Tag: Turtle

Hawkes Bay Stay

Hawkes Bay Stay

Napier, New Zealand – December 19, 2015

Leslie and I drove to Napier today. It was about a four-hour drive from our home, north on Highway 2. As we got closer to the mountains, the slopes got steeper. At times, it seemed as if we were driving on a cliff face. Regardless of the pitch, the hues of green were just amazing. It was like driving through the green-section of a box of 120 Crayola Crayons.
The road became very narrow, with numerous curves. The scenery seemed to get more and more beautiful. At a couple of the sharper curves, we encountered logging trucks traveling the opposite direction. It seemed mere inches separated our vehicles.

View from the Rimutaka Pass overlook to the south.

The road summit is at Rimutaka Hill. There was a turn-out there, so we stopped to look. The short trail to the overlook was dirt and gravel. It was also steep. Because of that, Leslie opted to wait in the car. Within 50 meters, I was at the top of the overlook. The view up and down the rugged valley was spectacular.
Signs at the turn-out told the story of infantry reinforcements crossing at Rimutaka Hill during World War I. The pass is at an elevation of 555 meters above sea level, about 1,800 feet. The weather there must be terrible in the winter. I make that assumption because of the drop-arm at the side of the road, near the bottom of the hill.
On the downhill side of the pass, we mused that the mountain road reminded us of Independence Pass in Colorado. The road was very narrow, especially on some of the curves. I am not sure how two logging trucks could pass each other on such a route.

Some directional signs in Carterton, New Zealand.

In the valley, we drove through the town of Carterton. As we drove along the main street, I saw a sign for Paua World. Even though it was a kilometer or so off the main road, I thought we should see Paua World for ourselves.
Paua (pronounced pah-wah) is a fist-sized shellfish with beautiful mother-of-pearl on the inside surface. In English, we know it as an abalone. Paua World is a “factory” that makes a multitude of tourist trinkets from the shells. We bought a couple of things and then hit the road again.

About two hours into our drive, we approached the town of Pahiatua. It was nearly noon, time for lunch. Along the main street, we spotted The Black Stump Café. We decided that was the place for lunch. Inside, the lone waiter immediately brought us water and menus. I spied beer-battered Terakihi, fries, and Harrow’s tartare sauce for $18.50 (about $12 U.S.). I decided I would try that, even though I am not a big fan of seafood. However, I am determined to do better since we live on a beautiful island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Little did I know at the time, my selection was better described as fish and chips. I found them to be the absolute best fish and chips I have ever had anywhere on this planet.

The lunch stop in Pahiatua, New Zealand.

Continuing our drive northeast, we turned onto Highway 50 shortly after the town of Norsewood. We understood Highway 50 had less traffic, and it was more scenic. The route was incredibly beautiful. It was a good thing there was not as much traffic because there were three one-lane bridges we had to cross. Luckily, one could see far enough ahead to determine whether one might meet another vehicle on the span.

Sheep grazing on hillsides near Napier, New Zealand.

Much of the trip wound through rural areas. We saw several hay fields in which there were the large round hay bales. The plastic shrink-wrapped hay bales look much different from those in the U.S. That makes sense, given the climate in New Zealand.

With the one-lane bridges behind us, we began driving through some rolling hills, which were thick with grasses. The wind had picked up speed. It was mesmerizing to watch the wind blowing the grasses. It made the hills look more like a green ocean.

For the last 30 kilometers (18 miles) or so, we drove through one vineyard after another. The Hawke’s Bay area is well known in New Zealand for its wine production. A local map touted the locations of 32 different vineyards near Napier. We were glad to know we would be contributing to the wine economy during our stay.
At about 15:00 we pulled into the parking lot of the Pebble Beach Motor Inn. It is located on Marine Parade, directly across from the ocean. We walked into our top floor room and immediately fell in love with the view from our terrace. It was stunning. If I had a stronger arm, I probably could have thrown a stone and hit the ocean. Just 400 feet down the road to our right sat the National Aquarium of New Zealand.

View of our terrace (right center) at the Pebble Beach Motor Inn in Napier, New Zealand.

