Returning to Peru: 3 things I’m looking forward to

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When I visited Peru back in August 2013, I did say to myself that I would return one day, but I didn’t think that day would come only four years later.

In less than two months, I will throw my backpack on and return to South America, on a journey which will not only cover Peru but also parts of Chile and Bolivia. I absolutely loved Peru, although it doesn’t always bring back fond memories, considering the terrible altitude sickness I suffered from on our treks.

I am looking forward to exploring more of this country, and returning to some familiar places.

Practice my Spanish…

When I first visited Peru, I had only been studying Spanish for one year at university. I managed to hold conversations and barter in markets but it will be great to go back and hopefully speak Spanish with more confidence.

Visit some new places…

I’m looking forward to spending a few days in the capital, Lima, at the end of our three week trip – all I saw was the chaos of the airport, which is making me nervous about stepping out of those airport doors again! We will also be visiting Lake Titicaca which I didn’t see last time either.

 Retrace my steps…

As well as seeing some new sites, I am really looking forward to returning to familar ones. We are spending about 4 days in Cusco. I loved Cusco as it had such a great feel to it and the markets were incredible. It will give us some time to chill and see the sites and maybe do a day trip somewhere.

I am also returning to Aguas Calientes (love the eggy hot springs!) and Machu Picchu. J. really couldn’t go to Peru without seeing Machu Picchu, now could he? It did mean forking out a fortune though for the train tickets but it had to be done.

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Machu Picchu

I wish I didn’t have to do the early morning hike there though from Aguas Calientes. I have done it before, and I don’t need to prove I can do it to anyone, not even myself, as I have already done it. The bus this time is appealing, but J. wants to experience it himself, so he is going to have to deal with me whining and complaining all the way up there!

There is so much more of Peru that we aren’t exploring this time, as we are wanting to see the Atacama desert in Chile before working our way up through Bolivia circling round again to Peru, but that only gives me the excuse to go back…

What do you love about Peru?


Travel Update: Where am I going next?

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So today I had my final formal observation of my teacher training year! Relieved is an understatement. My final evidence bundles are ready to hand in on Wednesday. Just 4 and a bit weeks to go until I qualify – I can see the light out of this very long, dark tunnel.

At least I have so much look forward to: holidays that is – lots of them!

July 2017: Prague and Pembrokeshire, UK

Two days after I qualify (!) I am flying out to Prague for a few days with some of my old school friends. I’m glad to be squeezing some time in to explore a bit more of Europe this summer! If you have any recommendations, let me know in the comments.

Flash forward a day or two and I will be in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It started out as a nice, quiet weekend with just me and J. but then he came up with the idea of inviting all his old uni friends, so it’s quite the group who are going now. I’m glad some +1s are going otherwise it would have turned into a lads trip + me! Not so relaxing… It’s my first trip to South Wales and fingers crossed the weekend won’t be a wash-out! Although saying that, I am sure it will be.

August 2017: Peru, Chile, Bolivia

This trip has been so much more complicated to plan than South East Asia was, I just hope that it all works out. Stay tuned for a post later this week on 3 reasons why I am looking forward to returning to Peru.

October 2017: Madriiiiid

For my first October half term as an NQT teacher Spanish and French teacher, I have 5 days solo travel in Madrid booked. I’m being a good Languages teacher – I am going a Spanish-speaking country for professional development…

I am being constantly reminded that, “okay, so you’re finding your training year tough? Wait until your NQT year…” This is not filling me with much confidence, but I am one to focus on what I have to look forward to, to get me through.

I have my hostel and my flights sorted, nothing more. I spent 3 days there two years ago at the end of my Year Abroad and I regretted not going sooner, as I absolutely loved it! I’m looking forward to visiting the museums (finally), eating my favourite food and going to the Hamman Al-Andalus Baths again to chill out. It would be great to do a day trip somewhere new like Córdoba. I cannot bear to return to my Spanish home, Salamanca, for a day. The idea weighs heavy on my heart and fills me with too much nostalgia now I no longer live there.

Are you looking forward to any future travels this coming year? Let me know in the comments 🙂


Salamanca, te echaré de menos

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(Salamanca, I will miss you)

I have had a fantastic time living and studying in the beautiful ciudad dorada, Salamanca, for four months. It is a small city but it is absolutely beautiful. I’d like to share nine of my favourite things to do since living here:

9. Tapas

What is Spain without tapas? My favourite spots are: La Mariseca on Rua Mayor (I love their mini burgers) and Atelier which is a veggie/vegan tapas bar.

