May 04

A bit more fun and a lot of work!

Well we have now moved on from Valencia – heading east, but of course we had a bit more fun before leaving.

We visited La Albufera – a lagoon just south of the city where the bomba rice, for which Valencia is famous, is grown.

Dave and Mag came to stay for six nights and, as well as showing them the sights of Valencia and the waterfront,

…… we also took a car trip north to Castello de Sagunto.

Dave finally found a Pizza oven!!!!

It was originally a thriving Iberian community called, believe it or not, “Arse” which was destroyed, in 219BC, by Hannibal – he obviously didn’t like the name! This sparked the second Punic War, which Rome won and a new town, Saguntum, was built.

The engraved stones are parts of funerary and honorary inscriptions.

The small town there was all decked out in its Easter colours – even purple flowers had been planted.

We saw ships old and new visiting the harbour…..

…and made lots of trips to the market…..

and veg – just look at those radishes!

Lovely fruit

Snails anyone!!

So many dates to choose from…

…and lovely hams

Bit macabre – its a processed fish stall!

….where we also took Steve and Gill during their short stay in Valencia before and after their trip back to the UK.

Great coffee at the Panaderia

Whilst they were with us we also came across a building we hadn’t previously known you could visit.

Fantastic ceiling in the upstairs room

A bit of detail – can you see all the little heads?

An amazing fireplace in the main hall

But the over winter 2017/18 Valencia stories would not be complete without my telling you a little bit about the work we did between visitors and visits. It’s amazing when you actually sit down to make a list you realise just how much you have achieved. Over the course of six months we did the following:-

Replaced the bow navigation light and bracket

Fitted a new wash down pump and replaced the deck connection

So much for being told the wash down pump was relatively new!

Fitted a holding tank for the forward heads – including a deck pump out. We “lost” a wardrobe in the process – but who needs one of those!

Pipework done…..

….tank in and braced – you don’t want that coming loose!

Replaced the Italian 240v sockets

Fitted a water-maker

At the same time we replaced and moved the galley seawater pipe and also replaced the galley sink cupboard floor

Water maker pump and filters under the sink

….and still room for all the usual under sink stuff

Removed the old water heater pipes

Move the pressurised water pipe connections to make them more accessible and visible

Rewired the navigation station and built new panels and a created a new cupboard

That does look much more tidy inside

Making the bracket for the SSB

All in place

Cut here….!

A place for everything and everything in place!

Replaced the leaking deck prism

Butyl tape works brilliantly and you can’t see it at all

Serviced the davits  and replaced the davit hoist pulleys and ropes

A nice bit of splicing there

Replaced the shore-power socket and rewired the internal shore-power cable

Reverse Polarity switch needed replacing – as you can see

What in heavens name was the previous owner doing…

…and its not as though he couldn’t see from one to the other

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Replaced the water tank gauges and senders

Replaced the dinghy grab handle and grommets

Replaced the dinghy outboard fuel tank filler cap

Fitted wire hoist strops to the dinghy

Aha… the trusty hydraulic crimper

Replaced the aluminium exhaust elbow [which came with the engine] with a stainless steel one

Serviced the engine

Had the diesel polished

Replaced the spray hood

Had a lazy bag made to replace the old cover

Serviced the sheet winches and replaced the collets

Serviced the starboard reefing winch

Fitted an AIS

Fitted a new battery charger and a battery monitor

Trying to ensure there is space….

..because the new one is a different shape

now for the shunts and wiring in the house battery compartment

Fitted a dedicated charger for the VHF handheld

Replaced the vented loops in the generator exhaust and the 240v fridge coolant system

Epoxied the fridge door frame

Replaced the catch on rear shower/engine room door

Fitted a handle to the companionway hatch

Marked reefing points on the main halyard and on the reefing lines

Stopped a stern shower tap leak – which had been staining woodwork in the saloon

Made a mattress support [with a little help from Ikea] to allow air to circulate and reduce damp/mold

We had to cut some of the frame and re-staple the tape but it works really well

Whilst doing some jobs – we managed to fit in others

Well I’ve got the angle grinder out….

…so I may as well reshape and sharpen knives which were damaged when Siga Siga sunk

I guess I could go into detail about the work not done, but that would end this blog on a sour note, so I won’t – just suffice to say that our planned bimini and re-designed stern arch work did not happen. This means we are toting around two solar panels and a wind generator in our spare bedroom. Don’t worry forthcoming guests – we can move them to the bunkroom for your visit.

