Saturday, June 23, 2012

Valencia, Spain - June 2012

Valencia - The Unexpected Treat

    We were checking out of the Sevilla Youth Hostel and Zack noticed a poster with the caption, "Go Valencia!" on it.  It had a picture of people swimming in the most beautiful water this side of Havasupai Falls.  He said, "I want to go there!"  and so we set our coordinates for Valencia, Spain.  With the help of the internet, I found that the name of the place was Montanegros and that it was up in the mountains about an 60 miles from Valencia.  I also found a company that for $100 would take us there and back all in the same day.  Unfortunately, they were booked out so we did some more homework, the old fashion way, via foot to the bus station.  There we found that there were busses to Montanegros, but we would have to change busses and then stay overnight.  We decided to stay two nights and it turned out to be marvelous... but first about Valencia.

      We left Granada for the nine hour bus ride and it could not have been a much better ride for several reasons:
   1. It's tough to spend money when you're on a bus, so our budgets were strengthened.  The bus stopped two or three times for 40 minutes so we were able to eat a decent snack along the way and not arrive famished or stiff kneed.
  2. The scenery was nothing short of spectacular. We saw two cities along the coast that were huge, maybe over 1,000,000 people.  One, Alicante had old forts on top of hills overlooking the ocean and the other, Benidorm, had beautiful looking skyscrapers, like a mini-Dubai.  Both had gorgeous beaches yet neither were in the guide book.  Like they don't exist.  Well...they do! I'm going to have to get a new guide book!
3. The bus was air-conditioned, not crowded, and clean.  I'd do it again.
4. It seems that all of Spain is being cultivated.  Olive trees, almond groves, just beautiful.

Because Valencia was not in our guidebook, we arrived pretty ignorant of what to do and where to stay. We were shocked.  The architecture is stunning.   They have the old city, with its walls and torrents.  So cool to enter a city today through gates that are 1,000 years old.  Made me want to make horse noises, "clip clop, clip clop,  neigh,  neigh" and move my head like I'm annoyed by the bit in my mouth.  In fact...I did, and Zack decided that he'd enter on his own... 20 feet from me.
Apparently, he doesn't like horses!

Valencia, or Valenthia as they say is a feast for the eyes of an architect!
Nothing is plain-jane.  This is the train station on the right. Across the street is one of 1,000's  of regular offices that are tricked-out.

It's like the city planners say, "Look, here's a plan that someone has submitted but it's just plain. Reject it!"  The city, which is over a 1,000,000 people, has a river running through it, or actually a dry river bed, not unlike the Salt River.  However, they've turned it into a green belt that goes forever.  Besides the shapes of the buildings in the background, the bridges have decorations.  This is a gargoyle/man/lizard statue.

The bullring is old school architecture.  Bricks and mortar.  As much as I don't like how they kill the bull, it would have been fairly educational to see the people and their reactions to the bull.  Most of Spain seems to be rejecting bullfighting or "bull killing" as it is.
The statue is either a famous Matador or Ricardo Montelban.

This is Señor Zack.  He is the matador of the the next millineum.  Rather than stab his bull to death with shish kebabs, Señor Zack prefers to drown his foe using only one bottle of water (without gas).  This is a new technique that has never been tested before.  It is for this reason that his father, El Esteban del Muddo, has taken out a 1 meellion dollar life insurance policy on Señor Zack.

Can you say, WTH!!  (What the Heck?) It's the Hemisferic complex which houses several different attractions such as an IMAX, a science museum, and restaurants.  Talk about slick architecture.  It gives the appearance that it is sinking in the water.  You half expect Captain Nemo to pop his head out.

Another building that is architecturally stunning is the old market.  It's no different inside than the other markets in other towns, but this one at least has something to look at to take your mind off the smell of fish or the water you're stepping in that was once the ice that kept chickens and fish fresh.  (Remind me to remove my shoes when I enter your house!)

The market is divided into sections.  One sells fish, one sells chickens, one sells nuts and berry, one get the idea.        

Someone had the foresight to put the bakeries on the other side of the market from the fish stalls and to put the bathrooms next to the fish market.                      

I do like the idea of being able to buy fresh/dried mushrooms and herbs.  Makes a world of difference when you're cooking and an even bigger difference when you are eating!

This was a great treat - buy a fresh cup of coffee con leche, a couple of pastries, a couple of cookies, a slice of cake...and viola, that's a wonderful breakfast for about $4.00.

Okay, I WILL have another round. Places like this have been known to have me stay around for an extra day or two!  Especially with my sugar mama.  I love those biceps!  Woof!

Not sure if I mentioned that Spain is famous for their hams.  Wonderful!  Iberian ham is excellent and salty.
Funny what a country can be known for.  Wonder what foreigners think of as American food.  I'm going to start asking and take a poll.

My guess will be:
1. hotdogs
2. hamburgers
3. french fries

One tasty treat are the fruit stands  selling fresh squeezed oj, mango, pineapple, etc for about $1.30 a glass.  Muy sambrosa!  I bought my own cup, but I don't now how much cleaner it is.  I'm hoping that juice nutrients counteract the glass germs.  Heck, I just ate a basically raw pig! Can it be worse??

I am starting to worry about Zack, however.  He walks around staring into space.  Either that or he is really into Stevie Wonder.

Here's a man that shares my sentiment about grafitti as an "urban art phenomena".  He is having to repaint a canvas with his own money.  What a Cretin!!  What would Picasso say???

As mentioned before, Valencia has a huge park that winds through the city in the Turia River bed.  It's great for biking, walking or taking a nap.

They built a play park to emulate Gulliver's Travels.

Not all of the bus stands in Valencia were this colorful, but this one was beautiful.  Completely enclosed in bouganvillas!  Made waiting on a bus a thing of art!

Valencia is special.  We had a great time learning on our own without a guidebook.