Friday, September 26, 2014

Day 9 - Valencia

Transportation!  Next to accommodation, this keeps me pretty occupied.  The fastest route to downtown Valencia is via tram and metro, I was told by my hosts.  "Go out the door and turn right," they said.   

And right, I would like to add.  Perhaps they thought I was a clever one and could figure out certain stuff on my own and maybe and probably that language issue is so daunting that there is only so much you can tell.  

As I walked down the streets, I watched the trams come and go and could see that there was no station where I expected.  So I just kept observing.  And there it was.  

The machine to buy the tickets was similar to Barcelona and it also had an English feature.  The last instruction was to be sure to validate the ticket.  What?  The tram arrived and I had no idea of I was to validate it on the tram or where.  I sat down on the bench.  The tram left.  A person arrived and took a card out of his pocket and put it on another machine.  Validate?  I took my ticket and did the same thing.  

And I was on the tram.  I had studied my stops, paying attention to the one before my stop.  And in 10 minutes, like I was told, I was at the transfer.  "Get off the tram and go down into the Metro."  Yep.  The Metro was right there.  And off we went.  I looked at the name of the next stop and realized I was going in the opposite direction.  Off the Metro and over to the other side.  

A person has got to keep their wits about them.  

When I came above ground, I decided not to look like a tourist opening a map on the street.  I went into a shop, ordered ice cream and opened my map.  The ice cream was my camouflage.  The streets in downtown Valencia are not parallel.  But the most problematic issue was that I had no idea where on the map I was.  I had to ask. 

"Donde esta Plaza de la Reina?"  

The server pointed me in a direction.  And I located myself on the map, sort of.  Mostly every time I turned a corner, I noted a significant landmark.  

Downtown Valencia is an amazing blend of old and new.  Cathedrals next to Louis Vuitton.  

I found Plaza de la Reina and the Bus Turistic.  As in Barcelona, there are two routes where you can hop on or hop off and receive the tour instructions in the language of your choice via headsets.  

Valencia is a beautiful city with a lot of greenery.  At some point in the 1950s, the city which was prone to flooding, had a disaster where quite a few lives were lost.  The decision was to divert the river.  The old riverbed is now mostly green space with gardens and play areas.

I learned a lot about the history of Valenica of which I remember very little.  Here is what I heard over and over again:

"In the year _____, the ruler of the country, __________, rebuilt the city in the style of __________ who was one of the great architects of the city along with _________, _________, ________ and ________."

An hour and a half later, I was back at the Plaza.  And I hopped on the second bus which took us down to the waterfront where again there were some impressive buildings.  Valencia is devoted to arts and sciences and these buildings are the proof of it.  

I must say that these tour bus companies have a good idea.  I am quite fond of the idea of getting an overview of the city.  

And I was back in the Plaza de la Reina.  Finding my way home.  

I happened again upon Sephora so now if anyone needs any help in either Barcelona or Valencia in getting to Sephora, I am the one to help.  

Strolling the streets of Valencia is a great place to walk.  The empty street is not typical.   The city is the third largest in Spain - and it looks like a lot of people like to visit.   

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