El Palmar, Spain
39° 17' N 0° 19' W
May 31, 2009 15:48
Distance 38km

Text written in: English

Paella, flamenco and other Spanish stuff...

What a great week!  I've had such fun here in Valencia... Spent a whole day walking around the old town, checking out the old churches and the market and the old gates of the city.  I love the architecture here, so pretty.  But there definitely is a danger in constantly looking up at the buildings... if you don't watch where you're going, you'll step on some dog poop! (People let their dogs go pretty much anywhere and no one thinks to clean it up.... ick!)

One day, Amy and I headed south to El Palmar with the intention of having a paella lunch at one of their many restaurants and taking a boat ride along El Albufera (a huge lagoon just south of the city).  The paella and wine was yummy, as expected (but a bit too salty) and Amy and I enjoyed a good catch-up - since we hadn't seen each other in almost 18 years!  Unfortunately, the boats were all booked up for the day, but we did get to see three large boats loaded with school kids taking off and decided that we enjoyed hanging out in deck chairs, enjoying the sun much better than being stuck in a boat with them (or, the alternative, pay 20 Euros apiece to have a boat ride to ourselves...)

Dance was definitely a running theme throughout the week... Amy's daughter, Jolie, and her cousin had a ballet "recital" at their elementary school, which we all went to watch. And Eugene, the girls and I went to observe Amy's last flamenco class with the wonderful professora, Marta Sol.  She is a superb dancer and instructor and on Friday night Amy, Eugene and I went to watch her perform at Cafe del Duende (a hub for flamenco in Valencia). The bar was small and intimate and Marta was incredible when she danced... full of passion and torment and energy.  I had to wipe my eyes dry, I was so moved.  The musicians (a guitarist, a vocalist, a box drummer and a flutist - all males) were incredible, as well.  It was really a super show... I'm so glad Amy invited me.

And in a completely different setting - at the old Teatro Principal - we also attended a big flamenco stage show entitled "Sangre" (Blood) with two male flamenco dancers  (Rojas y Rodriguez) and their company of 8 dancers and 7 musicians.  Its was a combo of more modern flamenco with some ballet.  Amy was able to get front row seats for this show and it was really something!  Sweat was flying and feet were striking the floor faster than you could imagine.  Check out a short video of the 90 min show we saw on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T7c33yPGQ0Q

I spent Saturday on my own again, taking the tram out to the beach and enjoying the hot sand and a short snooze before getting my feet wet in the waves.  Then bussed back into town and found two hidden gems:

Jardines de Ayora - A lovely, cool retreat from the heat.  Tall trees and low shrubbery dominate the space with criss-crossing paths that meet in circular spaces filled with benches.   

Monforte Gardens - These 19th-century design Neoclassical gardens have a very large number of marble statues, pools, fountains, streets and summerhouses, giving the garden some very remarkable landscape effects.

Photos / videos of "Paella, flamenco and other Spanish stuff...":

Valencia orange tree Plaza de Toros main train station Decorated with... ... Valencia oranges, of course! The Mercat Paella pans, from tiny to huge! Horchata is a rice drink (kind of tastes like soy milk) typical of Valencia Not the real thing, but made me hungry for it! Too expensive to buy, so much take pictures instead... The museum of pottery and ceramics was so cool on the outside, I didn't even need to go inside! I went to mass at this sweet, little gothic church, San Juan del Hospital More Valencia oranges... this tree was loaded! Valencia lemons?  Why not! =D One of the old gates to the city From the outside More pretty stuff I can only take pictures of... Paella... finally!  Was a bit salty, but still tasty. And Amy and I got some catch up time, after 18 years! The old man pushing the boat out into the stream Amy and I decided we'd sit and enjoy the sun rather than smash into the boat with a bunch of schoolkids... Eva on the bus Eva looks great in my sunglasses Me, not so much in hers Jolie looks great, too! Eva and Jolie doing a Spanish kids clapping game. Amy's teacher, Marta, is a great instructor Marta demonstrating the footsteps The students show their stuff - go Amy! Javier Zamora (guitarist) and his group performing flamenco music.  Very cool! Marta in action! Another set of old gates to the city Amy and Eugene chatting below.... At the beach Had a nice meal here... Finally!  Enjoying the sand and the surf...  Check out the sailboat in the distance. Entrance to the Ayora Gardens