Sunday, 30 September 2012

The bad luck continues...

30.09.11 Surrey

We left Barcelona sharpish after the break-in and headed North with the plan of taking about a week to get through France and then ferry home.  Full day by day updates will go up when I have a new laptop!  Unfortunately however the van had other ideas and after a lovely visit to Carcassonne we broke down on the motorway.  The accelerator pedal started hissing and then the van began to sound like a tank!

Thankfully our phenomenal break-down company ADAC came to tow us to a nearby garage (after we'd moved far enough away from the French toll road with their silly rules!).  After 5 hours of watching French TV the garage told us it was a problem with the turbo.  They said they could possibly bodge a fix in a weeks time or order in a part that'd take at least 3 weeks.  Once again ADAC saved the day and offered to ship the van to the UK so we could get it fixed there and wait for the part in the comfort of Chris' mums house.  They also offered to pay for our flights back to the UK and some of the rest of our transport.

So here we are back in Blighty with poor Van Diesel left in a French field.  Its certainly not what we had planned but hopefully our little family will be reunited soon and we can set about getting the van back to full health.  Fingers crossed it will all be cheap enough that we can get back on the road to Italy and avoid the horrid UK winter!

Monday, 24 September 2012

Unhappy Birthday to me

23.09.12 Barcelona
Yesterday I had a wonderful birthday in Barcelona until we returned to the van to find we'd been broken into. They took both laptops and a watch. We're both ok but annoyed and will be making our trip back to the UK sooner than anticipated. Understandably no normal blog posts for a little while until we get ourselves sorted again. Will keep you all posted as well as we can.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Back in Barca and it feels good!

Day 149 19.09.12 Barcelona

Fountain in the Parc de la Ciutadella in Barcelona, Spain

Antigua casa figueres on Las Ramblas in Barcelona
We woke up surprisingly early despite our late night and spent most of the morning lazing around and writing.  On a couple of occasions it pours it down with rain which will hopefully clean the solar panel a little.  Once the rain cleared up we headed out to check out the local area.  We’re surrounded by innovatively designed hotels and corporate high-rises.  It definitely feels like the van is safer here than in other areas of the city.  We soon find a large shopping complex just a few minutes’ walk from the van which is another ticked box on the ‘ideal parking spot’ list.  There’s a supermarket, decent toilet facilities and free (if frustratingly slow wifi).  It’s a good job too as the rain came back heavier than ever leaving us trapped in the centre until it stopped!  After lunch and some more writing we set out to the centre of the city to have a wander around and grab a map and festival programme from the tourist office. 

We came to Barcelona for my birthday years ago so we know our way around pretty well and are familiar with most of the highlights of the festival.  Our parking spot is a bit of a way out of town but thanks to Barcelona’s ludicrously simple grid pattern layout we just have one wide boulevard to walk down following the tram tracks until we get to Park de la Ciutadella in the centre.  It’s a wonderful huge green space with a spectacular fountain.  Just as we arrive at the gold topped fountain the sun finally appears through the grey clouds that have been around all morning.  There’s lots of activity with workmen setting up stages for performances during the fiesta.  

Arc de Triomf in Barcelona, SpainUp from the park is Barcelona’s grand Arc de Triomf.  We enjoy wandering through the streets, pop into a church or too and generally enjoy soaking up the atmosphere.   We both adore this city and it’s fantastic to be back.  We eventually find our way to the famous Las Ramblas and it’s busy as ever!  Thankfully the tourist kiosk has maps laid out in front and the culture centre has fiesta timetables albeit in Castellon not Spanish or English for that matter! 

To escape the bustle we head to the huge market area.  It’s an explosion of colour in there and we can’t help but treat ourselves to some of the sumptuous looking fruit salads on display.  They didn’t disappoint.

Onwards we went to the labyrinth of streets of Las Ramblas which are some of our favourites.  Its amazing that in such a bustling cosmopolitan capital these quirky streets can stay in business.  They are full of vegetarian cafes, rock bars and hippy clothes shops.  It’s a little rough around the edges but there’s a lovely bohemian feel to the place that’s the perfect antidote to the sometimes overwhelming Las Ramblas.

