Jan 24

The Alhambra

So, as promised, the magnificent Alhambra [thanks Wikipedia for this photo – a view I didn’t get but taken, I think, from the Albayzín] …….

It takes its name from the Arabic “al-quala’a al-hamra” – the red castle and I will start with a potted history, gleaned mainly from our Lonely Planet guide, which really helped us to understand what we were looking at as we wandered around.

The first palace on the site was built in C11 by a Jewish grand vizier for his Zirid sultan. In C13/14 the Nasrid emirs turned the area into a fortress palace, adjoined by a village of which only its ruins remain, and the Generalife was built as a summer palace. After the Christian re-conquest, the mosque was replaced with a church and a convent, now a Parador (hotel), was built. Emperor Carlos V had a wing of the palaces destroyed to make space for his huge Renaissance structure. During the Napoleonic occupation the Alhambra was used as a barracks and nearly blown up, so some of what we see today is very careful restoration work.

Our tour started half way up the winding street “Cuesta de Gomérez when we passed through the gate of “Las Granadas”, adorned with three pomegranates, the symbol of Granada.

It was not the original main gate – that being accessed through the Alcazaba – but became the principal entrance after the transformation of the rugged terrain, formerly its natural defences in the Sabika ravine, and the formation of a poplar grove with walkways, created in 1730 for a visit by King Philip V.

It is a very pleasant way to approach the Alhambra and turning round at various points means you get lovely views of the city.

We had pre-booked our tickets – including the Palacios Nazaríes, which is probably a good thing because we heard several people being told there were no more tickets available that day so they had to be content with walking around some of the gardens and parts that don’t require a ticket. But the Palacios Nazaríes is what everyone really comes for. We had left in good time for our allocated 2pm slot and were able to meander through some of the gardens, past what seemed to be new digs – perhaps more of the original village?

Entrance into the Palaces is through the Mexuar….

….initially an antechamber whilst awaiting audience, but later converted to a chapel. Right from the start you get an idea of what is to come – colourful mosaic tiles……

….. stunning carved and stuccoed arches and walls……

…… and amazing ceilings.

The antechamber/chapel also contains this tile plaque…

PLVS VLTRE [or Plus Ultra] meaning “Further Beyond”. In Greek mythology these words were carved on the Pillars of Hercules marking off the west entrance to the Mediterranean and the edge of the known world. The words have inspired many travellers to seek out the unknown and in C16 were adopted, by the future King of Spain/Holy Roman Emperor Carlos V, as a personal motto.

From the Mexuar you pass into the Patio del Cuarto Dorado – a forecourt to the main palace with two symmetrical doors.

Those visitors hoping to see the emir who were ushered through the right hand door were disappointed. It leads back outside! The left hand one passes through a dog-leg passage….

……into another patio.

There are numerous passages and corridors throughout the palaces which were designed to keep the interior rooms private and/or to provide views to the outside and allow light to get in.

Obviously we must have passed muster as we made it through the dog-leg and into the Patio de los Arrayanes.

This “Court of the Myrtles” was the centre of a C14 palace built for Emir Yusuf I and there are several doorways….

…..leading to rooms….

……which look out onto the rectangular pool.

Traces of cobalt paint cling to the “muqarnas” [honeycomb vaulting].

Yusuf’s visitors would have been presented to him in the elaborate Salón de los Embasajores….

…..crowned by its marvellously domed parquetry ceiling which is made up of more than 8,000 cedar pieces creating a star pattern – an intricate representation of the seven heavens.

Next is Patio de los Leones…

….the restored mid C14 courtyard built by Mohammed V. However, the centrepiece which channeled water through the mouths of 12 marble lions has been in the palaces since C11. Incredible.

The proportions, symmetry and exterior stucco work in this patio are examples of the artistic heights to which Granada’s emirate’s architects and craftsmen reached.

The rooms surrounding the patio are equally amazing.

The eye catching tiles on the walls of the Sala de los Abencerrajes….

…are outdone by one of the most spectacular ceilings I have seen and this photo does not do it justice.

