But this is no time for wimps; new missiles must be gathered at every opportunity. Like lightning, new targets present themselves: a tempting back, a vulnerable head, a mate’s gasping face.

With pure joy, this cavalcade of adults loses all shreds of dignity in a shouting, chaotic release from the restraints of everyday life.

Then BOOM, the second cannon is sounded and, like overexcited but ultimately obedient schoolchildren, tomatoes are laid down and the fight is over.

Euphoric but dazed, the crowd shuffles slowly back out of the narrow streets, exchanging laughs and half-guilty looks as the destruction wreaked on Buñol – and each other – sinks in.

Were it not for the smiles, the dripping red walls and limping, splattered humans would be straight from a Tarantino film.

As the Tomatinians stand under hoses, the gore seeps through the streets and I pity the locals. The euphoria may have been pure, but the aftermath is simply purée.

Words: Frankie Mullin

Tomatina 2012: August 29 – Tomatina 2013: August 28 – Tomatina 2014: August 27  

 

Valencia: best of the rest

On Spain’s east coast, the region of Valencia has much more going for it than simply chucking tomatoes.

Valencia – the city, where you’ll likely be staying as accommodation is limited in Buñol – rivals Spain’s cosmopolitan and cultural centres of Barcelona and Madrid, with a vibrant nightlife, fantastic architecture and a rich heritage.

Equally, the larger region – with two official languages, Valencian (Catalan) and Spanish – boasts fantastic whites- and beaches, picturesque landscapes and historic towns.

Here’s our pick of what to see and where to see it when you’re done wiping tomato from your eyes.

 

Ciutat Vella

Valencia’s Old Town is a labyrinth of stunning streetscapes and lively avenues, where Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles mix seamlessly.

To the northeast is the trendy, thriving area of Barrio del Carmen, which has undergone several stages of regeneration and is the place to go to experience Valencia’s famed nightlife, with loads of restaurants, clubs and open-air drinking spots spilling over into the small hours.

Kick off your night with some drinks at the popular live music venue, La Bolseria, before hitting Piccadilly Club for some all-night dance music.

In terms of sightseeing, the Unesco-listed 16th-century La Lonja (silk exchange) is a fantastic example of late-Gothic extravagance.

No expense was spared and the lavish building is made up of three main halls, filled with twisted columns and an intricately decorated ceiling.

Also worth seeing are the Torres de Serranos, two 14th-century towers that used to form part of the city walls.

aboutvalencia.com
valenciavalencia.com/nightlife-guide

Jardins del Turia

Stretching 9km, this unique park is surrounded by ancient walls in the old riverbed of the Turia.

The river was prone to flooding and in 1957, the city decided to divert it, leaving a fertile riverbed that was quickly converted into a lush stretch of greenery.

The trenched nature of the river creates a peaceful refuge for Valencians to escape the city, losing themselves in the park’s gardens, sports pitches and playgrounds.

valenciavalencia.com



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“The world’s biggest food fight”, La Tomatina is a red-soaked ruckus that crams more than 40,000 people into the narrow streets of a tiny Spanish town for the most frenzied hour of their lives – a no-holds-barred tomato war where it’s every man for himself.

No doubt Tomatina is on your to-do list, but it can be tough to know exactly what to expect from the festival. After all, how often do you travel about 850 miles for an hour’s food fight? Here, we give a first-hand account of this bucket-list bedlam, and a guide to everything else you should be doing in Valencia once the tomatoes stop flying.

Killer tomatoes
Dawn is breaking over the tiny town of Buñol. For 364 days a year, the streets are deserted at this time – but not today. Already buzzing, a crowd pushes towards the central square, pints of sangria and beer in hands, an edgy energy simmering.

It’s 6am and the tomato battle proper doesn’t commence until 11am, but those who have made it here already are glad they peeled their hungover bodies from their beds this morning. Behind them, an ever-thickening crowd streams down the hill; the narrow streets are already packed and, believe it or not, some La Tomatina aficionados have been here for hours, staking out the prized spot in the centre of town where a traditional ham hangs from a greasy pole.
The fight doesn’t start until a cannon sounds – in theory, after a determined climber brings down the ham. In reality, this is a near-impossible task. As the minutes go by, an electricty emanates from the crowd. It might be smiles and camaraderie now, but everyone knows war is about to break out.

