Arrival Valencia

We left Houston on a 5:30 pm flight to Paris. Once we arrived in Paris we cleared customs and made our way to the local terminal to catch our short hop flight on Air Europa to Valencia.

The plane was late leaving the gate in Paris due to some passengers who had not shown up. They indicated they needed to remove their luggage since they would not be on the flight.

Once we backed out from the gate we were stalled for a bit longer. Must have been some medical emergency as the pilot actually came on the intercom and asked if there was a doctor on board. Never saw what was going on, but we did not go back to the gate and were eventually on our way.

By the time we arrived in Valencia we had been awake the better part of 24 hours. We checked in and decided to take a walk around town and have a look see.

It’s crowded here. And there’s an endless barrage of fireworks being detonated. And from what we hear, the festival not even in full swing yet.

We headed for the mascaleta but it was over before we got there. Even so, it was LOUD. We’re going to attend tomorrow’s for the full effect.

After that we had some lunch and then took the bus to the Ninot Exhibition. This is where they take one of the smaller figures or components from each of the fallas that will be on display during the festival just to showcase the artisans. Today was the last day of the exhibition before the minots were returned so the falls could be setup.

We headed back to the hotel and took a 3 hour nap before heading back out this evening for the Folkloric Parade. This started up about 11:00 pm and ran till 1:30 am and featured all kind of groups. marching band and dancers dressed up in traditional costumes.

It’s 1:30 am now and there’s still an abundant number of fireworks punctuating the night and there’s no sign of it stopping anytime soon.

Too tired to process pics. Hopefully will have some online tomorrow to show you. Now it’s off to bed.

Ninot Exhibition

A few samples of the ninots from the exhibition. Each one is about the size of a person and is only a small part of the entire fallas, of which there are nearly 300 scattered about the city after the planta which is today.

Cynthia was, as those who know might imagine, quite delighted to find a giraffe ninot…

This gives you an idea of the workmanship that goes into these things.

Hard to imagine that these will all be burned at the end of the festival.

Folklore Parade

The Folklore Parade is an event that shows off the rich cultural heritage of Valencia. Lots of traditional costumes and pageantry.

The parade was supposed to start at 10:30 pm. It ended up starting close to 11:30. The crowds were massive and we ended up staking out a spot where the lighting was not so good but still had a great view of the event.

Only a few shots as processing these images on the MSI Wind is challenging

Fireworks

There are nightly fireworks displays that occur around 1:30 am each day. We decided to take a nap and get up and go see one.

After waking up we found a nice little Italian restaurant and had dinner with a bottle of one of the local wines. It was quite tasty.

After dinner we headed out to see the fireworks.

A large group of people gathered on one of the bridges that goes over the dry riverbed very near the hotel so we staked out a spot about an hour in advance.

Cynthia wanted photographic evidence that she was actually out after midnight.

Cynthia after dark

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Cynthia after dark

There was a very cool group of drummers getting the crowd worked up

drummers drumming

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drummers drumming

As it turned out, it was a good thing we got there early as the fireworks started abut 20 minutes ahead of schedule.

ohhh, pretty

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ooooh, pretty

Walking back there was a near miss as someone from down in the riverbed was lobbing fireworks up on to the sidewalk from down below. Not just the splody kind. They were like bottle rockets only bigger…and flying randomly. It was actually a bit frightening.

Gulliver Park – Valencia

While I was exploring a Google map of Valencia, preparing our visit, I came across what appeared to be a giant man laying on the ground.

I showed it to Cynthia and she told me she had read about it one of our guide books and told me it was Parque Gulliver (Gulliver Park). A giant playground built in the shape of Gulliver of Gullvier’s Travels.

It’s a pretty cool space and even cooler that I went from viewing it from a sattelite photo to sitting in Gulliver’s hand…

Two in the hand

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Two in the hand

I am such nerd for this kind of thing!

Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias de Valencia

It was a spectacular day today so we walked the 45 minutes along the dry riverbed to go see the City Of Arts And Sciences.

It was like walking on to the set of a sci-fi movie from the 60’s.

City Of Arts And Sciences
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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

City Of Arts And Sciences

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City Of Arts And Sciences

I was marvelling at how clean the water was. Then I saw this fellow.

