La Tomatina in Bunol, Spain
White Clothes? Check!
Duct Tape? Check!
We were ready for La Tomatina – The World’s Largest Tomato Fight!
Before the tomatoes – the ham must be brought down. Shout of “To The Ham!” drew brave climbers in cow costumes, wedding dresses, Superman capes and giant bananas up the thickly greased pole to try to claim the prize.
When “The Ham” came down, the water cannons went off, signaling the start to another year of tossing and squishing tomatoes in Bunol, Spain.
I took the first shot to the chest and stared in horror as the red stain spread down my shirt. It took a second, but I realized I wasn’t shot – La Tomatina had begun! A riot of frenzied tomato tossing, squashing, slipping and sliding ensued as trucks dumped tons of ripe tomatoes at our feet.
For an hour, the streets of this tiny town become thick with a gazpacho of tomatoes, t-shirts, and flip-flops (those NOT duct taped to the feet). The festival hosts a crowd of 39,000 people, 140 tons of ripe, squishy tomatoes, and locals who cover everything in sight with large sheets of plastic to protect it from the onslaught.
Two years ago we were there! Do it again? Are you crazy??
It’s Friday, deep in the Grand Canyon. With the 5am conch shell blow for coffee, our day begins. Today we’re on the water by 7am; tents, cots, and sleeping bags safely tucked away in enormous dry bags. The first wash of 46 degree muddy Colorado River hits us square in the face by 7:10. Okay, we’re awake now!
The rapids line up before us like a natural obstacle course. Names like Hermit, Crystal, and Lava Falls all produce adrenaline jolts as we hear stories of those who’ve come before us and haven’t been so lucky.
We trust in our river guides to get us through and they know this river intimately. This is their home and sanctuary they are so willing to share with us. For our six days on the river, we came to know and thoroughly enjoy the antics and skill of an amazing Western River Expeditions team. Ronnie, Jeff, Grace, Steve, and Elise helping out – not only kept us safe, but enlightened with stories of the river and its history.
There are times when we float along serenely, trying to take in the incredible majesty of this wonder of nature. Then there is the real reason people come to the bottom of the gorge, down to the Great Unknown – to ride the rapids! What a rush! To hit an enormous wall of water, plunging down, down, only to bounce back up and take stock of who might have fallen off in the melee. “Did we lose anyone?” became the mantra after each huge hit. Luckily on our boat, everyone held on tight – with duct tape covering raw knuckles to prove it!
It was six days unplugged from the world. Enjoying mountain vistas, thrilling rides, toga parties, and forming friendships in a way only sharing an outdoor toilet can afford.
All ages were represented –from one celebrating a 60th birthday to another her 13th. Many put a trip like this on their own Bucket List, and with good reason. It’s an adventure, camaraderie, and a chance to see the magnificent Grand Canyon from a unique viewpoint only shared by a few – by boat on the Colorado River. What an awesome ride!!
Sacre Coeur Basilica (Basilica of the Sacred Heart) sits atop Montmartre hill with a view of the Paris skyline that has inspired writers and artists since its completion in the late 1800s. Montmartre holds the heart and soul of the Paris experience.
At the highest point in the city, the site where the basilica sits is where tradition tells of the beheading of the city’s patron saint, Saint Denis, in the 3rd century.
Sacre Coeur retains its pure white color from the travertine stones which excrete a substance acting as a bleaching agent after the rains.
ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: A glass of Château Margaux (Margaux, Bordeaux) sitting at the foot of Montmartre hill.
Spanning over 5,500 miles through the Chinese countryside, The Great Wall is also listed as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. An architectural masterpiece as well as a great hike, an afternoon on “The Wall” provides amazing views for miles. Standing atop so much incredible history is humbling. Climbing up those steep steps is tiring! Bring lots of water for the trek.
ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: Enjoy a cold Tsingtao Beer after the climb!
Just about as close to paradise as you can imagine. A tiny island off the coast of Lombok, Indonesia; Gili Trawangan (or Gili “T” for short) is a place to soak up the incredible beauty of the sea. SCUBA diving, snorkeling and sun bathing are the order of the day.
The only means of transport are horse drawn carriages (cidomos) and bicycles. Each night of the week, one of the popular bars has a Party Night where it’s possible to dance on the beach until dawn.
ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: Bintang Beer
This tiny Greek Island, with a population of just 2500, is truly a jewel set in the blue Ionian Sea. Greek mythology tells us Paxos was the secret hideaway for Poseidon, formed when the island of Corfu was struck with his trident. Fragrant lemon trees and olive groves line the hillsides and secluded coves provide privacy for an afternoon at the beach. Colorful fishing boats tie up at the harbor, a perfect place for sampling Greek specialties and watching the people go by.
ESCAPE DRINK OF THE DAY: Mythos Beer!