Spain
Plaza Redonda

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14 travelers at this place:

  • Day2

    Travel Days

    July 11 in Spain

    It took us 2 days to get to Valencia. We spent so much time in airports due to late flights.
    Georgia especially had a hard time with jet lag. Probably the worst part was the cab ride to our Airbnb. The cab driver dropped us off and pointed in the general vicinity of our apartment. Unfortunately, he was wrong and we wandered around with our suitcases. Georgia noticed an American restaurant to ask directions at. The kind waitress gave directions but in Spanish. Fortunately, Georgia was able to understand. Thank goodness she took Spanish in college. Tomorrow we're taking the hop-on, hop-off bus.Read more

  • Day3

    Hop on and off

    July 12 in Spain

    Today was our first full day in Valencia. Unfortunately Georgia is feeling really sick. I think she is very jet lagged.

    This morning we headed out to the Valencia central market which is just a short walk away from us. This is the largest market in Valencia with more than 300 venders. I was so awestruck that I forgot to take pictures. I will take some tomorrow when I return and add them to this post.

    We got to the market when everyone was just setting up and wandered up and down the aisles. The market is mainly food items such as fruit, meat, vegetables, and seafood. This is the place you would go to get the freshest ingredients for dinner. Occasionally, people have items you can eat or drink while walking around. I had a cup of fruit sliced for eating and a croissant. I’m not sure what makes European croissants so much better than what we can get in the US, but it was amazing. I plan to go back every morning for breakfast here.

    We also got a loaf of rosemary bread and a jug of orange juice to have at our apartment. We were able to watch a machine slice the oranges and freshly squeeze them. This is the best orange juice I’ve ever had.

    Today we went to 3 different grocery stores. When I travel anywhere, I going to grocery stores because you get a good sense for regional foods. It’s also cheap fun. Incredibly, food is overall cheaper here than back home. I suppose the grocery stores need to compete with all the fresh markets around.

    Later, we rode the hop on, hop off bus. Georgia still was sick so I was hoping just riding the double decker bus would be relaxing. The bus has two routes so we rode on both routes. The first is through the old part of town and the second goes to the local beaches. The only place we hopped off was at the marina so I could pay for a future paddle board trip from SUPlife. It was also a chance to see the beach which I think we’ll go to Saturday.

    We decided to take our first siesta like the locals do. It is used as a long lunch and perhaps a short nap. We both fell asleep and slept for 3 hours. This really helped Georgia and she felt much better after it.

    Tomorrow, we’re going to Oceanogràfic which is the largest aquarium in Valencia.
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  • Day4

    Oceanographic

    July 13 in Spain

    Today we decided to visit the Oceanogràfic. It’s the second largest aquarium in Europe and has 500 different species of animals. My favorites were the cold water creatures such as walruses, beluga whales, seals, and sea lions. There are many plexiglass tunnels that you walk through to watch sharks, rays, and fish swim by. I really enjoyed the variety of jelly fish the had too. Oceanografic also has a dolphin show but Georgia refused to go because she says dolphins are cruel animals.

    I have many great things to say about Oceanogràfic. They are open from 10 am to midnight. Though the cost is steep, you could spend all day and see it many times over. The animals all seemed happy. They had signs such as “no flash photography because the fish cannot protect themselves”. There were several places to eat ranging from inexpensive to fancy and expensive. I highly recommend a visit to Oceanogràfic.

    The aquarium is in a part of Valencia called City of Arts and Sciences. It has several music and science museums with some amazing architecture. Below is an aerial shot of some of the buildings.

    Though the aquarium was amazing, our day started out a bit rough. We decided to take the subway to Oceanogràfic. It’s about a 15 minute walk to the nearest subway station. But, once we got there we decided that it would be not much farther so we should just walk. Big mistake. Valencia is known for having over 300 sunny days a year. Not true today. What started as a little sprinkle, ended with a downpour and we got pretty wet. Oh well. At least it cooled things down a bit. We were so tired when we left Oceanogràfic that we actually took a taxi. Funny thing about me, the only way I’ll take a cab is if I find a taxi stand. I’m too scared to flag one down! There is no Uber in Spain.

