Girl Trip to Valencia Part Three

It was Sunday, so we wanted to go to church. Cousin N’s husband is a vicar, so we asked if we could go to a service. She looked nervous, and made us sign to say we wouldn’t tell embarrassing stories or make jokes or generally misbehave.

After showering in the cupboard, and coffee in the sunshine (I still haven’t found my old man smoking a cigar at an outside cafe – I drank Nescafe in the air bnb) we set off. Cousin L seems to be rather good at directions, so we followed her, through streets decorated with flags and lights ready for Las Fallas, and a lot of shut shops. Valencia wakes up slowly.

The church, an Anglican Church, was not especially pretty (only the Catholic churches are pretty) but people were smiley, which is always nice. There were lots of children, and we arrived in time for coffee, and met people, and remembered that Cousin N might kill us if we tried to be funny. Vicar Husband then preached an excellent sermon, teaching people about the character of God and how he wants to be involved in our lives. Unfortunately, he preached in Spanish (Vicar Husband, not God) so we didn’t understand a word of it. Apparently, the church does have an English service, but it’s earlier. I’m not sure why we went to the Spanish one. Personally, I understood every ‘Amen’ that was said.

Vicar Husband wore a long white surplice, which would have been excellent for changing under on the beach – not sure why he didn’t offer it. Perhaps it’s a hassle to iron.

Ate lunch at La Brasqueta – or at least, the others ate lunch, I was catching an earlier flight so was too nervous to do more than nibble. We ate ‘Russian Salads’, which were a sort of variation on a potato salad, and then I had a rice and meat dish (not paella, but similar). We ate, and chatted, and listened to the romantic sound of exploding fireworks all around us. (Seriously, avoid Valencia in March unless you enjoy explosions.) The weather was warm, there were trees, and balconies, and lots of Spanish people and it was rather lovely. I drank beer, Cousin C drank sangria.

Paella is a traditional Spanish dish, and we were told at church that in Valencia they have a ‘take-out’ paella place (churches are always a good source of local information). Apparently, you can order paella and you collect it in a huge metal paella dish. It comes with a plastic bag, and the following day, you put the empty dish into the bag, and return it to the shop. Sounds excellent.

After lunch, I went to the airport. It was such a lovely few days, I haven’t laughed so much in ages. Waited at airport for a very long time, as it was windy in England so the inbound flight was delayed. When I got to my seat on the plane, it was wet, so I asked for a cloth (and hoped it was water). After the general tension over locker space and too much luggage, everyone was seated, and we taxied away from the stand…and stopped. The pilot announced that due to the weather, we would be stationary for at least another hour. Rather took the edge off the trip.

Arrived home eventually, and enjoyed the luxury of curtains at windows. A fun weekend.
Thank you for reading.
Take care.
Love, Anne x

***

anneethompson.com

A laugh-out-loud book about travelling the world with a family. From India to South America, and across most of Europe, this book has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!

If enjoyed this, you will love my travel book. Available from an Amazon near you, as a paperback or kindle book (you can read it for free if you have a kindle).

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Girl Trip Day Two

Day 2

Showered in excellent shower in cupboard-sized bathroom. Bruised elbows trying to get dry in there, so gave up and dried on mezzanine. Bathroom has another large, exposed window, (so am hoping no one was looking).

Walked through Valencia, which is very pretty, and very Spanish, with orange trees and fountains and apartments with balconies. We saw the outside of the bullring, and went into the pretty art deco railway station, which reminded me of the one in Portugal with its patterned tiles and beautiful ceilings.

We sat outside and had churros and hot chocolates. I was hoping to find an old Spanish man, smoking a cigar and drinking coffee (because this is what all Spanish men are like) but they were all hiding.

We walked passed the cathedral, and the old city gate, then walked along a dry river bed which is now Turia park.

 

 

Visited a lovely park next to the Fine Art Gallery, and enjoyed the sunshine (some of us enjoyed it more than others).

There were lots of unusual trees in the park. We saw some Moreton Bay fig trees – ‘Ficus macrophylla’ – which have arial roots that grow down from the branches, so they look like a tree from a magical land; and some trees with swollen trunks covered in fat spikes (ceiba speciosa).

But my personal favourites are still the orange trees.

 

Valencia, in March, is noisy. Don’t come if you have a headache. This is due to Las Fallas…Let me tell you about Las Fallas: This began, in the Middle Ages with San José, (Saint Joseph) who is the patron saint of carpenters.

The carpenters used to hang up planks of wood to support their candles when working through the dark winter months. When spring arrived, they would burn these planks, to celebrate the longer days and sunny weather. Over time, they started to put clothing on the planks of wood (not sure who thought that was good idea) and then they began to make them into effigies of well-known characters. These later became ‘ninots’, which are enormous figures that are made today, and paraded around the streets. As the burning of these elaborate ninots began to get out of control, the authorities decided to link it to St Joseph’s Day.

