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From Barcelona to Valencia… and the not-quite-beaten path in between

From Barcelona to Valencia… and the not-quite-beaten path in between

Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 01:48 PM
  #101  
 
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lin, i did, it was today's offerings that I needed the time for!

but worth waiting for. Brava, Marigros.

now I REALLY want to go to Valencia.
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:05 PM
  #102  
 
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you'd better let me know, annhig.. I would be so disappointed not to meet you!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:10 PM
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thanks Lin - it's mutual. perhaps one day!
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Old Jan 23rd, 2013, 02:37 PM
  #104  
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Thanks to all for sticking it out with me for 3 months!!!! Wow! I already took another trip and am planning a return trip to Valencia, this has taken so much more time than I thought.
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 02:11 AM
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Lin, we are going back in October, maybe this time we can meet. And perhaps someone else wants to join
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 05:13 AM
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<b><red>Day 21: One Last Chance and Valencia is Full of Beautiful People</b></red>

Our last day! This Saturday morning we got up really early and hit the street before 8:00am. This is usually not worth doing in Spain as nothing will open before 9:30 and 10:00 will be more like it. The thing was that I decided to do one more walk-by one of the churches I had been trying to get into since the first day in Valencia. On what must have been at least the fifth attempt I finally hit paydirt, the door to the <b> Iglesia del Patriarca</b> was open!

However, it was open because they were holding Mass. Luckily they were almost done so we just waited it out while admiring the frescoes and listening to the very large male choir sing. The choir continued to practice after the service so our entire visit was set to their wonderful harmonics. Choral singing gets me every time.

This church is associated with the Real Colegio del Corpus Christi and used to be the seat of the Antioch Bishop. It has been described as the Valencian Sistine Chapel and was just as wonderful as had been hyped (within reason, this is not Rome afterall!), alligator and everything. The frescoes were magnificent and the nicely contrasting with the tilework. Definitely worth the multiple attempts to get in.

I wanted to go to the Colegio’s museum but DH declined, he’d rather have a coffee somewhere. The tiny <b>Colegio del Patriarca</b> museum was even more awesome than… I don’t know what, I’m running out of superlatives here. But, OMG, it was outstanding. It is small, just a few rooms but it was full of marvels. Ranging from Caravaggio masterpieces to manuscripts by Thomas Moore. This visit is a must-do for any self respecting art-lover.

I rejoined DH and we took off after another round of coffees. I was bent of visiting every single church that had been closed on the previous days to make the most out of Saturday morning openings for Mass. I need not to have rushed because it must have been event-season in Valencia. Every single church that we went by was not only open, but was filled with families for baptisms, first communions and weddings.

I mentioned before that the Valencianos were sharp dressers. Well, lets increase that by a few orders of magnitude. On the next church we visited, <b>San Juan del Hospital</b> a First Communion was taking place. Wonderful church, almost stark when compared to the Patriarca. Its elegance resides solely on design style and proportion.

The same went for the people in attendance, dressed to the gills while still maintaining a strict daytime etiquette down to the women’s headpieces that could have made the Ascot horse race guests look tacky, a simplicity that most have cost a lot of Euros to achieve and have lots of high-end designer names attached. One does not achieve fit like that from the prêt-a-porter racks. The communion girl was a dream in white organza. The private photographer and event coordinator made her go through many poses they had obviously practiced beforehand.

Next stop for today was the <b>Almudín</b> an old warehouse where Valencia’s wheat used to be stored and has been rebuilt as a temporary exhibit hall. It has free entrance and it is always interesting to see the conversion of old Muslim architecture to Western styles. Worth a stop.

There was a wedding in the Church of San Esteban, though it did not smell as much of old money and inherited jewelry as the First Communion, this was not a simple affair either. I laughed because the wedding was almost over and the guests were still arriving en masse. I guess this is where the renowned Puertorrican lack of punctuality (let’s just admit it: blatant tardiness) comes from, our Spanish heritage, lol.

In the Iglesia de San Lorenzo a baptism was going to take place. It was also full of the beautiful People of Valencia. Matter of fact, there were a few photographers standing outside carrying cameras with 24”paparazzi lenses, so I would not have been surprised if this event showed up in the glossy pages of Hola! As we walked by an ambulance was unloading an impeccably dressed older gentleman (wheelchair, oxygen tanks and all), must have been the grandfather or great grandfather of the baby coming to give his blessing. In Hispanic culture grandparents are important, and it would be almost unthinkable to have such an event without them. People were lining up to greet him.

The children in attendance were dressed in their finest linens, all siblings beautifully coordinated: pale blue polka dots over white in one family, pink dresses for the girls and white shorts and pink shirts for the boys in another. The baby was wearing what seemed to be an heirloom ‘faldellín’ reaching down almost to the floor and a simple bonnet. The mother was runway-worthy in pearly gray.

