Episode 5 – Valencia
Mucia is the orchard for Spain. It has perfect weather for all kinds of vegetation, especially for citrus fruits. The most famous fruit is the orange. Valencia oranges are famous all over the world. There is a variety called Valencia blood orange which is used more for jams and preserves. Lately there is a big interest in growing rice.
When you visit Europe, there are a few things that are so much in common. You have to be prepared to visit Cathedrals. These old buildings all have their own unique styles. Close by the cathedrals are always some piazza (town square). A town square is a place for people to meet, exchange gossips and information, and to gather. All activities are branched out from town squares. Education institutes, parks and recreation areas, markets and business areas can never by too far away. Always remember the word of Santa Cruz which is “Holy Cross”. This name is so commonly used; you will find it almost in every town.
We arrived in Valencia. It was hot and there was a union demonstration in the town square. All traffic was stopped and there must be more than 200 people in this group. They had banners, noise makers, trumpets, whistles, commanding the attention of everyone. The big trouble was with the traffic. It was stuck and they had to wait till this group of people slowly moving on. The workers would be better off in concentrating their work rather than wasting energy under the hot sun.
There is a drink called hotchata in this region of Spain. It is made of the milk of Chufas. It tastes like an almond drink. I could think of 10 drinks better tasting that this. While I was sitting drinking my Hotchata, there were 2 older Spanish ladies at the next table looking and smiling. They were all so properly dressed. Spanish people are very fond and proud of their appearances. They will dress up properly even when they go to the market. I tried to strike up a slight conversation. I think they were intrigue there were so many Oriental tourist these days. One of the ladies had a fan and she was doing different gestures with the fan, opening and closing, pointing at her cheek and others. I drank my drink and then 2 elderly gentlemen joined the ladies. I was told the fan has a language of its own. I hope there is no misinterpretation.
The server of the sandwich store appeared with another bill for me. But I paid already. The drink was only 2+ Euros but I needed to explain this and got it straightened out. Finally I found the server who collected my money and she apologized. Be careful with this pricing system in Europe. They can have a-la-carte pricing for almost everything. If you approach the soda bar and ask for an expresso, this is 1 price. If you want to sit at a table, it can be a different price. If you want to be served by a server, it will be even more. If you are away from the main level and elevate to a second floor, there can be another price too. Anyways, if in doubt, ask. You do not want unnecessary delays trying to explain your dilemma in a language you are not familiar with.
The Spanish brand name for chocolate is Valor. It is an excellent chocolate. It is not too sweet. The shop that sells chocolate also has hot chocolate and other sweet goods. They are all extra-ordinary. Unless you bring along a cooler with you, there is no way you can keep the chocolate from melting in such temperature.
Another speciality is Arroz Negre, “Black Rice”. It is also cooked with ink of the octopus. If you tried black paella, you will not be surprised with this dish.
Apart from the old, there are some modern buildings in Valencia. The wonderful buildings are in a group. City of Arts and Sciences located at the end of the Turia Gardens and just a ten minute walk from the beach and port area of Valencia. Within the area of this top attraction you will find the fascinating Aquarium which houses the largest marine and aquarium park in Europe. It is housed in a stunning building designed by Felix Candela and is reminiscent of one of Gaudi’s impressive works.
As well as housing the Aquarium the City of Arts and Science is this truly a modern and stunning complex where will find the planetarium, science museum, botanical gardens and the grand opera house. The buildings are way too futuristic. It looks like something out of the movie “Starwars”. There is a panoramic movie house and of course we do not have time to indulge in such leisure.
VALENCIA CATHEDRAL which is located in the old quarter and is home to the SEU museum, the oldest in Valencia containing the Holy Chalice of Valencia or the Holy Grail. The Holy Grail is a wonderful story where the most valuable in surface may not be real thing. Just like the knight who found the Holy Grail and he was allowed to pick out the real one amongst an alter full of chalices, the authentic chalice is made out of wood. By the same token, I kept telling my wife that by giving her nothing is truer than giving her the best value in everything. She did not believe it, neither did I.