Everyone talks about how wonderful it is to “get lost in a foreign city” while studying abroad. When I got lost in Valencia, Spain during the Las Fallas festival, I really just felt like a failure.
My group of three friends and I successfully made it on the right bus in Madrid, and the bus arrived to Valencia without any problems.
The issues happened after our lovely pizza dinner.
We pulled out our Google Maps at the bus station, and it told us to take bus 115. After walking to all the different bus stops in the area, we still had no indicators for which stop was correct for the 115 bus.
We all went inside and asked the information desk employee, who had no idea about local busses in Valencia. Determined to not get confused, we headed back outside to ask more people which bus stop we needed.
We asked several people on the street and at least 4 bus drivers if they know where the 115 bus stops. No one had any idea.
Finally, one bus driver said he knew where we should go. We all paid and hopped on his bus.
We got off by the Valencia football (soccer) stadium, as instructed, and still had no clue where the bus stop was. We then entered the area of the city already in full mode for celebrating Las Fallas. After flagging down other bus drivers and yelling questions to them over fireworks and drums, we were directed three different directions, with no luck.
The busses stopped running and we took a taxi, after discussing our options with our Airbnb host on the phone.
The whole way to the Airbnb outside of the city center, I sat in the taxi feeling like I had somehow failed my mission of figuring out the busses, after two hours of searching.
But once we got to the Airbnb, my friends and I had a long, real laugh about what happened.
To this day I don’t know where the right bus stop is for bus 115, but here is the epiphany I had about the situation: Sometimes there is no great discovery from getting lost and confused, except for learning that it IS okay to get yourself tied up in knots every now and again. Now I certainly understand that being able to laugh at the situation is vital.
We also experienced an unexpected benefit: our Airbnb was tucked away in a “pueblo” or small town, outside of the main action in the city center. As a result, we attended the festival in the pueblo and celebrated with locals instead of other tourists in the downtown. We were also able to get closer to the action than if we had watched the “cremà” or burn, in the main city.
Overall, I think I succeeded in learning to enjoy the chaos of it all. Here are the pictures to prove it, and a photo explanation of what Las Fallas actually is.
“Las Fallas” means “the fires” in Valenciano, and is a time when the town comes together to celebrate, have “pasacalles” or parades, and light giant figures called “ninots” on fire.
Many of these creations poke fun at celebrities and corrupt politicians, while others are inspired by fantasy.
When the time of the burn approaches, holes are cut into the ninots and fireworks placed inside.
The falleras y falleros start the fire and then…
Here is one of the traditional Valencian parades, in traditional dress:
Más del día y la noche: