May the odds be, ever in your favour ...
Game day! With an early morning start we piled into our bus and headed to the small town of Bunol, 45 mins away from Valencia, the home of La Tomatina. Now for those that don't know, La Tomatina is the biggest food fight in the world where tonnes of tomatoes are unloaded onto Calle Cid and for an hour on the last Wednesday of every month, locals and tourists alike get involved and throw tomatoes at each other. It's as simple and crazy as that.
The history of the festival is just as random, and believed to have started around 60 years ago. The exact start of the festival is unknown, with theories suggesting involvement with a parade and a disgruntled participant. And although the festival has been banned in the past, it has returned and become the famous festival that it is today; drawing in tens of thousands of people from across the world to participate every year. And this year I was lucky enough to be able to part take in this crazy festival.
When we arrived to Bunol, we were already surrounded by loads of like-minded people, geared up and ready for a tomato fight. As we walked through the town, towards the main street, we picked ourselves up some half litre sangrias, because let's face it, it's never too early for sangria in Spain. The fight officially starts when someone is able to grab the ham after climbing up the greased pole. But since this rarely happens, they also have an official start time of 11am. So we had a bit of time to wait. We watched locals and tourists alike, attempt and fail to climb the pole whilst we enjoyed our sangria. Now the toilet situation is sparse. Once you're on that main street there are no toilets. So plan carefully or befriend some locals like we did.
At 11am the canon was set off and the trucks started bringing the tomatoes in. The already jam packed street became even squishier. The hour flew by, with tomatoes going left right and centre. It was an hour of complete fun, epic laughs and complete freedom. I don't think it's comparable to anything I've ever done before. After the second canon was fired to signal the end of the fight, we; covered in tomato, walked through the flowing river of tomato juice and away from the main street. The locals were hosing everyone off as we walked past, buckets of water also helped get the tomato remnants out. But tomato is really hard to get out, especially from your hair.
Tip: For great photos bring your GoPro on a wrist strap. That way you don't have to worry about losing it and can go Tomato Crazy whilst getting epic footage. Also, instead of taking photos, I used the video mode and then used the GoPro app to save photos from the footage.
If you don't have a GoPro, you can use your phone to capture all the epic moments. Just make sure you buy a waterproof case/bag, because nobody wants tomato in their iphone.
Believe it or not, but throwing tomatoes for an hour really takes it out of you. We were completely exhausted! We enjoyed some more sangria and paella before changing into fresh clothes and heading back to Valencia. Safe to say the shower back at the hotel was absolute bliss. I had to wash my hair about 3 times and found tomato in places that I didn't think it could have reached, but after that shower I had never felt so clean. Although the festival was over, the festivities were not. Before our trip was over we still had the Official La Tomatina After Party. After napping for a few hours, from the exhausting morning we'd had, we got ourselves pumped up and ready to celebrate surviving La Tomatina with old friends and new ones. The after party was hosted nearby to Bunol at an outdoor venue with a swimming pool, and two main music areas with incredible DJs. What a great way to end such a unique and incredible trip!