There are times when keeping your schedule open is a good thing. The weather here, while growing into the summer season in sunlight, heat, and, well, humidity, really begs for some outdoor time. This is Valencia’s advantage: long springs and autumns and relatively short winters and summers. There is no shortage of sunshine in any season, and while August may be hotter than most people appreciate, I still love my adopted city for its weather, too. An open schedule means being outside more.

But keeping your schedule open means being able to leave at a moment’s notice to do something unexpected. During the week, I prefer to keep a more regular schedule, but on the weekends, there are days when I can scrape everything off my calendar and decide what to to do at a moment’s notice. Usually, that means doing something outside.

So, when a couple of friends suggested that I go with them to a tomato festival on the beach, I agreed. I honestly had no idea what to expect, but that is usually my modus operandus for things where I am invited. After an hour on the bus to the town of El Perelló, I was amazed.

Tomatoes in Valencia are an important part of the local agricultural economy. I already knew that there were loads of tomato-growing areas walking distance to the beach, but I had no idea of the excitement generated by one of my favorite foods. Wait. Scratch that. After all, the Valencian community is the place where La Tomatina, the big tomato festival in Spain, is held. It’s so close that I can take a local bus to get there!

So, back to el Perelló. This is an annual gastronomic event that celebrates many of the local vendors and growers with some ridiculously high-quality artisanal products. For a foodie like me, this was a whole lot of fun! While the ham-to-person ratio was pretty high, I still appreciated the enormous vats of olives, the amazing baked breads, the preserves, the olive oils, and, of course, the tomatoes!

And, as a bonus, after the festival we went to the beach for a swim. I am so glad I kept my schedule open!

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Here they are, the famous tomatoes. Yes, they are not what I would call ripe, but people love them anyway!

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Afterwards, the beach…

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