After checking in, we made a quick trip to the supermarket to get a few items to stock the kitchen of our room. When we returned to our space, we did not feel like going out. So we ordered pizza for dinner. It was brilliant, sitting in our room, eating pizza, drinking wine, and watching and listening to the Pacific Ocean’s lap at the beach along Hawke’s Bay.
Across the street from our room, in the park between us and the ocean, was a fountain. It was a beacon to all things children and all things seagull. If a group of children was not splashing around in the fountain, then a group of seagulls was there, trying to clean up and taking a drink.

A seabird finished with bathing in the fountain in Napier, New Zealand.

Once we got things sorted in our room, we decided to walk to the beach. On the way, we saw a seabird of some sort sitting on a nest in the pebbles under a log. As we watched her, she watched us. She turned her head to keep a close eye on us even though we never approached too close. Unfortunately, the next morning, we noticed she was dead. We have no idea what may have happened overnight.

A nesting seabird in Napier, New Zealand. The next morning she was dead.

The beach was not one of sand, but rather one of gray to black pebbles. The sun heated those small pebbles. I think the largest ones we saw were maybe two inches across. They were all reasonably flat. One afternoon, we decided to lay on the beach. I cannot express here just how comfortable that was. As one wiggled, the pebbles formed to one’s shape. The stones were nice and warm, which made the lie-down all the more relaxing and comfortable. I would highly recommend that to any visitor to the beach.

The sea receding from the beach in Napier, New Zealand.

On our first full day in Napier, we agreed we would go to the aquarium. Over coffee, we read up on the aquarium. We found that it opened at 09:00. We were at the door at 08:55. As soon as the aquarium opened, we made a beeline for the penguin exhibit. The literature noted that penguin feeding occurred at 09:30 every day.
We sat at the penguin exhibit, enjoying the antics of the penguins as they and we waited for feeding time. One penguin swam erratically in circles, appearing quite excited. Several others stood on the wooden pier, looking longingly at the door from which the feeders no doubt used to enter the exhibit. They too were quite animated.

A little blue penguin swimming at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.

Ultimately, a woman and a man entered the exhibit. The man, carrying a bucket, went to the far end of the enclosure, followed by a flock of penguins. There was also one lone seagull there. As the man fed the penguins, the woman spoke to those of us gathered about the penguins. All of the penguins there are Little Blue Penguins (the smallest penguin species), each of which was rescued from the wild. The rescues were necessary due to any number of maladies; for example, one penguin had lost an eye, another had lost a flipper. Even the seagull, a rescued bird, was missing a wing. The seagull received some fish too.

A man feeding the penguins at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.

Because of our visit to the penguin exhibit, I realized I saw Little Blue Penguin on a rock in Wellington Harbour. As I rode the train into town alongside the harbor, I saw a lone penguin standing on a small rock, just off the shore. I was surprised to have seen only one that day as I thought they were more of a social animal.
When the penguin feeding finished, we walked to the Oceanarium area. This large aquarium includes a glass “tunnel.” The tunnel allows one to walk literally through the aquarium while many of the fish swim overhead. It was similar to the tunnel we encountered in the aquarium in Valencia, Spain, but for one detail. At this aquarium, in addition to a carpeted path through the tunnel, there was a moving sidewalk too. All one need do is stand still and watch the fish as the sidewalk moves through the tunnel.

The tunnel under the large aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.

We took a trip through the tunnel. Just as we exited, we saw a diver in the tank, right on time for the 10:00 feeding. The diver was adept at communicating to the audience via hand signals and pantomime. It was fascinating to watch the fish swarm the diver each time he pulled his hand from the feeding bucket.

Feeding time at the main tank at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.

We continued through the rest of the aquarium at our leisure. We finished up at the Fish Bowl Café with a cup of coffee. We sat on the terrace while we enjoyed our coffee. When finished, we took a quick stroll through the Treasure Chest Gift Shop, emerging with our requisite refrigerator magnet.
Our next stop was the Art Deco area of old Napier. A disaster is the reason there is so much Art Deco architecture here. In 1931, an earthquake destroyed much of the city. The townspeople vowed to rebuild. At the time, the fashionable architectural style was Art Deco. For that reason, the central portion of old Napier has an abundance of Art Deco buildings. It was like going back in time. The town celebrates that heritage each February with an Art Deco festival.

