Friday, July 22, 2011

Aquariums, Portishead and Moving On

You can all breathe a sigh of relief and go back to looking forward to new posts, if that is what you used to do, because we have left Benicassim. The last couple of days were good enough. Mumford and Sons were amazing, but we were near the back of the crowd and I am not a girl that likes to stay at the back.

At New Zealand and Australian festivals I’ve been to before, you cannot hear other stages from the stage you’re at. When you are at a stage, you can be in the thick of it, or you can be near the back. If you so choose, most stages have enough room for you to sit and relax near the back while still being in ear shot and being able to look up at the screens every now and then. If you’re not interested in the music, there is room for you to stop and chill out without annoying the people who are interested in the music.

At Benicassim, if you’re not directly in front of the stage you can hear other stages over the top. Since they seem to have just sold way too many tickets to cope with, there is also nowhere for people to chill out. There are very tiny areas where you can sit on the ground, but you will be stood on, because they are the same areas people walk through. If you want to just talk, you generally have to be in the vicinity of a stage, and you’ll probably be at the back. Which means those of us that just wanted to chill out and listen to Mumford and Sons from the back, without fighting for prime position, couldn’t really do so because we were surrounded by people chattering and being idiots, people that weren’t interested in Mumford and Sons in the slightest.

We moved forward into the crush to get away from the banter and the noise of other stages, and we enjoyed Mumford and Sons, they were awesome. We didn’t bother staying for Arctic Monkeys though, we had enough.

The following day, our last full day in Benicassim, we again escaped to Valencia. We went to Oceanographique, the aquarium. If you are an animal lover or you have a family, Valencia is the best place ever (Haakuturi I spent half the day thinking how much you would love it there). Oceanographique is massive, with separate areas dedicated to the Mediterranean, Southern Seas, Antarctic, Arctic, Wetlands, Sharks and Dolphins. They have the only Beluga Whales in Europe and they have Walrus’!

We had never seen Walruses before and they held our attention for about half an hour. They are really just massive blobs of fat, one was basking in the sun and when he decided to go for a swim it took him 10 minutes to roll himself into the water. Not long after, the female decided to get out of the water but after one massive heave that got her half way and a couple of minutes attempting to get further, she gave up and went swimming again. Watching them together was awesome though, the talk to each other and play, and the male would occasionally look up and watch people on the bridge that crossed the enclosure.

Unlike at home where our Aquarium has one glass tunnel, Oceanographique has several, the longest 70m long, and one dedicated entirely to Sharks. The highlight of the day was the Dolphin show though. I’ve seen one before in Australia, but they don’t get old. Courts hadn’t seen one before and we ended up going back to see it a second time just before we left.

Despite getting a bit lost trying to get out of the city, we made it back to Benicassim in time to see Portishead. We were about 6 rows from the front, and despite having permission to leave at anytime, Courts lasted the whole show. Portishead is really more suited to a chilled out winery tour, something where you can sit back and relax and take it all in, but the crowd still loved them. The show was awesome, and being a more chilled set, there was no mad crush near the front. Courts got a bit bored because it was so chilled but I think the lack of crush is the only thing that stopped him leaving. The band left the stage 10 minutes early with no encore, which was a bit weird, but I’m really glad I saw them, they’re one of my favourite Sunday afternoon bands and my Uncle introduced me to them many years ago, before he passed away. Even though we didn’t stay to see Arcade Fire afterwards, Portishead was a good way to end the festival.

Almost better than seeing Portishead was that when we got up the next day, it was overcast and cool – perfect weather for packing up and carting all our stuff back to the bike. Barcelona here we come!

Penelope_nz's Benicassim, Spain photoset Penelope_nz's Benicassim, Spain photoset