Sunday, April 6

Valencia - First night

After weeks of debating what city to travel to for Semana Santa I finally decided that the eastern sea town of Valencia would be the best choice. Valencia would be celebrating Fallas, a five-day annual celebration complete with fireworks and huge styrofoam artwork which at the end of the week, is burned down in the streets for all to see. It celebrates the spring and rebirth, a time to begin anew, to have a fresh start.
I chose to travel on my own with the hopes of meeting new people in a hostel, which I didn't expect to be so difficult being that I'm a gregarious, easy-going person. As I searched the internet for hostels, I was horrified to find that every hostel was booked, it was after all, just a month before the event. I found only one hostel that had available beds, with a disclaimer on the bottom stating that in order to reserve the bed you would have to pay the sum (which had been grossly inflated) in advance and reserve it for all 5 nights of fallas, this hostel which was normally 18euro a night, was going for 50 euro a night (the demand for a bed obviously being the cause of the surge in price). Flustered, and very eager to see the famous fiesta, I booked the bed, paying more than I had to spend, assuring myself that it would be worth it in the end.
(continued in next entry)

Downtown Valencia, where the train station meets the bull fighinting ring. The yellow farolas, streetlamps, make this city enchanting by night.

By far, one of the most elaborate fallas displayed at the festival. The photograph doesn't quite capture the immensity of this art piece, but as you can see, it surpasses the height of the surrounding apartment buildings. Every one was bright, big and incredibly detailed.

Petardos are firecrackers. They are used ad nauseum during the fallas celebration. Throughout the night you can see little kids, some no older than 5 years old, lighting firecrackers, that are dangerous not so much because of the sparks they produce, but rather for the deafening noise they let out.

Each fallas has a theme, like this one which has choosen to take an Under the Sea approach.

Valencia is the home of Paella, that very famous yellow rice dish complete with saffron and shellfish. In this photograph, two men are cooking Paella for a private party in giant pans on the street. This is essentially the Valencian outdoor bbq. While we in the US cook burgers and ribs on a charcoal grill, they simmer their paella in wide pans atop flaming logs.

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