America's Cup

Trip Start Dec 04, 2006
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Trip End Aug 05, 2007


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Flag of Spain  ,
Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Nathan here: We're falling behind schedule with our blog updates so this entry is going to be brief. Apologies to the few who may actually want to hear more. So, we took a flight from Prague to Barcelona and then jumped on the airport train to the city. We were hoping to catch the first available train to Valencia where we have friends. Well, it never occurred to us to buy our train tickets in advance (previous train travel in other countries had been paid on the spot without any problem). For whatever reason, there was a lot of people travelling on that day so trains - both first and second class - were being sold out. The lines to buy tickets were insanely long and it seemed to us that even the station's employees were surprised with the volume of travellers. At one point we thought we had to draw a number. We drew 472 and they were serving 202. No joke. Fortunately we were able to get tickets on a later train but it meant that we had to kill some time at the station. Anyway, arrived safely in Valencia. Chaos though!

We spent a good chunk of our time hanging with friends of mine from Ottawa who will be working in Valencia for the next few years thanks to a NATO assignment. Family dinners were a real highlight. Their insanely beautiful two story apartment (marble flooring throughout) was ideally situated for our interests.

First, Europe´s largest aquarium was literally across the street. With an average pair of binoculaurs, one could watch the outdoor dolphin performance from their balcony. Still, we checked it out in person and it was spectacular. The complex has a ton to see so, not surprisingly, it filled up with families and strollers and screaming kids shortly after it opened. The penguin exhibit was the site of a special brand of chaos with all the little kiddies banging and jumping against the aquarium glass, screaming and hollering at top volume. It was as if they had taken over the place and the employees had fled for their lives. Tara and I were literally tripping over strollers trying to get to the exit before the stampede for hot dogs would begin. Note to travellers: where shin pads and ear plugs.

As some of you may know, Tara and I are avid sailors. Well, the mother of all sailing races - the America's Cup (www.americascup.com) - just happened to be taking place in Valencia and the sailing complex was just a short walk away from where we were staying. So we strolled over to take a look at the trophy itself - very shiny - and the boats that are no longer in the competition - quite impressive. The finals between New Zealand and Switzerland had just begun so we were able to watch/listen to a couple of races. Happy to report that Alinghy (Switzerland) just won so it means that the America´s Cup will be returning to Valencia in two years time so that´s good news for local fans and merchants alike.

Final key highlight... as previously mentioned, my friend David is in the military and, as it turns out, the Canadian contingent in Valencia was hosting a Canada Day celebration on June 28th so we received a special invitation to attend on the base. It was great. It was nice to hear the national anthem after so much travelling and the Spanish military band did a superb job. Lots of food and drinks and, in Tara´s words, attractive men in uniforms. We were told to skip out on the clean-up so off we went to the beach. A perfect end to a short but busy trip to Valencia.

Apologies for the lack of pictures. We have some to upload so stay tuned.
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