A poster advertising the Art Deco Festival in Napier, New Zealand.

We stopped at a street-side café for a leisurely brunch. As we have done so often in the past, we enjoyed our meal as we watched the world.
Near the Art Deco center of the town, there was a bronze statue of a mermaid. It was ever so slightly more significant than the famous mermaid statue in Copenhagen, Denmark; although it does not seem to be thronged quite as much as that statue. The figure is known as Pania of the Reef. A plaque at the base of the sculpture relates the following story. “An old Maori legend tells how Pania, lured by the siren voices of the sea people, swam out to meet them. When she endeavored to return to her lover, she was transformed into the reef which now lies beyond the Napier breakwater. To perpetuate the legend the Thirty Thousand Club presented this statue to the City of Napier – 1954.”

Sculpture of a Maori legend in Napier, New Zealand.

We went for a swim near the Port of Napier. The water was anything but warm. Regardless, it was fun. When we left the beach, we drove back toward our hotel. I just happened to see a sign pointing up a road to Bluff Hill Overlook. I took a quick right turn and headed uphill. The closer we got, the more narrow the road became. I was delighted we did not meet another vehicle on the way up.
Once we parked on top of Bluff Hill and walked to the fence, we were astonished by the view. It was probably a 270-degree view of the area. We had a commanding view of the port. It was just amazing how many trees were on the dock, waiting for shipment out of New Zealand. One of our taxi drivers said the logs were destined primarily for either Japan or China. Quite frankly, with the environmental consciousness in New Zealand, I was surprised that so much timber is exported.

Thousands upon thousands of logs waiting to be shipped out of the port in Napier, New Zealand.

Ascending the pass from the south side.