After a fair amount more aimless wandering and snapping away at amazing buildings we head along the port front and then up to the Icaria cinema.  It has screens showing films in their original language and we’re hoping to see Dredd.  No such joy unfortunately, they seem to be a little behind on the new releases and the guy behind the counter is little help in informing us whether they’ll get the film any time soon.

A little dejected we head back to the van zig-zagging up the grid pattern streets to see what we can find.  Its already pretty late by now so time for some dinner and more gaming before bed.  We’re both exhausted and desperate to catch up on sleep.  Even so it’s awesome to be back in Barcelona and I can’t wait to be back up and exploring the city again tomorrow.

The gay millionaire’s playground.


 Day 148 18.09.12 Sitges

Well it’s another grey cloudy day which means all my washing is still wet and starting to smell delightfully close to the aroma of a wet dog L

We drive up to a big supermarket on the edge of town to grab water and some other bits before making the short journey to the gay capital of Sitges just 8km away.  Our parking spot is at the port end of town overlooking a lovely cove beach.  It’s a gorgeous view but a real shame the weather is so naff, I’m sure it would be jaw-dropping in the sunshine.  After lunch we head into town.  We walk along the marina which is lined with numerous very swish looking bars.  The marina itself has smaller boats at the front and then leads back to several multi million pounds yachts.  There’s some serious money in this town!

Along the walk into town we pass several beaches, one of which is filled exclusively with naked gay men!  It’s quite a shock to the system!  Into town we go and certainly feel very out of place as its almost entirely gay couples and groups of gay men, there are very few women to be seen!  We also spot a man in his 50s wearing gold shiny Kylie-esque hotpants.  It’s an interesting town that’s for sure! 

The central beach here is very nice and surprisingly busy despite the rubbish weather.  Along the sea front there are lots of sculptures, mostly of naked women some of which are a little over detailed to say the least!!!  The buildings are all modern but many have beautifully decorative fronts.  As we walk into the town centre we find yet more lovely architecture, some of which is lovely original Art Deco and Nouveau, all alongside some massively seedy-looking bars!  Sitges is on the most part a very pretty place and extremely well looked after.  It’s obvious again that there’s an awful lot of money spent here, it’s a lot richer than many of the towns on the coast south of here. 

After finding the poorly signposted tourist office we find it’s closed for a two hour lunch break and the assistant inside is doing her very hardest to ignore us!  We pop instead into a hostel to grab a map and ask about a launderette we’d heard was here from someone in Vilanova.

The guy inside gives us some rather contradictory directions but we stumble across it eventually.  The machines look pretty shabby and it’s a bit expensive but we don’t really have any choice.  Back to the van we go to pick up several bags worth of laundry including all the stuff we hand washed to trek it all back to town.  It all takes seemingly forever to wash and then ‘dry’ before we load up again and head back home.  Its tiring stuff!

It’s well and truly time for dinner when we get back and then some more computer gaming.  We call it quits around 12:30pm and decide to get on the road to Barcelona.  We had set an alarm for 4am in order to avoid traffic and get a good parking spot but it hardly seems worth going to bed now so we bite the bullet and go…

…and immediately wish we hadn’t.  The road runs along the coast, zig-zagging its way around the cliff tops.  No doubt in day time the views would be spectacular.  At night time however it’s a poorly lit labyrinth of hairpin bends with sheer drops.  I felt like a rally driver navigator yelling out the angles of the curves in the road for Chris to negotiate.  Once we arrive in Barcelona, it’s no easier and our ‘open for 24 hours a day’ car park is closed.  After some ad-libbing, attempting to work out the one-way system and much reprogramming of the Sat Nav we head towards a back-up spot beside the port.  On the way however we find some free on-street parking in the business district.  There are a few failed attempts to pull into spaces too small and then we finally find somewhere to stop.  It’s been an awful nerve-wracking journey but finally we’re here.  We take a look around the local area and it seems to be a good spot.  There are a few other small campers dotted around and everywhere looks safe.  It’s about 2:30 am by the time we get the bed ready and settle down to sleep and boy do we need it after today!

