Thursday, 25 August 2016

Valencia, part one: Plumbing the Scents of Spanish Street Art

Valencia, Spain (Valencia, España)
December 2015
On our way to Valencia we drove through a town called Elche, known for its palm groves that date back to Phoenician rule. Sadly, it was not only Monday but also a public holiday, so everywhere we tried to visit was doubly closed. As we drove, we enjoyed seeing the tall palm trees towering above us, but were unable to enter any gardens. 
Arriving into Valencia, we checked into our accommodation and settled in for the evening. On TV we found a channel devoted to tarot card reading and attempted to discern the fortunes being told. Once tired of that, we flicked onto a sports channel that was airing a 'hand soccer' game between Spanish and Russian teams. Blitznova was too good for even Peña to overcome and Spain lost. Then I found Castel! Castle dubbed into Spanish is one of the best things in life. We finished the evening with dinner and cava followed by Burn After Reading and Finding Nemo.

In the morning we went in search of a bakery. The atmosphere was wonderful, with church bells ringing all over the city and intriguing graffiti on every wall. The bells were tolling because it was the feast day of the immaculate conception of Mary. Pastries in hand, we returned to our AirBNB to zumo wrestle and have breakfast. 

With no specific plan for the day, we decided to go out and get lost, which is a great way to explore a city as you stumble across places you may not ordinarily. We quickly felt that we liked the vibe of Valencia. It seemed laid-back, with people wandering about chatting to each other and busy cafés and bars spilling out over the footpath with daily specials scrawled on chalkboards.
At one point we edged around a group of people clogging the footpath who seemed to be on a street art walking tour. I bet there are fantastic ones we didn't stumble across, and I imagine some of the pieces have interesting back stories. That's one tour I'd consider going on.

The one thing that didn't agree with us was the smell of excrement. Every few steps, a waft of sewerage would wash over you and we didn't acclimatise to it the whole week we were there. Also, nobody would pick up after their dogs and horse-drawn carriages compounded the problem. Not only dogs but people too would urinate wherever they liked, which meant all over the streets. Unfortunately the sewery smell had seeped into our apartment and we had to air it out for a while every time we returned. The building was old, so we theorised that there may have been some problem with the plumbing.

At some point in our strolling we found a fountain with an anatomically suspect sculpture in the middle. Doktor Johnston investigated the scene, and presented the evidence: many oranges were floating in the giant scallop shell, yet no orange trees hung over the fountain. Therefore, people must have thrown them in, maybe in a kind of wishing ritual that didn't include coins.

Our feet had grown tired so we relaxed in our smellhouse for a while before venturing out again for dinner. Our first two choices were shut, so we turned down a few alleys until we found a suitable choice. It was a vegetarian restaurant, and Yannick had the stuffed peppers while I was more adventurous and ordered vegetable mousse. Comprised of mousse made from spinach, turnip and pumpkin, it was very tasty but lost points because it was all the same texture.
Using our city map and Lonely Planet guide, we marked out some sights to see the next day and slept deeply. 

Today's post was almost called: Olé-factory Delights (or 'For Poo the Bells Toll')