13.05.2015 - 15.05.2015 85 °F
The bus arrives in Valencia and we need to walk only 100 feet to our hotel. I've started to look for accommodations closer to train/bus stations so that it isn't such a chore to drag our bags. Fortunately we stay at the very nice Hotel Turia which overlooks the former Turia river-turned-greenpark.
Checking in/unpacking bags/setting up wifi is now a fast process and within 20 mins we are out the door again to try and catch a bike tour that leaves in 30 mins. Without reservations there is a good chance we won't be able to do a tour today but it's fun to roll the dice from time to time. Luckily, we were able to snag the last TWO bikes for the tour and we are off. The 10 person bike tour is led by Chantal who looks remarkably (from a certain angle) like my sister Sylvia. Should I be surprised to see people in Spain who look like relatives? Anyway, I immediately like Chantal and can't stop looking at her and think about my dear sister. At the start of the tour, Chantal asks each one of us what we've already seen in Valencia. Most people have already been here at least a day and have seen quite a bit. When she gets to us, we can only tell her that we've been in Valencia less than an hour and have seen nada. So off we all go. Enjoy the bike pics from the 3 hour tour which includes scenes that can be seen in the new George Clooney movie 'Tomorrow Land'. Too bad this tour doesn't come with a butt massage at the end because we both needed it!
Wiped out from the days bus and bike adventures, we somehow find something to eat close to midnight. The next day is filled with blue sky and sun but in came the hottest day of the year in Valencia. The official temperature was 113 degrees but we still went out anyway determined to see the main highlights in Valencia and (surprise) a trip to see the Holy Grail which Andrea discovered is right here in Valencia. Along the way, we see some amazing sights.
Some years ago we went in search of the grail and wrote about it. (click here). Frankly, I had no idea that Valencia was the home of the cup of Jesus and so we were on a mission to walk through the desert-like heat to find the grail. Andrea learned that we only need to find the 'Almudin' museum which hosts a fine, fine exhibition about the grail. It isn't easy to find the Almudin in this heat and we stop at any shade we can find for a respite. After a few twists and turns we find the building which has nowhere on it the name 'Almudin'. We decide to ask a lady, who looks like a local, where the Almudin is and she looks at us and basically gestures that we are standing right in front if it. She must of thought us fools. Anyway, the Almudun soon reopens. In Spain, places open for a few hours in the morning and then close in mid day only to reopen again around 3pm. The Almudin is wonderful, free and would be worth paying to go to in any event. Everything is in either Spanish or English and you are thrown into the mystery of the grail as you transverse its history right up to the time a priest dropped it and broke it. He soon became ill and died because he was so affected by this accident. Imagine making yourself sick and dying over a broken cup? Ah but this is no ordinary cup! Keep your free Almudin ticket because it will allow you free entry to go see the grail which is located inside the astonishing Catedral of Valencia, located 3 blocks from the Almudin. As we walk to enter the Cathedral, a strong hot wind nearly fells us. "Was this the breath of God", I thought? We enter and like two weary, hot pilgrims, we slowly make our way into the chamber holding the grail. These pics are a shallow example of what I was feeling as I viewed the cup held by Jesus at the Last Supper.
We leave and venture out to explore more of lovely Valencia and stay cool by drinking either beer/sangria or eating gelato. We finally make it back to our hotel and enjoy some nice chinese food. "Chinese food?? What about Paella??", you might wonder. Well, paella will happen manana and sometimes we just like to eat stuff we know we like! lol
The next day is filled yet with more adventure. I was able to email my way onto a tour run by a guy named Mike. His tour is exceptional in that it takes you out of the city of Valencia and into the beautiful nature areas that many people (including local Spaniards) are unaware of. His tour is really the only one that takes you to the clear water springs about an hour outside of the city. His tour is so rare, a young prince (who shall not be named) took it not too long ago. This wonderful tour includes the opportunity to swim in cenote-like waters which was discovered only about 40 years ago. Surrounding it are incredible cliffs and scenery and so much clean, clear gushing water that would make any Californian drool. Speaking of California, much of the scenery we saw looked a lot like California park land. It would be just like driving through the CA Sierra Nevadas except there would be, you know, hundreds year old ruins and castles here and there. Again here, there is phenomenal amounts of fresh water gushing out of places and you need only stick your water bottle under a pipe that's been flowing for centuries to get refilled. I suppose Spain had several centuries to figure out how to access nearly limitless amounts of fresh water. But here too they have had to deal with rain-free years but somehow fresh water is seemingly very much available.
I promised our tour guide I wouldn't reveal too much about the secret locations he takes us to, which includes an excellent restaurant complete with wine drunken from the bladder of a goat!, but these pics might give a clue.
We return around 6pm and rest up before going out for a plate of paellla. (There, you happy now?) I've never had paella before but am told that it was invented here in Valencia. Okay, so I have my first paella in Valencia. I guess it's a little like buying your first light bulb from Thomas Edison or drinking your first martini in San Francisco.
So now it is on to Barcelona via train! Valencia, I would love to see you again!
The pics below are courtesy of Mike's tour.