Even more jaw dropping muquanas covered the corniches, walls and ceiling in the Sala de Dos Hermanas…..

The photograph of the underside of the arch doesn’t adequately show their breadth but above were corridors which were used mainly by women to peer down from above, without being seen, through the elaborately carved wood screens.

It is suggested that perhaps others, involved in palace intrigue, also found these screens useful!

If that wasn’t enough, there is also some spectacular carved calligraphy running around the room at eye level …

….  a poem praising Mohammad V for his victory in Algeciras in 1368…..

In another, smaller, room we saw evidence of where Carlos V had added a lower ceiling….

… and finally we emerged into rooms built specifically for Carlos which were so dull in comparison that I forgot to take any photos except of this plaque…

…which commemorates a short stay in them by Washington Irving in 1829 which prompted his book “Tales of the Alhambra”.

That last passageway took us past the domed roofs of the baths which were accessed from the patio on the floor below. We weren’t allowed to enter, but you could get an impression of how the carved holes created muted light.

Here we exited the Palacios Nazaríes and emerged into an area of terraced gardens created in early C20.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Looking back across the reflecting pool the oldest surviving palace of the Alhambra can be seen, built by Mohammed III between 1302 and 1309.

From these gardens we looked up at the Iglesia de Santa Maria de la Alhambra.

We had passed the opposite side of it when we first arrived….

…. and its prominent elevated position means it can be seen from much of the wider Alhambra grounds and buildings.

Late afternoon shadows over the church, seen from the Generalife

After some reviving refreshment in the gardens we walked down to the west end of the grounds, to the Alcazaba – the original village…..

……ramparts and towers. The Torre de la Vela [watchtower]….

…has a narrow staircase which leads to the top terrace from where you can better see the outline of the houses in the village.

You may remember that I included a similar view looking SE across to the Sierra Nevada in my previous post. This time, looking North and West you see the city with the Albayzín district at the right hand side.

Looking back at the Palaces it is hard to believe that such splendour is hidden behind these plain walls.

Clashing dramatically with the Muslim palaces, the large building on the right is the Palace of Carlos V. It is an imposing building…

with its lion and eagle embellishments…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….. in which neither Carlos, nor as far as I can make out anybody else, ever actually lived in. He commissioned it in 1526 and building commenced in 1533 overseen by the designer, Pedro Machuca, a Toledo architect who studied under Michaelangelo. Pedro died in 1550, then his son, Luis, took over and developed the circular courtyard.

Carlos died in 1558 before any roofs were added. Work continued until 1568 when the building was abandoned for 15 years following the Moors rebellion. In 1619 the construction of the high colonnade of the courtyard was completed….

……but it was definitively abandoned in 1637, leaving the roof still unfinished. It remained in that state until Leopoldo Torres Balbas, a renowned restoration architect from Madrid, devised a plan to recover it in 1923. It was Balbas who also did much of the work in the Patio de los Leones inside the Palacios Nazaríes.

Our final port of call was the Generalife, but on our way to it we passed the small museum of Angel Barrios.

For part of C19 the building was apparently the home of the guitarist Antonio Barrios, father of musician and composer, Angel, who donated it to the Alhambra as a museum. The building contains the baths built for the Mosque of the Alhambra which was on the nearby site now occupied by the above mentioned church of Santa Maria.

The steam bath [Hammam] is a most characteristic part of Islamic culture and this kind of building is often found near, or in, a mosque. As well as being for worshipers to undertake major purifying ablutions, they were also places to meet and socialise.

The Generalife comes from the Arabic “jinan al-‘arif” [the overseer’s gardens] and the area lived up to its name. The area was full of garden, patio, pool and fountain and views over the city and Alhambra….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

……and a lovely setting for the summer palace which sits at its north end.

In the second courtyard the trunk of a 700 year old Cyprus tree remains…

… with this plaque beneath.

