Our next stop was Valencia – the third largest city in Spain. One of our primary goals on this stop was to catch a soccer game and Valencia happened to have a game that fit with our schedule – Valencia vs. Bilbao. But there was a lot of sightseeing to do before Sunday’s game.
After arriving in Valencia in the early afternoon, we set out on a walk to see what we could see. We walked toward the middle of town through a mixture of old and new structures and ended up at the Valencia Cathedral. We didn’t plan to end up there, but since it was on the list of things we wanted to see, we ventured in with only minimal scowls from the boys. The interesting thing about this cathedral is that it claims to house the Holy Grail, which, by the way, is not made out of wood as Henry and Indiana Jones might have you believe. This cup is made of stone and has a base that was added in medieval times that consists of gold, alabaster, and gem stones. Personally, I think the room that the grail is housed in was much more impressive than the cup itself.
Running right through the middle of Valencia is a dried up river bed that has been turned into a park and recreation area. There are several large buildings at one end of the park that comprise the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences). The building are home to an art museum, an IMAX theater, a science museum, and an aquarium. We had the most fun at the IMAX movie followed by the science center, which had a lot of interactive displays. I think we are a bit spoiled having great science centers and aquariums to both the north and south of us. We had pretty high expectations that were not met by the attractions here, but the buildings and the area are pretty impressive.
Things calmed down a bit after the first couple days because RJ was not feeling well. He caught some kind of bug in Africa and had been fluctuating up and down since then. Finally, he got a bit worse in Valencia and we had to put everything else on hold. Unfortunately, this happened after we had already purchased tickets to the soccer game. So we sent Ray and Ty off to the game while RJ and I stayed at the hotel and got a house call from local doctors.
I’m not sure I’ve said this about Spain yet, but it has been, by far, the hardest place we’ve have been in terms of language barriers. It was quite an adventure having three docs/nurses visit RJ in the hotel with minimal English skills. We figured out quickly that if they spoke small Spanish words very slowly mixed with a little English and I spoke small English words very slowly mixed with a little Spanish, we could eventually get to a place where we all understood one another. They did manage to get across that taking our children to places like India and Africa was dangerous and they did not look like they approved of our galavanting around the globe. But they did ease any fears we had about RJ’s sickness and thought he just had a tummy bug and would recover in a day or two (which he did). And they never asked for money for the house call… an added bonus!
As for the soccer game, Ray and Ty had great seats and enjoyed watching the game. It took a bit for them to figure out who to root for though as neither team’s colors matched Valencia colors and they couldn’t understand anyone around them. They were pretty sure that Valencia lost the game. The only real negative about the experience was that there is smoking allowed in the stadium and they ended up right in the middle of a bunch of them. Boo!
All in all, Valencia was not one of my favorite stops. I thought at first that it was because we didn’t do as much and the attractions didn’t really live up to our expectations, but I think it is more than that. There was a certain charm about Madrid, Granada, and Alicante that seemed to be lacking in Valencia. But even though we didn’t feel the love here, the architecture, plazas, and parks are still pretty amazing to see.
Boys climbing on a contraption in the riverbed park.
The Holy Grail.
Stained glass in the cathedral.
Art on the streets of Valencia.
Carving on the side of a building.
Boys on fountain.