    We ended the day doing something Georgia was looking forward to. The legal age for drinking here is 18 and since Georgia is 18 she wanted to order an Agua de Valencia. It’s made from fresh squeezed orange juice, sparkling wine, and usually something like vodka or gin. Apparently it’s made for sharing because it comes in pitchers. She really liked it. Unfortunately, we couldn’t order food because there was a problem in the kitchen so we left half of it and had croissants across the street. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good plan. After, we walked around and did some shopping. It was a really fun day.
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  • Day9

    Tourists

    July 18 in Spain

    We really wanted to go to Bioparc today but I just couldn’t get going early enough so we’re playing tourist today. I found the great app called GPSmyCity. It has self guided tours of many cities around the world. In fact, there are 8 different tours just for Valencia. I made my own tour selecting places we’d be interested in and then organizing the walk to be the most efficient. I loved how I could use the gps to figure out if we were going the correct direction. It also gave some brief information about each stop. I highly recommend it.

    We had 9 stops on today’s route.

    1. We started at Mercat Central, which we visit just about every day, to eat breakfast. I had fruit, fresh squeezed orange juice, a tortilla española, and an empanadadilla. It was all very good.

    2. Then, we walked over to the silk exchange, right next door. The silk exchange is the chief tourist spot for Valencia and was the hub for trade in the 15th century. The building is absolutely beautiful and the court yard was a very relaxing place.

    3. Our third stop was Plaza Redonda. It’s a round, plaza (square) with a fountain in the center. We visited this before but wanted to see what it was like in the daytime. The last time we were there, a large dog on a leash jumped into the fountain.

    4. Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina or Santa Catalina church was our next stop. This is a church that was built over a mosque in the early 1200’s. The interior has been redone several times thought. The tower on my first post is from this church and Georgia and I climbed all 136 twisting stone steps. It was very scary at the top because you had to walk this narrow ledge to get past the staircase.

    5. Our next stop was the Plaza de la Reina. We have been here many times and it was the start of our hop on, hop off tour.

    6. On the other side of the plaza is La Catedral (cathedral). Georgia and I did not go in because we felt we weren’t dressed modestly enough though we saw many tourists go in wearing what we felt was inappropriate for a church. We plan to return because the holy grail is said to be inside. It is only a couple of blocks from our apartment.

    7. Next to the cathedral is Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, which is a church. Again we decided not to go in but we will return because the interior is supposed to be beautiful.

    8. The basilica is adjacent to our next stop, the Plaza de la Virgen. We’re we’re not convinced we were in the correct spot because the is a fountain depicts a Neptune surrounded by 8 naked women. The plaza dates back to Roman times and was the original location for the Valencian forum. This is an area with many outdoor restaurants.

    9. Our last stop was one I was really looking forward to, Torres de Serranos. Theses are on of the two sets of towers that were gateways to the old city section. They were built in the 1300’s and are the largest in Europe. You are allowed to walk all around it and up to the top. There were a few areas where the floor had squares cut out of the concrete and it was replaced with plexiglass so you could see straight down to the ground. Georgia and I definitely got a workout here.

    After playing tourist, we decided to try a menu de día, which is a common lunch offering. Since lunch is the big meal of the day, you get to choose an appetizer, main course, and dessert. Though our food was just OK, you couldn’t beat the 11 euro price tag. We’re going to find a better place and try it again.

    We completed our day by heading to the beach for a swim. The water is amazingly warm and we just like to sit and float our where we can barely stand. What a treat to have warm ocean water so close.

    Tomorrow Georgia is going scuba diving and I’m renting a bike to ride through the 9 kilometer Turia Park.

    I've numbered the pictures to correspond to the above numbers.
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  • Day11

    Biopark

    July 20 in Spain

    Today we headed over to Bioparc. This park is a new concept zoo where there are very few visible boundaries between the people and the animals. This zoo mostly has animals from Africa. What I liked best was that animals who peacefully coexist in nature were grouped together. For example, there was one large enclosure with giraffes, several antelope type animals, rhinoceros, and zebras all in one area.

