Since our last blog (6 days ago) we’ve been mostly wandering aimlessly around the streets and plazas of the cute little town of Haro in a confused chorizo-and-red-wine-fuelled haze, trying desperately to figure out what the frick was going on, where, when and why.
We arrived at the beginning of a week of fiestas for San Juan, San Felices and San Pedro, leading up to the greatest fiesta of all, the Batalla del Vino (battle of wine) at the weekend.
There were weird and wonderful things happening everywhere! Every morning we woke in the tent, bleary eyed and perplexed, to the sound of fireworks reverberating through the valley at about 7am. With our crappy Spanish speaking skills, we had absolutely no clue what was happening, which only added to the bonkersness of the week.
There seemed absolutely no logic to the opening times of the shops, bars and restaurants either. One day, all we could cobble together to eat was a baguette and a jar of red pepper jam, which, thankfully, was much tastier than it sounds. For most of the week we lived on a diet of yummy tapas, red wine and this awesome bike shaped pasta.
Eventually, we managed to find a timetable. Obviously, it was in Spanish, and after translating it online we were still none the wiser. Following the dodgy internet translation, we excitedly arrived at the main square at 11am the next morning to witness what was simply translated as “the Gays”.
With the kind of audience participation that would have had English health and safety managers panting with fret, “risky” was not an understatement. At one point, the bikers suddenly veered into the crowd, people hurriedly scattering everywhere, dragging their belongings and small children out of harm’s way. It was totally brilliant.
Every evening there was a different form of entertainment in the main square of the town, with food stalls selling a glass of wine and a snack, usually involving chorizo or black pudding (one of the local specialities) for EUR1.50. We saw many, many entertaining things. Karaoke, dance lessons, foam parties, discos, cabaret acts that verged on (sexually) inappropriate, an insane snail cooking competition, a tortilla cooking competition, wine tastings, lots of Hebden Bridge-type processions and marching bands and lovely heart-warming scenes of old Spanish couples dancing in the square, and it was all free!
We even had chance to do the touristy thing and visit one of the many bodegas (wineries), just a couple of minutes walk from the campsite. The tour was awesome but, even with my strong affection for Rioja, a glass of it for breakfast on an empty stomach and with a red wine hangover from the tapas bar crawl the night before, it was a bit much. Still pretty dang tasty though.
In this wonderful land where a bottle of Rioja is cheaper than a bottle of water, we had just about had our fill of wine when it was time for the Batalla del Vino, which was so insanely crazy that it deserves its own dedicated blog!