Valencia/Las Fallas â€“ Day 4
Last night (well, this morning) I woke up no less than once per hour (on average) to pee. That does happen on the rare occasion that I drink considerably more than usual. Mind you, I was NOT intoxicated last night. I like to stay in full control
Today was rather lackluster compared to yesterday. It’s kind of hard to follow up a day like that with anything that’s comparable, but I was feeling pretty tired and in need of a chill day. That’s the issue I sometimes face when traveling: I feel like I should take advantage of being somewhere new and see/do as much as I can, but my body/mind are begging for a day off. It was one of those days.
Being the last day of Las Fallas, it was the most crowded day in town. It was even more of a pain trying to walk around and get through the crowds. I’d wanted to do some proper sightseeing on my last day in Valencia, but the Cathedral seemed to be closed. I settled on going up the Torres de Serrano, which was fairly underwhelming. It was nice to get a view of the town from above, but it wasn’t particularly stunning. And it was too bright for good photos. Also of note: I tried wandering in a different part of town and ended up in what seemed to be a somewhat dingy neighborhood, with graffiti and trash and not-so-nice buildings. Blah. Yeah, blah would be a good way to sum up my afternoon.
(Well, except for the part where I plopped myself down at a sidewalk cafe and had some chocolate and churros. That part was pretty enjoyable.)
I was also on somewhat of a time constraint because I’d planned on meeting up with Natasha early evening and wanted to book my bus back to Madrid beforehand, AND I’d gotten a late start to the day so I was always conscious of the time. I hate that. I don’t like to plan my days too strictly when I travel, but sometimes you have to.
Naturally, we had problems printing out my bus ticket at the hostel, so that made me run a little late. Then somehow I got lost THREE TIMES while trying to find Natasha’s hostel. It was on the other side of town and should have taken me maybe 25 minutes to get to had a). I gone the right way the first time, and b). there not been massive crowds all over the place to slow me down. But no, it took me almost an hour to get there. I have absolutely no idea how I managed to circle around 3 times and end up in the same square that was closer to my side of town than hers, but I did. It’s kind of like how you enter Central Park on one side, intending to cross straight over to the other side (obviously west/east), but end up right where you started – which I’ve done multiple times. But now was NOT the time for me to be getting lost and showing up super late. Without cell phones, I had to hope she’d still be there waiting for me. If she’d left without me, then I’d be out of luck.
Fortunately she had waited for me. Phew! We immediately set off with a few girls from her hostel to check out the fire parade that was supposedly happening tonight. Only… we had apparently missed it? What kind of parade lasts less than an hour? Furthermore, what kind of parade actually starts on time in Spain?! We were slightly bummed to have missed it, but we’d seen enough parades and fire already so I wasn’t too distraught over it. We consoled ourselves with horchata y fartones. Natasha almost bought a cup of horchata from a street vendor, but I insisted she try the real thing with the dipping pastries at a proper cafe in town. Let’s just say she was glad she listened to me
When we were wandering around town later on, the strangest thing happened – in the midst of all the thousands of people roaming around Valencia, we just happened to run into a guy that Natasha had met in Madrid last week. What are the odds! It was funny because she had lamented not exchanging contact info with him before.
But you know how when this usually happens and you’re the one standing there awkwardly and politely let them catch up for a few minutes while you just sort of look around and shuffle your feet? Well this guy was with 2 friends in the same boat as me, so we all got to talking. One was from New Zealand, the other from South Africa – and both were super cute We talked sh-t about a nonexistent camera lens (f/0.9 what?) and how the one guy currently held the title for Worst Pool Player In South Africa (I’m still not sure if they were talking sh-t about this or if they really do rank pool players in that country – but it’d be pretty funny if they did!). I very much enjoyed talking to them and continuing my streak of meeting awesome pretty people at Las Fallas, but we soon parted ways to find our spots for La Crema.
La Crema is the pinnacle of Las Fallas, the night where all of the Fallas are set up in flames. From the first night in Valencia, I’d decided that I wanted to see the big naked girl Falla set on fire. No, not because of the nudity – but because this particular Falla was so intricate and would likely make for a spectacular show. I couldn’t even imagine how the thing would go down. How long would it take for the flames to reach the narrow little birds hanging off of the girl’s head? Or would they fall off first?
We didn’t realize that this would be one of the last Fallas to be set on fire, and that we were in for a 2+ hour wait. But we were sort of trapped in the middle of the crowd, on a narrow side street that fed into the square where the Falla was… meaning we had little choice but to stay and wait it out. I didn’t really mind, because what else would I be doing? And after all that time I’d already put in waiting for the Crema, there was no way I was about to throw in the towel and miss it in the end.
Turns out it was more than worth the wait. They built up suspense by doing last-minute tweaks to the setup, having someone climb up inside the Falla and put puncture holes in it (including one boob – much to the crowd’s delight), and bringing in fire trucks. They also staggered fireworks on all 4 side streets beforehand, before setting them off right above the Falla. Then the official burning began with pinwheels of fireworks spinning around the Falla. It was UN.REAL. Within seconds, the whole Falla was enveloped by a black cloud of smoke. There’s no point in me even trying to describe the sight when you could just watch the video I took of it. It suffices to say that I was left thinking *Holy sh-tballs!*.
After La Crema, we wandered back into town. The streets were filled with people partying and dancing and playing music. The whole town was an absolute mess, though somehow they always have it completely immaculate by sunrise. It’s one of those experiences that you know you’ll never live again, so you just want to soak the whole night up for as long as possible. This whole WEEK has been just the most incredible experience.