Monday, January 3, 2011

Plans For Our Last Week and Thoughts of Valencia

We are now one week from leaving.  There are only a few things that we must accomplish in that time.  Among the most urgent of those are:

  • Finish clearing our apartment.  We've made great progress here.  There is not much furniture left to worry about, and the only room that really has a lot of stuff left in it is the kitchen, which I think we'll really be attacking tomorrow.  Today we'll be finishing up Ricky's room.
  • Unpack and repack the things we are actually taking, so that we know what we've got and have got what we need.
I wish that, instead, we were already traveling and did not need to think about these things.

Spain has been a lot of fun.  We have spent a lot of time traveling within the country, seeing cities that we were not really familiar with previously.  The biggest and most pleasant surprise for us inside Spain was Valencia.  The third largest city in the country, we had only passed through it previously.  We went for the first time at the end of 2009, when my sister was visiting with her family.  We all took the train out there, and had a great time.  We had so much fun, that Ana and Ricky and I returned several more times during the year.

One of the highlights of the city, especially for those traveling with children, is the City of Arts and Sciences.  This futuristic-looking museum complex includes Europe's largest aquarium, a science museum, an IMAX theater, a garden, and a performing arts center.  It is stunning to see, and has plenty of interesting features for the children and the parents.  Another wonderful location in the city is the Bioparc, which is a large, modern zoo, in which you can walk through the exhibition spaces, and have animals literally all around. 

Of course, there are wonderful things to eat.  There is the paella valenciana, the saffron and rice dish which originates in the region, and which is still made best here.  There are also many other traditional seafood dishes, as the city sits right upon the Mediterranean.  We visited the rice growing region of the Valencia province, and had a great meal at a restaurant called La Primitiva.  The restaurant was located between rice fields, had a very friendly staff, and took a bit of driving to find.   Once we did, we were very happy.  We had an eel stew that was rich and flavorful and delicious.

The old city of Valencia is another facet of this wonderful city which we enjoyed.  With ancient, narrow, winding streets, it reflects the Moorish heritage of the city in its construction and the lively population there today.

A final great point about Valencia is the traditional drink of the region, Horchata.  This sweet white beverage is made from the tiger nut, which is actually a kind of legume.  It can be found in both everyday bars and in specialized locations which produce it themselves and brag of its quality.  It is a wonderful treat, worth going to the city for all by itself.

But that's Valencia, and today I am in Madrid, and I need to get to work on the apartment.  Seven days until Morocco!

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