8. Casa Lis

The Casa Lis is an Art Deco/Art Nouveau museum in the most beautiful building with incredible stained glass windows and ceilings.

Casa Lis ceiling

Casa Lis ceiling

7. Climb up the towers of the Universidad Pontifica de Salamanca

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Personally, this gives the best panoramic views of the city but the climb up the Cathedral Towers nearby is also worthwhile.

6. La Universidad de Salamanca

I loved studying in beautiful surroundings every day at university. The Languages Faculty, spread across three buildings, is a tourist site in its own right (El Colegio de Anaya). Not only this, but the main university building in the Patio de Escuelas is magnificent and even holds a museum about the history of the university inside, the oldest university in Spain! Next door to the Patio de Escuelas is Escuelas menores, a small courtyard which also holds El Cielo de Salamanca, a beautiful painting fromt he 15th century.

The famous main facade of the university

The famous main facade of the university

The inner courtyard of the Languages department!

The inner courtyard of the Languages department!

5. Micro-theatre at La Malhablada

I only discovered La Malhablada in May, which is a shame as I really enjoyed going! From Thursday-Sunday, they hold “mini-plays” of 15 minutes which you can see for 3€ each. I have seen three so far and would like to go see some more this weekend before I leave Salamanca. It’s especially good to practice listening to Spanish, but of course, if you don’t speak Spanish, this isn’t going to be of much interest unfortunately.

4. Relaxing in Huerto de Calixto gardens

A hidden gem

A hidden gem

It’s very difficult to stumble across these gardens unless you are walking around or have already heard of them. Huerto de Calixto is a small garden, tucked away in a corner near the cathedral on the remains of the city wall. It is never overly busy and is a great place to go to sit, read, have lunch and enjoy nature. Although Salamanca has parks, it doesn’t have much greenery in the center amongst the golden buildings, so this is a nice little haven.

3. Dar un paseo al lado del río

Relaxing by the Rio Tormes

Relaxing by the Rio Tormes

(Walking along the river). The River Tormes is a great place to stretch your legs: walk, run, jog, rollerblade, it’s the place to go. It’s lovely and sunny during the day to sunbathe and cool in the evening.

2. El Laurel

The best nachos and guacamole ever (we got free refills!)

The best nachos and guacamole ever (we got free refills!)


Dessert was glorious

When Spain is characteristically known as the land of jamón, it is unusual to find not only a vegetarian ta

pas bar, but also a vegetarian restaurant here! El Laurel has been one of my favourite restaurants here in Salamanca – great quality food and I will probably spend my final meal here. Best to book in advance because I have been turned away as they were all full up before now!

1. Plaza Mayor (usually coupled with a frozen yogurt)


The Plaza Mayor is the central hub of the city and rightly so. It’s where you go to meet up with friends in the evening, it’s great for people-watching, it’s extremely clean so you can just sit on the floor in the sun – it’s just so pretty to look at. I especially love walking through during the evening when it is all lit up. There is a reason why Salamanca’s Plaza Mayor is the most beautiful in the whole of Spain.

So, this is it! The next few days, I will be doing a combination of a few of these things here before I leave.

What do you like most about Salamanca?

Hasta luego,


The Year Abroad: My Favourite Moments

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Fortunately, my experience of the Year Abroad has been a positive one overall; despite being full of many positives, there has also been a fair share of challenges, all of which are expected and embraced as inevitable. This year is one in which I have learnt so much about my abilities and I have been able to grow as a person, there have even been some pretty great memories to go along with it too.

I’d like to say a massive THANK YOU to everyone who has read RobynBobbingAround during the past year and kept in touch either by following, commenting, chatting on Twitter etc. I didn’t expect myself to be so dedicated to this blog but I am so glad I did. I have enjoyed blogging about my Year Abroad journey immensely and it is something I will be able to look back on for years to come. Although I will be continuing writing this after my Year Abroad is over, I am sure I will be at a loss during my final year of university, unable to jet off for a spontaneous weekend away, but I will try my best. Through WordPress, I’ve been able to connect with other like-minded people who share a love for travel or who are also on a Year Abroad, and it’s been great to see other perspectives and know I am not alone.