    The first place we went to once we got in was the lemurs, We were there for something called, “Good Morning Lemurs.” Georgia and I were let into an area of the zoo closed off by double doors and a river. All the lemurs were then released from their night area. All of a sudden, a bunch of lemurs came flying through the trees around us. We were not allowed to touch the lemurs and they mostly leave the people alone. But, having them so close to me was amazing.

    I loved the lemurs but I also really loved the gorillas (safely behind glass), hippos, and the giraffes. There was a chimpanzee born on Tuesday that I was able to see. Often, babies are born within public viewing at Bioparc. Here’s an interesting website I found about the babies there: http://www.zooborns.typepad.com/zooborns/bioparc-valencia/ . What a wonderful place to visit. We were lucky enough to see this 3 day old baby.

    After our trip to Bioparc, I took a short siesta and we went to the beach for a quick swim. We just can’t resist that warm Mediterranean water. Afterwards, we went out for dinner and shopped for a bit. Most stores here are open until nine or ten o’clock night.

    Tomorrow we go for a paddle board trip to Javea.
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  • Day10

    Scuba and Biking

    July 19 in Spain

    Georgia recently got certified in scuba diving back home and really wanted to scuba in the Mediterranean, so today was her opportunity. She chose the scuba company and made all the arrangements herself. She had such a good time diving at a shipwreck about 10 meters or so deep. She said it was like diving with friends. To me, that would be the best recommendation possible. If you are interested, the company is called Diving Valencia.

    Meanwhile, I needed something to occupy my time. Georgia didn’t want to miss out on anything so I chose to go bike riding because I knew she wouldn’t
    like that. I had a blast. Valencia is a very flat town with a wonderful park surrounding the old city. Formerly, the Turia River ran through here but in the 1950’s there was a devastating flood. Some homes were under 17 feet of water. Many people died and many lost there homes. The city decided to divert the Turia River to avoid the problem. The government’s plan was to build a road but the people fought back to make the old riverbed into a green space. Fortunately the people won. So, in the 1980’s the park was built over the old riverbed.

    At one end of the park is the city of arts and sciences. The other end is Bioparc, a modern zoo which we’ll be going to tomorrow. In between are many playgrounds, exercise equipment, ponds, trees, and sports practice areas. I saw basketball, baseball, ping pong, soccer, and even American football practice fields. The whole park is filled with biking, walking, and jogging trails that parallel the park on both sides as well as cross-cross the whole thing.

    One of the most interesting things in the park is the Gulliver’s Travels playground. This is a statue of Gulliver tied down to the ground. All throughout the play structure are things to slide on and climb around. I know my pictures won’t do it justice but it is 67 meters long and 9 meters tall. I didn’t play on it though adults are allowed.

    I also managed to sneak in a trip to McDonalds. There was no way Georgia would go with me but I always find it fun to try McDonalds in different countries. I should have done my research before I went because apparently you can get a free beer at McDonald’s in Spain with each order. This is a great marketing plan to get parents to bring their kids in. The food was fairly typical for a McDonalds but I especially enjoyed the fries. They also served croquettes and fish bites at this restaurant.

    I spent several hours biking around the park and the local neighborhoods. Valencia has amazing bike trails not only in the park but also throughout the city. The bike lane is mostly separate from the street so it felt safe.

    In the evening, Georgia and I went to a tapas restaurant that she found online before our trip. I had a vegetable casserole and Georgia had blueberry cheesecake. I thought the food was delicious. It was a fun but tiring day.
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  • Day12

    Javea

    July 21 in Spain

    I am exhausted! It was a long and very tiring day. Javea is about 71 miles from Valencia. The area is known as a small seaside resort with many coves and rocky cliffs. We went there to paddle board.

    For those of you who don’t know us well, Georgia and I love paddle boarding. We frequently do it up at our family cabin on the Hood Canal. The bay our family cabin is on is quite sheltered and filled with sea life such a seals and porpoises. This paddle board trip was anything but sheltered. We should have known there was going to be problems when the tour we went on had so many people that some had to ride with the instructors. There were about 18 of us. When we got there they said it was windy so we were going to be in two different groups. Unfortunately, we were put in group number two. We needed to wait our turn to go on the boards.

