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The rarely updated blog of Joel Dixon

Viewing blogs tagged Valencia

Friday, August 10, 2012

Valencia, Spain - 2012

# Posted by Joel Dixon at 10/08/2012 22:33:54

My first day in Valencia was always going to be very busy - I would arrive at the train station at 10 am and leave on a full day tour of the Valencia hot springs at 11 am. I quickly checked in, enjoyed a refreshing sorbet at the ice cream store next door, then was off on the bus.

The tour provided by DO! Valencia is the number 1 rated attraction in Valencia according to Trip Advisor - and I can certainly see why. It was a small group, but each participant was really nice and Miguel our guide was fantastic. After a brief stop at a waterfall running at half strength we finally arrived at the hot springs about 70 kms out of city. After a quick lunch of Spanish omelette with potatoes we went for a quick swim.

Water
We were told that this is a popular location for the locals to swim - it was kind of them to not stare and point at "Los Diablo Blanco"

Group
Our lovely tour group - I'm the creepy looking guy in the background

While they were called hot springs, they didn't exactly resemble a spa bath. The water was still cool, but the chill had certainly been taken from it. The best part was the occasional warm currents you would periodically swim through. Kind of like that first few seconds of warm bliss immediately after you wet the bed - but without the messy clean up. Not that I wet the bed any more, of course - I refer to my early teen years There was a cool hidden cave around a bend in the river, a cliff face that we jumped off and a whole heap of beautiful blue water - this was a lovely way to spend the afternoon.

Pretty
This river's got a purty mouth

After the hot springs we drove to a water outlet from the nearby dam - the "pony tail water jet". This was also quite cool (figuratively and literally) - the spray from the propelled water took me back to a stroll next to Niagara Falls and thinking that it had started raining. It also provided me an opportunity for a great spit take shot.

Spit
My reaction when I heard Jersey Shore had been running for 6 seasons (yet Arrested Development was cancelled after 3)

The afternoon would normally be concluded with some tapas and cerveza - but we were given the opportunity to witness a Running of the Bulls at a small local town. After a brief siesta in my seat we arrived to a curious sight of the town pimped out with blue and orange grills.

Town
To the left of frame you can see Miguel, our awesome tour guide. To the right is an old codger showing the senoritas his best angle

Church
I will never get tired over how much effort and construction has been made in the name of God / religion. Maybe Joelianity needs to make a comeback (and an application for religious tax breaks)

The bull running in these towns is a little different to the ones in Pamplona. Instead of running bulls down a street, with the crazy people trying to beat them back to the cages, our experience had a town caged up so that the bull had a limited domain in which to run around. The crazy people would then stand in the town trying to look nonchalant only to bolt into the cages once the bull was close. Some of the especially crazy people would follow the bull and try to get it to charge at them.

First
The first bull was quite interesting, he had a bit of pep and made a few runs near our cage

Most people were fine - but there were some complete dickheads amongst the group. You had the people standing around, sneering at the bull and presumably shouting mocking taunts such as "come and get me, you stupid bull" - before panicking and squeezing back into their protective cage before they were in any real danger. They weren't too annoying - but then you had people that would try to touch the bull to show their bravado. Too pussy to use their hands, they chose to kick towards the bulls head just to say they touched a bull (with their foot?). The complete lack of respect or regard for these creatures was infuriating, causing me to wish some of the bars would disappear for just a minute or so.

After the first bull was corralled back into his box they let out the second bull - and absolute behemoth.

Second
Even some of the locals were shocked at the size of this bull. They kept making a cupping motion with their hands, kind of like they were holding a heavy pair of oranges down towards their crotch. I presume this roughly translates to "this bull must eat a lot of oranges to maintain such a large size"

The second bull was new to the "sport" of bull running, and seemed have trouble understanding what was happening. He tired quickly, gasping for air, kicking dirt up and sticking his tongue out to try to keep cool, while the townspeople were goading him constantly unhappy with his inaction. In the end he couldn't take it and lay down on the ground, causing the organisers to lasso him and drag him out towards his box.

