Saturday, December 25, 2010
Valencia the first three days
We started the day up on the beach having a fabulous lunch. Mine was rape in a tomato, wine garlic sauce with potatoes. I’d seen this fish in the market with very sharp, needle-like teeth and a really gelatinous texture. It may look mean but tastes amazing. Seamus had mackerel done in a light batter and he is ready to try it at home. It was lovely looking out over the ocean with a beautiful, long promenade. It certainly seems miles from the hustle and bustle of Valencia.
We then headed off to the City of Arts and Sciences. It is a huge, very modern complex designed by a local architect, Santiago Calatrava. First of all we visited the Christmas market. I managed to feed the camel, which would lunge at you to get its food. A German fellow tried the same thing and the camel knocked him right over. It was off to the science building where everything is hands on, which was a lot of fun. I particularly liked Foucault’s pendulum. We will return another day to the complex to visit the art museum.
On our second day we mastered the tram and metro to get downtown. We did the requisite visit to the market. You cannot believe all the wonderful fresh produce. It would be quite simple to follow a 100 mile diet here. We wandered around the town walking down the narrow streets and visiting a number of squares including the Square of the Virgins. Since we were invited out to dinner we thought we better get some flowers. One of the squares had various flower sellers. I was so impressed to see wonderful bunches of anemones at this time of year. We managed with our nonexistent Spanish to put together a really lovely bouquet of eucalyptus, red gerberas and white lilies.
Once we were back in our neighborhood it was off to the port where the 2007 America’s cup was staged. We wandered about and came on a ship, which turned out to be a converted whaler, for a drink. The ambience was lovely except that in Valencia people can smoke in restaurants. Horrible. At coffee in the morning a man at the bar finished his cigarette and butted it on the floor! I digress. We then went to a different part of the marina where we walked right out to the harbor wall. It was getting late and the wind was whipping in. The whole walk was quite invigorating.
Our dinner invitation was for ten o’clock. Once again we trekked in to town. Our hosts were a Spanish gentleman and his girlfriend who goes back and forth between Puerto Rico. There was another Valencian and a lady and her son who had emigrated years ago from Mexico. It was quite a diverse group but we managed to communicate quite well. We did discuss the Valencian language. I found it very interesting that it is based on the Oc language, which is used in France right over to Nice. Apparently, the dialect or language was banned during Franco’s time and is now making a revival. Dinner was a buffet and very enjoyable. I was glad to get home at 3:30.
Today, Christmas was a bit mixed up. The day started like any other with coffee at the beach. At the time we weren’t hungry so we decided to wait until later to eat and headed north up the coast to check out more towns. We went in and out of various places many had very few people there at this time of the year. Many have high rise utilitarian block apartments. This architecture is very standard here. The old centre of Valencia is lovely but a lot of what we have seen looks like old communist housing. By the time we were hungry we couldn’t find anywhere to eat. We went in a couple of really smoky bars and decided against it.
We have to decide if we are going to check out anymore of this coast tomorrow as we did find a couple of places with good beaches and attractive housing. Lots of thinking to do.
Merry Christmas to everyone. I hope that Santa was good to you.