We didn’t see these (we weren’t there for that day) but we did see people in costume, and we heard lots of fireworks. Really, lots and lots of fireworks. Not the pretty ones that make you say “Aaah”. They just went bang. Sometimes very big bangs, which gave you a heart attack (or worse). It seems that every male (not just males, but mostly males) from the age of about 2 years upwards, buys fireworks to throw around. There are whole shops, whole catalogues, dedicated to the sale of fireworks that go bang. It was like living in a war zone (I imagine).


We stopped for ice-creams. I managed to order mine in Spanish (with a few prompts from Cousin N’s husband) but then, just as I was feeling very pleased with myself, the shop assistant went off-script, and started to say unexpected Spanish words. It was the most delicious ice-cream though (dolce de leche flavour).

We then drove to the beach. The beach was very cold. One of us decided to swim. I wasn’t tempted to join her, though the water was very blue. An unsuspecting passerby almost got a shock, and I was worried she might drown as our only strong swimmer wandered off with his dad, but all was fine, if damp. We stood on the beach, shivering, laughing and eating cheese and pimento sandwiches (which were delicious).

Thanks for reading. I’ll post the last instalment on Monday (if you sign up to follow my blog you won’t miss it).

***
anneethompson.com

If you enjoyed this, why not read my travel book? You can read it for free if you have a Kindle.

Girl Trip to Valencia

Caught the early morning flight to Valencia (very early). I only had a hand-luggage allowance, so was worried I would have to wear several layers and arrive looking like The Michelin Man, but everything fitted in my pull-along.

Met Cousins at Valencia airport. We were meeting to celebrate Cousin C’s big birthday, and were visiting Cousin N and family, who have moved to Valencia. Drove to their apartment in the city, and met their extremely cute labrador puppy. (Their children are also very cute, but I rather fell in love with the puppy.)

I was staying in an airbnb with Cousins C and L. New experience for me, so wasn’t quite sure what to expect (my sons stay in air bnb, so I wasn’t expecting ‘posh’).

We dumped our bags, and had a late lunch in Bar Pascualin. All lunches in Spain are late. Walked to Dolche de Leche cake shop, and spent several hours trying to decide which cake to buy. (Mouth is watering as I write this.) Chose a lemon meringue pie. It didn’t disappoint.

Drove to Lake Albufera and went on a boat. The sun was setting behind the mountains, the birds were wading amongst the reeds, and it was pretty perfect. There was some discussion about the origins of the lake – I think it’s a natural sea-water lake, which the Moors desalinated, so now it’s the largest fresh water lake in Spain…possibly in Europe…or even in the whole world…anyway, it’s big.

After tea, we went to our air bnb. Arrived at a large metal gate (very Spanish), and used our key to enter the lobby.

In the lobby was a lift, which closely resembled an upturned coffin (was certainly no bigger). We squashed inside, and Cousin C extracted her arm from rather aggressive sliding door which shut automatically, and we began to ascend. I hoped the coffin analogy wouldn’t be accurate – I certainly didn’t trust that the ‘emergency telephone’ would work if we got stuck. Arrived at the top floor, but still needed to go up a further flight of stairs. The stairwell was very dark, so Cousin C (the practical one amongst us) helpfully pressed the light switch. It didn’t seem to work, so she pressed it several more times. We then realised that actually, it wasn’t a light switch – it was a doorbell. (Spanish people disguise doorbells as light switches, I’m not sure why.) Being mature women, as soon as we realised we ran giggling up the stairs and locked ourselves into our apartment. Am hoping no one heard.

Spanish doorbell disguised as a light switch

The apartment is small, but has everything we need (except for curtains and blinds – I am rather partial to curtains and blinds). There was a blind over the door to the balcony, which took us longer than you might think to work out (practial Cousin C sussed it for us). The balcony is wonderful, and overlooks the whole of Valencia (well, a bit of it). I slept on the mezzanine with Cousin L. It was cosy, and rather lacking in a curtain/blind, so we woke when the sun rose.

 

I will continue this tomorrow, because I want to tell you about Fallas.
Thank you for reading.

Bye for now. Take care.
Love, Anne x

***
anneethompson.com

A laugh-out-loud book about travelling the world with a family. Taken from diaries written at the time, this book has been described as “The Durrells meet Bill Bryson”!

If you enjoyed this, why not read The Sarcastic Mother’s Travel Diary? It will make you laugh, and you can read it for free if you have a Kindle…available from an Amazon near you.