Packing again! Tomorrow I head to Pamplona by train. My 3 friends and I will begin the Camino on Friday, April Fools Day (appropriate, no?). It’s roughly 500 miles, but we sleep in hostels each night and can eat at restaurants much of the way. And there’s lots of red wine and ham sandwiches!
Unfortunately, I’ll have to go to Madrid this week. I need to get a work visa at the Russian Embassy. Tried to set an appointment but the offices are closed for Holy Week. Who said they were godless commies?
This is Semana Santa, or Holy week. The week leading up to Easter is celebrated by Christians around the world to commemorate the death and resurrection of Jesus.
It may be sacrilegious, but I just want to get some sleep.
In Spain, Holy Week appears to be celebrated with drums and marching bands accompanied by hooded figures, reminiscent of the KKK. Oh, and then more drums. The worst part is that all of the city of Valencia seem to be taking turns processing in front of my apartment. The bands start about 8am and seem to appear any time of day, but prefer early morning, late evening or anytime I am about to drift off to sleep. Last night they were drumming well past 11pm. The night before it was past midnight. This evening they’ve been pounding and processing for 3 solid hours.
This could put me off marching bands forever.
I don’t understand and find the hooded figures kinda creepy. And how on earth is it “Christian” to keep me from my sleep?
I do really like Valencia, but it may be the noisiest place I’ve ever been to. It started with the Fallas celebration. Fallas means “torch” and it seems to be an excuse for lots of fireworks, explosions and fire. Huge, towering monuments, also called Fallas, are erected in the streets of every neighborhood and plaza. On the last night they are burned. The celebrations go on all night. Every morning, a “wake up” band goes through the streets at 8am.
Clearly, I didn’t come here to sleep.
IMG_0887 This is a short clip of one of the many light displays. Sorry it’s sideways.
As long as sleep is not important to you, this could be my favorite festival of all time. I admit the all the super powered firecrackers do get me a tad jumpy, this is a very happy, family event. And remember, the body eventually collapses, despite loud bands and sonic booms. I slept 11 straight hours, rising at noon today, so I feel refreshed. Since we still have many festivities and some huge bonfires to come, that’s good.
Falles is a Valencian word for “torch” and it’s an apt one. Incidentally, Google Translate keeps saying the word is Spanish and means “failures” so I was quite confused for the first few days. The Falles or Fallas is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph. For a full year, the casal faller (Each neighbourhood Fallas organization) raise money and prepare the ninots (Valencian for puppets or dolls). These “dolls” can be five stories tall, made of paper mache, wax, wood and polystyrene foam. They are set up in neighborhoods and even paraded through the streets. At the end of the celebration all the monuments are burnt in huge bonfires. It’s like Marti Gras in New Orleans, except it’s got more fire and less booze.
I’m only beginning to understand what a big deal Fallas is here in Valencia. I still have photos of Barcelona to post, but wanted to sneak in some information about this very festive holiday. As far as I can tell, there’s a lot of alcohol, explosives and fire. What more could you want in a celebration?
This website has a lot of info about last year’s event. So far, I’ve attended one Mascletá, held every day at 2:00 PM in the city hall square, La Plaza de Ayuntamiento. “LOUD” does not begin to cover it. And obviously the park in front of my apartment is a center of a LOT of celebrations in my neighborhood. The bands start at about 9:30 and are still going strong at 3am. I’m not getting much sleep, but I’ve decided to just go with it. I’ll take a siesta in the middle of the day like everyone else and enjoy the fun.