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.

A panoramic view of the Hotel Atarazanas, our base of operations.
Odd ceiling decoration in the restaurant at our hotel.
Rooms for rent.
Some beautiful old buildings on Avinguda del Port across from the Plaça del Tribunal de les Aigües.
A barely visible cross on the side of Parroquia de Santa María del Mar (Parish of St. Mary of the Ocean).
Waiting for lunch at a sidewalk café.
Tyler and Hillary waiting too.
Locking oneself out of a residence or business must be a rampant problem. All of these tiny stickers are for various locksmiths.

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.

Yachts moored at the marina. The sign in the distance for Team New Zealand is for the America’s Cup.
Tyler is quite happy to be walking to the beach.
The building for the Swiss team for the Americas Cup.
The yacht in the center is Lady Lara. The expedition yacht on the right is the Solea.

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.

The Torres de Serranos (Serranos Towers) at Plaça dels Furs (Furs Square) date from the late 1300s.
The cathedral as seen from Plaça de la Reina (Queen’s Plaza).
A beautiful old building on the Plaça de la Reina.
The north side of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences).
The “spine” of the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
A bougainvillea pergola near the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
The northernmost building at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.

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.

On the way to dinner near the beach.
The Carrer d’Otumba at the beach.

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.

Ready to go to the aquarium, Oceanogràfic.
The group shall depart momentarily.
Standing in line to enter the Oceanogràfic aquarium.
The large blue building, the Àgora, is adjacent to the Oceanogràfic complex.
Tyler and Hillary on the other side of a water tunnel.
A closer view of the Àgora.
The main building in the Oceanogràfic complex.
Looking through the Zones Humides – Aviari (Wetlands – Aviary) to the Àgora.
A bird on the sidewalk.
A bale of turtles.
Looking up at the top of the Zones Humides – Aviari (Wetlands – Aviary).
A duck riding on a turtle.
A beautiful white bird.
Two seals swimming.


Some clownfish.
The view from one building to another.
One of the seals.
Another of the seals.
A group of pelicans.
A cruising shark.
Another view of the avant-garde architecture.
A trainer feeding dolphins.
The sweeping roofline of Oceanogràfic.
More of the avant-garde architecture.

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.

An afternoon break near our hotel.
Hillary and Leslie soaking in some vitamin D.

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.

A mojito before dinner.
Tired after a hard day of tourism.
The ship Zurbaran docked at the port.
Sunset near the beach.
The canal connects the marinas.
Taking a break on Carrer Marina Real Juan Carlos I (Juan Carlos I Royal Marina) during our walk back to the hotel.

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!

Waiting for a taxi for the trip to the LLADRÓ factory.
Not quite as tired as last evening.
Ready for the day.
A family photo at the water fountain in Plaça del Tribunal de les Aigües (Water Court Square) in front of our hotel.
An old building across from our hotel.
A large chess game on the grounds of the LLADRÓ factory.
Inside the waiting area for the LLADRÓ factory tour.
Detail of the LLADRÓ figurines.
Some of the stages of the process and the tools used in making figurines.
A beautiful carriage.
The Cinderella story nearly comes to life.
Aunt Arlene and Hillary posing by one of the intricate LLADRÓ creations.
An Egyptian-themed figurine.
A Chinese dragon.
A butterfly chandelier.
A ceramic beaded screen.
One may take home this figurine for a mere 800€ (US$992).
One of the Las Meninas series inspired by the painting of Diego Velázquez.
An LLADRÓ mirror.
An LLADRÓ chess set.
This florist and her cart are available for 2,000€ (US$2,480).
While this florist fetches 3,300€ (US$4,092).
The hunt.
A collection of clowns.
A stunning boat with an equally stunning 120,000€ (US$148,800) pricetag.
Hillary posing by The Queen of the Nile.
One can take this scene home for 5,000€ (US$6,200).
It seems they are done shopping.
Aunt Arlene is definitely done shopping!
A panoramic view of the LLADRÓ compound.

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.

A quick lunch at Burger King at the airport.
Let the waiting commence.
More waiting…
Really, more waiting?!

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!

One thought on “València

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.