It also means our list for jobs to do in Greece has already started! But, hopefully I will be reporting on many other adventures before then so watch this space.I guess I could go into detail about the work not done, but that would end this blog on a sour note, so I won’t – just suffice to say that our planned bimini and re-designed stern arch work did not happen. This means we are toting around two solar panels and a wind generator in our spare bedroom. Don’t worry forthcoming guests – we can move them to the bunkroom for your visit.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/05/04/a-bit-more-fun-and-a-lot-of-work/

Apr 08

Fiestas Valencia style

This post is rather shorter and sweeter in terms of words than my usual ramblings, though I hope that the abundance of photographs makes it a colourful read.

In keeping with the Spanish tradition, Valencia knows how to party. Fiestas abound. Since the beginning of 2018 we have seen Three Kings Day, Carnival, Falles and preparations for San Vincente Ferrer feast day.

Unfortunately we didn’t see much of Los Reyes Magos [Three Kings] Parade, basically due to the number of people who got there before us! It is very much aimed at children and is the time when they receive their “Christmas” gifts. Throughout the parade, sweets and sometimes small toys are thrown to the crowd by the Kings and their entourage.

The Kings arrive by ship and then walk a route which takes about three hours before they reach the Plaza de Ayuntamiento. We just saw their arrival at the marina.

Whilst Carnival is celebrated, it is perhaps rather more low key in Valencia because of the city’s Fallas festival which takes place a couple of weeks later. However, several of the “barrios” host small carnivals and we went to two of them.

First of all, Cabanyal ….

…. which is the old fisherman’s quarter close to the marina.

Their theme was Mardi Gras.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The very popular “queen” of the proceedings gave a rousing speech …..

….and all in all it was very much a fun local family affair.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was the turn of Ruzzafa…

……which hosted a “folkloric” carnival with various South American communities being represented.

Decorated cars…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Emblems

flags…. and ….

…banners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Performers and dancers in their hundreds…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fantastic costumes…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

….and head-dresses….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bit of a creepy mask…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Musicians…

Balancing acts….

People of all ages…..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A great time was had by all

Then, every March Valencia gets ready to welcome the spring – with the main event in its annual fun packed calendar, Falles – a traditional celebration held in commemoration of Saint Joseph.

Each neighbourhood of the city has an organised group of people, the “Casal Faller”, also known as the “Comissío Fallera”, which works all year long holding fundraising parties and dinners.

The Valencian people, and any visitors lucky enough to be in the city over the festival period, really get to live life to the full as the city celebrates. The general gist is that everything that is bad is burnt and the new season is reborn from the ashes.

There are different versions regarding the origin of the Falles festival but the most popular one seems to be that the Falles started in the Middle Ages, when artisans disposed of the broken artefacts and pieces of wood they saved during the winter by burning them to celebrate the spring equinox. Valencian carpenters used planks of wood called “parots” to hang their candles on during the winter to provide light to work by. With the coming of the spring, they were no longer necessary, so they were burned. Over time, and with the intervention of the Church, the date of the burning of these parots was made to coincide with the celebration of the festival of Saint Joseph, the patron saint of carpenters.

This tradition continued to evolve. The parot was dressed with clothing so that it looked like a person; features identifiable with some well-known person were added as well. The “Ninot” [character figure] was born.

These figures, often “disney-like” in appearance might just be fantasy creations but sometimes represent politicians and other celebrities from the local neighbourhood, the city, the country and the world. These were then placed on a pedestal so they could be seen in the distance.

Until the beginning of the 20th century, the falles were tall boxes with three or four wax dolls dressed in fabric clothing. This changed when the creators began to use cardboard. The fabrication of the falles continues to evolve in modern times, when the largest displays are made of polystyrene and soft cork which means they can be more easily moulded with hot saws. These techniques have allowed the creation of falles over 30 metres high.

Each year there is one “ninot indultat” [pardoned ninot]. This has resulted in an exhibition of the best figures, one per Falla, with the general public as the jury. We went to this year’s exhibition – held in the Science museum.

There are so many to choose from and it was really difficult to know what makes a good ninot. We just enjoyed seeing them and didn’t vote.

 

Recognise him?

A piss take on the British tourist…

Counting people!…….

The Fab Four

Now who could this be…..!

Certainly a popular choice of caracature

All the pardoned ninots, dating back several years, are exhibited in the Falles Museum which, you might remember, we visited in February.

