Asia, Countries, UK

Pakistan’s punch 75 years on

I grew up around Pakistanis but know too little about the country and how I’m learning more about Pakistan’s punch 75 years on.

On a hill above Glasgow’s arterial Sauchiehall Street, and across Scottish towns and cities, Pakistanis answered the call.

From bankrupt Britain, to help her in her hour of need.

Smiles better: Pakistan

And from schoolboys at St Aloysius College for whom the Pakistanis in Hill Street provided the key service… sweets.

Of course the Seventies mobs of white entitled Scottish Catholic boys didn’t give the shopkeeper the respect he deserved.

While the newspaper shopkeepers, who remember always stayed open when Scottish shops did not, were also there to serve the locals.

A new Stan-dard

Ya dancer: Pakistanis at play

Thankfully those who have come after us have come to appreciate Pakistanis’ worth and how their rich culture has enhanced our society.

And we now thankfully have Scots-Pakistanis in high positions in government, journalism, the arts and culinary.

All of which thrive back in Pakistan, though our media would have you believe it is a dusty, deprived and depraved backwater.

Channel Four’s excellent India 1947: Partition in Colour gives newbies a beginners’ course in all things Sub-Continental.

And for the rest I’ve listened intendedly to cousin-in-law who lived and worked for the Aga Khan out there, old friends in Portobello, Edinburgh, and new ones in New Haven, Connecticut.

Land of adventure and nature

Street life: And retail therapy

Of course being schooled in a Pakistan area we were never taught one thing about our neighbours’ history or geography.

Ancient Greek and Rome, yes, but the Sub-Continent, no.

Well, your map will show you the mighty stretches of the Karakorams in the North and the delta of the Indus River in the South.

And not just the grimy streets of Islamabad or Pakistanis playing cricket, although I always like to go where locals play and pray… so bring on the mosques and the midwicket.

Peace man: Jimmy in Jordan

But there is so much more to Pakistan than that (Doh!).

And if you’re the outdoorsy type then you can check out the trekking, mountaineering and white water rafting (dare I try that after my Colorado adventures).

There’s wild boar hunting too (who knew?), mountain and desert jeep safaris and camel (another fave) nd yak safaris and trout fishing and bird watching.

Take your pick

Round the corner: An historic site

And because the attractions are limitless we’re just going to give you a sample here.

Dream Trip Planners offer a Top Ten Wonders of Islamabad guided city tour from £101.21.

Rocket Tourism will open you up to Pakistan’s rich UNESCO history with a world heritage tour near Karachi from £118.94 per group.

And because we know you love a Peshawar then the self-same Rocket Tourism has Peshawar City Tour from £107.74.

Search Skyscanner and you might be able to get return flights from Glasgow to Islamabad for as little as £635.

Yes, I’m liking what I see about Pakistan’s punch 75 years on.



Countries, Culture, Deals, Europe, Music

Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again

No, you mucky pups, this is not a phallic fest but rather it is time to Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again.

Because Las Phallas are the flaws… and ours come in all shapes and sizes

As can be seen on the streets of Valencia in oversized satirical erections… of public figures.

That is apart from the last couple of years when Covid put it on hold.

Crida Credo

Fireworks: And Valencia goes wild

OK then, the Spanish fest all kicks off with the ‘Crida’ – the opening ceremony where the ‘Mayor of Falleras’ encourages citizens and visitors to enjoy the festival.

And it was declared an event of Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO in 2016, Las Fallas has returned.

There are traditional acts such as the mascleates (fireworks), late night parties, and art installations.

Where you’ll see around 800 monuments fill the streets from 15-19 March.

The origins of the fest are hundreds of years old.

That was when carpenters would burn old remains from their workshops every 19 March.

That coincides with the celebrations of San José, the patron saint of carpenters.

And this marked the end of winter and gave a warm welcome to spring.

So, if you’re in Valencia this week.

Or you’ve already enjoyed spectacle and fests as a whole then you’ll see this really does stand up as a magical fest get-away.

Gunpowder, music and art

Smiles better: Spain saves its kisses for you

One of the most spectacular acts of Las Fallas is the mascletà.

That’s Valèncian-style fireworks – daily at 2 pm until 19 March with a roar of gunpowder to shake off that sangria hangover.

In the evening, guests can visit the Turia Gardens for fireworks (and we love fireworks) at the castle. 

On the nights of 15-16 March, València begins the planta.

The erection of monuments in the streets where 800 works of art are spread across 400 locations in the city.

These fallas are classified into different categories according to their complexity, size and originality and the locals work on them all the year around.

The most spectacular are placed in the historic centre – Ciutat Vella – and the neighbourhoods of Ruzafa and Gran Vía.

Making a name: For Valencia

The best way to appreciate the monuments is with a guided tour.

And get a local to highlight the most spectacular sculptures and tell visitors the details and traditions of the festival. 

Like all the best fests there is an awards ceremony in which the Fallas artists collect prizes for their masterpieces.

As well la ofrenda – the offering – in which the city offers flowers to the Virgen de los Desamparados, the patron saint of València.

Festivalgoers dress in traditional attire, carry bouquets and walk the streets to the beat of local musicians.

The procession ends at the Plaza de la Virgen, where a giant image of the Patron Saint is installed and covered with flowers. 

La Cremà – the end and beginning 

Burning love: And a message from the sponsors

With the ‘Cremà’ comes the final act of the Fallas. On 19 March, the sculptures are set aflame in great bonfires that cover the city.

The process is carried out in a staggered way, starting at 8pm with smaller statues and 11pm with the larger ones and the winners. 

With the bonfires come the finale fireworks, which signal the end of Las Fallas.   

Events are free to attend and 2022 flights from £17 via SkyScanner

So Erect those Las Fallas in Valencia again.