Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Where Sunday's still the day of rest

I've grown up in the busy American lifestyle of constant motion, and shops closed on Sundays are a memory told by my parents of their childhood days. But in Spain, this remains a reality. On Sunday morning, we slept late and had our morning coffee and toast before retreating back to our room for some down time reading and resting. It was a cold and rainy day, so we wanted nothing more than a lazy day after our busy travel week. We took an afternoon walk with Begona after the rain cleared, and stopped for some pintxos in town. Aside from the restaurants, the town center was closed and quiet. We walked down to see the hanging bridge - the only one operating in Europe - and walked along the harbor. We chatted with Begona and caught up a bit. She certainly enjoyed our company and insisted that we visit again before too long. We went back into relaxation mode for the evening, and then headed out to catch our bus to Valencia. 

The overnight bus ride was aided by a stop where we bought some donuts to get us through. Sleeping in spurts and arriving in Valencia at 5:30 am made for a sleepy day. We waited at the bus station for a bit before stopping in a cafe for a breakfast of cafe con leche and croissants. Still too early to check in to our room, we spent some time in the park soaking up the sunshine. Our hosts left a map of the city for us, and we figured out directions to the beach. Our travels became a vacation when we walked among the palm trees to the beachside restaurants for lunch - paella, the valencian specialty. After lunch, we spent the afternoon on the beach enjoying the warm and sunny weather. We ended up covered head to toe in sand because of the wind. Our night ended with tapas and "agua de  Valencia" (white wine + fresh squeezed orange juice). Then it was off to our bunk beds for a good night's sleep. 

Day 2 in Valencia was our sightseeing day. We got a late start after sleeping in, and headed to the old city. We entered through the original city arch and towers, built in the 1200s. We explored the narrow streets and ancient buildings and came upon a white decorated painted path that lead us to a building with a beautiful ornate facade. It turned out to be the museum of ceramics, so we went inside for a tour. The building was once a palace of a noble Valencian merchant family, and we learned much of its history through our tour. 
Continuing on the painted path, we ended up in a small square where we found a chocolateria, and stopped for chocolate con churros. Yum!
Tonight we made our own dinner, a typical Spanish dish of melon slices with Iberian ham. It's nice to spend two nights in one place before we go on to Barcelona tomorrow!

^paella de verduras (vegetable paella)
^agua de valencia and patatas bravas
^ hanging out with the disciples on the beach - amazing sand art!
^chocolate con churros
^melon and ham

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