I could talk about “My Least Favourite Moments.” I don’t want to make the Year Abroad look like some fairy-tale traveling adventure; yes, it has been hard at times, and it’s unfair to paint an unrealistic picture of what it can be like for future/potential Year Abroaders, but I don’t like to dwell too much on the negatives – this is not much fun for me to write about. In short, this list would include: homesickness (a lot of it), lonliness, problems with landlords/housemates and French bureaucracy (that stuff is nasty and gets all Year Abroaders in France!).

Although I wrote my Year Abroad Bucket-List with links to all the exciting things I have done during my Year Abroad (there are many!), I wanted to share a snippet of my highlights, of things I enjoyed the most this year which are condensed down:

1. Seeing Émile Simon in concert in Nîmes

Les Arènes during a weekend trip to Nîmes,

Les Arènes during a weekend trip to Nîmes,

Emilie Simon is by far my favourite French singer, and I still listen to her lasted album Mue all the time. I was so glad to see her touring in October 2014, and I even got to squeeze in a weekend trip to Nîmes which I really wanted to do as well – double score!

2. La Vallée des tortues in Sorède 

Julia, moi et Kam

Julia, moi et Kam

My visit to the tortoise sanctuary, a 20 minute drive from Perpignan was another favourite of mine during the Year Abroad! I love tortoises/turtles and it ws great to be able to interact with some during our visit.

3. Lisbon

Torre de Belém

Torre de Belém

What can I say about Lisbon? It captured my heart and I can’t get over how incredible it was. I can’t wait to return for the entire month of July to do a Portuguese Summer Course there at A Universidade de Lisboa!

4. Las Fallas

Las Fallas

Las Fallas

Las Fallas is without a doubt my absolute favourite trip during my entire Year Abroad! Despite the weather being absolutely awful, and getting a serious cold after, it still manages to be in top position! If I had the opportunity to go back to Valencia in the future for this festival, I wouldn’t hesitate to say yes. It was unbelievabely exciting, full of life and noise.

5. Hamman Al Ándalus – Granada

I couldn’t leave out my trip to the Hammam Al Ándalus in Granada. It was such a relaxing experience, I absolutely loved it. I’ve luckily squeezed in a return visit to the Hammam baths in Madrid, before I fly home to the UK in June. If you are ever visiting Andalucía or Madrid, I’d 100% recommend checking them out if you want some worthwhile time out.

These are only a select few of the many incredible things I have been able to do during my Year Abroad. Runners-up would include my trip to historical Mérida, tasting amazing pintxos in Bilbao and spending afternoons on the beach in Collioure.

Smaller things, but just as important on the linguistic side of things, would include the times when I could feel my language skills had improved, dreaming in French, being mistaken for French/Spanish and no one realising I was actually English even after I spoke (!) and of course realising I actually survived two semesters studying in foreign universities!

I finished my last lecture at La Universidad de Salamanca today and my final exam is this Tuesday. It’s all ending so fast! I still have trips to Porto and Madrid planned before I go home which is exciting, and about 11 days in Salamanca in between to make the most of and enjoy before I return home.

Fish and chips, scones and crumpets await…

Hasta luego,


An Afternoon at The Alhambra in Granada

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After our wonderful visit to the Hammam Al Ándalus Baths the night before, we spent the majority of Saturday afternoon exploring the Alhambra.

First of all, after breakfast at the hotel, we made our way to the Alcaiceria, the Arab Market near the cathedral. It is easy enough to find, but the entrances are not very obvious and you don’t expect to find all these little market shops when you walk past! The passageways are so narrow, so if it is busy it can be impossible to walk around. I’d recommend getting there around 9-10am and you’ll have the shops all to yourselves! There are so many shops all selling more or less the same things but it is worth having a root around to find anything that strikes your eye. Tea sets, leather bags, jewellery and lanterns are probably the best buys but there are some strange things like boomerangs and sombreros thrown in the mix that are not very “authentic”.

I ended up buying some lovely earrings for 4€ but other than that, it wasn’t my day for shopping there. There are a few high street shops nearby though and I managed to buy a small blue daysack for only 20€ which felt like a bargain, especially as it meant I no longer have to drag around my massive daysack for sightseeing which I mostly use for transporting my laptop when I am flying. I also found some Moroccan Mint tea I had been wanting since the Hammam!