“Legend has it that this Cypress of the Sultana witnessed the affair of an Abencerraje knight and the wife of Boabdil”. You might remember that one of the ornate rooms was the Sala de Abencerrajes, a family who supported the young Boabdil in a power struggle between him and his father. The story is that the lovers met under the tree’s shade in the moonlight and were denounced to the last Arab king of Granada. The rage of Boabdil was so great that in retaliation for this, he ordered the beheading of several knights of the noble Muslim Abencerrajes tribe. According to legend, even today the iron rust stains at the bottom of the fountain of the Sala de los Abencerrajes contain the blood that was shed in revenge. Alternatively this could have been made up by romantic C18 travellers, maybe even Washington Irving.

It seems Carlos V had to make his mark on these grounds too…..

Now partly hidden, the lion once guarded the steps down to the final garden and small “Casa de los Amigos” – a very fitting end to a brilliant day at the Alhambra.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/01/24/the-alhambra/

Jan 21

Christmas and New Year 2017 – Valencia, Cartagena and Granada

Well, if you don’t like seeing any photographs of friends having fun together then this blog post might not be for you! There are some cultural bits as well but, as it’s all about Christmas and New Year in Valencia, Cartagena and Granada then, of course, there has to be fun and frolics.

We were delighted to be invited to spend Christmas with “Coriander” and “Destination Anywhere” in Cartagena but before we went there we had a couple of Christmassy things to do in Valencia.

Firstly, on 22nd December, there was the circus…

Circo Raluy was created more than one hundred years ago by Luis Raluy Iglesias, an acrobat, circus man and collector of old wagons – which are still in use today.

The ticket office

His legacy passed to his eldest son, also Luis, and then to his grandsons Luis and Carlos who separately head up two travelling circuses.

Circus entrance

In Valencia we saw Luis, [the Pierrot]…

…. who, with his wife, daughters and some of the wider Raluy family, are currently touring Catalonia following the route of the legendary Cirque Raluy. Prior to the performance we went into the “bar”….

…and there found posters and photographs of the circus performing all over the world – including in the UK where they apparently had a somersaulting car. Unfortunately we didn’t get to witness that spectacular event but really enjoyed being in a traditional “Big Top”…..

….. seeing historic memorabilia….

….and watching the customary tightrope walkers, flyers, balancing acts etc. Whilst most of these were the fourth and fifth generation family members they also had a visiting celebrity act….

…Iya Traoré, a Guinean football player and freestyler. If you want to see some of his skills just type in his name and You Tube videos will come up.

Circo Raluy is just one of three circuses that performed in Valencia over the Christmas period. It is obviously a very popular thing, as is the Fair…..

….which arrived at the end of November and stays until the end of January. It isn’t Mike’s cup of tea so we haven’t been – even though it is near the marina, opposite the waterfront.

Secondly, on 23rd Dec we went to the Botanic Gardens auditorium for a jazz evening. Rather like “The Jam Factory” [who Mike and James used to play with] it was quite a family affair and at times there was perhaps more enthusiasm than talent. But it was entertaining and well attended and even though it didn’t start until 9.30pm there was still time for a drink afterwards in the old town. It was an amazingly still, balmy night and walking back to the boat from the bus stop we got a great view of one of the party venues across the marina inner basin channel.

Whilst Spain celebrates the Christmas period with events, there are no overpowering displays. Decorations are minimalist and tasteful in shopping precincts….

Cartagena…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….and on houses.

Santa hats in Granada

Balcony lights in Cartagena – they are there!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Perhaps the most “gaudy” things we saw were these colourful balloons which were popular on Christmas Eve.

It was mid-afternoon on Christmas Eve was when we arrived in Cartagena and we soon settled in aboard “Coriander”. Malc and Nikki were out in town with Barbara [Nikki’s mum] so missed out on the first round of wine and mince pies….

On board Coriander with Steve and Gill

…but they had ample chance to catch up later. We missed some of the festivities which apparently started around noon – when all the bars put tables out into the streets and squares – but there was still sufficient activity in the evening to keep us entertained and we enjoyed a bar crawl through the town.

Cartagena is a popular over wintering marina with many liveaboards [unlike Valencia where we are the only ones!] and a committee was formed – with Gill and Nikki being two of the members – and a brilliant Christmas Day BBQ was arranged.

The Three Wise Men!!!