    The wait turned out to be 2 1/2 hours. The beach was rocky but there was a pretty cove to swim in. Unfortunately it was cold and breezy. Georgia and I tried to snorkel to keep busy but Georgia was cold so she went to shore to wait. I swam around for a bit, snorkeled, and sat on a float out in the water. Eventually I went back in and asked Georgia to bring me my shoes. That’s when she lifted up her flipflops, the only shoes she had, and showed me one was broken. On a sandy beach, that’s not much of a problem but when it’s a rocky beach, it’s a problem. I asked the lifeguards if anyone sold shoes nearby and he said only in the village, which was quite a distance away, so no luck. Poor Georgia.

    Eventually, group one made it back. Nobody was smiling when they returned but I still had high hopes. We had to go through a mandatory training where one of the instructors got a bit snippy with me. Apparently he did not like my paddling technique. Too bad for him! I just ignored his ranting and paddled the way I feel most comfortable with. Then we set off. It was obvious that Georgia’s paddle board was too small for her so that made it difficult for her to paddle. My board was fine but once we got around the corner, all I could see was large swells heading in all directions and I had no idea where we were going or what we would be seeing. This was going to be a challenge. Georgia was really struggling and I felt so bad for her. We were paddling on our knees for a long time when the instructor who got snippy with me challenged me to stand up. Since I have paddle boarded many times, it wasn’t a problem. I did not stay up too long because I had my shoes, underwater camera, and 2 sets of masks and snorkels on my board. Though I wouldn’t have minded falling in, I didn’t want to lose anything. After a while, we made it to a cove. I had to laugh because at one point, one of the instructors tethered himself to Georgia and pulled her there. Thank goodness we made it since we had been paddling against the current the whole way.

    The cove was interesting. There were many large boards parked near it. There is also a small cave you can swim into which of course Georgia and I did. Fortunately, she enjoyed snorkeling around the cove. Unfortunately, there was nowhere comfortable to sit since it was rocky and big swells would throw you around if you sat in the shallows. When it was time to go back, I was really excited until I heard a girl from Great Britain say we were heading to another cave. Actually, getting there wasn’t a huge problem because it was more sheltered so I split my time standing and sitting. This new cave was very large and really cool to paddle into. Georgia hopped off her board and again snorkeled. She told me that the little fish inside the cave just swam right up to her. Very cool!

    The paddle back was not too bad. This time we had the current with us. We had to dodge boats, a person trolling, and jet skis but it was much easier than going out. As soon as we got back to shore, we had to hurry back because we were about 3 hours later than the usual time - probably due to taking us in two groups. We laughed because the bus driver didn’t want anyone with wet clothes on his bus but there was nowhere to change.

    I did meet some very interesting people on this tour. There was a guy from Boise and a girl from New York on the trip. They were part of a group of 4 people that are digital nomads. What this means is that they have jobs that can be done remotely so they travel the world. They pay a fee to a company. This company can make all or some of their travel arrangements for them. Apparently they also organize tours such as this. They said the most important thing this company does is to arrange a work space for them so they can continue to work. Wow! If this existed when I had gone to school, I would have definitely chosen a career that can be done remotely and then traveled the world.

    The bus ride back to Valencia was quick. Since we were so tired and Georgia had a broken shoe, I splurged on a taxi. We went back to our favorite restaurant, Escalones de la Lonja, for tapas and then back to our apartment for an early night. Tomorrow there are supposed to be thunderstorms so I’m not sure what we’re going to do.

    I do want to add that Georgia is an amazing problem solver. Fairly often, kids will break their flip-flops at school. As a teacher, I thought the only solution was to tape them to the shoe. Georgia was able to use a comb and some bobby pins to temporarily fix her flip-flops. They lasted long enough for us to get back to the apartment - even up the 66 steps. When I asked her how she knew what to do, she said it was due to being a stage manager for plays. Actors will have things like costumes or props break 2 minutes before they need to go on and it’s her job to make sure they are ready to go on. Wow!
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  • Day13

    Relaxing

    July 22 in Spain

    Today is Sunday and many shops and museums are closed today We finally got to sleep in though for me that was about 7. When I looked out the window it looked cloudy and there was a good chance for thundershowers in the forecast. We spend the next two hours getting packed for our departure on Tuesday.