From 1 to 19 March, every day at 2 pm in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the city vibrates to the sound of the traditional mascletà, a display of gunpowder explosions that beats out a unique sound. We went to the first one and the noise was tremendous. We couldn’t work out a particular beat but the ground certainly shook.

It was all overseen by the Fallera Mayor and her entourage.

Each Falla committee has a queen but one is then selected as the overall queen of the Falla.

On the night of 15th March the plantà [installation] takes place, when the falleros and falleras – the men and women who construct the falles, get together to work through the night on erecting them, to have them finished by dawn on the 16th. It seemed that not all Falla societies waited until the official start time of 5pm as Mike saw these guys at around midday.

When we first heard about the festival we went to the tourist office and enquired as to where we might see the figures. The answer was “everywhere” and that was absolutely right. There are somewhere between 450 and 750 constructions, and when we went into the city on 16th March they were in every plaza and on many street corners.

Rather sinister….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A bit bawdy…

Here he is again…

Falles or phallus!…

During the day there were small parades taking place in the local falla committee streets…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amazing dresses…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

…but you have to eat sometime!

Accompanied by bands…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

just time for a quick check on mates….

…..and during the evenings of 17/18 March all of the city’s falles members take part in a parade from their respective districts to the Plaza de la Virgin….

….in order to make an offering of flowers to Our Lady of the Forsaken, a Patron Saint of Valencia. The celebration takes place from 4 pm until past midnight. With all of the bunches of flowers given by the falleras to the Virgin, an impressive 15 metre-high tapestry is formed on the main façade of the Basilica and a mantle is made for the Virgin.

Waiting for her flowers…

Now fully bedecked

We went in to the city to see the parade and happened to decide to go for a drink and a bite to eat. The café was showing the event on the TV and we quickly realised that only the people in the parade were actually allowed into the Plaza and that the best view of the proceedings was right there on the screen. So we stayed warm and cosy and watched until they had all passed by when it was time to head for the Alameda.

Every night from 15 to 18 March, the sky of Valencia is filled with impressive firework displays. At 12 midnight, people gather on Paseo de la Alameda to enjoy the best display of colour and light. The most spectacular display is on 18th March – the Nit del Foc [Night of Fire], which is the one that we saw. It lasted an impressive 25 minutes.

These photographs, however, were taken on the 1st March when, for the first time, Marina Juan Carles I, organised a firework display to start the Falla celebrations in grand style. Because we were at the marina we managed to get a grandstand view and didn’t have to fight with the crowds on the far side of the canal basin.

On 19 March all of the sculptures, both those in the large and the children’s categories, go up in flames. At 10 pm the Cremà of the children’s sculptures begins.

“Bomberos” everywhere…just in case

The local young queen setting fire to her Falla

Going…

Going….

Gone…Children walking and singing around the burnt out Falla

Two hours later it is the turn of the large monuments.

The falla in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento was the last one to burn, at 1 am in the morning.

The Ayuntamiento Falla the night before the burning

It is always preceded by a small display of spectacular fireworks which fill the square with noise, light and colour, leading to the Cremà of the city’s last falla and with it the end of the festival.

The final fiesta – and yet another local holiday! – was for San Vincente Ferrer, another patron saint of the Valencian community. He is known for being one of the most prolific Catholic miracle workers and this aspect gets most emphasis during the day.

Once again there is an offer of flowers made – to an altar outside what was his home. There is apparently a fairly formal procession of religious associations but the most eventful unusual part are the various plays depicting his miracles which are staged by local children under 13. 13 seems to be important as across the city 13 different stages are erected. They are really quite elaborate…..

….and the performances apparently last around 2 hours.

Those of you who are observant might have noticed that I have failed to mention Easter. We did see some small Easter weekend parades [but nothing like the elaborate “Stages of the Cross” seen in other places] and on Palm Sunday there was a special service in the cathedral but Valencia appears to save itself for the Corpus Christi festivities in June. I wrote about the “Rocas” in an earlier blog but, all being well, we won’t actually see this parade as we are hoping to leave Valencia in the next week.

So, as I hope I have demonstrated, Valencia thoroughly appreciates its fiestas and we have very much enjoyed partying along.

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/04/08/fiestas-valencia-style/

Mar 29

Beautiful buildings and bridges – a walk through “The Turia”, Valencia

I might have mentioned in an earlier post that we have come to love our walk through the Arts and Sciences Park and the gardens in the old riverbed of the Turia. It is somewhere we take all our guests so I have delayed posting too many photos of it so that it didn’t spoil things for later visitors. But, barring any unexpected last minute guests [or unexpected problems which result in us staying longer….please no] then it is time to share with you the delights of this small part of Valencia.