City Of Arts And Sciences
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City Of Arts And Sciences

Very cool space and not overloaded with tourists oddly enough.

Oceanográfico

The Oceanográfico, billed as the largest salt water aquarium in the world, was something we really wanted to see while in Valencia. It did not disappoint!

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Oceanografico

The aquarium tunnel alone was extremely interesting and fun to walk through and take pictures in.

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Oceanografico

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Oceanografico

At one point I dropped my hat without realizing it and the friendly scuba diver alerted me to the situation

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Oceanografico

Thank you Aquaman!

We saw many fine aquatic creatures including this very cool Sea Dragon

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Oceanografico

And these jellies

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Oceanografico

The highlight of the exhibit was this very tame and very curious Beluga Whale

Oceanografico
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Oceanografico

The best aquarium I have ever seen and in such a wonderful complex. If you’re ever in Valencia, it’s a must see.

Fallas

Here is just a small sampling of the hundreds of fallas that dot the city. It’s interesting to think that these are so temporary. The most common comment I get when I mention to people back home that these will be burned at the end of the festival is something like “what a waste.” I don’t think so. Everything is temporary and this festival celebrates that along with the concept of renewal…and besides, things that burn and go boom are so coooool!

We’re still looking for the one we want to watch burn.

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

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Las Fallas

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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Las Fallas
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Las Fallas

Speaking of burning, we are still deciding which one we want to see get torched. We’ll have to stake out a spot early as the crowds get very large for the better and larger fallas when it is time for the crema.

William Visits A Cat House In Valencia

William Visits The Cat House

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William Visits The Cat House

No, William didn’t go to a house of ill-repute. This is a hole in a wall on Calle Museo that feral cats use to get to and fro. Someone sculpted a house facade around the hole complete with doors, windows with curtains and even a fountain.

William Visits The Cat House

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William Visits The Cat House

William Visits The Cat House

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William Visits The Cat House

There’s even a miniature tile sign on the wall commemorating 4 of the more well known neighborhood that used to live there.

We didn’t see any cats, but they may well be laying low till the explosions stop later this week.

Ofrenda

The Ofrenda is the flower offering to the Virgin Mary. Two days of parade of traditionally clothed men, women and children marching to the square to bring flowers which are used to create a giant effigy to the Holy Mother.corners of the city and converge on the square so you pretty much can’t go anywhere without running into a procession.

It starts with just the bare structure in the Plaza de la Virgen

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Offrenda

And then, over the course of two days literally THOUSANDS of women dressed in traditional costume make there way to the square to bring flowers that will be used to construct the effigy. The women are escorted by husbands, fathers and children and it seems to go on and on forever down several main streets.

Each group represents a family or a neighborhood and most of the groups have a marching band that accompanies them to the square and back home so there’s lots of music, singing and dancing.

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Offrenda

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Offrenda

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Offrenda

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Offrenda

This goes on from around 4 o’clock in the afternoon and wraps up at midnight and starts all over again the next day.

When we went out this morning the virgin was only half complete but starting to look quite amazing

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Offrenda

They should be finishing up about now.

What… is your quest?

Holy Grail
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Holy Grail

The Chapel of the Holy Grail claims to hold THE Holy Grail. It has even been certified by the late Pope John Paul as almost certainly being one of several potential candidates for being the One True Grail.

We went off in search of the Grail and actually got a little lost. We were pretty sure we knew where it was, but not absolutely certain. Cynthia mused at the conundrum of having to actually utter the sentence “Excuse me, but we seek the Holy Grail.” It just sounded ridiculous.

We did find it on our own, avoiding having to answer these questions three or being taunted by French guards, tricked by Grail Maidens or menaced by a bunny rabbit with huge gnashing teeth.

Holy Grail
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Holy Grail

The Grail is back in a special chapel and behind bulletproof glass and the closest you can get to it is about 20-30 feet so it is not possible to truly scrutinize the relic.

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Holy Grail

William The Sheepie was in awe of seeing the Grail, much as he was in awe of being blessed by the Pope when we were in Rome.

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Holy Grail

Of course we needed proof we’d found it

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Holy Grail