Wednesday, October 7, 2015
We had looked forward to getting up and out onto the streets of Valencia.

The city did not disappoint us. Coming up from our parking spot under the city we first noticed a very old church.
It was the church of St. Lorenzo, which I found out from further reading is currently being used by Franciscan monks. The church was built around 1278 and is a mix of architectural styles. It had also been used as a Muslim Mosque. During the Spanish Civil War it was a warehouse. 

Then it was onto the modernist building of the central market of Valencia - great example of this style of building. This huge building was designed in 1914 but wasn't actually used until 1928. It's built on two floors with columns and vaults, a brick based basement. There are about 959 stalls for vendors. It features colourful glass work and also beautiful tile work. 

There Mercat has a big portion of the building set aside for fresh fish and meat. We were interested in seeing the fresh vegetables of which there were plenty, including freshly picked Valencia oranges and rice which the area is famous for. They also had items like a Horchata (in Valencia made out of tiger nuts) stand and bakeries. One pleasant surprise was a stand selling different kinds of olives with items like small oysters anchovies cheese etc. inside of the huge olives. There were also vendors selling unusual types of olive oil,  spices or wines unique to the Mediterranean area.  

We bought some tasty foods that we thought were unique from the market. We found a small enclosed park with two fountains and went and sat there. We had our delicious lunch.

From here we walked into the Seu area of Valencia which includes the Valencia Cathedral, mostly a Gothic style building. Consecrated and 1238 and is the Roman Catholic Church. It is supposed to house the chalice used at the Last Supper. 

Wandering the streets of Valencia there were many narrow streets which were obviously built up before the use of the car. We found plazas that were treed and had fountains and saw plazas that were completely tiled in marble. The main fountain that we saw was at Plaza de la Virgen

We are now starting to get a bit tired from all our walking around, but we hung in there because we were able to take a rest on a park bench. We continued on through the Medieval gates which were part of the defense system of Valencia. These 14th Century gates called Torres de Serranos, are at a height of about 108 feet and you can find them near a 16th-century bridge called Puente de Serranos and a park where it crosses the River Turia (public garden). Very impressive medieval architecture with a moat and all is in very good condition.

We just walked down the road not far from the huge gates and we ended up at a plaza. It was Plaza de Manises which is the area where the Valencian Government is housed. We were allowed to go into one of the buildings that was obviously from the Gothic or medieval times. It was obviously a building that has been well taken care of. The woodworking was of exceptional quality with the shutters on the windows and also wooden doors. One ceiling was Gold gilded, the floors were marble in fancy tile work.

By this time we are both quite tired. We walked our way back through the narrow winding streets past fountains and small plazas. Today the weather was just perfect not too hot not too cold, absolutely wonderful.

Thursday, October 8, 2015
The weather seems to have really turned here in Valencia for a few days and it's now cloudy and rainy.

We do not do very much in the morning except laze about. Oh, I just remembered actually I went to a hotel across the street and did the laundry. I was able to connect to their Internet and also do my full complement of six Spanish lesson using Duolingo. 

After lunch we decide to hop in the car and Ken drove us around a lake that is quite close to the Mediterranean Sea. The name of the lake was Albufera. It was likely a lively area during the summer is there appears to be many rentals. We were lucky enough to drive by a farm where we saw several Clydesdale horses grazing in the field with several camels. Egrets we're landing on their backs and enjoying their high perch. It was just such an unusual sight to see camels grazing with horses. Further along on our short journey we saw itty-bitty horses along with a donkey. The donkey was tied up to a tree where we were assuming, he would get himself into difficulties with the little horses whenever he was within nipping distance. 

We were in an area where rice was growing. Much of the rice harvest had been brought in and their were big tire tracks in the muddy fields. The fields were obviously very damp. The fields look like there was very high wheat stubble but it was rice stumble. Many narrow waterways like canals were woven in between the fields. There were low, long boats on these little, small canals. We saw blue heron looking birds, lots of ducks and egrets. On the road we also saw some sort of medium size looking crabs. They seemed rather ferocious and looked as if they were trying to attack the car, but far too small to even give it a second thought. 

It was still raining when we headed back towards the hotel. We discovered that there was the IKEA close by and decided to stop in there. Of course there was covered parking so it was easy to get into the store without getting wet. The best thing that I saw was one example of kitchen cupboards, drawers and an island. Everything was so well divided up and organized, it would be part of a dream kitchen.

Friday, October 9, 2015
Once in downtown Valencia we started out in the neighbourhood or barrio of El Pla Del Real. I took a picture of an old building from 1908 that had a relief on it of flowers and swags of flowers. The flowers and leaves are all painted in the appropriate colours.

