València, Spain – May 29, 2010
We got up really early to catch a flight on Ryan Air. It was only 20€ (US$24.80) per person from Madrid to València roundtrip! At the time it seemed like a good idea (more on that later). I have no idea how an airline can make money like that. The flight from Madrid only took about 55-minutes. Leslie’s mother and aunt were able to join the four of us for this trip.
When we arrived in València, we took a couple of taxis to our hotel. As we neared the hotel we found ourselves on a “race track”. The driver told us the city was preparing for a Formula One race the weekend following our visit. That is one thing I would like to see; however, I will not spend the amount necessary to buy a ticket. Some of my friends here in Spain have told me tickets start at about 200€ (US$248)! No thanks!
After checking-in at the hotel, we decided it was lunchtime. We took taxis to a local pedestrian mall, found a sidewalk café, and enjoyed a delicious lunch.
Back at the hotel, Leslie, Hillary, Tyler and I opted to skip lunch. Instead, we walked around the area a little bit. We initially stopped at one of the marinas of València. We sat there for a while watching the waterfront. There were several large yachts docked. One of the largest was Lady Lara. She is 59.3 meters (194 feet) long. Her beam is 10.4 meters (34 feet) and she draws 3.2 meters (10.5 feet). The yacht can house a crew of 15 to tend to a maximum of 12 guests.
Somewhat dwarfed by the Lady Lara was the Solea, a 36 meter (118 feet) expedition yacht. Even though she is much smaller, she can still accommodate up to 12 guests.
From where we sat we could see several of the buildings that had housed the racing sailboats for the recent (February 2010) America’s Cup yacht race.
Continuing our walk, we ultimately wound our way to the beach. There we saw the very large flag poles flying both the flag of Spain and the flag of the Province of València. With the azure blue sky, it was a very pretty sight.
Upon arrival on the beach, Leslie and the kids immediately began sunbathing. I stayed in the shade. I am not much of a sunbather. That does not seem to stop many people here in Spain. Additionally, there are numerous women that sunbath topless. You certainly don’t see that every day in the U.S.!
Later that afternoon, all six of us took a ride on one of the hop-on-hop-off the tourist buses. The red, double-decker buses seem to be in virtually every major city in Spain. It is a nice way to get around town, see the sights, and learn about local history.
For dinner on our first night, we ate at Samaruch Restaurant. It is located at Paseo Neptuno, 58. The food was really good. One of the things we tried was paella. It was delicious. València is known as the rice capital of Spain. Since that is one of the main ingredients of paella, I am sure that was part of why it was so good. Aunt Arlene was kind enough to pay for dinner that night.
One day we went to Oceanogràfic, the aquarium in València. It is, by far, the best aquarium I have been to in my life. It is near the complex known as Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). The architecture of this entire area is absolutely amazing. I have never seen anything like this before.
I am guessing the aquarium complex is about the size of a Sea World complex in the United States. However, unlike Sea World, there is only one show; the dolphin show. Other than that it is just one exhibit after another. Regardless, it is really quite amazing. Out of all the aquariums on site, there are two that one can walk through. Each of those aquariums has a tube or tunnel through which one can walk. The various fish swam all around us. There were sharks, rays, eels and much, much more.
At the souvenir store at Oceanogràfic, I bought a book called All València. It is a tourist guidebook highlighting several tourist spots in the city.
When we returned to the hotel, Leslie and I went to a nearby cafe for a cocktail. While we were there, I opened the book. I happened to notice a small segment in the book about the LLADRÓ factory. I knew Leslie’s mom wanted to get an LLADRÓ figurine. I asked her if she wanted to go to the factory. Of course, she said yes.
For dinner that evening, we went to a restaurant near the Juan Carlos I Royal Marina. There is just something about eating outdoors that seems to make the meal better.
On our last morning in València, we arranged for two taxis to take us all to the LLADRÓfactory. The factory is in a small town just north of València, (White Taverns)and has been around since the mid-1950s. Founded by brothers Juan, José, Vicente; there are now dozens and dozens of employees carrying on the work.
We arrived fairly early and found ourselves in the first tour group of the day. Most parts of the various figurines are molded plaster. The more complex pieces have several different molds. When each piece is rigid enough they are “welded” together with additional wet clay. The figurines are then painted by hand and ultimately fired. One part of the figurines that are entirely made by hand are the flowers. If there are any included, each flower is literally made by hand. We were able to watch that happen. The ladies were amazing that did this. Unfortunately, in the production areas, photographs are not allowed.
After the tour, we were able to walk around the gift store. There were beautiful pieces displayed everywhere, each one for sale. There was one figurine, “The Queen of the Nile” that was several figures on a boat nearly three feet long. The sales price was 120,000€ (US$148,800). We decided not to buy one!
When we were finished with our tour we called two taxis to take us to the airport. Our flight was scheduled to depart at 16:00. We arrived at the airport at about 13:00. We ate lunch at Burger King and went to our assigned gate to wait for our flight back to Madrid. As it got close to the time for us to board the plane, they began to announce that they were having mechanical problems with our airplane. We continued to wait and wait. Finally, we all left the gate area and went down to the Ryan Air counter. We had to wait until 18:00 before we could either get a refund or change our flight. We ultimately changed our flight to the one that was scheduled to depart at 21:00. The time to board came and went. Finally, at nearly 22:00 they allowed us to board a plane. We got to Madrid at around 23:30. By the time we walked to the Metro and made our way home, it was nearly 01:30 the following morning.
As an aside, if I had driven us to València, and if we had departed the LLADRÓ factory at the time we got the taxis, we would have been comfortably back home at about 16:30! Who says 20€ per person was such a good deal?!
Other than the flight debacle, our València trip was great!