Anticipation of the carnage to come begins to bubble over as heat, booze and testosterone combine to boiling point. By now, it’s difficult to move on the narrow streets as 45,000 people await the delivery of the 40 tonnes of rotting tomatoes, destined to become their ammunition. A bloke with a map of Australia tattooed on his back has scrambled on to a balcony and is swinging his T-shirt triumphantly above his head. Below him, guys form a circle and begin whipping each other with soaked shirts while, holding hands, a group of friends pushes through the mayhem in as-yet unsullied white. As beer is sloshed over feet, a cry of “Ole, Ole, Ole” goes up.

And then, suddenly, the cannon explodes. The crowd goes wild, baying for tomatoes, clamping goggles to heads, girls checking that their triple-layers of bikini, bra and sports-top are in place. At the end of the packed street a behemoth of a truck rumbles into sight, the facilitator of red oblivion. Atop the truck sit La Tomatina’s dedicated generals, rallying troops with the call: “Tomatina! Tomatina!” As the vehicle edges onwards it seems impossible it will fit through the blockade of bodies, but a pathway is cleared and somehow the fight is prepped to begin.

With a swoosh, a gargantuan pile of tomatoes is dumped and, as though a switch has tripped, the world turns red. Suddenly, those sharing an amicable joke a minute before are immersed in combat, each fruit slammed into a head retaliated ten-fold with handfuls thrown in faces, ground into hair, rammed down tops. Those wearing goggles find themselves blinded, windscreen wipers needed to clear an inch of red gunge from their panes. However, those without fare little better, peering between chunks of tomato that hang from eyebrows and stick to lashes.



blog comments powered by Disqus



blog comments powered by Disqus

“The world’s biggest food fight”, La Tomatina is a red-soaked ruckus that crams more than 40,000 people into the narrow streets of a tiny Spanish town for the most frenzied hour of their lives – a no-holds-barred tomato war where it’s every man for himself.

No doubt Tomatina is on your to-do list, but it can be tough to know exactly what to expect from the festival. After all, how often do you travel about 850 miles for an hour’s food fight? Here, we give a first-hand account of this bucket-list bedlam, and a guide to everything else you should be doing in Valencia once the tomatoes stop flying.

Killer tomatoes

Dawn is breaking over the tiny town of Buñol. For 364 days a year, the streets are deserted at this time – but not today. Already buzzing, a crowd pushes towards the central square, pints of sangria and beer in hands, an edgy energy simmering.

It’s 6am and the tomato battle proper doesn’t commence until 11am, but those who have made it here already are glad they peeled their hungover bodies from their beds this morning. Behind them, an ever-thickening crowd streams down the hill; the narrow streets are already packed and, believe it or not, some La Tomatina aficionados have been here for hours, staking out the prized spot in the centre of town where a traditional ham hangs from a greasy pole.
The fight doesn’t start until a cannon sounds – in theory, after a determined climber brings down the ham. In reality, this is a near-impossible task. As the minutes go by, an electricty emanates from the crowd. It might be smiles and camaraderie now, but everyone knows war is about to break out.

Anticipation of the carnage to come begins to bubble over as heat, booze and testosterone combine to boiling point. By now, it’s difficult to move on the narrow streets as 45,000 people await the delivery of the 40 tonnes of rotting tomatoes, destined to become their ammunition. A bloke with a map of Australia tattooed on his back has scrambled on to a balcony and is swinging his T-shirt triumphantly above his head. Below him, guys form a circle and begin whipping each other with soaked shirts while, holding hands, a group of friends pushes through the mayhem in as-yet unsullied white. As beer is sloshed over feet, a cry of “Ole, Ole, Ole” goes up.

And then, suddenly, the cannon explodes. The crowd goes wild, baying for tomatoes, clamping goggles to heads, girls checking that their triple-layers of bikini, bra and sports-top are in place. At the end of the packed street a behemoth of a truck rumbles into sight, the facilitator of red oblivion. Atop the truck sit La Tomatina’s dedicated generals, rallying troops with the call: “Tomatina! Tomatina!” As the vehicle edges onwards it seems impossible it will fit through the blockade of bodies, but a pathway is cleared and somehow the fight is prepped to begin.

With a swoosh, a gargantuan pile of tomatoes is dumped and, as though a switch has tripped, the world turns red. Suddenly, those sharing an amicable joke a minute before are immersed in combat, each fruit slammed into a head retaliated ten-fold with handfuls thrown in faces, ground into hair, rammed down tops. Those wearing goggles find themselves blinded, windscreen wipers needed to clear an inch of red gunge from their panes. However, those without fare little better, peering between chunks of tomato that hang from eyebrows and stick to lashes.

