Tinc el cor encés en flama
Barely a few days after returning from Salamanca, it was time to head off on part 2 of my Easter travels, this time going north-west to Zaragoza, in the region of Aragón. Setting off at 4:30, I barely had time to sleep before we arrived at Parque Macaraz where we had planted a Falla (YAAAS!!). It was time to show another city the magic of the Valencian fiesta.
After arriving and almorzando (basically “elevenses” for all you Lord of the Rings fans), we headed to the hotel to leave our suitcases. Having phoned up beforehand, we knew that there was no more parking available in the hotel so we decided to trek the kilometre and a half to the hotel with our suitcases. In Spain it’s obligatory to show your DNI (Identification card) when checking in, and mine is now a little worse for wear and quite hard to read so I ended up being checked in under the name Samuel Shon Albert, but oh well!
After that, we headed out to explore the city a bit, including the Basilica de Nuestra Señora del Pilar which is basically the Vatican in Spain and the home of the Patron Virgen of Spain. Then we went back to the park for lunch, which was fideuà, basically pasta with seafood, and then to the hotel for a siesta. After I dressed in my traje de fallero with Rafa and we went to the Ofrenà. This is the religious part of Fallas, where the Falleras process through the streets to offer flowers to the virgen which is then entered into the church to shouts of Visca (Long Live!). This was the first time we entered the basilica and it was so pretty! There were also two unexploded bombs hanging on a wall, remnants of the Spanish Civil War, which is supposed to show how holy a place this is because they didn’t explode. The ceiling actually had the holes where the bombs entered!
That evening we also did a fireworks show. Valencian fireworks are probably only bettered by China’s, and it was clear that the Aragonese were pretty terrified… The whole weekend they were giving us problems which, in all fairness, were for the main part just complying with normal health and safety rules, but when we are used to being 10m away from the boxes of fireworks, we did find it rather annoying.
The next day was the day of the Cremà where we burn the fallas. We had built three, the infantil, the old fashioned one, and the big one. Throughout the day we did a bit more tourism, including going to the Aljafería, the palace in Aragón.
Then at 2pm it was time for the Mascletà! (Still my favourite part) Cue another pointless round of health and safety distances and another round of disgruntled Valencians. Then we ate paella and in the evening it was time to burn!
The cordon was pretty much a mile away from the falla, sigh, and we were surrounded by terrified Aragonese (yes, at one point a little boy turned to his mother terrified and said “estan locos estos, ¿no?” (These people are crazy, right?)) but we enjoyed it at least! And the abuelita in front of us also seemed to enjoy it and seemed really interested in asking us about the fiesta (pretty much the only one). Once it was all over, we headed back to the hotel for some much needed shut-eye. I had walked 39.6km in two days and by this time boy I was feeling it!
As we passed the palace on the way to the car to leave the day after, we saw the Encuentro de los Gigantes de Aragón (the Aragonese Giant’s meeting) which was a procession of massive mannequins of famous characters, including Don Quijote, which processed to the palace and danced in front of it.
Finally, on the way back to València, we passed the house where Goyà was born.
Next week is the final part of my Easter travels when Laura and I go to Madrid (not really Easter but three parts makes a better story than two), and then it’s time to finally submit the dreaded YARP (finally hit 6000 words, get in!). Oh and I think I’ve caught the travel bug because we bought flights for a week in Mallorca in June to see Laura’s cousin, 37€ return flight, can’t really complain!