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Hemingway Adventure

Valencia, Spain (fourth day)

Valencia, Spain 
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Surreal moment. Gulliver has gone, but some of his companions have missed the flames.
Michael Palin - Hemingway AdventureTwo-thirty in the morning on the streets of Valencia. The bulldozers and trucks are moving into the main square to remove the remains of Gulliver.

The brushes are revolving on a squadron of natty little cleaning vehicles. A line of orange-clad street-sweepers, with gleaming new brooms and shovels, stands ready to follow them.

Though the celebrations still go on, the party's over. A sense of loss hangs in the smoke-shrouded air, a muted feeling of anti-climax, a sudden acknowledgement that the city of Valencia is dog-tired.

I know I shall miss being woken by les despertas, I shall miss being able to stroll round Spain's third biggest city as if it were my own living-room, and when in the morning I hear the noise of a city returning to normal ­ the car alarms, the police sirens ­ I shall probably miss the explosions too.

There is something intoxicating and dangerous and reckless in the way the Spanish celebrate, which is what must have drawn Hemingway to their way of life. It is physical and hard and colourful and noisy and yet has a rare sense of historical continuity.

Throughout his adult life, with the exception of the darkest years of General Franco's dictatorship, Hemingway kept coming back to Spain. In a drawer in the house in Ketchum, where he shot himself on 2 July 1961, were tickets to the Pamplona bullfights that were to begin a week later.
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PALIN'S GUIDES

  • Series: Hemingway Adventure
  • Chapter: Valencia, Spain (fourth day)
  • Country/sea: Spain
  • Place: Valencia
  • Book page no: 131

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