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February 2020
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You say Tomato; I say Projectile.

I´d just like to start by saying that I´m rather proud of the title to this entry. Please feel free to heap adulations on me for it in the comments.

A helluva lot of stuff has happened since my last update, so sit down, relax, crack open a beer, and enjoy being lulled to sleep by my lunatic rantings.

The last thing I mentioned was that I was screwed with food poisoning, which wrote off much of my time in Madrid. Especially annoying was that I´d planned to meet a friend from work there, but due to my inability to get outside of the hotel room that fell through (Sorry Si!). With my stomach only partially intact, we headed to Bilbao on the north coast to meet Angela, a friend of Cal´s who is travelling in the region at the time.

I´ve watched the movie My Fair Lady more than any straight man should really admit to. I blame this on my sisters and cousins force feeding it to me when I was a kid. (Although just quietly I did enjoy it when we turned it up really loud when Eliza says “Move Yer Flamin´arse!). The point to this is that there is a song in this movie which says: “The Rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain”. I´d like to go on the record to say that this is ABOSOLUTELY FALSE. In reality, it seems that the rain stays on the north coast, specifically in Basque country (the area that Bilbao was in). Blue skies and 30+ degrees everywhere else? Rainy and cold in Bilbao.

So we get out of the train station in Bilbao to the teeming rain, and discover that there was a reason that we had a really tough time finding accomodation. We stumbled apon a random weeklong festival, which from what I could tell was more or less a Basque country patriotism thing. What it translated to for us though was all types of awesome.

There were so many good things about this festival, it´s hard to know where to begin, but I´ll start with this: Fireworks Competitions. I know of no two other words in the english language that form such perfect unison. (Aside from maybe “Free Beer”). Over the course of the week, at 10:30pm, pyrotechnic crews from around the world would compete to see who was the most creative. And while I´ve been to the NYE fireworks on Sydney Harbour a number of times, and admit they´re fantastic, the fireworks we saw on the night of arrival were easily the best I´ve ever seen. It´s hard to describe without pictures (I´d intelligently decided to leave the camera at home that night), but the session went for at least half an hour, and I was constantly saying to Cal “Surely this must be the finale”. It was awesomeness in its purest forms.

Second awesome thing which I can use in pictorial form is thus.

Red Wine + Coke

This wonderful creation is a Kalimoxto, which is one part red wine, and another part coke. When we first ordered it we had absolutely no idea what it was, only that practically everyone at the festival was carrying around a glass of it. It may sound gross, but in reality it wasn´t all that bad – it´s a very easy drinking concoction. It was so popular among the locals that we saw many people carring around bottles of wine, and large bottles of coke and just mixing it on the fly. At around 5 euro for 2 litres of cocktails, you really can´t go wrong.

As intended, we also met up with Ange, one of Cal´s friends from a previous trip. She would travel with us for the next little bit, and we´re actually seeing her off tomorrow. What was unintended though was that she met up randomly with two Aussies, Ben and Katie from Tassie, and we became a makeshift family. The plan we hatched was to hire a car, and drive through Spain for 5 days before ending up in either Barcelona or Valencia.

Let me paint a picture for you. We got a Citroen C4 (great car) which says on the brochure that it seats 5 people (it does). It also said that it fits 2 suitcases (it probably does). What we tried to do was probably not advisable. We put 5 people in this car, as well as 5 backpacks and two tents, and around 2000kms.

That´s not to say it was a bad experience, I had a great time, and made some great new friends. (Also, it was slightly more comfortable for me since I drove the whole time). Speaking of driving, it was the most challenging and fun drive I´ve ever done in my life. It started in Bilbao where I had to manage driving on the wrong side of the road for the first time in driving rain, and then continue driving on the freeway at 100km/h in torrential rain. I only went around a roundabout the wrong way once!

When the rain let up, we made our way to La Rojha, the Spanish wine region. Not knowing quite what to expect, we headed to La Guardia, a small town in the middle of the region and hoped for the best. It far surpassed expectations. Imagine a flat basin rimmed by mountains with a small raised hill in the middle. On this hill was Laguardia. There were amazing 360 degree views in each direction, and it was breathtaking.

Cal in La Rojha
The wine was pretty damned good too.

After that, we had a brief stop at Pamploma and did our own running of the bulls.

A load of Bull
Ben and I going for it. Note: I had to physically restrain myself from using some pun related to “Bull” in this caption.

From there we made a beeline for the Pyrenees. The plan was to Camp in one of the national parks near the French Border. Cally and I have a long standing method argument going – Mountains or beaches. I´m very much a beach/ coast person. I love the sound of the sea, the sun, and the breeze on my face. Cal is more a mountains person. Goddamn though, the Pyrenees were absolutely amazing. Only pictures can do them justice (can you tell I´m getting sick of writing by now?)

Pyrenees Cal
I can think of worse places to be.

From then, Cal and I made our way to Valencia, and we took the coastal road where possible.

Phil Driving
Note the massive grin.

When we arrived in Valencia, I was excited. One might even say “Big Kev” excited – and for the non Aussies out there, that´s alot. I was excited because we were using Valencia as a jumpoff point for something I´ve always wanted to do – La Tomatina in Buñol. It is basically the world´s biggest foodfight where 40,000 people decend on this town and throw Tomatos at each other for an hour or two. This is something I´ve always wanted to do, and I´m immensley pleased that I´ve managed to do it.

Cal and I both bought disposable underwater cameras to capture the event, and I think we got some good photos, but unfortunately we haven´t had a chance to develop them yet. Rest assured that I´ll post them here as soon as I can. Other highlights were losing my thongs (flipflops) in the throng of people, and walking around the rest of the day barefoot. When back in Valencia the next day, I was in a shoe store as soon as it opened buying a new pair (barefoot still) and got a knowing grin from the salesman who only said “La Tomatina?” before cutting the tags off and handing them to me to wear.

And that´s about it for now. We´re leaving Valencia today for Granada, and then onto Nerja to meet up with Cal´s cousin. From there, onto Morocco! We´ll see you back here soon, same bat time, same bat channel.


Oh, to continue a longstanding tradition, if anyone actually bothers to read to the end of this, you win a prize! Post a comment and make yourself known. 🙂


Comment from Hoa
Time: September 4, 2007, 8:56 pm

F. hurry up and write up the next post, complete with La Tomatina pictures already!!! I don’t care if you don’t have Internet connection. Morse code it to someone who does.

Ahh… Kalimoxto. That’s what they call it. Everytime I head over to a my friend’s place for a (South American) BBQ, they feed me this concoction, which I thought was a cheap excuse for prolonging the (ridiculous amounts) of wine at the table. Alas, I will no longer think of them as cheap-skates thanks to your educational post, Dr. Phil.

Comment from lyn
Time: September 7, 2007, 1:00 pm

I looked really close at the tomatoe fight crowd shots on tv but everyone looked the same… the car trip must have been a bit of a squash too. (sorry) L

Comment from chito
Time: September 12, 2007, 11:50 pm

prize prize prize.. wooo!

Super jealous. They should have a massive riceball throwing festival out here in Japan. Now THAT would be awesome!

Comment from hunt
Time: November 8, 2007, 9:34 pm

I read it 😛
sounds like you guys are having lots of fun which is good! See you on Australia day! I didn’t get RATM or BDO tickets 🙁

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