These Tomatoes, They Burn My Eyes

Trip Start Aug 02, 2010
Trip End Oct 22, 2010

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Flag of Spain  , Valencian Country,
Wednesday, August 25, 2010

This is it... This is one of those pit stops on our Euro Trip that we have been waiting for. L Tomatina Festival (that's The Tomato Festival in English).

Quickly, a bit of history from the history buff. What more history? This was not no historic event  celebrating the birth of the tomato or anything, no. It essentially began when two gentleman  began a tomato fight in a small town outside of Valencia, called Bunol. It then snowballed (or  tomatoballed) into a giant festival in which something like 30,000 people from every part of the world flock to enjoy the worlds biggest food fight.One word: Insane. This was by far the most messy, wet, slimy, and very red event I have ever been too in my life (hmm... sounds like my first sexual experience – yes, I went there, sorry mom!) Like sex, this is something that everyone should experience at least once in their lifetime.

We began this journey from Lisbon, Portugal where we boarded a night train to Madrid, Spain. We wanted to sleep on this train to save some energy, but we ended sitting in front of these German lads, who without a doubt smelt like, well, for lack of a better word, shit. Needless to say we didn't end up getting much sleep.

Once we arrived in Madrid, we had rented a car for 60 euro for 72 hours. What a steal. Considering this is where we will be sleeping for the next 3 nights anyway (well, 2, but read on.)It was a nice Citreon C3 5 speed transmission. A beautiful little car, and I do stress little, diesel, so very economic for backpackers. Get in the drivers seat, since my co-pilot doesn't know how to drive a stick, yet, and of course, stall it. Was expected. From there we find a map, manage to get out of the crazy driving of Madrid and make our way to Valencia for a quick stop. There we hit up a beach, grab some grub and then go to a Carrefour, Spain's version of Walmart to buy some clothes for the next days (so we thought) festivities. 20 euro gets my a new tshirt, shorts and some stylish shoes. Not too shabby, I guess.

So we make our way to Bunol from Valencia (approx 30 kms) to get a spot to park our car and to check out where the heck we go to make it dead smack in the middle of this giant food fight. We find a relatively sketchy place to park the car and head down towards the downtown area before we decide to call it a night, again, so we thought.

We actually meet an American couple who advised us that you need to head down there for 6 am otherwise you will not be in the main area, and let's be honest, we travelled all this way, and it would be lame to just get drizzled with tomatoes. I want to throw 90 mph fastballs at peoples head right. This is why I have been playing baseball all those years. This is my event.
Anyway, we make it to the downtown area where we think its going to be, and the streets are pretty bumping already. So we make an executive decision. Since its already close to 3 am, let's start this party early. We make our way back to the car, grab our passports, credit cars, all the important stuff and bring it to a public lock to store it for the night. At least our personal shit is safe, the car on the otherhand, well, who cares. That's what insurance is for.

On the way we meet a couple of British lads who got a two day pass from their wives to join in on the chaos. We tell them we are started things early and they decide to join us. So there we are the five of us (as a Canadian named Damian joined us from Portugal as well) heading downtown in what is surely going to be a pure mess.

You have to understand at this point that we need to be in the heart of this festival. But where the hell is it. You can only google it so much. Let's hope we get lucky. So we sit at a square and pretty much party with the locals, meet a few people along the way, even some we have already met in prior hostels. Don't worry mom, I only had like 2 drinks. I drank with a straw.

Finally, as if it took forever the sun comes out. Wow, a hot hot hot Spanish sun might I add. Hmm, will I regret this decision to party all night? Remember, zero sleep on that smelly night train, so I've been up for pretty much 2 straight days at this point. Thank God for red bull vodkas. Sorry, I'm rambling, I know, but just trying to do this justice here. Keeping you in suspense.

At around 8:00 in the morning or so, this square is absolutely jammed. Picture your local main street, just bombarded with thousands and thousands of people. Shortly thereafter the crowd starts to cheer. Now we can't see /anything, and we begin to worry that we are at the wrong spot now. Then, as if we were locals and had down this for years, the bring out this 20 foot pole and start loading it was lard. Now before any of the fighting can begin, the crowd needs to get a giant ham off this pole covered in lard. I can't even tell you how much lard there was.
Where is this pole you ask? Right in front of us. The only thing stopping us from touching this thing is the security around it. We have front row seats. Can you believe it?

So they get the pole up, and after securing it they let the crowd go wild. Now, I have never been in a mosh pit, but this was like nothing I have ever felt before. Good thing I grew up playing hockey back home, as both Dukes and I were able to stand our grounds. After about 10 minutes of getting bumped around, Marcus decides he's going to give it a try. First attempt, totally unsuccessful. I tried boosting him up, lost my footing and took a show in the face. Thankfully the second attempt was much more successful. Another gentleman there grabbed his other foot, we hoisted him up, and then, with Herculesian strength, Marcus stood on top of my shoulders like we have been travelling around in a circus and he jumped on the pole. Holly shit, he made it up. And at that point, he was actually the highest man on the pole. A proud proud day in our lives.

I couldn't handle the crowd anymore after that and headed back a little to watch the chaos unfold.  Marcus followed suit with a huge gash on his forehead. This is going to hurt in tomorrow.

Then a horn sounds, bring on these tomatoes. I didn't come for no ham. I want me some tomatoes in the face. In Da Face! In total I think something like 8 huge dump trucks came into the square, literally right in front of us through the crowd. 8 God damn truck loads of tomatoes. I starts off with a few tomatoes, and you think, OK, I've thrown a few, this is alright, but I want more! And the trucks just kept coming. Tomato after tomato filled the air as if it was raining red. You would just sit there and all of a sudden BAM, in the face, or you even catch a few (again, good old baseball) and you just start pelting people or dripping in on peoples heads. I honestly threw a cut fastball and smoked a poor unsuspecting girl in the face. Come on, I smushed it before, at least a little bit.

Before you know it the streets are filled with pasta sauce. And there is tomatoes in places I didn't even know existed on my body (still taking some out of my ear as we speak). After about an hour of fighting, a horn sounds, and it is over. We are all officially tomatofied.

Get me the hell out of these mosh pit, I have had enough. Marcus and I head back, get soaked off by locals outside their homes with hoses, must be the best part, especially the ladies with the white t-shirts and finally make it back to our car, where it remained unscathed.

Without a doubt, I will never ever forget this day. It was by far the craziest thing I have ever done. Will I do it again? I doubt it. It was just too intense. But seriously, everybody needs to experience this at least once in their life if they can. We still just think up a few things a laugh out loud Marcus and I. The craziest day of my life.
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Julie Costello on

Hey Alex
Love the updates. Keep them coming. Enjoy yourself buddy.
Love ya

Julie Said on

Oh how I look forward to your updates! hahaha
You're hillarious... I am so happy to hear that you're having a amazing time.. it's for sure a once in a lifetime opportunity! Make the most our of it... Just remember to play "safe" and nice with the other "kids" hahaha...

Julie Costello on

Hey no more entries. You may be having a little too much fun.
Send some news.
Stay safe, Love ya buddy!

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