A week of tomatoes, bloggers and overwhelmingly high temperatures – on the whole, a win.
23/8 Monday After a productive work morning, we walked through the park to the City of Arts and Sciences, which is a collection of impressively large and interesting buildings. It was hot though, so we had to stop and rest a fair bit – we spent ten minutes with our hands trailing in one of the moats.
In the evening, we met up with a whole bunch of travel bloggers – Christine, Suzy, Abbey, Joel, and Dave. They were all in town for La Tomatina, and it was awesome to meet, chat, drink and eat together.
24/8 Tuesday We’d mananged to find a nice, well-priced hostel for our first two nights, but the prices tripled for La Tomatina so we decided not to stay. However, on Monday we found a great deal on Booking.com – a hotel room for the same price as a hostel. Plus it had a pool. We worked in the morning then moved to the hotel, had lunch then went for a swim. It was bliss in the heat – it is truly so hot at the moment.
In the evening we wandered around the Old Town then met the blogging crowd for dinner again. The streets were packed with yellow-shirted teenagers in town for La Tomatina, so we chose a small place down an alley in the hopes of getting dinner sooner. It didn’t work. We missed the last metro home by a good hour, but it worked out because we met an Italian traveller called Luigi in the station and walked up the road with him, talking in an almost incoherent mix of Italian, Spanish and English. Priceless.
25/8 Wednesday It was a tough one, but we decided to go to La Tomatina. This meant a 6am wake up, 6.30 departure. The train station was thronged when we arrived by metro, but we made it on the next train and, on arrival in Buñol, wormed our way through the crowd until we could see the ham. (One of the traditions of La Tomatina is that people have to climbe a greasy pole and touch the ham on top.) We were in the centre of the action for the fight and got seriously tomatoed, it was awesome. We tried to get out of the crowd before the end though, and the crush was incredible. Also, we definitely damaged the camera and video camera.
26/8 Thursday We checked out at 12 and made our way to the station to catch the 1pm train. But everyone else in Valencia had a similar idea, and we could only manage to get seats on the 4pm train – and that was only because we have first-class Eurail tickets. It was a pleasant journey, we chatted with a Barcelonian couple and they gave us very detailed instructions about how to use the metro in Barcelona. We’d had to pay a hefty reservation fee for our seats, but it was worth it – we were plied with drinks and food for the whole jouney.
We finally arrived and met our couchsurfing host Ruben, who took us to the beach where we met his friends Danny and Jenny, who we chatted with in a mixture of English and Spanish for the rest of the evening.
27/8 Friday Ah, a sleep in. I always enjoy them. We recorded the podcast then headed out to Park Guell to see some of Gaudi’s work, then wandered through Barcelona seeing things and buying souvenirs. Later, Ruben took us on a guided twilight tour of his city; which included the Sagrada Familia, views from the hill, a magic fountain, beer, a plato combinado, and a pumping street party with a computer game theme.
28/8 Saturday Ruben prepared us a tasty traditional breakfast of chorizo, cheese and tomato rubbed into toast, then took us on another tour of the city. This one included the Arc de Triomphe, the Cathedral, a Gaudi building, beer, horchata, and grammar books. We had an early night since it was an early start in the morning.
29/8 Sunday Muh, getting up at 6.30am is not my idea of a good time. Our flight left at 11, but we had to leave the house at 7.30 to catch the metro, then the train, then the shuttle to the airport. The flight was uneventful, and we got to our hotel (S-bahn and tram) without problems. We welcomed ourselved to Vienna with cordon bleu for lunch and dinner – awesome.