The City of Arts and Sciences, an impressive example of modern architecture, is comprised of six different areas designed, in the main, by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.

The first area, and the only one designed by a different architect – Félix Candela, is the “Oceanografic” which is the largest aquarium in Europe with 110,000 square meters and 42 million litres of water. It was built in the shape of a water lily and each building represents different aquatic environments including the Mediterranean, Wetlands, Temperate and Tropical Seas, Oceans, the Antarctic, the Arctic, Islands and the Red Sea. It is home to over 500 different aquatic species and also wetland birds.

Given that we have been lucky enough to see much of the sea life contained within it in their natural habitats we haven’t actually visited the oceanographic  though, judging by the queues seen on several occasions, many people do.

The next building is the Ágora. This was apparently seen as the new icon of the City of Arts and Sciences – a versatile space in which to hold varied events.

Artisist impression…. courtesy of Valencia tourism website

As far as I can make out by “reading between the lines”, it has been a rather controversial addition to the park. Constructed between 2005 and 2009 it opened in a partially unfinished state but was capable of holding events such as large tennis tournaments. However, when commissioned by the private company who were to run the building and organise events, another architect declared it structurally suspect both inside and out. By this stage it had cost €96 million, with the original architect still requiring somewhere between €10-22 million to complete the retractable roof. City planners said No and the building was “abandoned”.

During our stay in Valencia there has been scaffolding all round it and some work does seem to be being done so whether funds have now been found and it will, one day, open again I don’t know.

Agora, slightly hidden and surrounded by scaffolding

Whilst on the subject of money and mismanagement – some would say that the whole park has been a drain on resources. The original budget was €300 million and the final cost approx €900 million. However, I can think of lots of projects and buildings which go over budget and, in its defence, I would say that this part of Valencia attracts lots of visitors and seems very well used by local people too. I am also sure that it brought some money into the city when it was used to film Dr Who! [Series 10, Episode 2 – if there are any particular Dr Who fans out there]

The first building in the “main park” is the Museo de Las Ciènces Príncipe Felipe – a very striking building which is 220 meters long, 80 meters wide and 55 meters high and resembles part of a whale skeleton.

Startling

Close up of the roof area

The museum itself is orientated to children learning the sciences through experience, so apparently everything is graphically displayed, with huge texts and pics, experiments, buttons to touch and experience. We have been in the building, but only on the ground floor, when we went to see the exhibition of the 2018 Niñots [about which you will hear more in my next blog].

The park is full of pools of water intersected by attractive streams.

Whilst we have been here, both the Valencia Full and Half Marathons have finished just outside the Science building with the final approach to the finish line being built on a platform over the water and spectator seating lining each side…..

…… and someone has to keep it all clean!

When we first visited the park this pool contained 6 sculptures by Valencian born Manolo Valdés.

Heads in the background

The giant heads were apparently influenced by traditions of Spanish painting and the history of art. They went on display in June and in mid-September they were put to a popular vote to decide which one should stay in Valencia. Which would you chose?

Los Aretes

La Doble Imagen

La Mariposa

La Pamela

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

La Diadema

Mariposas

 

 

 

 

The winner was “La Pamela” who received 12,855 of the 41,538 votes.

The other main pool is used for paddle boarding, boating and “hamster balls”.

Don’t really know what else to call them!

Along the southern edge of the park is L’Umbracle which was designed as an entrance to the City of Arts and Sciences and includes 55 fixed arches and 54 floating arches that stand 18 meters high.

It is 320 meters long and 60 meters wide, and encloses a landscaped walk with plant species indigenous to Valencia [such as fig marigold, “spanish flags”, rosemary, lavender, honeysuckle, bougainvillea and palms].

I certainly haven’t counted but there are supposed to be over 230 large trees, 42 different varieties of shrub and 5,500 ground cover plants. Birds fly through the trees – the loudest, but most difficult to spot, being the parakeets.

L’Umbracle sits atop a huge carpark but unless you knew you would probably never guess that this is a ventilation shaft to allow exhaust fumes to escape.

Similarly, unless you get close enough to inspect the cone, I don’t expect you would think it contained a lift…..

I also like the in-keeping architecture of the apartments behind the park

Alongside the L’Umbracle runs “The Walk of the Sculptures”….