    Once we finished, we noticed people setting up stands in the square in front of us. Apparently, every Sunday people sell things in the street and both tourists and locals walk around and buy things. The prices are very reasonable and there are stalls all over, not just in the square near our apartment. It was really fun to wander around and shop. We even got a couple of things.

    This morning I sat down and made a list of sights I still wanted to see. Somehow when we were being tourists, I missed this amazing archeological museum located right next to the cathedral. Valencia was founded over 2000 years ago as a Roman and Roman ruins have been found, especially where this museum is. It reminded me so much of the museum in Athens with the plexiglass walkways looking down on a dig. Here, you walk over the dig site mainly on plexiglass. You could see cobblestone streets and brick walls. The museum also had a 3-D model of what they thought each building would look like. I especially loved the area over the original Roman baths. Instead of just plexiglass, there is a shallow pool outside so from underneath, you get the illusion of water. It is amazing to me how much of the original Roman city was still in tact and had been excavated. So glad we found this great museum and it as free using our Valencian travel card.

    It never did rain. The clouds parted about noon and the sun beat down again. Georgia and I wandered around all day. We found a outdoor restaurant to eat at and I had an amazing mushroom and artichoke pizza for less than $5. Georgia ordered gnocchi but didn’t like it. We walked around and shopped until late. Tomorrow we want to get an early start to the botanical garden.

    Tomorrow is our last full day. I think we very much need to spend much of it at the beach. We also have a few more things to look at in the city before we say goodbye.
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  • Day13

    Today was our last full day in Valencia and we planned to spend it at the beach and visiting a couple of sights we had missed. Valencia has two original gates. Earlier in the trip we had visited Torres de Serrano, Serrano Tower. I also wanted to see Torres de Quart, Quart Tower. Fortunately it’s near the Jardín Botanico and I wanted to visit the gardens there. Last year I was required to teach a month long lesson on deserts and I knew very little about the subject. I did as much research as possible and I learn a great deal. When I heard this garden had a collection of cactus, I knew I needed to go and take pictures. The cactuses we amazing and I have so many pictures that I can put together a slide show for my students. Perhaps I can write off the trip on our taxes? After visiting the tower and garden, Georgia directed me to some street art that she wanted to see. I personally don’t like graffiti but she patiently explained that most of the good street art was done with permission. Some of the street art is amazing.

    After our sightseeing morning we headed to the beach. Many people told us that the beaches further to the north were better so we took a different subway to get as far as possible. I couldn’t really see much of a difference though we were surrounded by older people. We were close to a part of the beach where handicapped and elderly people had access. They even had wheelchairs that floated in the water and first aid workers to accompany them safely into the water. I also saw canes and walkers that worked on sand and in the water. Very cool.

    Georgia and I spent a couple of hours in the sun and swimming. It was really relaxing. Then, we went to find a restaurant for lunch. Valencians eat their biggest meal of the day for lunch, usually between 2 and 4. Many restaurants have something called Menu del Día, or menu of the day. Usually for between 10 and 15 euros you get a three course lunch, along with bread, a drink, and coffee. Usually you select an appetizer, main dish, and dessert from a list. Since Paella is attributed to Valencia, several varieties of paella are usually on the Menu del Día. We decided to get seafood fideuá, which is paella made with noodles instead of rice. It was very good. We also had calamari, mussels, panna cotta, and cheesecake. Talk about a filling meal.

    After lunch we went back to the apartment to get ready for the evening. On our walk around earlier in the day we found a new restaurant that looked really good. We went there about 10 o’clock for tapas and drinks. Since the Valencians don’t eat lunch until late, dinner is also late. Our restaurant was packed at 10:00. After enjoying some wonderful tapas, we headed back to the apartment for our last night.
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Plaza Redonda

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