Cursing the clouds

Day 147  17.09.12 Vilanova i la Geltru

We awoke to a rather grey cloudy day which doesn’t bode well for drying off the clothes I washed last night.  Hopeful that it’ll clear up, Chris gets a load of his washing done and we both get showered as well.  The car park remains rather quiet and nobody seems to care that we shouldn’t be parked there.

We manage to pick up a local wifi connection which although weak allows us to download a couple of things we needed and catch up on emails.  Sadly it wasn’t strong enough to support a skype call home though
I can’t say we did much else except for play some more computer games!  The town here is a little dull and the weather has failed to pick up.  This place has however provided us with much needed water though and a car park where nobody will tell us off for leaking water all over the floor!  No pictures taken today so here’s a creepy sculpture from the sea front I took yesterday.
Another quiet day but we’re off to Sitges tomorrow!

Invisible launderettes and the world’s craziest cat lady

16.09.12 Vilanova i la Geltru

We’re back on the road early to a launderette on the outskirts of town that I’d found online.  Unfortunately the whole area is undergoing a lot of work and it looks like the launderette must have been pulled down to make way for a supermarket currently in construction.  It’s a real pain as we’re both running low on clean clothes and the bedding could do with a wash too.  The area we’d parked in was dodgy as hell with dismantled cars on the street and one with a smashed side window and a screwdriver in the side.  Not the best place for Van Diesel, so we made a sharp exit!

After filling up on petrol we headed to Vilanova i la Geltru.  It’s a seaside town with a big port and a couple of nice beaches.  The plan was that it would hopefully we quiet enough for us to grab a load of water from the beach to get washing done.  The council had other ideas though and had put up signs banning campervans and caravans from the beach car park entirely. 

We managed to find a spot in a nearby residential area for the time being and set out to find somewhere else.  We spotted a car park near the other beach which had a camper in it.  Being a very sunny Sunday though the car park was completely full so we decided to drive over in the evening once the beach-goers had headed home. 

Time to have a look around town then!  I have to say it doesn’t exactly have much in the way of sights sadly.  Some of the university buildings are attractive, especially the library.  We came across a day centre too which was really very nice indeed.  Other than that it’s just a quiet seaside town centre.  The beaches are very nice and well looked after with long strips of golden sand and calm blue sea.

After heading back to the van we ended up getting rather sucked in to playing a computer game on my laptop.  Before we knew it, it was about 9pm!  We still hadn’t had dinner and it was certainly time to move the van oooops!  As we were leaving a rather bedraggled looking woman appeared shaking a box of cat treats and suddenly from nowhere about 30 stray cats appeared and followed this woman down to the beach, it was a very surreal moment!

As we moved the van (being very careful to avoid cats of course) we saw the new car park also banned motorhomes.  Given that the one we’d seen earlier was still around we opted to risk it.  We parked up and then headed to the beach to fetch water, much to the annoyance of the couple trying to have a romantic night time picnic by the sea oooops again!

Back to the van after a couple of water-fetching runs and time to do some hand washing before more gaming and bed.  Not the most exciting of days I’m afraid!

History is expensive

Day 146 15.09.12 Tarragona

We were up early on our second morning in Tarragona and so headed over to the shopping centre nearby to get the blog updated at McDonald’s and catch up on emails.  After dropping the laptops back at the van and grabbing some lunch we headed out to do some more sight-seeing.

The first stop was the Roman Necropolis.  Unfortunately this attraction seems to have been closed down.  We couldn’t get in nor find any information on opening times.  The surrounding buildings all seemed to be falling into disrepair too, the whole area seemed deserted.  You could see most of the site through the fence but nonetheless we’d been hoping for a better look!