Piled plates for all

It was especially good to meet up once again with friends Dorothy and Duncan [“Hunda”] …..

….. who we first met in Isla Mujeres in 2013, but haven’t seen since. They hadn’t changed one bit and the catch up continued during an Indian meal for nine a couple of nights later.

Cartagena is full of history and with the marina being right on the edge of town we were easily able to access some of its sights. Steve and Gill took us on a whistle-stop tour……

Pavement pillars and mosaics…

“Star of the seas help your children”

The Roman Theatre

The Town Hall

…. ending in the Plaza de los Héroes de Cavite.

We were told that the plaza and statue were to commemorate slavery. The Spanish word for slavery is actually “esclavitud”, which is close – however, when I looked up “Cavite” I found it was a town in the Philippines which was, at one time, colonised by the Spanish and to where galleons travelled from Spain via Acapulco. There is a strong possibility that Filipinos from Cavite were enslaved and they are the heroes? I guess I will never know.

Just off this square is the Museo Nacional de Arqueología Subacuática where we spent part of the afternoon. It was another of those museums where some bits of it had strange coloured lighting, which may be to preserve the exhibits or, in this case being blue, to give visitors the impression of being underwater.

Remains of a Phoenician ship

Ceramics moved from the water should be kept in similar conditions

Anchor from a C18 Spanish Frigate

It was all quite interesting and I was particularly taken by this sign….

…..and will try to remember that “trinca’s” are to be avoided!

Gill and Steve left the museum before us and returned to the boat before it rained. We also missed the shower – as Mike took rather longer than everyone else to take in the museums exhibits – and on leaving we were treated to some quite startling light/sky….

….and to a double rainbow over the marina.

Cartagena is in the province of Murcia and we all visited its capital, Murcia City on the day after Boxing Day [not that Spain has Boxing Day, but you know what I mean].

Built in 1394, Murcia’s cathedral, like many others in Spain, stands on the site of a mosque.

Once again we were stunned by its interior…..

The Altar

The Choir

…. the highlight being the “Capilla de los Vélez” …..

……. .with its filigree looking almost like icing.

Across the Plaza in the Bishop’s Palace….

…with its magnificent hammered, moulded and embossed copper doors….

….is where we saw the Murcia version of the “Belén”.

Belén is the Spanish name for Bethlehem and the elaborate nativity scenes include “normal life” as well as the manger and the three kings/wise men.

Thursday 28th Dec was a day of eating and drinking. For lunch we opted for a Menú del Día at Restaurante Mares Bravas at Cala Cortina…..

……..a five minute car ride from the marina, but feeling like miles away from the city.

Then in the evening it was Tapas time. Our favourite bar was “La Uva Jumillana”…

Mike getting a round in

Colourful floor….

and, some would say, even more “colourful” photos!

… though we also really enjoyed Mr. Witt’s – more about that later.

Having hired a car and travelled down to Cartagena, Mike and I also wanted to visit Granada – approx. 300km [180miles] west. Unfortunately it wasn’t good timing for Nikki and Malc to join us but we were really pleased that Steve and Gill decided to come along too.

The Tapas sampling continued….

In the Central Market…

Up market this time!

…and what is so amazing about Granada is that it is possible to eat enough, with the tapa included with every drink, not to actually have to buy any extra food.

Ham…..

…. glorious ham

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two fabulous evenings, with our first glimpse of the Alhambra as we walked down from our accommodation on night one.

We stayed in the Albaicín neighbourhood…

…..with its maze of narrow streets and passages dating back to the Moorish Nasrid Kingdom…..

…. and also had a lovely view over to the Sierra Nevada.

Even better views…

….were to be had from the Alhambra….

…. and not only of the Sierra Nevada but also of Granada Cathedral….

….and the town itself spread out before us.

The early morning mist had lifted, in the main, but just enough remained to create a quite beautiful scene.

You are probably now expecting a series of photographs and some information about the Alhambra itself. Well, I am sorry to disappoint, but you are going to have to wait for the next post. I just couldn’t decide what photos to leave out, therefore concluding that there were so many I wanted to include that it warranted a post of its own.

