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Published: September 13th 2009
What is it about a massive food fight that is so appealing to Australians? Thinking about this question I try and think of why I wanted to go to La Tomatina and my mind draws blanks. Cause I was going to be in Spain about the same time, cause it sounded like a bit of a laugh, cause the thought of smashing other people with tomato sounded like fun? I am not sure why I went and am even more clueless as to why the accent that clearly outnumbered others was Australian but there I found myself, shoulder to shoulder with 15,000 other people waiting for the first sign of that red fruit.
In my mind I pictured a large area where everyone stood around and waited for the trucks to drive around the outside of the crowd and dump the tomatoes that would then filter through the crowd. Loads of space to move and everyone would get heaps of tomatoes to throw, happy times! Again, my lack of research into my travels was really apparent when we turned up and made our way down the narrow streets of Bruno. We made our way towards the town centre through the
crown until it was clear that we could go no further without being incredibly uncomfortable. The crowd we were standing in was like that of a large narrow mosh pit with tall stone buildings either side preventing movement of the people that were being held between them. It was tight and any personal space that I may have had was taken away as I was pressed up against those around me. I heard the horn that marked the start and the crowd cheered but it must have been a good five minutes before there was any sign of tomatoes at all, and even then, that was only in the form of large trucks that were driving through the already packed streets. Yep, driving through.
As the trucks came closer it was apparent that you needed to make your way to the sides of the street to let them past and the squeeze factor was huge as people were forced to make their way back up the street because there was simply not enough room for the crowd AND the truck. There was absolutely no movement at all as the people that were fortunate enough to secure a seat on
the truck threw tomatoes into the crowd that were helpless in their attacks. Every so often the truck would stop and the tray would lift releasing the tomatoes into the crowd behind it and as it passed people would be free from the crush and go crazy, picking up large handfuls of smelly tomatoes and hurling them everywhere! It was crazy stinking madness! This continued for the hour people moving aside to let the trucks pass before going mad was like a ritual, crush then release, crush then release. By the end of this there was a pink river that ran through the streets of Bruno, Laura, Carla and I were completely covered in tomato pulp and juice with very little effort and I had lost my thongs. All in all, a pretty good day, though sorry guys, no photos, we only took a disposable camera for obvious reasons.
To be honest, I don't think I would have included Spain on my itinerary was I not meeting Laura so I really had no idea what to expect when I got to Barcelona. I knew Laura would have done enough research for about ten people (come on Lau you know
it’s true) and was happy to trust her judgment when deciding what to do. As it turns out, Barcelona is an extremely cool city with a gothic labyrinth at the heart of it, which is where we stayed in a rather smallish hostel room with one window and fan that even when left open and on heated up like a sauna making it rather difficult to sleep in. Regardless, I liked the city from the moment we stepped off the train and the more time we stayed there, the more I was drawn to it. The city had a pulse with its market stalls, trendy boutiques, amazing architecture and underground art; it projected an energy that I wanted to be a part of. It also didn't hurt that it also had plenty of tapas bars and sangria!
Even though a tour guide told us it would be quite the effort to get to and that no major works were there, we decided that a trip to Figures to visit a Dali museum was something we all really wanted to do. Figures is nearly two hours by fast train from Barcelona and the birthplace of the famous surrealist artist. And
his gallery was well worth the trip and would definitely recommend it to anyone in that part of the world, with statues, paintings, velvet walls, golden people, magnifying glasses, a vintage car and so much more. The whole gallery was interactive and passionate, one giant piece of surrealist art, in true Dali style!
Spain was sunny and hot, combine that with some good company and booze and you have a winning combination! There were a few minor setbacks, I lost my belt at the airport and left my favorite cardi on a bus but there were also a few amusing incidents, Laura mysteriously sporting a rather swollen face (fat face as she was affectionately dubbed) was both humorous and slightly alarming when we tried, unsuccessfully, to find a pharmacist who spoke English. For someone who really knew nothing about the place, it turns out Spain is a fantastic place to visit.
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