La Tomatina Festival in Spain
A food fight for the ages – with tomatoes!
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Sojourn – Gain a better understanding of the community you’re visiting. Learn about different religions or spiritual practices. How do these impact the communities? How does religion or spirituality influence local traditions?1 of 1
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After you touch down in sun-soaked Valencia, your guide will meet you and get you on the shuttle to your hotel. After a short rest to freshen up, you’ll meet to head out and explore the historic, pedestrian-friendly center of this ancient city. Take some time to absorb the history of Valencia, founded by Romans in 138 BC, and enjoy dinner at an outdoor cafe while you discuss the plans for the rest of your journey!
After breakfast, you’ll head out to begin exploring Valencia in earnest, starting with the UNESCO world heritage site the Lonja de la Seda, or Silk Exchange. This incredible example of Gothic architecture was built between 1482 and 1548 to house the silk merchants’ trading activities at the height of Valencia’s commercial power. After exploring the huge structure and spending some time reflecting in the gorgeous courtyard, head to lunch among the historic landmarks that dot the old part of the city. Then it’s off to the Museo de la Almoina, which houses the underground ruins of the ancient Roman city that once stood here. You can walk through the old city streets which have been lovingly preserved below the streets of modern Valencia. Just next door, head over to the Almudin de Valencia a 15th-century Gothic granary that’s been converted to a museum before heading back to the hotel for a brief rest then meeting up for dinner.
Today we’ll start with Valencia Cathedral, a stunning Gothic-style cathedral that was once said to be home to the Holy Grail. Be sure to climb the 200 steps to the top of the tower to take in the incredible views of the city and the ocean beyond! After lunch, head over to the Museo de Bella Artes, housed in an impressive 17th-century building and featuring Flemish and Valencian works. Then it’s back to the hotel to prepare for your paella cooking class! You’ll get fully immersed in the ways of creating this traditional Valencian dish with an expert chef, sipping white wine as you create your masterpiece from tradition ingredients, and then, of course, dine on your creation!
Today you’ll head out of town toward the Montanejos Hot Springs, but you’re going to have to earn your soak first! That’s because on the way, you’re going to stop off at the gorgeous Parc Natural de la Serra Calderon, a natural area a short ways outside the city which offers hikes ranging from easy to difficult, rewarding you with incredible views of the surrounding countryside. Then you’ll head up the road to the hot springs, first carved out as a retreat for the wives of an Arabic king in the 13th century. It’s an idyllic setting with nearby caves and waterfalls to explore, or if you’d prefer, just swim, soak in the 25°C pools, and if you’re up for it, do some cliff diving!
It’s the last Wednesday of August, and that means it’s tomato throwing time in Buñol! After an early breakfast, you’ll be shuttled over to the nearby town to get prepared for the big fight. The day’s events kick off with a wild contest to grab a ham perched atop a heavily greased pole, and then finally several dump trucks will unload 300,000 lbs. of tomatoes in the narrow main street of the town. Make sure you squash the tomatoes in your hand before pelting your neighbor, as the rules state! After the gun fires twice, signaling the end of the battle, fire trucks will pass through hosing down the street – and also willing participants! After spending some time celebrating in Buñol and making friends while queuing for one of the shower stations available in the street, it’s back to the hotel in Valencia for a real shower. After dinner in old town Valencia – no tomatoes, please! – that evening head out to the Tomatina after-party, a huge outdoor event that draws nearly as many people as the fight itself.
After the wild tomato battle of yesterday, not to mention the after-party, perhaps it’s time for some relaxation at Playa Cabanyal. But on the way, you’re going to stop off at the largest aquarium in Europe, the Aquarium Oceanographic. This massive compound features beasties from the Mediterranean as well as polar regions, including beluga whales, walruses and penguins, and has its own dolphinarium. Then it’s on to the beach! Playa Cabanyal is lovely white sand beach easily accessible from the city center, with calm, shallow waters but also small breakers where you can try your hand at surfing or paddleboarding. Or just spend the day recovering from your tomato-related exhaustion before heading back to old town for dinner and a drink in the charming Arab quarter.
Have an early breakfast and a chat with your companions to reflect on your Valencian adventure and take stock of how your love of tomatoes has been affected, and then it’s off to the airport shuttle and headed home. La Tomatina has been a unique, once-in-a-lifetime adventure that you’ll be talking about for years to come. Until next August, ¡Hasta luego!
Do you love tomatoes? No, do you really love tomatoes? Time for Buñol, Spain’s La Tomatina, the infamous annual tomato fight. While there, you’ll get to check out the historic city of Valencia on the Mediterranean coast, enjoy a beach day and gorgeous mountains — and of course revel in three dump trucks’ worth of tomatoes along with 1,000 of your new best friends. Sign up today to join in this massively silly tradition!
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