Around the block we found the green building with an outer shell covered in plants and flowers, it was very pretty.  Onwards towards town we headed over to see the Roman forum.  The entry fee was a little steep and again you could see all the site had to offer by wandering around the edge (and saving your pennies!).  Having rambled around a lot of Roman ruins on our travels these weren’t overwhelmingly impressive.

We then walked along the edge of town to a fort on the very far side.  We’d hoped to have a look around but it was all locked up.  The views out to sea however were definitely worth the walk.  Sadly the views back to town don’t paint Tarragona in too favourable a light, its much nicer close up!

Back in town we enjoyed a walk around, soaking up the atmosphere of the start of the festival.  It begins today and runs until 24th September.  Today is gastronomy day and there are lots of tables out in the streets with people enjoying local foods and drink including a horrendous-looking yellow liquor.  We play it safe and just have some very sugary churros which were incredibly tasty! 

We’d hoped to walk around the old walls to the city but these too have an entry fee.  It’s beginning to get a little frustrating that so much of the city is off limits unless you dig into your wallet.  There are obviously a lot of upkeep costs but it would make for a nicer visit if at least some of the attractions were free – particularly since you can see most of them through the fences anyway!

Everyone seems really excited about the festival and there’s a real buzz about town.  There are lots of market stalls around and a huge stage set up on the main square.  We also spotted loads of people with drums and various other musical instruments.  It looks like it’s going to be a fun week in Tarragona!  

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Roman around.


Day 145 - 14.09.12 Tarragona

Roman amphitheatre in Tarragona, Spain

Having looked again at the feasibility of getting to Zaragoza we’ve decided to give it a miss.  It looks like a great place but it would’ve cost a lot to travel the 200-odd kilometres inland, only to come straight back again the same way.  Instead we’re going to check out Tarragona, Sitges and then most likely arrive in Barcelona a little early for my Birthday celebrations.


Having opted to take the toll roads this time (the free roads would’ve cost more in diesel) the journey is smooth and the views are gorgeous.  It’s so much nicer to be travelling in the north as it’s so much greener!  We park up beside a Lidl which is annoyingly closed for refurbishment.  Following the original plan we walk up to the shopping centre closer to town to see if we can park there.  All the parking is underground and paid for (bugger!).  We spot a residential car park over the road though and opt to bring the van up there after lunch.

After lunch and van moving we set off to town.  The long walk to the coast is along Tarragona’s version of Barcelona’s Las Ramblas.  It lacks the vibrancy of Barca’s most famous street but the wide promenade boasts some swanky shops, fashionable cafes and is very well maintained.  It is punctuated along the way with some nice statues and pretty fountains.

When you reach the sea you can’t help but be amazed by the huge expanse in front of you.  The sea is much darker blue here and goes on as far as the eye can see.  There’s a narrow but neat little beach which is surprisingly quiet given that’s it’s another toasty, sunny day here.  Soon we reach the remains of the Roman amphitheatre.  You can see the structure very well from the hill above so we opt not to pay to go inside.  It has been looked after very well indeed and so much of the original structure stands strong.  Thankfully no over-zealous restores have been along to butcher this gem.  The view of this amazing ruin alongside the beautiful blue sea is just stunning.

We walk around the old town enjoying more of Tarragona’s Roman past and the thin traditionally Spanish looking streets.  The cathedral is a big highlight of town although again this impressive building has had to undergo a large amount of restoration.  Nonetheless the fabulously grand façade and some of the intricate stonework detailing around the windows make for a great place to visit.


Walking back through town we find some attractive churches and lots of luscious green parks.  It’s getting late already so we head back home for dinner, some writing time and then a movie.

Peniscola *snigger*


13.09.12 Peniscola *snigger*

We’re up early again and on the road to Pensicola (*snigger*).  The journey is a bit of a pain since, having shunned the toll roads, we end up on a single carriageway and get stuck behind someone determined to stay 20 kph under the speed limit for kilometres on end! 

