Everyone loves a good food fight – and my Topdeck La Tomatina experience is testament to this.
Ever since I heard about La Tomatina it had been right at the top of my To Do list, and so when I found myself organising a holiday to Europe last year, I made sure I could coincide the trip with the date of this crazy festival.
The festival is held in August once a year in Buñol – a small town just out of Valencia.
Food-fighting-enthusiasts gather in several small, confined ancient streets and throw over 13,000 kilos of over-ripe tomatoes at each other. By the end of the festival the streets are left ankle deep in tomato pulp sludge, and not one person leaves with a clean shirt.
Not wanting to go up against thousands of mad tomato throwers on my own, I decided to take part in the festival with leading tour company, Topdeck.
I booked a short tour, which included:
- 3 nights in Valencia,
- a walking tour of Valencia,
- breakfast each day
- transfers to La Tomatina
I think the most bizarre part of La Tomatina is the way it begins…
There’s no official time to signify the start of the fight – it’s meant to be around midday, but no one can pin-point exactly when. This is because the fight doesn’t start until someone climbs up a greasy pole, in the centre of the fight-zone and knocks a ham off the top… I said it was bizarre.
Once the ham gets knocked off the pole, officials let off a cannon and trucks begin to dump their tomato loads into the streets. The fight lasts for 1 hour, and finishes with another cannon – at which time you must drop all tomatoes and make your way out (failure to do so actually results in fines).
The first 5 or 10 minutes are pretty brutal, as the trucks come through and unload the first batch of tomatoes, but only some people get them – so you’re like to get smashed, and have nothing to fire back with. However more trucks quickly follow and within minutes you’re surrounded by endless ammo and total carnage!
By the end of the fight you’re covered in thousands of pieces of smelly tomato.
Most people just strip down in the streets, leaving their clothes and shoes in small piles for the Buñol locals (I’m told locals actually wash and re-sell these items). Locals also stand out the front of their houses and spray water on tomato-clad foreigners, to help get the bulk of the tomato off.
Afterwards everyone gathers in the street for sangria and paella.
This was my first experience with Topdeck, and was one that thoroughly enjoyed.
It’s perfect for solo-travellers as it’s an easy and safe way to make new friends, see Valencia and enjoy the festivities of La Tomatina.