Tuesday 29 August
We woke up on our last morning in London to an alarm. We packed our bags and got ready to go. I had brought a large and a small suitcase which was a mistake when we had so many different legs to this trip so we decided to leave behind the little suitcase and consolidate everything into the big one (sorry mum I'll buy you a new one!).
The train station to get to Gatwick, where we were flying out of, was conveniently the same one located near our apartment that we'd been using for the last few days. The train was initially really crowded as it was about 8.30am so lots of people were on their way to work. After a few stops it cleared out and our carriage was fairly empty for the rest of the ride which went for just under an hour. When we got to Gatwick we bought some Cornish pasties for breakfast. We checked in our bags and found somewhere to sit and have our pasties and drink a coffee. We had plenty of time as we'd arrived the recommended 2 hours before so we just chilled out there for a while and then eventually went to go find our gate.
When we went through security we hadn't read the signs well enough and both got stopped to have our bags thoroughly searched for any liquids of any size.
We were on a British Airways flight from London to Valencia. It was just a little plane with about 150 seats but everyone of them was full. The flight was only two hours long so Jazz had a snooze and I caught up on writing the summaries for the last few days.
Some of our observations from our time in London:
- It has a very diverse population, lots of different accents everywhere you go
- There are lots of smokers
- There are also lots of street performers, who are all really good
- The public transport system is amazing. It is really intuitive & easy to figure out
- The city itself it kind of dirty and unless the buildings have been restored they look a bit of a mess
- There are lots of cool old buildings coupled with lots of ugly 70s/80s buildings
- You get bomb tested pretty much everywhere you go
- There are not enough bins so there is rubbish everywhere (Jazz thought the lack of bins could be because of bomb fears incase someone puts a bomb in one)
- There is also a frequent poo smell when you are walking the streets (something to do with the bins maybe?)
- London itself seems like a very flat city. We walked up lots of stairs going in & out of train stations but I don't recall walking up any hills.
- You are completely saturated with advertising in all public areas
There is only a one hour time difference between London & Valencia and we arrived at around 3pm local time and caught a taxi to our Hotel (Abba Acteon). The taxi driver didn't speak any English but Jazz sparked up a conversation with him anyway with snippets from our phrase book. He was very friendly and would say long sentences that we didn't understand so we just smiled & nodded and said "Si! Si!"
We arrived at our hotel and checked in as well as chatting to the people from our La Tomatina tour company, PP Travel, who were in the Foyer greeting everyone to give them their T-Shirts & wristbands for the festival. They hadn't given Jazz a shirt for some reason so when we asked for one all they had was a mens XXL. They told us about the welcome party that night and encouraged us to come down. They even said that some people stay up all night ahead of the festival which Jazz and I both agreed sounded like a horrible idea because we both really like to get at least 8 hours sleep wherever possible. We're cool like that.
We headed up to our room to freshen up and settle in. It was a really nice room but it smelled like smoke for some reason. Jazz went downstairs to ask for a new room but the hotel was full so they sent someone up to spray it for us instead.
Because we had the La Tomatina festival the next day we wanted to go and buy some crappy shoes that we could just throw away afterwards. The PP travel people had warned us whatever we wore would most likely get ruined and showed us on a map where a shopping centre was that we could buy some cheap stuff at a shop called Carre Four. It was apparently like a Big W crossed with a Coles. We also needed to find an ATM as Jazz had figured out that we could go to certain ones to get cash out from her stupid westpac cards.
We headed off walking down the street and it was raining a little. It was about 4pm in the afternoon so the streets were deserted and hardly anything was open. We were really hungry after we got cash out so we tried a few restaurants but they all either looked dodgy or wouldn't let us in. We found a place that looked good enough and ordered some sangria, potato bravas, Jamon & a salad. Everything was delicious and we both felt a lot better with a full belly.
Afterwards we wandered across the road to the shops but realised it was the wrong ones as everything was really expensive. We rechecked our map and headed off again. Because it was drizzling, it was a bit muddy outside. We got to the correct shops and bought some ugly pink shirts for 2.99€ and some shoes for 5.99€. Bargain! We bumped into some Aussies from Brisbane, Joey & Jess, who had the same wristbands as us so started chatting. The guy bought the same ugly pink shorts that we did.
We went back to the hotel to drop off our stuff and freshen up for the welcome party. When we got to the welcome party we showed our wrist bands and got let inside. It was in this big open space and we knew it was terrible straight away as they were playing terrible doof doof music way too loud and had flashing strobe lights. It was like a really s*** generic nightclub with no personality. We walked up to the bar and then both said that we just wanted to leave as we'd rather go drink Sangria in an actual nice place. We were laughing as we left that maybe we were just too old for that kind of thing now.
We wandered back to the street where we ate earlier as we figured some of the restaurants that were closed before might now be open. We stopped in front of this cute burger place called Burger Beer that had beer on tap and realised Joey & Jess where there. We said hello and Joey said to sit down and join them. We laughed at how bad the welcome party was together as they had done the same throng we had and walked straight out. They were both 23 and on a two month trip around Europe. They had just come from Morocco which sounded cool. We had some dinner & drinks together and chatted about our travels so far.
After dinner we walked the short distance back to our hotel. It was a bit cold so Jazz let me wear her over shirt.