At around 3pm we met up with Floorke who took us to a bar she likes near uni. The great thing about Granada is that if you order a drink, you will receive a free plate of tapas with it, so you don’t even have to worry about ordering any food! After a Fanta orange and a tinto de verano, we received portions of Paella Valenciana, pimientos de padrón and cod croquettes. It was so good.

View of The Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás

View of The Alhambra from Mirador San Nicolás

Soon, it was time to make our way up to the Alhambra. We walked to the Plaza Nueva and caught the C3 bus for 1€20 to the palace. We considered walking there but soon realised how far/steep it would have been in the heat when the bus drove up there. I’d recommend getting the bus up because there is no point being all hot and exhausted before you have even started to look around!

We spent about three hours around the Alhambra which is the recommended amount of time to visit. Our ticket allowed us entry between 2-8pm, but we arrived around 4:30pm. In hindsight, with the Alhambra being so big, I’d say three hours isn’t enough! If you want to just see the main sights, sure three hours is plenty, but we really enjoyed taking in the amazing views of the city, marveling at the intricate designs on the walls and of course, taking many, many pictures and time just flew by. We didn’t manage to see everything which was a shame but we saw the main points of interest (Generalife, Nazrid Palace).

View from the Generalife

View from the Generalife

View from the Generalife

View from the Generalife

Important to note: You cannot buy tickets on arrival at The Alhambra. It is recommended to book several weeks in advance as it can sell out!

Our tickets included a time for when we were allowed inside the Nasrid Palace, (6:30pm). This is the only place where you have to go in at a certain time though.


The intricate ceiling in the Nasrid Palace


The ceiling in the Nasrid Palace


Me at the Nasrid Palace

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Overall, I would say I prefer the Alcázar in Sevilla over the Alhambra. The Alcázar in Sevilla is of course a tourist attraction and it can get pretty busy, but it feels less spoiled, less of a “tourist trap”. Entry is much cheaper (2€ for students, not 15€ at The Alhambra) and there is no time limit on entry and you can spend as much time as you want there. You feel less rushed. Still, the intricate designs in the Nasrid Palaces at The Alhambra and the panoramic views over the city were absolutely spectacular – you can’t compare it elsewhere and it is a photographer’s dream.

That evening we had take-away lasagna at the highly-rated Cacho & Pepe on TripAdvisor which I’d recommend. It is small though and the menu can be limited. The weather was still lovely so we found a nice bench by a fountain to plough into the yummy food. I don’t know why, but I am a bit obsessed with Italian food here in Spain…!
The following Sunday morning we walked up to the Mirador San Nicolás which gave an incredible view over The Alhambra – it was well worth the climb! It wasn’t long though until we had to catch our coach back to Sevilla, to then eventually get our night coach back to Salamanca. 2am, driver’s radio blaring away trumpet music and all lights on, it’s safe to say I am glad I will not be traveling by coach overnight for a while! I thoroughly enjoyed my extended weekend trip to Sevilla and Granada and I only wish it could have been longer to see more of Andalucía, but it gives me an incentive to go back in the future (Córdoba, I’m looking at you).

Me and Becca at the Nasrid Palace

Me and Becca at the Nasrid Palace

After arriving back to Salamanca in the early hours of the morning, I was up early to prepare for my Skype interview a few hours later. I was quite worried how it would go with being so tired, but the interview went well as I have since found out I have been accepted for the role! I will be working as an Information Assistant during Intro Week in Sheffield in September which was excellent news.

The weather has since greatly improved here in Salamanca, and I am currently hiding in my room, away from the heat (and pollen which is especially bad today). At the weekend, my flatmates put out the summer furniture on our sun terrace and I have been making the most of it by sunbathing during the last few days! I love our terrace because we have a great view of the cathedral and it means I can sunbathe without even leaving the flat:

View from the roof terrace of my piso!

View from the roof terrace of my piso!

Now, it’s time to focus on uni work mixed-up with a bit of sunbathing until I finish my university obligations here on 26th May. I have also been busy ticking things off to do from my Final Five Weeks in Salamanca To-Do list – mostly just the food parts so far though!