I got hopeful with our lucky roll of open churches so we headed back to barrio del Carmen to see if we could get into the namesake church. Closed. The same happened in the San Nicolás church. The roll had come to a screeching halt. Well, there is always next time! (Coming soon, actually in October 2013!!!! Yay!!! ).

We decided to go back to secular activities (we did go by the Templar Chapterhouse Church but that seemed to be permanently closed) and headed to one of the few remaining things on my list: <b>Casa Museo Benlliure</b>.

I love museum houses so I will immediately admit to be biased. I adore the Jacquemart-Andre and Nissim de Comodo museums in Paris. The Frick in NYC is awesome. At a much smaller scale but still one of my favorite places in Madrid is the Casa Museo Sorolla. Casa Benlliure is somewhat like Sorolla’s atelier. Cozy, quirky and full of interesting objects. The only thing was that the presentations and exhibits assume that one is somewhat familiar with the work and relevance of the Benlliure painters, I would have liked a bit more basic details to get a more comprehensive picture. But that can easily be resolved by Google, someday soon, when I have time.

The garden was pretty and full of cats. It made me miss our three furry babies so it somewhat alleviated the fact that this trip would be over in a matter of hours.
We wandered through the streets and wound up by Plaza de la Reina. We were hungry and stepped into one of the ready-made restaurants. DH had a very nice salad and I had a –gasp!- very good and big slice of pizza. It was definitely time to get back home, or at least back to our regular eating habits.

After that we were done. Everything on the list that was to be seen had been seen to the extent of our stamina and willpower, opening hours permitting. Nothing remained but go to the Corte Inglés and purchase a few necessary food items and browse through the bookstore. We finally found the long-sought Michelin Valencia Regional Map. At least we will be ready for next time, lol.

We went back to the hotel and packed for our (very early) departure in the morning. The end-of-vacation funk was settling in, on top of that the late lunch had messed up our appetites and we could not decide what we wanted to eat. So we went back out to have a few drinks before dinner.

We wandered through the old town and wound up sitting in a bar just across from the Santa Catalina church where a wedding was taking place. This provided countless moments of entertainment. First of all, it seemed that everyone under 35 that had been invited to the wedding was hanging out outside the church, coming and going into the bar for drinks while the ceremony was taking place.

Now, if dress code for the daytime events had been outstanding, the eveningwear was dazzling. The dress code looked to be semi-formal so the ladies were wearing short dresses, all in shades of cream and beige. They looked like they were ready to walk down the red carpet as they came into the bar to grab a glass of wine and speak frantically into their phones. Forget the Kardashians and the Housewives of whatever County, this was the original ticket item. Perfect makeup, made to look as they had been born with perfect skin to rival Venus’, professional jobs without doubt, airbrushes were definitely involved. Shoes, handbags and accessories that all together might cost more than my car.

When the wedding was over and the happy couple came out the firecrackers and fireworks got going. The amount and quality enough to rival the new year’s celebrations of many small towns. The street smelled of gunpowder for the next hour, lol.

Eventually it was time, we had to find a place for dinner. To make a long story of wandering and frustration short, we wound up going back to the Ocho y Medio for another paella. This time we sat closer to the café and next to the big screen tv where they were showing a football game. In retrospect, we should have requested to move tables as it was too loud and very annoying after a while. We had a seafood paella that was not nearly as good as the one we had before and was way too salty. But I think our overall appreciation was negatively impacted by the early onset of post-vacation depression.

So that was it. After months of planning, reading, internet surfing, scheduling, cancelling and rescheduling, our three-week vacation was over. Our love affair with everything Spanish was renewed: the country, the landscape, the food and the people. We felt ready to take the next step in this relationship, yes, we knew, without a doubt, that we want to be in Spain, make it our home away from home. And now we knew exactly where that would take place: Valencia.

--------------

I will not bore you with the details of the 4:00 am taxi ride to the airport, of the nice Iberia lady was able to rebook the two legs of our separately-purchased flights into single tickets from Valencia to San Juan or the long boring flight. And so, my friends, comes the end. At least the end of this chapter.

Thanks to all for reading along. ¡Hasta pronto!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 05:56 AM
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Marigross: thanks for your wonderful report....and waitingmfor the new one in october!! Hasta pronto!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 06:50 AM
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I do hope I don't miss you in October, but iI HOPE to be at a wedding in San Diego then and most of the month! Maybe next time!
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Old Jan 24th, 2013, 11:28 AM
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yes, wonderful.

Thanks so much for taking us with you.
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Old May 2nd, 2014, 11:49 AM
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I've just come back to re-read this in preparation for our welcome but unexpected visit to Valencia that's coming up at the end of the month.

So much wonderful information, marigros, I'm sure I'll be reading it again and again before we go.
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