Every year on the last Wednesday of August the streets of a small village called Buñol just outside the Spanish city of Valencia come to a stand still as 22,000 people flock to the town centre for the world’s biggest food fight, La Tomatina. I was lucky enough to get amongst all of the chaos for the 2015 La Tomatina Festival, the 70th edition of the festival travelling with Busabout which is one of the official sponsors of the event and also has the largest allocation of tickets to the event than any other tour company.
Day 01: Valencia – 25 August, 2015
Today is the first day of the Busabout La Tomatina three day Hotel stay tour with the festivities kicking off in Valencia. Check-in for the Busabout La Tomatina tour doesn’t start until 12:00pm and as we had stayed in Valencia for the last two nights at the stunning Total Valencia Blue Apartment of which you can read about here, we waited to check out until 11:30am and then made our way over to the allocated hotel.
For the hotel stay Busabout are using three hotels to house the large amount of people going to La Tomatina with the tour operator. Busabout sent out an email to everyone a week beforehand advising of the three hotels that will be used which are Hotel Venecia, Hotel Continental and Hotel Casual Valencia and also advised that another email will go out confirming which hotel will be the one you are staying in.
A couple of days earlier we were emailed a confirmation of which hotel we would be staying in called Hotel Valencia, which is not one of the three mentioned however sounds and looks similar in spelling to Hotel Venecia. On arrival to Hotel Venecia we were turned back as it wasn’t the correct hotel, apparently Hotel Valencia changed its name to Hotel Casual Valencia, so we then took the short walk one block away and met our tour leader Adam to check-in, which to his credit, came running out to greet us as we were looking a bit lost still wondering if we were at the right place or not. At this point were not told about the name change of the hotel.
Adam then gave us a run down of what to expect over the next three days from the optional activities that would be happening tonight which is to head out to a bar reserved only for people travelling with Busabout called Fox Congo, followed by another optional which was a Flamenco Show at Radio City for €10 which was a really good price and so we opted to go along. When we check in we were also handed a Busabout singlet with “La Tomatina 2015” written on it, a headband and also a wristband that is to be worn at all times to be able get into anything Busabout related.
We then checked into our hotel and went up to our room to settle in. Our room was really good, clean and comfortable and you wouldn’t ask for anything more when staying in a hotel to experience La Tomatina, especially considering how central it is in Valencia.
The main central hotel where all walking tours, bar tours and the general meeting point for everything, was the Hotel Venecia where we thought we were originally staying, and is located in the main square called Plaça de l’Ajuntament. We had to wait outside the Hotel Venecia for our Busabout guide to take us on the first walking tour for the day. Even though we had pretty much seen the whole city the previous day, it was good to go along to see if we had missed anything. The walking tour lasted roughly thirty minutes and then everyone would go off and do their own thing.
We decided to go back and check out the Valencia Cathedral, we already went in the previous day but were really early and went in basically before it had opened up to tourists. We paid the entry fee of €5.00 so we could get the audio tour and go in to see the Holy Grail which is officially recognised by the Vatican and has been scientifically proven to be the actual Holy Grail.
After grabbing a quick bite to eat for dinner it was then time to meet outside the Hotel Venecia and from here we were taken to the Fox Congo bar where we were able to mingle for a few hours before the Flamenco Show started, a couple of blocks away at 10:00pm. The Flamenco Show was really good and you can really see the passion both the musicians and the dancers have for their Spanish culture. The only annoying thing about the whole show was that we had to stand up for the whole time and wait about an hour before it finally started. But all up it was a great show.
Once the show was over there were a few options for everyone, you could stay on at Radio City for a DJ and dance the night away, head back to the Fox Congo or go on your own way and call it a night. A lot of people opted to do this, including myself, as it was going to be an early and long day tomorrow with all the excitement of La Tomatina!
Day 02: Valencia to Buñol – 26 August, 2015
Today is the day, La Tomatina has arrived! One of the most epic, strangest and awesome festivals you can attend, all centered around the small village of Buñol and in 2015 it is the 70th time this festival has been held. Travelling with tour group Busabout, everyone from the three different hotels meets in the main square outside Hotel Venecia called Plaça de l’Ajuntament where five coaches are waiting to take us all on the 45 minute journey to Buñol.
On arrival in Buñol we park in the dedicated area for coaches which will eventually fill with a couple of hundred coaches throughout the morning. We arrived nice and early so we were able to get a prime position right in the town centre before all the mayhem starts with a greased up pole being erected with a prized ham hanging from the top.
After waiting around for a few hours the pole was erected and for the next hour or so we witnessed all sorts of people attempt to climb the pole to reach the prized ham. Strangers from near and far worked as a team to try and form a pyramid so someone could hopefully reach the prize. Person after person tried to reach the ham without success with some hilarious moments including when one person climbed the pole and the tower below her collapsed leaving her stuck halfway up the pole.
Another girl attempted to climb up only for her tights to be pulled down slightly and you could see the look of embarrassment on her face. A couple of others watching on attempted to climb the trees close by to mock what was going on. But it kept looking more and more likely that the ham would once again go unclaimed for another year which is a shame as it apparently worth about €1000.00.
Day 03: Valencia – 27 August, 2015
After the epic food fight that is La Tomatina it’s now time for the 03 Day Busabout La Tomatina Hotel Stay Tour to come to an end. This morning nothing is planned other than we need to be checked out of our hotel by 10:00am and to have breakfast.
Today we have a few hours to kill before we hook up with the Busabout Hop on Hop Off Flexitrip which departs from the Purple Nest Hostel for Madrid which is about a 15 to 20 minute walk from the Hotel Casual Valencia. We check out and wonder the streets for a little while before coming back to the hotel to pick up our bags and head over to the Purple Nest Hostel to wait for the bus to arrive.
The La Tomatina Festival is truly one of those things you need to do before you die. It was one of the most awesome and messy things I have ever experienced and will never forget it. The professional team at Busabout made the experience all that more enjoyable and I cannot recommend it enough to anyone who will be in Spain or Valencia around the last week of August.
VIDEO: La Tomatina Festival – Busabout 2015
If you’re ever planning to come to Spain to experience La Tomatina, here are a couple of things to remember.
- Bring/buy cheap clothes you are willing to throw out. I bought a cheap $6.00 white T-Shirt from Kmart along with a pair of $12.00 shoes to all be thrown out. Make sure any shoes you purchase are closed as you will get stepped on, thongs are defiantly not recommended!
- Bring €10.00 to €20.00 with you in a small sealable plastic zip lock bag to put in your pocket. To really get amongst the atmosphere on your way walking down to the town and even while down there you can purchase beer, sangria and other beverages while you wait for the mayhem to start. This is something I regret not doing, I brought money with me but left it in the bus, but wish I had brought it down with me.
- Buy some cheap goggles! Think about it, tomato is acidic and that doesn’t mix with eyes. On the way out a girl used my T-Shirt to try and wipe her eyes which were covered with tomato and stinging her. While my T-Shirt looked cleanish because I was being sprayed by water cannons, it was still covered in tomato juice so it wouldn’t have helped her out at all.
- If you want to capture the event with a camera, consider buying a disposable camera, or if you really wanted to go all out you can get a GoPro like I have. But don’t go spending all that money for just La Tomatina. I also saw a lot of people buy a cheap plastic pouch that was hanging around there neck with there phone inside.
- The most important thing… HAVE FUN!
For more information on the Busabout offerings for La Tomatina, click here.