I do feel, however, that as the following two aren’t about the Palace itself I can include them here. These trees grow in one of the gardens…

Can you guess what they are? If so, you are better than me. I had to look it up. They are Caqui fruit – which you might know better as the Persimmon.

OK, so if I had put this picture first some of you might have known!

Unfortunately we didn’t have much time to look around the rest of Granada but did see the outside of the cathedral, by night, and just before going up to the Alhambra we passed by the tourist office which is housed in the Ayuntamiento [town hall] with this rather amazing statue on top.

It was apparently conceived as “a symbol of happiness, representing the achievement of a moment of triumph, of perfect, yet fleeting, balance – a moment you are only aware of when it has already gone by and the blindfold covering your eyes falls”.

So, it was now New Year’s Eve and time to return to Cartagena for a fabulous evening starting with a wonderful meal cooked for us by Nikki.

On board “Destination Anywhere”

We then wandered up to the town hall square for the midnight bells. The tradition in Spain is that as each of the twelve “bongs” are heard you have to eat a grape.

Steve checking he has twelve grapes!

If you manage to do this within the twelve seconds then you will have good luck for the year. Well, we managed to eat our grapes but, I have to admit, I didn’t do one grape per bong. As the first one sounded I just started stuffing them in and swallowing as quickly as possible. Hope that’s OK as far as luck goes!

You might have noticed in the above photo that there weren’t many people around. That’s because most people celebrate at home with a meal, including the grape ceremony, and then come out. So, on NYE the bars don’t open until 00.30.

I said you would hear more about Mr. Witts – because that was our bar of choice to bring in the New Year. We arrived not long after the bar opened…

….but it got a lot more crowded later. I have to thank Malc for these photos. Mine were rubbish. I’ll put it down to the phone [yes, even though I have two cameras I chose to leave them on the boat] but some of you might think it was more to do with the alcohol of which there was plenty.

Don’t be fooled by those coffees!!

Finally, although this post is now a little late it still seems fitting to wish all readers a Very Happy 2018.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/01/21/christmas-and-new-year-2017-valencia-cartagena-and-granada/

Dec 21

60th Birthday fun with friends in Valencia

Hey, you know – it’s not bad being 60. Lots of friends came to celebrate with me, the “party” therefore lasted about three weeks and I didn’t even notice I had passed one of those dreaded landmarks in life.

Caroline and John were our first visitors [19-22 October] and we started celebrating in style….

Aperol Spritz cocktails, always a good way to begin

Next came the “Sundowners”…..

Waiting for the restaurant to open…maybe!

….. a fabulous bunch of people I used to work with who decided that a long weekend [26-30 October] in Valencia was just what they needed.

Then Jack and Christine….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….who we met whilst cruising in the Caribbean and who loaned us their house in Cadaques when we were looking for a new boat late last year. We couldn’t believe it was three years since we saw each other and it was fabulous to catch up.

Finally, Chris and John [9-13 November] and the celebrations carried on in a manner to which we had become accustomed!

Agua de Valencia… interesting …. no “water” at all!

Caroline and John had been to Valencia once before so, although they love the city, we all decided that a trip out to see somewhere else might be a good idea. It might have been a better idea had we decided to do it on a day other than when the Valencia half marathon was taking place because the public transport was disrupted and we ended up with taxis instead. Regardless, El Palmar was our chosen destination and the day was excellent.

El Palmar sits on the edge of La Albufera – a freshwater lagoon surrounded by flatlands which have long been used for rice cultivation. Traditional boats still ply the waterways and lie alongside the canals which run through the village.

It is probably the most emblematic of the Albufura settlements and the iconic farming village is proud to uphold its status as the birthplace of the Valencian rice dishes, two of which – Arroz de Valencia [Typically chicken, rabbit and beans] and Arroz de Mariscos [seafood] – we shared in one of the many popular weekend restaurants. The village is also renowned for its framed cottages of which very few now remain.

Made of mud, reeds and wood they were the original homes of the farmers and fishermen in the region.