We were headed to the Apple Store to get the Apple iPad fixed from the update of IOS9 Ken had inadvertently put on it. Once we arrived at the Apple store we realize there was some kind of event happening as there was a massive lineup outside. Ken inquired to one of the Rent-A-Cops what was going on. They were rolling out the iPhone six here in Valencia today. Our plans of going to the Apple store quickly faded.

We decided to take a walk to the mercado and we ended up in the San Francisco area which was absolutely packed jammed with people. We could hear a band playing and people were carrying and wearing the Flag of Valencia. It was discovered that today is a holiday here, a special day.

According to timeanddate.comThe Day of the Valencian Community (Día de la Comunidad Valenciana) marks the anniversary of King James I of Aragon's capture of the city of Valencia from Moorish forces in 1238. It is also the Day of Saint Dionysius, a traditional festival for lovers.

e really enjoyed the festivities which involved a lot of flag waving and we are assuming singing of the national anthem at noon. There was a civil procession so we are thinking that the crowd was perhaps waiting for the mayor to come out to do something. We're really not sure exactly what went on because the crowd was quite thick and Valencian's and have their own type of language made it hard to understand. There was a parade with folks dressed in traditional costume. Some kind of rockets were left off giving people a bit of a scare with the noise. As is the case in most places there were plenty of police   on hand to make sure the crowd did not get out of control.

Many many stores were closed but restaurants were not. The mercado was also closed but we did find a lot of vendors selling goods around the mercado. Since this was a special day we decided that we would have our first feed of authentic Valencian seafood paella today. Ken ordered the most delicious pan fried vegetables in olive oil, so delicious. At some restaurants you need to order your paella ahead of time if you plan to eat there.  

Since there were so many people downtown the vendors were out selling different items on the street. One item that I noticed was a vendor selling Horchata. She had a little basket containing tiger nuts or chufa which is what Horchata in Valencia is made from. The chufa sedge plant is an ancient nutritious plant grown an areas in Spain such Valencia. It is thought that the first Chufa sedge plants were brought to this area from ancient Egypt.

We walked over 7 1/2 km today. Somehow we thought we didn't walk very far today but my foot could tell the difference.

Saturday, October 10, 2015
On our way into Valencia we drove passed The City of Art and Sciences buildings.

According to Wikipedia these buildings are an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex which was completed at the beginning of this century. We did not have the opportunity to stop and go investigate as tomorrow we are moving on to Madrid. 

Ken went to several stores that sold fishing supplies looking for ideas for gifts. This took us to a different area of Valencia near the Mediterranean Sea - El Cabanyal was the area. It is not a very touristy area but still has some fine architectural features. El Cabanyal is the name also of the beach area that we were. The beach area has a huge Malecon both in width and length, which is lined with many palm trees. Being October there was still quite a few people at the beach even some who are sunbathing. We had to walk across quite a width of sand in order to dip out toes into the Mediterranean Sea. It was rather cold for our taste! I decided that I had to gather up a few small seashells to take back with me to Canada. Valencia has a huge beach.

We found ourselves again returning to the Central Mercat to find some lunch. I am not a crowd person and found it a bit uncomfortable because there were so many people and was so much going on. I did manage to find a small plate as a remembrance of our trip to Valencia and Ken found a small gift for someone too. We went back and ate in the small park with twin fountains.  

Plaça Redona was a renovated plaza that we just happened on as we were walking along. They had pictures of what the plaza had been like in the early 19th century and during some of the renovations. There were sidewalk cafés inside the plaza as little shops selling unique goods such as lace, etc. 

Horchateria de Santa Catalina was the next place we planned to go to. It is a café that sells Horchata and long skinny donut like things called fartons artesan, no I did not make this name up, who would make something like that up. This horchateria predates the turn of the 20th century. The inside of the café was decorated with scenes depicted on tile of life long ago in Spain. This place is a must see if you are in Valencia, plus what we had to eat and drink were extremely delicious.  

Back into the La Seu area we visited the Valencia Cathedral once more. This is a cathedral that we saw from a totally different street this past Wednesday. We had time to go inside on this day so we could see the incredible arches. If you want to you can pay a small entrance fee and climb up to the top of the bell tower. We chose not to. Instead we went outside and sat in the treed plaza, Plaça de la Reina, in front of the church. We were admiring the Valencia orange trees and the horse drawn carriages. 

Carrer de la Pau (Street) was the next area we were distracted into. The architecture was mighty fine. Ken took a picture of one wonderful, tall, skinny building. Somehow we just ended up walking down that street taking pictures of the great buildings with wonderful little balconies and bay windows. The whole street was a delight.

Once we are back in the car we decided to park and get out and go look in at the train station, Estacio Nord as it is called. The station is located beside the brick bullring. The train station, however, was beautifully decorated both on the outside and inside. It had Stained glass windows and motifs of oranges being a central design. Inside the station was decorated with mosaic tiles that seemed to have a somewhat Art Nouveau theme. This is definitely a must see places if you get to Valencia.

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