Commemorative sign at the top of Rimutaka Pass.
View to the north from the Rimutaka Pass overlook.
Looking from the south toward the summit of Rimutaka Pass.
Road sign on Highway 2 in New Zealand, warning of Kiwis crossing the road.
Closer view of sheep grazing on hillsides near Napier, New Zealand.
A dog near the side of the fountain, seemingly playing hide and seek with his owner. This is in Napier, New Zealand.
View along Marine Parade in Napier, New Zealand.
A young boy playing in a fountain in Napier, New Zealand.
A man fishing from the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
View of Cape Kidnappers from the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
Wild grass at the summit of Rimutaka Pass.
Looking toward the port from the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
Pebbles on the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
Trees along Marine Parade in Napier, New Zealand.
Several seabirds departing the fountain in Napier, New Zealand.
A seabird seems to be doing the backstroke in the fountain in Napier, New Zealand.
Some flowers in the median of Marine Parade in Napier, New Zealand.
Enjoying some Sauvignon Blanc wine on the terrace of the Pebble Beach Motor Inn in Napier, New Zealand.
Vacancy sign as evening comes in Napier, New Zealand.
The view along Marine Parade at sunrise in Napier, New Zealand.
A breaker at the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
On the beach in Napier, New Zealand.
A pohutukawa tree, affectionately known as a Christmas tree, in Napier, New Zealand.
The Millennial Sculpture in Napier, New Zealand.
Sitting by the fountain in Napier, New Zealand.
The National Aquarium of New Zealand in Napier.
Penguins waiting to be fed at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
A lone penguin at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
This woman explained what was happening while her colleague fed the penguins at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
The fountain changes colors throughout the night in Napier, New Zealand.
A starfish at the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
A shark in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
A pufferfish in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
The diver feeding the fish in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
Christmas decorations National Aquarium style in Napier, New Zealand.
Some koy fish in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
A lizard in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
An alligator in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
A sea turtle in the National Aquarium in Napier, New Zealand.
Ready for lunch in Napier, New Zealand.
Our server for lunch in Napier, New Zealand.
Trying on a mask in Napier, New Zealand.
Trying on a pink hat and boa in Napier, New Zealand.
The museum in Napier, New Zealand.
The city hall building in Napier, New Zealand.
The Soundshell in Napier, New Zealand.
The lawn between the fountain and the Soundshell in Napier, New Zealand.
A chrome globe near the Soundshell in Napier, New Zealand.
Pohutukawa trees near the museum in Napier, New Zealand.
Seeing an old car on the street in Napier, New Zealand is not unusual.
A scooter parked outside Cafe Divine in Napier, New Zealand.
Another view of the city hall building in Napier, New Zealand.
A traditional Christmas tree in Napier, New Zealand.
Detail view of an overhead door in Napier, New Zealand.
A mannequin in the Farmers store in Napier, New Zealand.
A bouquet Christmas decoration in Napier, New Zealand.
A touring car in Napier, New Zealand.
A unique wall on the museum in Napier, New Zealand.
The Tom Parker Fountain in Napier, New Zealand.
View toward the Soundshell in Napier, New Zealand.
One of the many Art Deco buildings in Napier, New Zealand.
A decorated lawnmower in Napier, New Zealand.
Some bird of paradise flowers in Napier, New Zealand.
View of the wall through some bird of paradise flowers in Napier, New Zealand.
More of the beautiful flowers in Napier, New Zealand.
View of the port in Napier, New Zealand.
A view of the Pacific Ocean from the Bluff Hill Lookout in Napier, New Zealand.
A Norfolk pine near the Bluff Hill Lookout in Napier, New Zealand.
The safe swimming area near the port in Napier, New Zealand.
On top of Bluff Hill in Napier, New Zealand, a geodetic beacon used for surveying.
A musician at a local pub in Napier, New Zealand.
The museum in Napier, New Zealand.
A half-moon during the day in Napier, New Zealand.
A homemade earthquake detector in Napier, New Zealand.
People enjoying a ride in a touring car along Marine Parade in Napier, New Zealand.
The bar at the Thirsty Whale in Napier, New Zealand.
A Kiwi leather bank near the homemade earthquake detector in Napier, New Zealand.
Love on driftwood.
The fountain at night II.
The fountain at night III.
The fountain at night IV.
The National Aquarium at sunset.
A sculpture commemorating fishermen. The sculpture is next to the National Aquarium.
Yellow flowers at Bluff Hill Lookout.
Flowers at Bluff Hill Lookout.
Another grouping of flowers at Bluff Hill Lookout.
Purple flowers at Bluff Hill Lookout.
Some deeply purple flowers at Bluff Hill Lookout.
The Pania of the Reef statue.
The green hills on the way to Napier.
A ship making for the port.
A stunning blue sky!
Looking across Hawke’s Bay.
Two men walking a dog.
A woman walking her dog by the fountain.
A jogger passing by on the beach track.
Marine Parade in the afternoon.
An afternoon moon.
The Shed 2 restaurant.
Some of the restaurants on West Quay street.
Fishing boats.
A portion of the marina.
People enjoying the entertainment and a lovely evening on the deck.
A dog waiting patiently for its owner.
The BBQ pizza was delicious.
The evening’s entertainment during cocktails and dinner.
A Norfolk Pine.
The pebbles at Pebble Beach.
An incoming wave at Napier.
The Black Stump Cafe.
The other lunch guest.
Lunch at The Black Stump Cafe in Pahiatua, New Zealand.
A section of Highway 58 on the way to Lower Hutt.
The lush vegetation in New Zealand is amazing.
The Tasman Sea with Kapiti Island just on the right.
Even on a cloudy day, it is beautiful.
Such a lush landscape.
An antique tour car driving by as we sat on the terrace of our motel room.
The bar at the Thirsty Whale restaurant.
The Thirsty Whale.
Back to Barbados