Another trip out of Valencia was undertaken with Chris and John. As yet we haven’t hired a car, but they did so it was great to be able to see some of the surrounding countryside as John drove us 65km west to Requena. To be honest the new town hasn’t got much to rave about from a tourist perspective, but we did find a gem of a restaurant ….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…..“

Mesón Torrescal” where we had an excellent “Menu de Mediodia”.

However, “La Villa”, the medieval nucleus which rises above the new town, is a maze of twisting streets and alleys…

… particularly those in the one-time Jewish quarter.

There was hardly anyone else there and almost nothing open….

The main plaza ‘ Requena

….but we wandered around looking at the lovely buildings…

…. and managed to surprise one “local” taking a drink…..

We had read about the wine museum and expected that it too would be closed but we were pleasantly surprised to find it welcoming the few visitors who had made the effort. Housed in the C15 “Palacio del Cid”…

…. the museum contained various exhibits ….

Grape press

Amphora on a donkey saddle

Pump

……. and detailed the history of wine production in Requena. We were particularly interested in this old photograph….

……. which shows the quayside in Valencia which is now part of Marina Real Juan Carlos I where “Owl and Pussycat” is berthed.

Walking out of the old quarter I spotted an azulejo plaque commemorating San Nicolás de Bari.

That venerable saint also has a church dedicated to him in Valencia and, at the recommendation of some of the Sundowners, we visited it with Jack and Christine. A parish church since 1242 its full name is Iglesia de San Nicolás de Bari y San Pedro Mártir and has more recently been referred to as the “Valencian Sistine Chapel”…..

Not hard to see why.

The wall and ceiling paintings were designed by Antonio Palomino and painted by Dionis Vidal at the end of C17.

The cost of entry into the church is nominal and includes an audio guide. I can’t now remember what was said about the symbolism of some of the background in this painting but I do remember being fascinated.

If anyone is thinking of visiting Valencia I would strongly recommend they put this church in their itinerary.

Obviously the most visited place of worship is the La Catedral-Básilica de la Asuncíon de Nuestra Señora de Valencia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some friends attended a mass there, but the others just visited – as did Mike and I with Chris and John.

The site has been a religious one for centuries as the current cathedral was built over the city mosque which was itself built on top of a Visigothic church.

Cathedral nave

Chancel roof

In the museum part of the church it I possible to descend to the foundations and see different levels – as well as some remnants of skeletons.

As with most churches, stained glass features highly in both the museum….

Fragment of a C13 window

…and the interior of the cathedral.

The equilateral triangle in this rose window is symbolic of the Holy Trinity. The inverted triangle represents the three ways to access God – reason, philosophy and theology and, finally, intuition and love.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t the same detailed description next to this mural.

The most popular chapel is Capilla del Santo Cáliz which houses, within a magnificent gothic screen, an agate cup….

…. apparently “The Holy Grail”.

A rear view of the cathedral can be seen from the Plaza de la Virgen….

….where many a “Happy Hour” was spent with the Sundowners in the bars to the right as their apartment was situated here. On the left the pink building, entry free, is the Real Basilica de Nuestra Señora de los Santos Inocentes Mátires y Desamparados. Again, it’s worth a look if you are passing.

The reclining figure in the central fountain represents the Rio Turia, and the eight gushing pots held by maidens symbolise the main irrigation canals flowing from it. Illuminated at night it makes a very attractive backdrop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Two other “must see” sites for our visitors were the Mercado Central…

Tapas just outside the market… has to be done

….and La Lonja.

This building is a UNESCO site and was originally Valencia’s silk and commodities exchange built in late C15 when Valencia was booming. The fabulous “Sala de Contratación”, with its 17m tall columns, is where the goods were traded and banking done…..

…and above one of the doors to the trading room you find the symbol of Valencia….

…..the “Ratpenat” [bat].

The courtyard in the centre of the exchange was [and obviously still is!] a place to meet, plan and discuss important issues of the day ….

Important planning meeting….

….and attached to it is another building – the “Consulado de Mar” where maritime issues were discussed.

The top floor is known as the Golden Hall because of its decorated wooden ceiling….

….though I have to say that we found the floor equally – or even more – captivating….

