After a long nine hour train journey today, I am finally back in my cosy bed in Salamanca after having spent the most fantastic three days in Valencia for Las Fallas!
I cannot wait to share my experience with you on here. I say this because, hands down, I think this has been the highlight of my Year Abroad so far, and that is a pretty bold statement after all the things I have done! I mean, I got to stroke an elephant tortoise last semester (click here), and that ranks pretty high in my’ life experience list’. I am already contemplating Las Fallas 2016…
Last year, before I had even begun my Year Abroad, I decided that if I was doing only one thing during my time in Spain, it was Las Fallas, and I am so glad I had made this decision! It is one of the best festivals in Europe and it truly has a unique atmosphere unlike anything I have seen before.
Despite the combination of long train journeys, hardly any sleep during the trip, very sore feet and the shockingly awful weather to top it all off (seriously, it was apparently the worst weather for Las Fallas in over eighty years!), it was truly incredible. But I think I am coming down with a cold which isn’t great.
I visited Valencia in April 2014 with the Hispanic Society at university, but as I came down with some very horrible illness on the flight out there, I didn’t enjoy my time there at all, and did not do anything of much interest. Luckily, this time was different and I have a better experience to take away of Valencia!
I arrived on Wednesday 18th by train at 10pm, in a completely different train station to the one I was expecting, which threw me off a bit (a lot)! Walking from the station to catch the metro was rather terrifying; there were loud firework bangs going off in every direction, people throwing massive fire crackers around me in big explosions and it sounded a bit like a war zone – this, combined with the stress of having no clue about my whereabouts, did not help, so the metro station was more of a bomb shelter than a form of transportation!
I took this video the following day, which sums it all up for me in one. #swerve :
You know, just casually driving around a fire cracker. Not dangerous or anything…
I was spending the trip with some friends on my course in Sheffield who are working in Alicante for the semester and who had organised a flat rental for 3 nights. After meeting with them and catching up after not seeing each other in months, we headed out for the major event of the night, the Nit de foc firework display at 1am. Yep, 1am, Spain likes late nights!
Nic de foc
Overall, everything I saw during the festival was a combination of amazing, but one of the things that stands out the most for me is this firework display. It was so impressive and by far the best display I have ever seen – it was an experience, even the rain couldn’t ruin it! I loved the part where the fireworks just looked like falling glitter and confetti from the sky, bathing everyone in the glittery light. It was a beautiful moment that I also caught on video so I can relive it over and over again:
There was so much smoke from the fireworks, it was difficult to breathe afterwards. Over 2,500 kilos of pyrotechnic material is used to make the beautiful colours, sounds and shapes and all this costs around 30,000€ on average to run! The finale was impressive because the sky turned into a white light with lots of noise to top it off, it was as bright as day! I seriously wonder how much planning must go into such an event. The streets were packed for the display but we managed to get perhaps one of the best views, very luckily! It’s estimated about 100,000 people come to see the firework display! With so many people in the streets and on the metro, it takes so much longer to get from A to B and you have to get there early if you want a good view.
With such a large crowd, the metro was absolutely packed to go home and the police had to rope it off and let people enter in waves. After escaping the large crowds, we managed to get back in the early hours and get some much needed sleep before getting up and out for La Mascleta at 2pm the next day!
So, is Las Fallas on your Bucket List?