little mate
 He's a lucky man..... lol

One of the many Pintxo's and red wine in the street's of San Sebastian, (check my red wine teef)
 The beautiful view of San Sebastian through my eye's
Cool entrance to a bar 
Some local fresh produce markets we passed through 
The main beach in San Sebastian
 San Sebastian - through the fence
La Tomatina - BEFORE SHOT
 and the after shot!
Some of the crazies trying to get the ham (see the fat, white bit at the top)
 Mark and Kyle on the way to the tomato fight
 View of the main street from where I stood for the fight
It gets in everything, yuk

 Lol, Kyle mid fight
 Me just after the fight has ended and the crowd starts to ease
My beautiful new Allstars!!!
 Kyle being rinsed off by some local kids after the fight
Emily turned 21 the night before! HAPPY BIRTHDAY EMILY! :)
 
 Weirdest ice cream flavour's ever.
Mark, Mel and Kyle on our pubcrawl in Valencia
Me and Melly out on the town in Valencia
 This photo sums these two up perfectly, haha pair of crackers :)