Much can be learnt about the history of Valencia at the Museo de Historia de Valencia which we visited with Jack and Christine. Although it is rather dark inside the brick pillared crypt like space…..

…. there is plenty to see. As well as display cases, there are small cinematic areas where screenings of acted scenes representing the different periods of history are shown at the press of a button.

One of the exhibits described the various stages of the building of the city defences – the walls and many massive gates. Unfortunately little of the walls remain, though two city gates – Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos – are still intact and can be visited. I, and a few of the Liverpool contingent, climbed the latter for views over the Barrio del Carmen and the former bed of the Rio Turia.

Loved the “layers”

Valencia has more than 45 museums, so we still have several to see! The Ceramics museum is certainly on my list and was visited by most of the sundowners and two of them, Anne and John, chanced upon another – the Museo del Corpus. I was lucky to be with them because try as I might I haven’t found it since and would love to show it to Mike. The museum houses “Las Rocas”….

….giant carts that are wheeled out annually for the Corpus Christi Procession. The earliest dates back to C15. Unfortunately some of them were damaged beyond repair in the 1950 flood [more about this below], but many remain. There are also giant figures….

….and “costumes” which are worn during the parade.

I have twice mentioned the “Rio Turia”. The original river flowed through the centre of the city. Unfortunately it often overflowed its banks and in 1950 the flood was so extensive and destructive that it was decided to change the course of the river. A large channel was built west and south of the city and the river diverted. Thank heaven for the sensible town planning which followed. Rather than build car parks or office blocks it was decided to turn the old river bed into a park and “Los Jardines de Turia” are the result.

Pont de la Mar, Jardines de Turia

Scooters… the new skateboard

Everyone who comes to Valencia should, like all of our visitors, either walk or hire bikes and join joggers, skateboarders, strolling families or romantic couples as they make their way around the city from the “Cuidad de las Artes y las Ciencias” at the southern end to the “Parque de Cabecera to the north west [or the other way of course!].

Water and walkways

As well as enjoying it with our visitors. Mike and I also went there on my actual birthday, starting at the Arts and Sciences end….

….and finishing about half way along where we found another excellent midday menu.

It was a great day out.

So…which hat!

A wedding has just taken place – the bridesmaid is the one in white

Twin fun on the lake

During the various visits, I have taken so many photos of the many bridges along the gardens length, the buildings at the Art/Science complex and the sculpture exhibition that I think I am going to have to create a separate blog post just for them!

Another popular place with visitors has been the seafront. Lots of restaurants, some of them very decorative….

…… line the promenade overlooking the fantastic stretch of beach.

Beautiful sand sculptures too

Surfing and yachting are obviously popular pastimes….

….though our visitors preferred to paddle!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike and I cycled along the whole of the promenade….

…on my first birthday present ride. We went about 8k north to Puerto Saplaya,….

…… an artificial marina which isn’t really our preferred style and is, anyway, too shallow for “Owl and Pussycat”. But it certainly made for a good bike ride.

On the way back we found a great bar “Spaghetti and Blues”….

…. to which we returned two weeks later….

Obviously before the first pint…different face from Mike three pints later!

….and no doubt will again.

Talking of marinas and boats, Valencia actually had a Boat Show which happened to coincide with Jack and Christine’s visit.

Although they now have their boat “Mekeia” on the market [in the US], they enjoyed looking and thinking about all the expense they are now spared!!!

And that’s about it…. Except, in the Museum of Wine there was another plaque…..

Literally – “to good eating or to bad eating drink three times”

…which rather encourages drinking. Not that we really need much encouraging but it was certainly fun doing it with all our wonderful guests.

In Plaza del Virgin again….

Best birthday night…thank you Sundowners [especially Anne and Sue]

“Shall we dance”- Sue asks David

“Sorry we were late – but get your restaurant sign right!!!!

Local tapas night…

Marina Sud bar

Supermarkets closed….but John managed to find a bottle….

Great, wonderful, happy times. Thank you everyone.xxxx

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2017/12/21/60th-birthday-fun-with-friends-in-valencia/

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