……an outdoor art gallery with sculptures by contemporary artists and from that walkway there is a great view of the whole complex….

….and in particular the parks centrepiece – L’Hemisfèric.

This contains a Laserium, Planetarium and IMAX cinema. The building is meant to resemble a giant eye that opens to access the surrounding water pool. The bottom of the pool is glass, creating the illusion of the eye as a whole

From the front I think it looks like a helmet of some kind.

Finally in the main park is El Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía – the Opera house and performing arts centre.

Another helmet…. or a fish?

Measuring over 70 metres in height, the Palau de les Arts is divided into four separate halls. It is here that we saw the ballet “Carmen”.

Palau des Artes by night

Inside the Arts building

A view back into the park from the first floor

From this point the gardens of the Turia wend their way around the city. In total the reclaimed riverbed is 9km long. Within the gardens is a children’s play park where “Gulliver” lies waiting for children to clamber all over him, a skate/scooter park and a separate roller park, café’s, football and rugby fields, athletics track and baseball ground, separate walkways for runners(¡) and a cycle path so that strollers, on their designated path, can wander in peace and no activity impinges on the other. It is all extremely well designed and organised.

Another building found in the Turia is the Palau de la Musíca…

… the home of the Valencian Orchestra who we went to see performing Tchaikovsky. On two other occasions we saw, firstly, a performance by two modern jazz pianists [more Mike’s taste than mine] and, secondly, the Glenn Miller Orchestra [surprisingly enough – more my taste than his!].

Again, as in the Arts and Sciences Park, water is a particular feature.

In total, nineteen bridges cross the Turia. We have seen most of them either during our walks or whilst on the 95 bus which runs up and down the roads parallel to the riverbed.

Perhaps the most immediately striking is “El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or”….

a white cable stayed bridge situated between El Museu de les Ciències and L’Agora. The tower of the bridge, at 125 meters, is the highest point in the city. For reasons which may be obvious, it is commonly known as “The Harp”

Fly past!

Both this and the other bridge in the Arts and Sciences Park – Puente de Monteolivete – were also designed by Calatrava….

….as was the Puente de la Exposición situated further up the riverbed.

Traditionally known as “La Peineta” (an ornamental comb) on account of its unique shape, it is built in high-tensile steel and is set on one single span, with a 14-metre high arch running from one end to the other.

One of the most famous bridges is the Puente del Mar.

Surrounded by palm trees, it was rebuilt after flooding in 1591 that destroyed the simple wooden bridge that stood in its place, and for centuries it was the natural route connecting the city with the port. In 1933, the Puente de la Mar was closed to traffic and has remained pedestrian only ever since.

It has ten pointed arches and along the top houses two structures within which are the statues of the Mare de Dué dels Desemperats [Our Lady of the Foresaken….

…….and San Pascual Bailon.

Their statues replaced the original images of San Vicent Ferrer, San Vicente Màrtir and Sant Joan Baptista which were all destroyed during the Spanish Civil war. Statues of the first two saints can still be seen on the Puente de Real, a little further along the Turia, and again they sit on a gothic bridge which replaced the original wooden structure.

The Puente de Serranos is so named because it was the most obvious access point to the city for those people who travelled from Serrania. It was built in 1518, on nine segmental arches with breakwaters, cutwaters and parapets.

The Torres de Serranos at the head of the bridge [from the top of which this photo was taken] is one of the two remaining towers from medieval times.

Whilst the Puente de Aragón may not be the most exciting bridge….

….I did rather like the shadows it cast…..

We have found that what is under the bridges is often as interesting as the bridges themselves. One bridge has palm trees growing through holes made specifically to enable this to happen.

Another shows the original bridge drains.

So ornate for something which was probably hardly ever seen, except by a few boatmen, prior to the river being diverted and the gardens built.

I was so attracted by the geometry of the underside of the Puente del Mar that this photo now adorns our saloon!

I am not sure why I have left this bridge to the end – probably because it is the most colourful.

The Puente de las Flores (Flower Bridge), is a relatively new bridge dating from 2002, which is permanently decorated with beautiful flowers of all colours, which vary throughout the seasons. During the Christmas period, both ends were full of poinsettias.

So, I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the Turia – better still, hop on a plane, sail your boat here, drive your campervan, whatever …… and see it for real!

Permanent link to this article: http://www.sigasiga.co.uk/2018/03/29/beautiful-buildings-and-bridges-a-walk-through-the-turia-valencia/

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