Back to Barbados

Bridgetown, Barbados – January 9, 2013

The cruise ship docked at Bridgetown, Barbados around 07:00. Once we got off the boat, we went directly to our hotel. We were all anxious to go to the beach. I remembered bobbing in the waves at St. Maarten, and I was looking forward to doing that again.
As soon as we got our swimsuits on, we all headed outside. In addition to my suit, I was wearing a t-shirt, my hat, and my prescription sunglasses. It is not unusual for me to wear my Colorado hat into the ocean. I did it at Cabo San Lucas, Palma de Mallorca, San Sebastian, and St. Maarten.
We arrived at the beach to see a combination of yellow and red warning flags. That meant the surf was a little rough at times. Hillary and I waded out into the ocean. It was very shallow…until, a wave hit. Several waves hit us. It is incredible how much power the water has. Finally, I was hit by a wave that was between six and eight feet high. I had seen it coming, so I turned my back. As soon as it hit me, I felt my sunglasses rip off of my face. I immediately dove to try to recover them; however, the surf was too strong and the water too murky. Rickin’ frackin’ cake sakers tatter bakers!! I will have to call Wal Mart to replace them.

A bit windy on the beach in Bridgetown, Barbados.That evening before dinner, we stopped in the hotel bar for a beer, the Sand Bar. We tried 10 Saints. It is one of my favorite beers on this trip.
For dinner, we decided on the Polynesian restaurant at the hotel, Wytukai. We had a sampler “feast” that allowed us to try several things. It was my first time to have this type of cuisine. I did not eat anything I did not like. We left the restaurant stuffed.
The next morning we were picked up by a driver from El Tigre Catamaran Cruises. We had made reservations for the cruise about a week ago on our first night in Barbados. We left the hotel at about 09:00 and did not return until about 15:30. On the way to the dock, the driver acted as a tour guide, pointing out the interesting sites along our route.
There were about 25 people on the boat, not counting the crew of five. Before getting on the catamaran, everyone was asked to remove their shoes. Once onboard, the drinks started flowing. They did not stop until we returned to shore.

Departing Bridgetown for our catamaran snorkeling cruise.The boat was about 60 feet long. At the front of the catamaran were two webbed areas where people could sit or lay down. The webbed areas were directly above the water. There was a covered area that could seat about 20 people. There was also a head below, so we had all the comforts of home.
Once we got into the open water, the captain turned off the motors and used the sails. We went north quite a ways.

Our captain at the helm and one of his mates.

It was a beautiful day for sailing.
Leslie enjoying every ray of sunshine.
Tyler just relaxing.
We stopped near this small home for a swim.
The home of Roman Abramovich. As houses go, it is not too shabby.

When we stopped, we were in an area that usually has turtles. Sure enough, the loggerhead turtles were there. We were all provided snorkel masks. We had our snorkels to use that we had purchased on the Carnival ship for $5 each. Once everyone was ready, people started getting into the water. As soon as we were in the water, we could see numerous turtles. One of the crew fed them as we all looked on. At one point he held one, so we could touch the shell. That was a fun experience.
When we were in Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, we stopped in a dive shop to look around. Inside I saw they had underwater cameras for sale. I inquired on a whim how much they were. The least expensive one was about $200, too much for me to consider. When I said that, the sales clerk said they did have disposable cameras for $20. The disposable cameras have the film (remember when!) for 27 exposures.
Since one is so buoyant in saltwater, I found it difficult to dive and take photos because I floated quickly back to the surface. Hopefully, some of the underwater images will come out good.

A “pirate” ship…

One of the sea turtles.
Looking down on a sea turtle and some fish.
Tyler in his snorkeling gear.
Some fish probably wondering just what has invaded their habitat.

It was easy getting in and out of the boat. At the stern, there was a set of stairs one could use. After 30 or 40 minutes we all boarded the catamaran and continued north. We stopped at a shipwreck and reef area. There were hundreds of fish there, what a sight!
Not too long after leaving that area we were served lunch. It consisted of rice, spicy macaroni and cheese, BBQ chicken, fried flying fish, garlic bread, salad, and some mixed vegetables. It tasted good. Once lunch finished, we were able to swim or sit and relax.
We all had a great time. I would highly recommend this activity to anyone going to Barbados.

A cruise ship at dock.

Enjoying some cocktails on the way back to port.
A sailboat passing the other direction.
Coming into the Bridgetown marina.



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!