Saturday, 14 January 2012

Postcard from Valencia...Ole!

Hola peeps! 

This week I have been in Valencia. And this being my first trip, I decided to Armchair Tour you around what I got up to. You should note, however, that this does not mean I did the tourist trail thing - if you are planning a little Spanish sojourn of your own to the region and want to read up more, you should click here.

First things first: Valencia is home to the mighty paella, a rice dish cooked over an open flame in a large pan of the same name. We tend to consider paella as the country's national dish but in Spain, paella is a regional dish from Valencia. Ask a Valencian and they will tell you that there is only one paella - made from white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, duck, chicken), land snails, beans and seasoning, and nothing else. All others are  pretenders: 'seafood' paella is not paella at all, but rather rice with vegetables and seafood.

Traditional paella - apparently all other comers are frauds and should be referred to as 'rice with...' .
Oh and yes, I had some - it was delicious!

So now we've cleared that up, let's move on to activities of the meandering kind.

Evening in Spain begins quite late and most nights, we were starving meeting for dinner at 9pm. On our second night, our Regional Director was keen to show us something of his original hometown so we wandered through Valencia's city centre with a few stops along the way. This is largely how it went:

So much gorgeous architecture in Valencia
The Tower and La Catedral
La Catedral
Gothic architecture at La Catedral
(In case you were wondering, I really liked the Cathedral)
Still walking - quite thirsty work!
So we stopped here for a beer...bottoms up!
Another lovely street scene, but by now we were wondering when we were going to get to eat
Our dinner destination at last - where we ate, drank and be'd merry
Gin is a HUGE deal in Spain with a good bar stocking somewhere between 20-30 different varieties. Knowing my prediliction for the stuff, said Regional Manager introduced me to his friend, The Owner, who gave us a tipple of his 'best'!
Absolutely stuffed with good food and wine, we waddled along more streets in search of a calorie-burning nightcap...
...which we found here as well as a bit of a boogie-on-down.
Walking back to the hotel later on, we passed this monument. I  could not for the life of me find out who it was, despite passing it 4 times throughout the 2 and a half day trip - but it remained an inspiration in spite of its anonymity...
Yes, it's a blurry pic but I was really 'giving it some welly' and the lass behind the lens had been with us all night. Nuff said!
So that was the night before but the armchair tour doesn't stop here. After our meeting was finished, we had some time before our flights back to...well, wherever home was for us all so it was Valencia's sunny skies that beckoned - and a rather unique lunch venue.

The City of Arts and Sciences is a collection of five areas created in the dry river bed of the diverted River Turia. The work began in 1996 under the stewardship of architect and local-lad-made-good, Santiago Calatrava, and is very modern compared with the city tour of the night before. There is the Opera House and Performing Arts Centre, the Prince Felipe Museum of Sciences, L'Hemisferic - containing an IMAX cinema, planetarium and laserium, the gardens and walkway, and L'Oceanografic which is a bit like an open air Sea World.


Sunny Valencian skies over the City of Arts and Sciences
The Opera House - looks a little familiar to me?
The Prince Felipe Museum of Science was designed to emulate the skeleton of a whale.
View standing on traffic island in the middle of the Pont del Grau
View of the Prince Felipe Musem of Sciences, L'Hemisferic and the Opera House (or El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía)
Restaurante Submarino at L'Oceanografic, our venue for lunch
Surrounded by the local wildlife. I'll have one of those and two of those...
Submarino Bar - amazingly cool lighting...looks like anenomes
And after lunch it was a 40 minute stroll back to the hotel along the old river bed for me
Amazing what they can create from a dry old riverbed, isn't it?
So it was with regret that I waved good bye to that glorious, glorious sunshine, returned to the hotel and prepared to catch my plane home. But not before I had discovered that London's main man had found a little inspiration of his own here too...

Valencia's very own Boris bikes!

Did I say at all that I love my job?

No?

Well I do!
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