Tired
He stopped outside of our cage for ages trying to catch his breath

I am glad I had a chance to see this for myself and make up my own mind. That being said, my mind is firmly in the "why the hell is this barbaric practice still being committed?" camp. It would take a special kind of heartless bastard that could see the confusion on the bulls eyes and the slobber pouring out of his tired mouth without any pangs of a conscious.

After a very long day all I wanted was to sleep but I had one more task at hand - Paella Valenciana. Paella originated in Valencia where an abundance of rice is produced. Genuine Valencian paella is made with rabbit, chicken, snails and beans (as opposed to the seafood paella I usually see around Melbourne) - so I wanted to try some of the authentic dish while I was in town. I made my way out to Neptu (near the site of the F1 track) where there was a number of classy restaurants and made my order.

Paella
The dish is brought to the table in the pan (paella translates to pan) so you can enjoy the socarrat at will - the crispy bit on the bottom

While the chicken in Porto blew anything from Nando's out of the water, an unlikely comeback was made in the paella round. I liked Paella Valenciana (and the snails added an interesting texture) - but I prefer the mass-produced, chicken-heavy fare provided by my local Nando's store. I'm not sure what the tie-breaker round can be - maybe I'll find an authentic "wholemeal wrap" in Barcelona?

After I slept with the force of a thousand suns, I made my way to the central market looking for a Valencian orange and to give the local seafood paella a go (also nice, but not enough to change the victor of round two). I found the city's fruit namesake - I also discovered a delicious local beverage named horchata. Horchata is a sweetened milk made from tiger nuts, cinnamon and sugar. Horchata is generally combined with a light, fluffy pastry things called fartons (giggle) - and dipping the farton (giggle) into the milk was truly delightful. I was also able to find some horchata ice-cream which was equally delicious - unfortunately there was no companion farton (giggle) ice-cream on offer.

Orange
A Valencian Valencian orange

Horchata
The delicious horchata and farton (giggle)

An afternoon nap (I could really get used to all of these siestas) I went to have dinner at the Queen Plaza. Trying to preserve my svelte gut I only had a small focaccia - but managed to fit in another serving of horchata and farton (giggle). Tomorrow I will catch a train towards four days of sunny 30 degree days in Barcelona


This is the 4th in the EuroJoel - 2012 series
City 1 - Lisbon, Portugal - 2012City 2 - Porto, Portugal - 2012City 3 - Madrid and Toledo, Spain - 2012City 4 - Valencia, Spain - 2012City 5 - Barcelona, Spain - 2012City 6 - Naples, Italy - 2012City 7 - Rome and Vatican City, Italy - 2012City 8 - Florence and Pisa, Italy - 2012City 9 - Milan and Bologna, Italy - 2012City 10 - Venice, Italy - 2012City 11 - Prague, Czech Republic - 2012City 12 - Dresden, Germany - 2012City 13 - Berlin, Germany - 2012City 14 - Legoland, Denmark, 2012City 15 - Edinburgh, Scotland - 2012City 16 - Nice and Monte Carlo, France - 2012City 17 - Lyon, France - 2012City 18 - Dijon, France - 2012City 19 - Provins, France - 2012City 20 - Paris, France - 2012City 21 - Ireland - 2012City 22 - London, England - 2012City 23 - Killarney - Ireland, 2012City 24 - Amsterdam, Netherlands - 2012City 25 - Brussels and Bruges, Belgium - 2012City 26 - Warsaw, Poland - 2012City 27 - Krakow, Poland - 2012City 28 - Vienna, Austria - 2012City 29 - Budapest, Hungary - 2012City 30 - Bucharest, Romania - 2012City 31 - Nile Cruise, Egypt - 2012City 32 - Cairo, Egypt - 2012
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