Hasta luego,


Culinary delights of Mérida | Part 2

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For Part 1, please click here!

We managed to not have one bad meal during our weekend trip to Mérida, which was wonderful. It would be a sin not to share my two favourite finds during our stay. Maybe if you are heading there sometime soon, these may make their way into your itinerary as I would recommend them for price, quality, atmosphere and service.

We enjoyed our lunchtime meal so much on Saturday in a small tapas bar nearby to our hotel called Entrecañas, we had to return the next day for more! It’s one of those gems that I discovered on my TripAdvisor app, which I doubt I would have ever found on my own. Its menu is extensive and there are plenty of options for meat-lovers, vegetarians or picky-eaters. I just wish I could pack the place all up and place it nearby on a small side street in Salamanca, so I can continue to eat its savoury delights for the rest of the semester, and then maybe take it back in my suitcase to Sheffield for next year. If I could have some Basque pintxos bars next door, that would also be amazing! I think we are on to something here…

We enjoyed tapas on the Saturday and on the Sunday we had combination lunch meals. My favourites were the chicken in breadcrumbs (the best I have ever tasted!) and the Beef Stew tapas pot (the meat melted in your mouth and it reminded me of my mum’s pot of Scouse Stew) and the chips on the side were crispy. Let the pictures just speak for themselves:


Sheep cheese, a potato thing, tuna bites, and chicken bites in the background


The beef stew (with a half-eaten portion of chips – oops!), queso de oveja (Sheep cheese) and fried cod

Chicken in breadcrumbs, chips and salad combination meal

Chicken in breadcrumbs, chips and salad combination meal

For our Saturday night meal, we agreed we felt like an Italian meal. Again, looking up my trusty TripAdvisor app, I found a restaurant with some great reviews – Ristorante La Trattoria, but it was quite a trek from our hotel. Determined to eat only the best pizza in Mérida, we set off on a 25-minute walk for our dinner, okay it wasn’t that far. The food did indeed live up to its TripAdvisor ratings and I had a delicious pizza! The desserts were very generously portioned off as well…  What we appreciated the most about our find, was that we were the only non-locals in the restaurant. Everyone was Spanish and looked like they were from the area. Going a little bit out of the centre is good to get away from the tourist-traps.

So yes, Mérida is a small town but you should not be short on good food for a reasonable price. My meals in Mérida averaged as 10€ with a drink, so you don’t need to break the bank.

I was advised that as Mérida was small, there would not be much to do there. But by taking our time to soak up the sites, relax and enjoy the food, I had a fantastic weekend and it is definitely worth the stop.

Restaurant Details:

Entrecañas, C/Félix Valverde Lillo, 4, Mérida

Tapas bar

Ristorante La TrattoriaPlaza de Los Escritores 6, Mérida

Italian Restaurant


Las Fallas | La Crema

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UPDATE: Click for Part 1 and Part 2 about Las Fallas.

La Crema is the final event of Las Fallas, held on 19th March each year and concludes the celebrations which have been held throughout Valencia during March. ‘La Crema’ means ‘burning,’ which is essentially what happens to all the Sculptures which have been erected throughout the streets of the city for public display several days before the event (night of the 15-16th March).

Las Fallas, however, is not simply a festival about burning; from what I took from my visit, Las Fallas has many dimensions to it. It is an artisitic festival: the Sculptures are a unique Valencian form of art (which I have never seen elsewhere!), and they are beautiful. They are a form of intellectual expression: every Falla has been deeply thought through and has a satirical significance if you look for it. Las Fallas is a strengthening of the local community, to work together on year-long projects and to take pride in the city. It’s also an excuse for locals and tourists alike to have fun -Las Fallas is essentialy a party and with so much going on, it’s impossible to sleep during the festival! Lastly, where else in Europe are you going to see millions of euros turn to ash and find it impressive?


La Crema Timetable

Although La Crema is the highlight of the festival, I recommend walking around Valencia during the day and seeing as many of the Fallas Sculptures as you can, because they will be set on fire to never be seen again! After the Mascleta, that’s just what we did and we got to see so many!

At 10pm, the Crema begins as the Infantil Fallas (small Fallas without satirical themes), which are held a few metres away from the main ones, are burned. The burning is signalled by the release of fireworks and we were amongst the crowds to run from Falla to Falla, following the noises and watching as each of them were set alight. It was very exciting but quite tiring on the feet!

