It’s getting to be about time we need to plan our summer escape. We’ve all been cooped up like chickens in the henhouse and now it’s time to escape quarantine and go crazy.
Just to keep things in check and make sure we don’t go overboard, let’s start by going overboard, starting with a food fight. Hopefully, that’ll release some of that nuclear energy you’ve been storing up inside so you can get back to chilling out.
Tomato Fight! Spain
We’ll start escaping quarantine in the province of Valencia, Spain where we find ourselves in the quaint town of Buñol. And this friends is where we find the biggest food fight in existence. Also, the very reason aliens don’t visit Earth. We can be ridiculously silly.
La Tomatina is a tomato food fight festival held on the last Wednesday of August each year in Buñol. Thousands upon thousands of people make their way from all corners of the world to fight in this tomato mayhem.
More than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes sacrifice themselves for the cause. If you’re looking for a less messy kind of fun, but just as much mayhem, don’t forget about Mardi Gras in New Orleans!
The numbers range from 40,000 to 50,000 people crammed into this huge tomato fight, greatly expanding Bunol’s normal 9,000-person population.
Since 2013 official ticketing has been in place limiting the number of participants to just 20,000 lucky people. So yes, you need a ticket to participate.
How It All Goes Down
At around 11 am trucks haul the bounty of tomatoes into the center of the town, Plaza del Pueblo. Next someone needs to climb to the top of a two-story high, greased-up wooden pole and reached a ham at the top.
Hey, don’t all worthwhile sporting events begin this way? Anyway, for what it’s worth, whoever reaches the ham gets to keep it.
This process can take a long time so the festival starts despite no one reaching the meaty prize. The real signal for the beginning of the fight is the firing of water cannons since that ham thing can go on and on.
Then the chaos begins. Once it begins, the battle is generally every soul for himself. After one hour the fighting ends. At this point, no more tomatoes can be thrown. Capiche?
The Rules of La Tomatina
- Do not bring bottles or hard objects
- Do not rip other people’s T-shirts
- You must squash the tomatoes before throwing them as this reduces the impact
- Ensure you keep a safe distance from the lorries
- As soon as you hear the second shot, you must stop throwing tomatoes
Anyone breaking these rules gets a pie in the face by a Spanish clown. We’re kidding.
Arashiyama & Sagano Bamboo Forest – Japan
Now that we’ve got that out of our system and hosed ourselves off, we’ll take it back a few notches as we escape our quarantine and bask in a zen-like state of mind.
Just like Neo in The Matrix, escaping quarantine means time to free your mind. And a bamboo forest is just what the doctor ordered.
On the outskirts of Kyoto, Japan we head into two of the most beautiful forests in the world – the Arashiyama Bamboo Forest and the Sagano Bamboo Forest. Here, magnificent stalks grow up to 40 meters tall in a surreal forest that covers over 16 square kilometers.
The thick, tall bamboo stocks are more than eye candy, listening to the distinct creaking and rustling sounds as the breeze winds through this forest is all part of experiencing happiness.
In fact, the Ministry of Environment included the Sagano Bamboo Forest sounds on its list of “100 Soundscapes of Japan,” an initiative designed to encourage the local population to get out and appreciate the country’s acoustic wonders.
The woodsy creaking creates a peaceful sound that’s meditative and soothing. You’ll want to hit the wooden paths early in the morning or later in the evening when your experience will be optimal.
Remember to behave yourself. You don’t want the crouching tiger or hidden dragon to drop from the trees and call you out. Wouldn’t be pretty.
Keukenhof Gardens – Holland
Keukenhof is one of the world’s largest flower gardens covering 79 acres in the Netherlands. This park is where more than 7 million flower bulbs are planted every year, but not just tulips – although they go heavy on those.
This is Holland after all, and surrounding yourself with tulip gardens and winding streams is a great way to get some fresh air and start escaping quarantine.
You’ll senses will be rejuvenated as you experience the sights and smells of hyacinths, daffodils, orchids, roses, carnations, irises, and lilies.
Keukenhof lies between Amsterdam and The Hague, in the heart of the Bollenstreek (Bulb Region of course). The gardens are only open for a short window, from March 20th to May 9th., but open every day during this time.
Walking paths guide you along various gardens and pavilions, with flowers galore, in full bloom. Keukenhof has a different theme each year, so it is never the same.
Keep in mind the gardens attract over a million visitors every year, so do the math – it gets busy.
Düden Waterfalls – Turkey
You’ll find the Düden Waterfalls tumbling off the cliffs by the city of Antalya, Turkey. Düden means a hole that swallows up water.
In essence, this visual treat is created by a giant pothole. Apparently, Mother Nature knows how to make lemonade out of lemons.
The two sources of the falls have as much water like a river and are called Kirkgozler and Pinarbasi. They converge after a short way and form inside the Biyikli pothole.
Are we naming potholes now? Guess so, as some of these potholes can be so big that they can engulf a whole river and lake. Let’s explore both waterfalls.
Upper Düden Waterfall
Upper Düden Waterfall is also called Alexander Falls and is 10 kilometers from the city center.
Tombs engraved in the rocks can be seen beneath the waterfall and there are caves at the base worth checking out.
You can even enter through the caves and see the waterfalls from behind as well. This is also one of the better picnic spots, so pack some lunch and bring along some Turkish coffee.
Lower Düden Waterfall
Lower Düden Waterfall is 8 kilometers from the city center and close to Karpuzkaldiran Beach on the way to Lara. Düden Creek creates this and its drop is greater than the upper waterfall, falling from about 40 meters off a rocky cliff directly into the Mediterranean Sea.
The panoramic view looks like a painting when viewed from Genclik Park right above it. Also great to check out from a boat at sea.
The Crooked Forest – Poland
Near the town of Gryfino in Western Poland, you’ll find a bizarro world of the Krzywy las (Crooked Forest ) where around 400 pine trees grow at a 90-degree angle from the root.
Some say that the reason behind the 90-degree bend of the trees is a gravitational pull within the area. But more on half-baked theories and speculating in a minute.
The majority of these trees bend north and it feels like you’ve landed on another planet. Some believe strange gravitational forces are at work.
Others believe a heavy snowfall on young saplings would have done the trick while they were in their early beginnings.
However, the Crooked Forest is surrounded by pine trees that are not oddly shaped. Hmm, the plot thickens.
In fact, this might be a good place to break out a book and read about some plot with twists with an occasional turn.
Lastly, there’s the conspiracy that during the invasion of Poland in World War II, enemy tanks plowed through the young forest flattening the trees.
Still, this begs the question of why only these 400 or so trees. What about all the straight pine trees surrounding this forest?
Scientists have racked their brains over this one, and the fun part is that nobody really knows. Ambiguity works well here in the heart of this crooked mystery and what really matters is that we’ve found some fascinating excursions and experiences off the beaten path.