Thankfully however the slow pace means we can pay a bit more attention to passing signs and I spot a place selling old motorhomes.  We decide to drop by on the off chance they happen to have an old camper with the same toilet as ours.  Whilst we bought a replacement portable loo, we still need to replace the waste box of the original loo which is broken.  If we can do that then the van value is not damaged and we can get rid of the portable loo which takes up valuable space.  We explain our problem to the salesman and he takes us through to the shop area.  Sure enough high on a shelf sits our toilet unit.  These things haven’t been made for at least 15 years!  We searched the internet high and low, made a bunch of calls and couldn’t find a new one anywhere yet here one is.  The salesman agreed to split the unit so we could just buy the box – he’ll soon find out how difficult it is to replace too!  The price was high even with Chris’ haggled 10% discount but I doubt we’d ever find another brand new one if we spent our lives trying!  I can’t get over our luck at finding one.  It’ll be great to offload the portable toilet when we’re back in Blighty for a visit in about a months’ time.  We’ll get our storage space and toileting privacy back!  Needless to say we’re very pleased!

When we finally arrive in Pensicola *snigger* we find the town is packed solid and our original parking plan is out of the window.  We attempt to navigate the one way system back towards the supermarkets on the edge of town and thankfully find a quiet street with some parking spaces.  There are hopefully few enough people around here that nobody will begrudge us a spot for the night.

We grab lunch and then walk into town.  It’s a short ten minute walk and then we’re at the gorgeous sea-front.  The beautiful blue stretches out as far as the eye can see.  We arrive at the south end of town and the cove beach here is wonderfully quiet. 

On the other side however it’s a different matter!  It seems much to our ignorance, we arrived in the middle of the local fiesta.  There are huge barriers either side of the main street and a large temporary structure.  It turns out later today there will be a big running of the bulls.  Suddenly the barriers don’t look anywhere near huge enough!

Peniscola *snigger* is a long stretch of beach with a huge peninsula jutting out into the sea.  Atop this huge hill is a large castle where part of the movie El Cid was filmed.  We pay to enter the castle and have a walk around.  The views from the top are incredible although the rest of the castle is a little disappointing.  It is pristinely maintained which unfortunately taints its authenticity a little, as too do the energy saving light bulbs plugged into the wrought iron chandeliers!  It’s a shame the restorers have been so overzealous as it really takes away from the history of the castle which would be very impressive without all the work that’s been done.

Down from the castle there are lots of winding cobbled medieval streets which play home to tourist shops and many a restaurant touting for business, some more forcefully than others!

Back down to the beach we find a large dragon sculpture decorated in brightly coloured mosaic tiles.  It’s no Gaudi masterpiece but it’s a nice touch all the same.  We have a long walk along the beach front enjoying the views before heading back to the van to avoid the bull-running.  It seems like perhaps we’re missing out on a traditionally Spanish fiesta experience but nonetheless I can’t imagine watching the poor bulls would be too pleasant. 

After a trip to the supermarket, dinner and some chill out time we head back into town to see how the castle looks all lit up.  It’s a lovely view from the beach-side and town is bustling with the fiesta excitement.  A big marquee has been set up with lots of tables outside.  It seems all the town has come down with their dinner to enjoy a massive outdoor picnic.  There’s a really nice community feel to it and everybody seems to be having a great time. 

A city in need of soul

Day 143 12.09.12 Castellon


Thankfully I’m feeling much better this morning so after some writing and a spot of lunch we head into town.  It’s not too long a walk before we come across a large square and a huge modern cathedral.  It’s nice to see a traditional style with a modern twist, although it does look a little out of place opposite the 17th century town hall building.

We have a wander around the nearby streets and enjoy some lovely bits of architecture.  There are loads of modern statues in the street here, mostly depicting normal people out shopping, although there are a few more abstract ones as well.   It’s a nice way to brighten up the city but many have graffiti or serious wear and tear that diminishes their appeal.

Castellon is very difficult to find your way around as there are virtually no maps around and no signposts at all.  I asked for a map at a hotel as the tourist centre was nowhere to be seen.  It turned out after following the map that the tourist office was on the outskirts of the centre on a large roundabout!

