The days fly by… then Valencia

View Towards Oropesa

I can’t believe it’s been nearly three weeks since I last posted. The days are going past in a blur.  We are settling into life on the site, each day making the decision of what to do according to the weather. Which to be honest hasn’t been that great. It’s still warm compared to the UK. Most days hitting the 16°-18°c mark, but it’s not settled for any length of time.

Sunshine walk along the promenade
The sand sculptures

We have jogged, swum, walked and cycled, around Benicassim and the surrounding area. If it’s been nice then we have cycled either to Castellon and back along the seafront, saying “buenos días” to fellow cyclists as they whiz passed us on their mountain/speed bikes. We shout out a greeting to the strange Mandarin man that we see walking along the prom, he wears a different style of outfit each time but we call him the Mandarin Man cos that’s what he was dressed like first time. He’s a jolly old chap and tips his hat (or whatever head gear he has on that day)  to us cheerfully and mumbles something presumably buenos días…

Stopping for a breather

We stop and have a fresh coffee at the Grau, a teeny weeny mini croissant accompanies it and we dunk it into the delicious coffee before making our way back along the seafront.

Ready for a morning coffee at the Grau, Castellon

Cyclists are well catered for along this stretch of coastline. We can go either direction from the site and there’s a cycle track most of the way. There is a track just running parallel behind the site making it continuous but we can’t get the bikes up the steps so we have to go onto the road for about 1/2 mile and catch it at the Bridge to Nowhere..

A Hoopoe bird

I go swimming most days in the indoor pool. It’s a bit of a shock to the system sometimes as it’s not always that warm but I am self satisfied and usually have the pool to myself Yay….

Disney style Villa along the prom

We’ve geo-cached, there are loads to find around here, it’s a great way of finding out different places to walk too.

A favourite place to walk to and have morning coffee

Unfortunately our favourite restaurant, Sam’s, seems to have closed, whether for the winter or for good, we cannot discover, but it’s a shame, so we’ve been on the hunt for a replacement. This is a serious process and requires dedicated commitment in sampling different establishments.. will update further…

On Remembrance Sunday we attended the service held on site. It was poignant for many reasons and was well attended. It seems strange that the 2 minute silence was held at noon rather than 11 o’clock, but that was due to the time difference between Spain and London.  We had bought 5€ of raffle tickets and was lucky enough to win 2 tickets to Valencia.

The Villamar Hotel

Yesterday was the day that we were due to go. The day was overcast but at least dry. As the temperature gradually climbed to 19°c the jumpers came off.

Friends came with us and we walked around the ancient city, ending up in Plaza del la Virgen where had coffee and watched the world go by, there were young girls posing and pouting for selfies, and many Asian tourists taking videos and photos on the phones, tablets and cameras (that professional photographers would have been proud to own).

Plaza de la Virgen

As we went into the Basilica, a choir belted out in unison filling the air with their voices. What is it with a choir in a church that sends tingles along the spine? We wandered around before leaving them to the prayers.

Glorious ceiling of the Basilica Virgen de Los Desamparados (meaning the homeless)
Basilica in full service

Horse and carriage or tuc tuc???
The invisible man. One of the many street artists around the city

As we wandered around the narrow streets, we saw the narrowest house only 107cm wide. We wondered how they got a bed in there and how they slept.

Today, the entrance to this façade belongs to the adjoining bar, La Estrecha, which has torn down the wall separating them and displays old photographs. The owner of the bar, Alberto Martinez, says he would like to make a small museum as a tribute to this unique and historic place.

The house must have been very claustrophobic. The girl who lived in there had to dress in the street on the day of Communion, because when she was dressed she could not get through the door. The house had two small beds, a cot, a small kitchen stuck to the wall and a table with two chairs.

Who lives in a house like this???

Nearby, there was a wall which had a form of mosaic on it, but on closer inspection it was under construction and was made by coloured rope and done in cross stitch.

Wall artwork
Cross stitch detail

We made our way to the mercado central and marvelled at the produce on sale. The tomatoes are the size of small football’s, the lettuce are so big you can only fit one in a bag, there are so many different varieties of mushrooms we couldn’t name all of them, then the fish and cured meat stalls. This place is a wonder, all the senses are assaulted, with colours, smells and the noise. Oh to be able to shop like this at home. Guess what? They even have wonky vegetables in with the displays, and no one has died yet….