But this is no time for wimps; new missiles must be gathered at every opportunity. Like lightning, new targets present themselves: a tempting back, a vulnerable head, a mate’s gasping face. With pure joy, this cavalcade of adults loses all shreds of dignity in a shouting, chaotic release from the restraints of everyday life. Then BOOM, the second cannon is sounded and, like overexcited but ultimately obedient schoolchildren, tomatoes are laid down and the fight is over.
Euphoric but dazed, the crowd shuffles slowly back out of the narrow streets, exchanging laughs and half-guilty looks as the destruction wreaked on Buñol – and each other – sinks in. Were it not for the smiles, the dripping red walls and limping, splattered humans would be straight from a Tarantino film.
As the Tomatinians stand under hoses, the gore seeps through the streets and I pity the locals. The euphoria may have been pure, but the aftermath is simply purée.

Words: Frankie Mullin

Valencia: best of the rest
On Spain’s east coast, the region of Valencia has much more going for it than simply chucking tomatoes. Valencia – the city, where you’ll likely be staying as accommodation is limited in Buñol – rivals Spain’s cosmopolitan and cultural centres of Barcelona and Madrid, with a vibrant nightlife, fantastic architecture and a rich heritage. Equally, the larger region – with two official languages, Valencian (Catalan) and Spanish – boasts fantastic whites- and beaches, picturesque landscapes and historic towns. Here’s our pick of what to see and where to see it when you’re done wiping tomato from your eyes.

Ciutat Vella
Valencia’s Old Town is a labyrinth of stunning streetscapes and lively avenues, where Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles mix seamlessly. To the northeast is the trendy, thriving area of Barrio del Carmen, which has undergone several stages of regeneration and is the place to go to experience Valencia’s famed nightlife, with loads of restaurants, clubs and open-air drinking spots spilling over into the small hours. Kick off your night with some drinks at the popular live music venue, La Bolseria, before hitting Piccadilly Club for some all-night dance music.

In terms of sightseeing, the Unesco-listed 16th-century La Lonja (silk exchange) is a fantastic example of late-Gothic extravagance. No expense was spared and the lavish building is made up of three main halls, filled with twisted columns and an intricately decorated ceiling. Also worth seeing are the Torres de Serranos, two 14th-century towers that used to form part of the city walls.

aboutvalencia.com
valenciavalencia.com/nightlife-guide

Jardins del Turia
Stretching 9km, this unique park is surrounded by ancient walls in the old riverbed of the Turia. The river was prone to flooding and in 1957, the city decided to divert it, leaving a fertile riverbed that was quickly converted into a lush stretch of greenery. The trenched nature of the river creates a peaceful refuge for Valencians to escape the city, losing themselves in the park’s gardens, sports pitches and playgrounds. valenciavalencia.com

Parc Natural de l’Albufera
The centrepiece of this nature reserve is the enormous lagoon of Albufera. Surrounded by pine trees and rice fields, leave city life behind and stroll through its forests or relax on an empty beach. And be sure to take a dip in the invigorating freshwater lagoon. Perhaps more significantly, this is allegedly the place where paella was born. So head down to one of the inviting waterside restaurants in the fishing villages of El Palmar or El Perellonet, right in the heart of the nature reserve, and get stuck into a delicious seafood treat. At only 40 minutes by bus from Valencia city, it’d be rude not to.
 en.comunitatvalenciana.com

Xàtiva
Step back in time in this quaint little town, about an hour to the southwest of Valencia city. Set at the foot of a hill straddled by a massive castle, Xàtiva dates back to Roman times when it was famous for its silk fabrics. The local museum commemorates the moment King Philip V ordered the town to be burned by hanging his portrait upside down. Explore the narrow, meandering streets before walking up to the well-preserved castle, its extensive grounds including gardens, prisons and lavish living quarters. Best of all, you’ll get some spectacular views of the town and surrounding countryside from this vantage point.
 xativa.es

La Devesa beach
The Costa Blanca is famous for its fantastic beaches and there are plenty of resorts both north and south of Valencia. But it can be hard to avoid the crowds as most of the beaches are easily accessible from the capital. However, few tourists make the trip to La Devesa – also confusingly known as La Dehesa – which is a short bus ride or a half-hour walk from the city. Take the ‘Yellow Bus’, departing from the train station, to Perello; tickets cost €1.20 (about 99p). The walk, through a secluded pine forest and past a small lake, is worth the journey before you even reach the golden, clean sands and warm waters of the beach. Bordered by lush forests and near Albufera Lake, this is a truly stunning location. Head to the right at the beach and join the nudists, or stick to the left if you don’t fancy airing your wares. If you prefer a beach with a bit more life, just get off the bus slightly earlier at the well-served resort of El Saler. valencia.costasur.com

Words: Azzam Alkadhi ❚