We enjoyed a walk around a nice but plain park which had some very interesting and unique looking houses surrounding it. 

There is a huge amount of building and restoration work taking place here which somewhat mars our visit.  There is scaffolding here there and everywhere as well as lots of workmen digging up bits of road. It all appears to be Government funded work and it seems a little odd and quite unfortunate that they don’t just get one project finished before moving onto the next.  It would certainly make the centre a more enjoyable place to be!

It’s a nice enough city with some pleasant sights but it’s a bit of a characterless place.  There just isn’t much structure to it.  There’s no obvious centre, no main shopping street and the architecture is a bizarre jumble of different periods and styles.

It has been a really hot day today so we retreat back to the van in the late afternoon to cool off and shower.  We make the most of the free wifi and then settle down for a film.

Bleurgh.

Day 142 11.09.12 Castellon

We’re up early and on the road to Castellon.  We park up at an out of town shopping area beside a large supermarket.  After grabbing some lunch I discover that I can pick up wifi from the petrol station over the road from the van.  Why a petrol station has free wifi when you can’t use your phone on the forecourt I have no idea!  Given that I’m not feeling very well today it’s an ideal way to while away the rest of the day getting the blog up to date and catching up on online news.

We have a short walk around the local area just to get out of the van but I’m not feeling up to much more so it’s back to the van for dinner and a movie.  Fingers crossed I’m feeling a bit more lively tomorrow!  Sorry no pics for today!

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

So this is where Spain’s been hiding the economic crisis

Day 141 10.09.12 Sagunto

We nip to the nearby supermarket to pick up a few bits before an early lunch.  Then begins the long walk into town.  Our route takes us through a rough housing area which looks more like South America than Spain.  There are kids smoking weed, a small child playing with an empty cigarette pack and a man starting "his" car with a screwdriver.  Reminds us of Nottingham ;-p

Sagunto's castle / castillo in Spain
Sagunto cathedral, SpainNot the best of starts and unfortunately can’t help but colour our opinion of the rest of town.  We arrive in the small centre which is much nicer but still very run down.  The main reason for our visit was the huge castle on the hill overlooking the town.  It’s bigger than any I’ve seen before but sadly closed today as too is the nearby Roman theatre.  After grabbing a map at the tourist office we walk up towards the castle.  It is an astonishing sight which takes over the entirety of the ginormous hill.  The walk up the hill is pretty exhausting and doesn’t offer much reward.  You can’t see much of the detail of the castle up close without getting inside and the theatre is a disaster!  The Roman remains have been built around in order to create a functional theatre.  The building work is far from subtle or sympathetic and destroys the authenticity what would otherwise be an interesting attraction. 

Sagunto castillo or castle in Spain
The rest of the town has little to offer and we’re both keen to get back to the van having seen some of the rather dodgy looking locals.  We return to the van and both get some writing done as well as planning our next few stops.  We spend a little bit of time using the wifi to look into whether a visit inland to Zaragoza on the way up to Barcelona is feasible and worthwhile (verdict: hopefully!).

Afterwards it’s time for dinner and a movie then bed as we’re back on the road again tomorrow.

Winning friends and influencing people

Day 140 9.09.12 Sagunto


La Lonja de la Seda / silk exchange in Valencia, Spain
Gargoyle on the silk exchange in Valencia.  La Lonja de la Seda.Our last night in Valencia was a noisy one.  Several cars full of teenagers arrived around midnight and pulled up either side of the van.  They seemed to have a competition as to who had the loudest stereo for playing terrible 90s dance remixes.  The music unfortunately didn’t stop after the competition was won by the guy parked directly in front of us.  In fact the music went on till gone 2am, somewhat scuppering our plans for an early start.  We awoke to find an escorts calling card on our window and a bunch of other random items scattered around the van, as well as numerous early and smashed booze bottles along the road. 