Exterior of market
You say tomatoes…
Mercado Central

Phil and Jane left us for a while to wander around on their own, while Mike and I stopped off to have freshly cooked churros and hot chocolate sauce in the stand just outside the market, we sat with the locals and soaked up the atmosphere.

Churros

Later we met up again and visited the Lonja de la Seda (the silk exchange), an important seat of power when Valencia flourished as one of the main Mediterranean cities in the Middle Ages. As we wandered through the orangary and the different rooms we learnt a little of it’s history.  This old building might not have the most impressive exterior, but the spiralling stonework of the columns on the main hall are a true wonder.

Spiralising…

It’s calm and peaceful interior and the lovely central garden with fountain and orange trees make it a must see in Valencia., after paying the reduced entry fee of 1€ as of course we are senior citizens now, Mike did stand behind us all, but got in as an OAP too, much to his disgust. Lol

The trees are full of clementines at the moment, apparently it’s a bit of a late harvest this year, but every tree is heavily laden with fruit. It’s so tempting to reach up and take one of the forbidden fruit.

Forbidden fruit

It was soon time for some lunch and  we choose one of the many street restaurants and sit inside where I had … Yep lasagne, mmmm… yummy. Mike had pizza margarita,  and Jane and Phil had seafood paella. The food was delicious.

Light Lunch – good job they cut it in 8 slices, Mike said he couldn’t have managed 12!

After lunch we decided to venture a little further and walked down to The City of Arts and Sciences which is situated at the end of the former riverbed of the River Turia.

Walking the riverbed

The old riverbed has been converted to a huge sunken park (the river was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957). At 9km long, it runs throughout the entire city, from the Bioparc all the way to the City of Arts and Sciences.  We saw people doing tai chi, walking dogs, exercising or just hanging out. What makes the park more interesting are the medieval and modern bridges that crisscross the entire stretch, the magnificent churches with glistening domes dotted along the sides, and the numerous water features springing up along the path.

In the river

Eventually we arrive in another world, it’s as though the buildings have been dropped from space. The city of Arts and Sciences is like nothing we have seen before. Phil and Jane are wow’ed and pleased we had made the effort of walking the distance. It is a complete contrast to the old city.

Completed around 2005 the complex houses an opera and performing arts centre (El  Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia) and resembles the prow of an ocean liner.

Spaceship, ocean liner or helmet?
Close up its gigantic overhanging structure defies gravity

L’Oceanografic represents different aquatic environments including tropical and temperate seats, oceans, the Antarctic and Artic, home to 500 different species including dolphins, belugas, sharks and penguins. We have promised ourselves to visit inside one day.

View from the terraces

L’Hemisferic resembles a giant eye. museum, gardens and walkways around the aquamarine pools. Its design resembles an eyelid that opens to access the surrounding water pool. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating in perfect symmetry, the illusion of a whole eye.

Reflection showing ‘the eye’ or giant piranhas with L’Oceanografic in background

El Museu de les Ciències Príncipe Felipe – Is an interactive museum of science that resembles the skeleton of a whale.  We have been informed that the hotch-potch of exhibits is designed more for ‘entertainment value’ than for science education. But maybe another time.

Walking to the museum

L’Umbracle – is an open structure enveloping a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia (such as rockrose, rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle, bougainvillea and palm trees). The Walk of the Sculptures is an outdoor art gallery with sculptures by contemporary artists. (including Yoko Ono). The Umbracle is also home to numerous free-standing sculptures surrounded by nature. It was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences.

Inside the L’Umbracle
If you visit Valencia this place is a must see location. It is simply beautiful. Pure expression of form combined with stunning materials equals a strong and powerful insight into the mind of an brilliant architect (Santiago Calatrava).
The bridge…
See the tiny black dots on top of the structure… that’s men working up there….. RESPECT..

The day as most days when you’ve enjoyed yourself ended far too soon, and we made the 90 mins journey back to site in the coach.

Deciding on arrival that it was too soon to go back to the van, we met up with Phil and Jane again in the bar where we inbibed some alcohol to celebrate life in general. A great day with great friends, more wonderful memories made.

I’m one happy girl..

 

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Sarah Griffin says:

    Another great article I love the photos – especially the foodie ones!
    Good job we are not in St David’s, very strong winds there these last couple of days.
    Lots of love
    Sarah x

  2. Tony &. Anne says:

    Late catching up but worth it, thank you for such beautiful photos and the grand tour, you both look relaxed and enjoying long may it continue.

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