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back from spain where we split our time between nights in the capital… - sticks and stones

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July 30th, 2008

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01:43 pm
back from spain where we split our time between nights in the capital city and slumming it on dusty campsites at the FIB music festival in Benicassim.

We flew into madrid and booked into a cheap hostel in the heart of Cheuca. We hung out in the bars/cafes till late, before heading back to the hostel for a few hours sleep ahead of the drive to coast.

The following morning we picked up a hire car and set off on the 5 hour drive across the mainland to the east coast. We made good time and found somewhere to leave the car. We walked past the closed festival gates to campFIB about a 5min walk away, then pitched our tent under some shade.

The campsite had toilets, cold shower block, a beer tent, info point, medical aid and lockers, but no drinkable water which was a pain as it meant a daily 2/3 milewalk into town just to stock up on water supplies.
As the festival wasn't open yet we wandered into the town. Benicassim reminded me of a spanish Cleveleys but with less to do. The resturants were overpriced selling mostly english food and watered down beer and we realised the majority of festival goers which I expected to be a mix of spanish, portuguese, french or italian was overwhelmingly made up of 18yr old british kids celebrating the end of their A levels.

Still once the fesitval opened on thursday any misconceptions/shortcomings were made up for by the music on offer. The first big band to open were Sigur Ros and they were spectacular.

I floated the rest of the night as we danced all night and then stumbled back to the campsite just as dawn was beginning to break over the ocean. The next few days were a mix of braving the 4mile trek to the beaches, collapsing under the shade of trees on the Benicassim high street or just hiding out of the sun in the bars/cafes until night fell and we could head back into the festival for more music.

Of the bands we saw the some memorable standouts were Raconteurs, my morning jacket, the national, tricky, battles, and the wonderful Richard Hawley. His rich baritone voice matched by dreamy timeless romantic melodies moving from rockabilly to blues to country to indie that invoke memories of lost love, hope, redemption and sorrow. His show was the last act we saw and was the perfect end to to the festival.

Straight after the Hawley gig (around 12am) we packed our tent and left Benicassim hoping to make it back to madrid as soon as possible to make the most of our last 2 days there. I drove us back up through the mountains but was too tired to make it all the way so pulled off the road and slept in the car till day broke.

The last days in madrid were fantastic. We hung out around the Sol/Gran Via districts which were a  mix of tourist high streets linked by slightly sleazy drug/prostitute filled side streets. We also spent hours in the Parque del Retiro - built by King Felipe IV just hanging out with a beer while watching people rowing around the lake.
I'm missing out the day trip we took to valencia, the hassle we had when someone crashed into our hire car and the bullfighting, i have horrendous sunburn, im in desperate need of coffee and i have a stack of clothes to wash.

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