We got on the road mid-morning to head for Sagunto’s beach area.  We grabbed lunch and then headed out to see if we could find some water.  Sure enough the foot taps on the beach didn’t seem too busy and were powerful enough to fill up our water carriers relatively quickly.  We filled up the van’s water tank and then went to look around the area.  There’s not really anything to see to be honest though!  The beach is quiet busy although the area isn’t much of a resort, presumably on account of the massive industrial port at the end of the beach! 

Silk exchange / la lonja de la seda in Valencia, SpainGothic window in the silk exchange in Valencia. La Lonja de la Seda.We head back to the van and I manage to get my hair washed (bliss!).  Part way through a stroppy lady comes over and tells us off for the water coming out of the bottom of the van.  The waste water tank should hold it but unfortunately sometime back in Northern Spain the tap snapped off leaving the water tank permanently open.  Stroppy lady was taking no argument from Chris, so I had to leap out of the shower so we could move outside of her precious car park and somewhere we could leak water in peace – for the ten minutes it takes before it evaporates in the sun!   After getting back in the shower to wash conditioner out of my hair we both got some hand washing done.

Having successfully annoyed enough residents with our water leakage we set off in the direction of town and pull up beside a McDonalds for the night.  It’s a bit late to bother with the walk to town so instead we enjoy the free wifi and I skype home to catch up with Mum and Dad.  Unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures today since there wasn’t anything to snap so some shots left over from yesterday’s trip to the Silk Exchange building.

Gothica

Day 139 8.09.12 Valencia

After a lazy morning and early lunch we head into town to visit the Silk exchange building that has been closed the last two occasions we tried to visit!  On the way we pass the modern market building which is now open after the renovations.  Sadly it’s not as impressive or surreal on the inside as the outside would lead you to expect.  There are lots of fruit stalls and we pick up a ginormous apple each which I must say was very tasty!

Over the road the silk exchange building is finally open and entry is free.  The main hall as you enter is a cavernous space with its high roof held up by wondrous, incredibly tall pillars.  It’s a very sombre hall after so many of Valencia’s flamboyant Baroque buildings.  The windows are beautiful and huge gothic chandeliers hang from the ceiling. 

Through to the courtyard garden you can better see the detailing around the top of the building, with huge gargoyles looking down at you.  The two adjoining rooms each have their own assets with amazing ironwork dragon lights and gorgeous stained glass windows.  Upstairs however is the main highlight with a carved ceiling full of gold detailing.  It really does make the jaw drop as you enter this striking room.  I’m really glad we finally got to visit this great place.

Afterwards we headed back the long way through town to see the sights for the last time.  We’ll be leaving Valencia tomorrow to head for the beach in the hope of getting some water on-board.  I have to say we’ve both been bowled over by this city.  It’s a glorious mix of spectacularly extravagant Baroque architecture and the phenomenal, gravity-defying futuristic style of the science park.  Throw in the sumptuous greenery of the riverbed park and you really do have a city you shouldn’t miss.  It’s catapulted itself into our list of favourites that’s for sure.

Back to the future.

Day 138 7.09.12 Valencia

Valencia Science Park - City of Arts and Sciences

City of arts and sciences in Valencia riverbed parkToday we opted to have a lazy chilled out day.  We’ve done a lot of walking of late and are both feeling a little worse for wear as a result!  We spend the day writing.  Chris manages a fair amount of progress on his book and I finally manage to get up to date on the blog entries as well as sorting through the mountain of photos I’ve taken to go with them.

In the afternoon we go over to McDonald’s in the shopping centre so I can get the blog updates uploaded.  It takes a long while and my laptop battery is dead shortly after! 

Valencia science park in Spain
After dinner we head over to the Science Park to see how it looks lit up in the evening.  It’s wonderfully quiet and the buildings look even more fantastic and futuristic lit up and reflected in the pools below.  I can’t get over how inventive the buildings are.  Many aspects of them just seem to defy the laws of physics!  It truly is a wonderful place to be, certainly somewhere we’ll miss when we leave.  As you can see I got a little snap happy with the camera!
IMAX cinema in city of arts and sciences Valencia