Americas Cup and Paella in Valencia
Trip Start Apr 26, 2010
169Trip End Dec 02, 2010
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Today we got up and went for a run along the beach just before 8 or so. The beach is really close, maybe a hundred metres of so, but It's not overly long where we are and there are heaps of long stone wave breakers, so the water was pretty calm. The run wasn't overly long, but at least we did something.
We headed into Valencia and managed to get a park – free even – close to the beach and the marina. The sand is Valencia is really good, white and not stoney at all. The main beach for the town is also really wide in terms of the sand, meaning it can fit a lot of people. By about lunchtime there were heaps of people, but I imagine it would get really packed in the height of the summer. We strolled in the water later on in the day and it seemed a couple of degrees warmer than the Costa del Sol and Portugal, so that is promising. Had we had time for a beach day I reckon I probably would have gotten in the water this time.
Instead we headed to the marina and Port Americas Cup. It was quite nice strolling around, the port was so quiet, so it was quite peaceful. We walked past all the Americas cup team headquarters – Alinghi, Luna Rossa, Oracle – and eventually we found Team New Zealand and had the compulsory photo. We also went to the "Home of the Americas cup" museum, where we learnt the history. I had no idea it was actually a race that started 150 years ago and started back in Queen Victorias era with a race around the Isle of Wight and also that Australia won it a few times too in the 80's I think it was. But it was quite cool to see some of the highlights of the races and see us win, and lose it. It's weird being in another country and here the commentators talk about New Zealand as a formidable force. It makes you feel quite patriotic, which is quite cool.
After another wee wander along the beach we drove further into town to walk around the centre. We managed to get free parking again right near a park – good spotting by Ashley. When you look on a map of Valencia you can see that there is a great big park that runs right through the middle of the city. It was broken up slightly for a few streets here and there, but I think it was really cool. Lots of cool bridges, fountains and shady trees. From here, we walked into the historic centre.
When we first drove into Valencia, all I thought was big city. 9 lane roundabouts and multilaned streets where everywhere in amongst tall city buildings. I kinda figured it would be a bit of a boring city, also since I didn’t really have a list of things to do in the city either. But my opinion changed today. Although it seems really big, population 700,000 people, it also seemed quite peaceful and relaxed. Granted it was Saturday so there is not so much of the busy work life, but it felt really cruisey. The marina and beach had a really chilled atmosphere. There were a lot of trees, even on the walk into the centre of the city, which meant the 30 degree heat was very bareable. It also had an old cathedral and church, a historic undercover market and quaint squares, which seems typically European and gives the city a nice old feel, but it also felt modern. This was partly due to the wide streets and newish shopping areas, but also because of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, which I think translates into centre/city of arts and sciences. It's a massive new modern complex containing a big science museum, a big beetle looking building which is a sort of music/arts theatre that they compare to the Sydney Opera house, the Hemispheric which contains a planetarium and imax theatre, and finally the Oceanografic, which is like a big aquarium. I saw the buildings when we drove through the city yesterday, but it wasn't until you were on the site that you could appreciate the grand architecture of it. There was a big pool with sky blue coloured water that looked pretty amazing.
It was very strange to see something so modern after weeks of cobbled streets and quaint old buildings, it was like we had arrived back into the new world of a sort. But the design was really cool, very interesting to look at and even though we didn’t go into any of the attractions, it was pretty amazing just strolling around.
To cap off our pleasant strolling around day, we headed back to the marina to have dinner along the waterfront. It was strange though because only a few of the restaurants were open for dinner. A lot did a roaring lunch trade and either just opened for drinks and tapas for dinner or were closed up completely. I thought it was so strange – that type of area, not far from town, close to the beach, on a pleasant evening would be absolutely cranking on a Saturday night, but this didn’t seem to be the case.
However we did find a nice restaurant to have dinner at and try the famous Valencian paella. The best deals for food at restaurants though are the set menus. Practically every one has a 'menu’ or a dish of the day. For entree Ash had steamed mussels and I had a Valencian salad – which was the usual lettuce, carrot, tomato, onion, and also had tuna (I think) corn, a couple of sprigs of asparagus and egg. Ash had the seafood paella and I had the traditional one with chicken. It also came with bread and dessert, so that wasn't too bad – ended up only being 16 euros each. I feel like we have spent a lot on food lately, but there have been a few things to try and over the next few weeks I don't think there is as much, so it will even out in the end hopefully
So after a very pleasant day out, we headed back. We got home eventually – Paddy, our sat nav, tried to take us on roads that didn’t exist and we were driving all over the show. Spain has really been the only place where we have run into any trouble with Paddy. There seems to be a lot of roads that are wrong and also a lot of new work that is happening, which makes things slightly difficult, but we got there in the end.
Tomorrow we are off to Barcelona, so mostly a driving day I think and then hopefully an afternoon at the beach if the weather is good and the campground is close like it says in the guidebook –fingers crossed!