If you’ve heard of Carnival, it’s basically Mardi Gras but Spanish style. There are two big parties on the first and second weekend of February. I went from February 5th-7th Tenerife and Cadiz are two biggest celebrations for the festival. I went with a tour company called City Life Madrid. The company is specifically catered to study abroad students but many teachers like me use it as well. It was 139 Euros.
The hotel was okay. It had a full kitchen and two bedrooms with four beds. There is also a little living room with a large balcony. It was pretty comfortable. The kitchen had things to cook with but with no soap we just left everything dirty. I wasn’t going to buy soap for one weekend or take it home. The thermostat was also pretty weird and it was always just a bit too cold.
The bus ride was 9 hours which was the longest bus ride I’ve ever gone on. They played movies for us and we stopped twice for food and bathroom breaks (there were no toilets on the bus). When we got there they had a subpar buffet for 15 Euros but it included unlimited beer which turned into quick debauchery. Everyone was drinking as much as possible including me. Those waiters couldn’t refill those pitchers fast enough. The whole dining room was just people slamming drinks and waiters frantically tossing us pitchers as fast as we could.
Then that night we went to a bar and everyone drank and had fun. It was not a special bar by any means. It was just a small bar they reserved for our large group. Everyone was ready to party and it didn’t quite matter where. The buses took us back to the hotel around 2AM. After the club, everyone was drinking in the hotel rooms. I went to bed a bit early, around 3AM. (That’s early for Spain)
We all woke up a bit late and managed to go to the store to get some cheap food and booze. The store was just littered with hungover youth buying groceries. We all gave each other a nod as we passed one another.
Then we went to the beach. It was definitely too cold to jump in the water but it was nice to just be by a beach. I grabbed a few nice shells and enjoyed the fresh, sea air.
We left for carnival early, around 4PM. We drank on the bus and had a bottle on the bus. Everyone was again trying to get as drunk as possible as fast as possible. Our hotel was about 45 minutes away from Carnival. So it was a long bus ride of chugging, screaming and singing.
I was a little disappointed when we actually got there. I thought it was festival with like music. performers and a parade. There was one stage and mostly people were just getting shit face on the street. It was fun but it wasn’t spectacular. I was expecting more than getting wasted. Maybe I’m just jaded and too old for this nonsense but I was disappointed. I’ve been to small pueblo festivals in Spain and even little festivals in Israel and Germany. Usually they have crazy performers, vendors, street food and lots of music. So I was almost shocked that this festival was so talked up and the delivery was so disappointing. I did get really wasted. My friend and I finished a bottle to ourselves and some other people were sharing with us too. We even went to a bar with the group and had drinks, danced and talked. Many people just sat in the main square drinking. It was pretty fun but again not what I expected.
Then when we woke up my friend lost her purse. We looked for it for hours. We asked the WhatsApp group, the hotel desk, and went to rooms. Finally when we were about to leave my friend is in tears. So I go to the guide and I tell him, “My friend lost her purse.” And he says, “Oh, I have it.” Now this was great but he was on the WhatsApp group and it would have been really easy to just send a message, “Hey, I have your purse.” So we wasted our last hours in Cadiz in a frenzy because a group leader couldn’t send a message.
The bus ride back was rough. Two people puked into trash cans during the ride. People were miserable. However overall, it was a good time. I would not go again. I just don’t think I’m a party girl like I used to be. I’m either growing up or these people just don’t know how to get down. But my overall opinion is La Tomatina is a lot better and I would skip Carnival. I wish I spent my money going to another country or something.