Sunday, 21 February 2010

Search for the Holy Grail

Written 21st february 

In search of the Holy Grail, a terrible and arduous quest, we went to Valencia cathedral.  Past a menacing looking shrubbery in the park.  Found a picture of the Holy Grail on the door.  Cost €4.5 to go in.  So we didn't.  Search over.  Honestly I don't know why the python boys made such a fuss... Nee! ;)

Arriving late at night after a long trek north, we had parked ourselves near the beach north of the port, where the lp suggested the best paella restaurants were to be found.

We had decided we were fed up with cities and had planned a quick in-out raid for paella before continuing northwards.  In the morning though, the sun was shining and it was a glorious day and as we were in need of more internet, we set off along the beach and ended up walking all the way into town.

Compared to the other recently visited spanish cities, in the warm sunshine, valencia was like a breath of fresh air.  It is a breezy, laid back city, full of open spaces and large squares with a compact historical centre, encircled within a loop of the former route of the river Turia - which was diverted to the otherside of the town after severe flooding in 1957 - and which has  been converted to a lovely green park with sports pitches and gardens, and which houses the recently constructed  City of Arts and Sciences at the wide estury end.  We didn't go to this area but apparently it is lovely and houses an imax theatre, a planetarium, a laserium, a Palace of Arts for opera, dance and theatrea science museum, a sculpture park and a massive aquarium.  From the guide book, it sounds like a fab day out.

We easily found the tourist office -largely by following maps at bus stops - got a map and comprehensive  information booklet, and happened across a sunny pavement café in the main square, with paella valencian as part of their excellent value menu de dia.


I know some people imagine that we spend all our time drinking lunchtime beer in sunny pavement cafes but it really isn't true - some times we drink lunchime beer on sunny clifftops and beaches... ;)

The paella was yummy - we had assumed all paella was fishy but appaerntly not, traditional stuff has chicken and rabbit - and we have found a recipe in the tourist book so are going to try it in the van, although it does say that it will only taste right if made with valencian water - other inferior waters from other towns or cities are apparently just not the thing... :) 

Stuffed full, we set off on a walking tour that promised 2,000 years of valencian history and which took in

the roman remains (free but only with guided tours of which there were none in english until  next week),

visigoth crypts and prisons (closed for lunch),

buried Moorish walls (free at weekends),

mediaeval city gates (closed for lunch, no charge advertised),

12th century cathedral and El Miguelet belltower (fabulous!  inside too expensive for proper visit to see grail

but tower view and massive bell, well worth €2 and 207 steps!),

15th century gothic civil buildings - Lonja de la Seda - (free on weekends, has soaring helicoidal (new word, isn't it fab!) columns),

19th century circular plazas,

20th century steel and stained glass market buildings (largest food market in europe, closed saturday afternoons),

 20th century baroque-style town hall and Palace of Post and Teleqraph (saw outside only),

all interspersed with churches of all ages and all in all a lovely sunny afternoon's walk.

We walked home past a massive childrens playground shaped like gulliver, complete with pegs and netting! - random

We rounded off the day with a surprisingly large and good (had too different smells on swirling which is a good sign, as we know!) yet cheap copa de vino tinto in a beachside longe bar on the way back to the van.  Today,  once we have finished stealing internet from this here street corner, we will be back on the road northwards once more.  All this dallying means we won't get to france by the weekend (!) but definitely by tuesday - latest!

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