Infantil burning

Infantil burning

In the midst of all these bonfires, the streets are packed with people throwing firecrackers in the street at random. Some are just little harmless sparklers with pretty colours, others give off a bigger explosion and are quite scary to hear from a few meters away. It is not uncommon to see 3-year old kids in the streets with lighters setting off fireworks. Totally normal and acceptable apparently…

At midnight, the main Fallas are set alight, roughly 350 of them (!!), all except the Falla which won first prize (Falla del Pilar, 2015), which is burned at 12:30am, and the Falla of the Town Hall, Ajuntament, the final one the be burned which is at 1am.

Falla del Pilar, 1st Prize 2015. It was absolutely imcredible - the biggest Falla we saw and very beautiful!

Falla del Pilar, 1st Prize 2015. It was absolutely imcredible – the biggest Falla we saw and very beautiful!



These Fallas cost thousands upon thousands of euros to design and construct each year, the budget is roughly 7€million this year in total for the festival! However the revenue from tourism throughout the festival makes up more than enough for the high expenditure of the events (roughly 300 million). And yet, each year they are set alight and turned to ashes, completely destroyed. So much thought and love has gone into these works of art, and although it is sad to see them destroyed, it is beautiful to remember that all good things must come to an end, even at Las Fallas. Luckily, the festival happens every year, so the cycle continues, breathing new life into the festivities.

After watching many an Infantil Falla be burned, with the knowledge that the crowds would make it impossible to be able to see more than one main Falla be burned and see everything in time, we chose between the time slots of 12am, 12:30am for Pilar or 1am for the Adjuntament lion Falla. In the end, we made it to the Adjuntament Falla at 12am to get a good spot in the crowd to see it be set alight. However, we did have to stand waiting for an hour which felt like forever! It turned out to be a good plan as in no time at all, everyone else had the same idea as us and the Plaza was packed.

At 1am, fireworks went off to signal the beginning of the Burning.

Fireowkrs at 1am of the Adjuntament Falla

Fireowkrs at 1am of the Adjuntament Falla

Video clip of the Burning:

It was really incredible how the Falla began to burn. I was expecting a random area to start to burn, but the craftsmenship of the Falla made the burning extremely controlled. At first, only the dove, a symbol of peace started to burn at the beginning, on the head of the Lion, and then the Lion’s mane started to burn. The fire came from the inside out, consuming the Falla and it took several minutes before it started to disintegrate. And that was it! Las Fallas was over, just like that.

I had such an unbelievably good time in Valencia for Las Fallas, I can’t explain how impressed I was by it. Without a doubt the best thing I have done during my Year Abroad so far and I would love to book a trip to Valencia again in the future to take part in it all over again! Obviously, I’d hope for better weather, as this year was a wash-out (the worst in 80 years!) and I am currently suffering from a nasty cold since! There is so much to see and do during Las Fallas and Valencia itself.

For example, I did not see one of the main events on Wednesday 18th March, as I hadn’t yet arrived, which was the Ofrenda de Flores; a parade of 100,000 to the Plaza de la Virgin in order to make an offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken, the Patron Saint of Valencia. The celebration takes place from 4 pm until past nightfall. With all of the bunches of flowers given by the falleras to the Virgin, an impressive 15 metre-high tapestry is formed on the main façade of the Basilica and a mantle is made for the VirginThe flowers remain in the Plaza de la Virgin for day after the festival unti lthe flowers fall, but I didn’t get to see it during my visit (maybe next time?!):


Picture courtesy of Tash

As Las Fallas finished on the Thursday, I had one final day in Valencia before I caught my early morning train to Madrid on the Saturday and we went to the amazing Oceanogràfic, the largest aquarium in Europe! It was the perfect end to a wonderful trip. I am sad to see the end of Las Fallas, and would recommend anyone who has the opportunity in the future to go, to not hesitate in their decision!

I’m off to Bilbao for the start of Semana Santa this weekend, spending the rest of the week in Salamanca before spending Easter Weekend at home in the UK. So many exciting things lined up!

In the meantime, here is a picture of a stingray. He looks so cute:

IMG_0967So, is Las Fallas on your Bucket List?

Have you been? What are your thoughts?

Hasta luego,