Sunday, October 9, 2011

Valencia – 2nd day

Never forget to factor in the effects of jet lag.  I woke up today at an easy sounding time of 9:00 am, only problem is that is 3:00 am back home.  After enjoying the hostel provided breakfast of toast and amazingly strong coffee, I readied myself for a walking tour of the city provided by our student host Nacho.  I saw some amazing things and the history of the city is very easy to see for those whom are looking.  The city has effectively two parts: the historic and the modern section.  My hostel is located in the newer section by the Football (soccer) stadium.  Connecting the two parts are numerous bridges and one of those is a symbolic and beautiful connector bridge (see below).

Running through the middle of the city is a large park.  I learned that the park used to be a river but due to the flooding that resulted due to the river over flowing the river was rerouted.  The city decided to make this a park, the park is extensive and runs through most of the city.  I felt that it really added to the charm and beauty of the city.  After walking through the park Nacho took us to a gate that used to guard the city, informing us that there were three of such gates but this was the most beautiful.  Our visit is oddly timed with what I am calling “Valencia pride day” where the citizen are celebrating the defending of their city from African invaders.   The gate was beautiful and had some modern additions that I felt where very well done.  For safety cast iron handrails where added to the stairs and more interestingly the overhang over the entrance had glass put in certain places so that one could look straight down several hundred feet, and if you’re brave enough look like you’re standing on nothing.


Touring the streets of the rest of the city proved to be a lesson in crowd navigation Spanish style.  Everywhere was crowded as people gathered for what I assumed would be a parade.   Nacho lead us to cross the street and cut through the barrier in front of a drum line that was not moving.  I hesitated as a police officer was right there and was urged over.  I guess the bike rack style barricades are merely suggestions as the rest of the group and I proceeded without the officer raising an eyebrow.  After our return to the hostel we had minutes to rest before our next adventure paella on the beach!

Stan (our faculty host) and his wife met us at the hostel and lead us to the beach via taxi.  We arrived 30 minutes before our reservation and were encouraged to take a stroll on the beach.  The sand was soft and the sun was shining.  I was grossly under prepared for a Mediterranean beach visit in both my clothing (I had no swim suit) and that of those native to this area (some had one but chose to leave parts off).  When it was finally time for lunch, around 3:00 pm for us, I was starving.  It is typical for the Spanish to eat that late, and as a result dinner is typically eaten after 9:00.  The courses included squid, mussels, salad, paella, and desert.  Lunch was an incredible journey and I tried things I normally wouldn’t, such as squid.  The paella featured rice, pork, rabbit, a type of bean I’d never had, and many things I am sure that I didn’t recognize.   The waiter was slow to bring the check but I am told that is typical of the Spanish culture.  Overall I was very much pleased with the experience and I always welcome any visit to the beach.

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