在地中海入口的直布羅陀是英國領土，佔地近 7 平方公里，以前是軍事重地，現在以旅遊業為主，雖屬歐盟，卻不在「神根公約」之列，我們從西班牙陸地步行過境，關員只看入歐蓋章的日期，而離境時，關員只輕瞄護照封面便放行，出入境關卡形同虛設。
一出關口便要橫越直布羅陀機場跑道，所以每當飛機升降，都要封路 10 分鐘，對出入境的車輛則大受影響，可幸每天只有早午晚 3 班往返倫敦的民航機。來直布羅陀的以郵輪客居多，買過免稅煙酒，再續地中海遊。
Falles Festival of Valencia／Kimberlogic
Although we did some research about what the Falles festival is, we didn’t fully understand it until we arrived in Valencia. We had taken a morning train from Barcelona which put us in Valencia around 13:00. When we left the train station we were immersed in a crowd of people on the street and found all of the metro entrances blocked by police. We had to walk to the next metro station in order to enter which was difficult in the sea of people with our big backpacks. We later found out that at 14:00 each day from the first of March to the last day of the festival professional firecrackers and gunpowder are set off near all of the falles (and the subway is closed while this is happening).
What are falles? Falles are the monuments each neighborhood builds. There are over 300 falles in Valencia, some are up to five stories high, while some are quite humble. Each neighborhood builds a falla infantil, which is a falla for children that is not satirical or risqué, and a full-size falla for the adults; these tend to be very political and/or provocative. The falles statues look like cartoons coming to life. They are bright, colorful and life-sized or much, much bigger.
Each neighborhood (which is every 2 to 3 blocks) has their own group of artists that work for the entire year fundraising, creating, building and painting these falles. They work up until the very minute of the start of the festival, sometimes not even completing every detail. The falles are then displayed in the middle of the street, normally on a crossroad, and traffic is diverted for the next five days.
During the five days of the festival, you can go around to each neighborhood and see these wonderful creations, but there is so much more to this event. There is a religious component, as with most things in Europe, this festival began in the 1500’s to honor Saint Joseph (the saint of carpenters). There is also a procession of offering. This is a parade of the people involved with the falles in their neighborhood, dressed in traditional clothing, bringing flowers to the main cathedral to decorate an enormous effigy.
The last day of the festival is the most exciting. Starting around 22:00, each neighborhood burns their falla infantil to the ground. Then, around midnight or later, the main falles are burned. It is a spectacular pyrotechnic display. The falles are normally lit on fire by firecrackers and gunpowder in and around them. The fires get so big that the fire department is present at each falla, hosing down the buildings next to them and setting up barriers to keep the crowds of people at a safe distance from the flames. The only falla that is spared from the fire is the overall winner, chosen by a vote from the viewers.
The Falles festival is the start of Spring for Valencia and symbolizes a fresh start from the past year’s events. Everyday of the five-day festival is a big party. There are street vendors, parades, firework and firecracker displays and so much more. If you are anywhere near Valencia in mid March, this is a must see event!