Thursday, March 19, 2015

Valencia and Las Fallas 2015

Tuesday, 17 March, 2015 (Part I):

The events of this day were many, so I will break it up into two parts, the Las Fallas Festival and our evening at the bullfights.

Part I

First, it must be recalled that the Catalan name for this wonderful country, España, comes from the Latin word epanolorum meaning "let's party all night long."

Laurie and I were up at the crack of dawn in order to get to Murcia's train station in time for the 6:30 a.m. train to Valencia. As is the custom when she is on the continent, I bought Preferencia (First) Class tickets for the three hour and 30 minute ride from Murcia to the Valencian wonderland.

Two can not live as cheaply as one it turns out.

First stop, the Plaza de Toros

I had purchased two tickets for tonight's 5:00 p.m. bullfight on line. I was told that I could pick them up here at the bull ring starting at 4:00 p.m.

It was only a little after 10:00 a.m. but since the Plaza is located right next door to Valencia's train station, we decided that we should at least inquire as to where we needed to go to pick them up tonight so as to avoid any last second problems.

I informed the lovely lady at the ticket window about our situation and she asked to see my paperwork about the transaction. She punched the pertinent data into her computer and voilà, I had both our tickets and one less thing to worry about!

On the Shady Side

With this situation so quickly resolved, it was now time to work our way through Valencia to see some of the sights as we wound our way to our hotel.

I had been to Valencia once before on the last two days of 2014 and had enjoyed the city very much at that time. For Las Fallas, the city had transformed itself into a raucous, all-day/all-night party and fireworks show.

Las Fallas is a traditional celebration held in honor of and leading up to St. Joseph's Day, March 19th. The term Fallas refers to both the celebration and the monuments that are big and bigger that neighborhood groups build to get into the spirit of the festival.

These neighborhood groups organize and fund raise year round in order to build the biggest and best falla that they can as there is competition to decide which fallas are the best.

The word falla really does come from a Latin root word, fax meaning torch. The reason for this term being used to describe the festival is that its conclusion, all of the fallas, save one, are brought together and burned in a gigantic bonfire with the Valencianos enjoying as only good pyromaniacs can.

There is one exception to this burning. The falla that wins the award for being the best of the festival gets a reprieve and instead of burning, is displayed in the city's Las Fallas Museum. 

Our first falla sighting

It looked big to us, we would quickly realize that it was a small one.

Traditional Valenciano garb

Traditional Valenciana dress,
note the hairdo

A normal sized falla

Fire this weekend,

HUGE falla

Parade of Winners

As we walked up the Avenida Marqués de Sotelo, we ran into a parade featuring traditionally dressed Valencianos. Their neighborhood's fallas had won awards of one type or another.

Standard Bearer

Ornate and . . .

... colorful dresses

Las Fallas Parade Party Mood

Medium sized falla

Traditional Hairdo Wigs

Laurie was tempted to buy one but cooler heads prevailed.

Yes, they have food in Valencia

By the falla in front of the
Mercado Central


Naked women?


So many amazing sights and we had only been here for an hour! It was time to enter the Mercado Central for some sustenance.

Juice, just the thing!




Dancing Gambas


Even traditionally dressed
Valencianos have to . . .

. . . Eat

This chance meeting in the Mercado Central allowed us to get a close up look at the women's hairdos, combs and hair pins.

Back View

Haughty look at the side bun

 The hairdo is even on road blocks

Laurie loves hardware stores

What's that, it couldn't be another
falla, could it?

We had seen a lot of things in a short time but we still had had nothing to eat or drink except that juice at the Mercado Central. Where to go?

Why to the best horchateria in Valencia!

Royalty has eaten here too!

Looks like a well balanced
desayuno to me

Sated, we continued on through the city.

Fallas were everywhere!

Three lovely Doñas

Group Photo

 Laurie near the Cathedral

 A broken leg will NOT stop her
during Las Fallas 2015

 . . . and the band played on

Bright colors

Doñas get hungry too

Cool Valencianos

. . . and baby makes three

 Traditional texting



 "Si, I know I'm looking good!"

I'm in trouble,
Laurie can't control herself 

I considered myself lucky that she only bought the red and black one, Cobra colors, in the upper left.

 If you need a paella pan,
this is the place!

A random church

 Falla Ogre

 Falla weird thing

 Falla for kids

 Another parade

There are both official citywide parades and unofficial neighborhood parades.The neighborhood kind can start at any time of the day or night.

My Mother loves Chupa Chups

Food was everywhere . . .

But we were STRONG!

La Lonja

This 15th century building was originally Valencia's silk and commodities exchange.

Squid based falla

In Valencia's back streets

Paella a la Valenciana!

Mother and Daughter

We were on our way to the Plaza del Ayuntamiento for the daily, 2:00 p.m., Mascletà . . .

 . . . with several of our friends

There were EXPLOSIONS, smoke and
the smell of gunpowder in the air

The Plaza fills up with thousands of people for this intense, five minute barrage of fireworks anextremely loud fire crackers.

You can actually see the windows of the store fronts vibrating wildly during the Mascletà!

The Mascletà

After the incredibly loud noises of the Mascletà, it was time to sit down for awhile for some serious tapas and vino tinto.

We were joined by Gavin Campbell

Gavin is in his second season of coaching American football in EuroBall. This season he is coaching the defense of the 5-0, Serie A leading Valencia Firebats.

Last year he coached the Aix-en-Provence Argonauts to an undefeated, Division II National Championship.

His brother Gregg took over the job as coach of the Bron-Villeurbanne Falcons in 2014, everyones favorite French team, the year after I left.

After swapping a lot of EuroBall stories, we parted ways as Gavin had a date with a señorita and we had a date at the Plaza de Toros.

As I stated at the beginning of this post, I will discuss the bullfights in a separate post.

On the walk to the Plaza de Toros, we bumped into, guess what, another parade!

This one started at 3:30 p.m. and was scheduled to end at 11:00 p.m. Many of the people in this parade were carrying flowers that would be used to dress up the HUGE falla of the Virgin Mary on the Plaza de la Virgen. We will see pictures of her in the post about Wednesday's activities.

Let's take a look at some of the Valencianos in this parade.

Stately Madonnas


 Precious Child

 Lovely Girl

 Myrna Loy?


Looking really good

I could do this


Young love?

Madonna and Child

Valencian Princess

MGM Lion Falla complete with . . .

. . . the Star Trek Enterprise

After the 5:00 p.m. bullfights, we continued to explore Las Fallas madness with the throng of revelers accompanied by delicious aromas, snappy music and more loud fireworks.

 Near the Plaza de Toros

 Close-up of the details

 Valencia's Ayuntamiento
or City Hall

 No Comment

Chocolate covered churros
only 1 Euro

 Falla de Chinos

I liked this one. Let's take a couple of closer views.

Artist at work

Flowers for ALL!

We were tired and decided to head back to our hotel for some rest forgetting that this is the Las Fallas FIESTA, meaning that it would be an all night party in the streets.

The last scheduled event of the night was the 1:00 a.m. fireworks show that equalled the Mascletà in volume and window rattling.

Of course, there were manny unscheduled events deep into the wee hours of the morning that got our attention too.

Valencia today was simply GREAT!

Next post, a night at the bullfights.


David said...

OK, it's not Hell Hounds, but Firebats is a darned good team name.

And how many of the chocolate-covered churros did you have?

George said...

Firebats is indeed a great nickname.

We only shared one chocolate covered churro, any more and the top of our heads would have blown off!