Friday, July 10, 2015

Valencia, Day Three

I spent most of the day wandering around in Doug's grandmother's old neighborhood, walking through part of the Jardines del Turia, and visiting some of the old town section of the city.  Most of these photos are of nothing in particular, just a bunch of pretty buildings I saw that show the beauty of the city.  I feel no need to be one of those scholarly tourist types because . . . I'm on vacation!!!

Beautiful Architecture

and palm trees

Valencia has some very wide boulevards and huge traffic circles.

In the Jardines del Turia with some of the towers from the old town section in the background.

Interesting trunks on these trees.

Roman ruins in the Jardins del Turia.  A river used to run through the center of the city and it flooded all the time and was a huge problem so they diverted it to a more convenient location and built these gardens the river had formerly been.

I'm probably not the only one who finds this amusing.

This is the Torres de Serranos, an ancient fortress on the north end of the old town area, near the Jardines del Turia.

The Valencia Flag

Fort carvings

Some views from the top of the fort

The next four photos are all in the same plaza where the Fountain "des Virgenes" is located.  There are four or five sidewalk restaurants there, the pink building above, the old cathedral, the fountain, and some orange and lemon trees.

Some more excellent graffiti.  Who knew I'd be seeing Gomez and Morticia today?

and this!

These flowers were EVERYWHERE!

Train station and bullfighting joint means that I'm almost back in "my" neighborhood.

A visit to the past ...

Earlier this year, while sorting through a bin of old photos, letters, and other mementos that had belonged to Doug's parents, I came across a letter from Doug's grandmother to his father regarding her upcoming move to the United States from Spain.  Originally from Mexico, Esther Carrillo Rivera Lagos, aka Esther Elliott, had lived in Spain for many years and was coming back to the United States to reunite with her family.

The letter was written in Spanish, and I have not gotten around to google-translating it yet, but it had to do with travel arrangements via ship, and making sure that all of the necessary paperwork had been taken care of.  Back in the 1950s everything was done via regular mail, so there was a lot of waiting around involved for various things to happen.

I never met Doug's grandmother, but I definitely want to learn more about her.  It seems like she must have led a very interesting life, from the few things I do know about her story.  I wish it had occurred to me to ask more questions as I got to know Doug's family, because they do have a slightly unusual history, but I didn't, and now there are things that I realize I'll never be able to find out.

It was a wonderful coincidence that we were already planning to be in Valencia this summer and I was thrilled to have an actual address for her.  All I'd ever heard about where she had lived was "Spain." I entered Esther's address from her letter into Google Maps and discovered that she had lived within walking distance of where we were going to be staying.  It was very exciting to be able to see the actual apartment where she had once lived, on a shady street in Valencia, just a few blocks on the other side of the Jardines del Turia, and fairly close to the old town section of the city.  I tried to imagine what her life was like living there all those years.  I'm sure she missed her family, but I hope she was able to enjoy all that Spain has to offer.  The city of Valencia is very different from the area in Jalisco, Mexico where she spent her early years.

So off I went on my reconnaissance mission to find her apartment.  I took a few pictures and after the trombone festival ended a few days later, I took Doug back there to see it. He didn't seem to remember that I had found her address way back in March, so he was pretty surprised to suddenly have me escorting him to visit his grandmother's former apartment in Spain, of all places.  It was pretty cool.  And here are the pictures:

Calle Vicente Sancho Tello #28, 3A, Valencia, Spain.  That's the street corner plaque, and the lovely tiles below show her address.

It's a rather ordinary apartment, on a shady street, just above a tattoo parlor, which I'm fairly certain was not there when she lived there in the 1950s.

 That's her balcony.

This is the tile work inside the lobby of her building.  And that's pretty much all there is to see.  I'm very glad we had this opportunity to see where Doug's grandmother lived during her years in Spain.

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Valencia, Day Two

 My second day in Valencia was rather mellow.  I sat around relaxing in the living room of the lovely apartment we are staying in, enjoying the wonderful breeze coming in off of the Mediterranean, and the view through the large doors that were open to the balcony.

Later on I went for a walk, and then I headed down to the venue where the evening jazz concerts at the International Trombone Festival were taking place.

Here are two up and coming European jazz stars.  They were absolutely amazing.  One of the highlights of our time in Valencia was going to the concerts each night and hearing great music from players that we've never heard before.  There are a lot of excellent jazz musicians in Spain and throughout Europe as well.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Valencia, Day One

First day in Valencia - I took way too many pictures and here they are:

Our first day in Valencia began with a long layover in the Madrid Airport following our overnight flight from Philadelphia.  This is the quietest airport I've ever been in, probably due to the unique curved ceiling design.  It's crazy but very effective.  The support beams follow the colors of the rainbow through the length of the airport.  It's really an amazing sight that these photos can't even begin to capture.  The light fixtures were also very cool.

This is an extremely low-budget trip we are on, but we're getting a pretty nice vacation out of it.  The plane was free (frequent flyer miles from all the expenses we had building our house), public transportation mostly, and AirBnB lodging.  And lucky for us, it turns out that food is very inexpensive in Spain too.  The first things we saw after getting off the Metro from the Valencia airport were the bullfighting ring and the train station.

We are staying in an apartment in the Ruzafa neigborhood, which is full of restaurants and bars, beautiful old architecture, and some rather brilliant graffiti.  It's an artsy area and a fun place to be.  Our apartment is on the 5th floor so we don't hear much street noise, and fortunately there is an elevator.  The owner is an architect who lives here part time and has his office here and rents out the two spare bedrooms. He's super nice, speaks excellent English, gives good advice, and keeps the apartment very clean.  It's been a great place to stay, and much more pleasant than any hotel that we could have afforded.

Here's our room.  It's small and simple, but very clean.  And we have the run of the apartment.  It's a great place to hang out, which a lot of hotel rooms are not.

The ad said "vintage apartment" and it comes complete with a skeleton key for our room!  Here are a couple of views from our balcony:

Although extremely sleep-deprived, having stayed up all night the night before we left on our more than 24 hour trio of flights, we were determined to go to bed at a "normal" time.  So off we went for a walk around our groovy neighborhood.  Here's some of what we saw:

Window selfie time!

Even the sidewalks and grates are snazzy!

Maybe a little Jameson will help us sleep

My tired toes

Our local corner store.  We walked in to buy water and the guy said "How about a samosa?"  So glad we followed his suggestion - they were SO GOOD.

This cafe is on the bottom floor of our building.

The foyer

The living room.  I felt right at home since mine is the same color.

Looking down at the street from the balcony

Origami birds in a bookstore window.

The hallway outside our bedroom.  Time to say goodnight.