Day 15 – Valencia, Spain 2012 – May 28, Monday

Our last day in Spain, in the city of Valencia, we head out bright and early with hard boiled eggs and a pear in hand (that we brought from our previous hotel). We walk down the street to the bus station and find the one we take down to the “Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias” (City of Arts and Sciences). It is an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex that spans a very large area of town. It was a beautiful sunny day so we walked all over the grounds, admiring the interesting modern architecture, and especially the large shallow pools that surrounded the area. There is even a park with awesome bike trails all around it. Bougainville’s were everywhere and they were in full bloom! They had small billboards along the walkways that had interesting photography art work with thought provoking sayings…all in all it was a worthwhile visit for two people who don’t really enjoy museums and have seen our share of cathedrals and castles during our many travels!

After spending a few hours at the arts and science area, we hopped into a cab and had him take us to the beach for lunch. This beach reminded us a lot of Huntington Beach here in California….lots of sand! They have very large bike lanes, something I wish we had more of! This is where all the best paella places are too! We walked all long “restaurant row” where each place was pretty much offering the same thing…Paella, their specialty. We finally settled on one that had a nice “menu del dia” posted out front on a chalkboard and sat down to our last pitcher of cold sangria. Our paella came in the traditional “2 person” flat skillet, with some mussels, langostinos and shrimp. It was excellent, full of saffron flavor and bright orangy-yellow colored. So yellow, it caused our nails to turn orange just from peeling the shrimp! After our lunch, we walked a bit more to look around before heading to the metro train station for our ride back to our hotel.

At our hotel, Joey took a siesta while I blogged and uploaded pictures. This seemed to be how most of our siestas were spent, ha ha. I finally woke Joey and insisted we get out and hit the streets hard once again for our last bit of souvenir shopping. It’s harder than it seems…trying to find things for our kids that were practical and yet still fun. And of course, we had to get a few things for ourselves, and that was the hardest part! I’m pretty sure I was the hold out until the end, wanting to be sure I saw everything before making my final decision ;).

As the night wore on and we were strolling along the beautiful streets of old town Valencia, we decided we should probably eat again. I know it seems like all we did was eat and drink, and for a lot of this trip, that is exactly what we did (between walking and looking at things), but mostly we ate about two meals a day, with maybe a snack of either fruit, meats, cheeses or even a dessert in between. But this being our last day of our vacation, we decided to spring for one last dinner, in spite of having a heavy paella for lunch. And what did we have? MORE paella!! Again, there were lots of outdoor cafes selling paella in this old town area so we found one that looked charming where an according player was playing. AND, another “menu del dia” for $12 euro, that included THREE appetizers and bread that came before the paella! We hared some fried squid, a salad, and some potatoes with a garlic aioli sauce. THEN came the paella! This dish wasn’t as good as the one at the beach, and if you’re ever in Valencia, I would definitely suggest you head to the beach for your paella, but still…it was decent enough to eat…although we couldn’t finish our plates! They also served us a plate of desserts…fresh fruit with whipped cream, a small piece of cake, and some ice cream with raspberry sauce drizzled all over everything. Oh, and I forgot to mention, this came with a glass of wine. The owner kept coming by with a bottle and filling our glasses, even AFTER we paid the check! Sadly, I was too full to even drink all the wine! We eventually waddled back to our hotel where we packed everything up for our early morning flight home before hitting the sheets around 11pm.

As an addition to this last day’s blog, I will tell you that we woke up the following morning at 3:30am to shower and be over at the metro station (across the street…convenient) for the first 5am train to the airport. We made this in plenty of time, only to find out that our 6:40am flight with TAP Portugal into Lisbon had been cancelled! We had two connecting flights on United that we would have to make too (Lisbon to New York, and then New York to LAX…arriving home at 6:25pm). We knew we would never make these connections if we had to wait until the next 11:40am flight to Lisbon! And just thinking about how much sleep we could have gotten had we KNOWN about the cancellation…well, you can imagine our frustration! There wasn’t even anyone at the TAP Portugal window, just a sign posted that the flight was cancelled and to come back later. So we find a café, order some coffee, and get on the phone (at $1.39 per minute), calling United to have them re-book us. Oh lucky me, I get some girl in India whom I can’t understand who puts me on hold to “verify” this cancellation. Uhh yeah, I’m looking at the sign on the window! I eventually realize she disconnected me so I try another number I had for United. This time I got lucky and got an American agent. He spent some time looking for flight options (expensive time), but he eventually re-booked our flight on Swiss Air into Zurich, and then a direct flight home from Zurich to LAX, arriving at 4:40pm…even earlier that our original flight home! Yeah, coolio, and with an international airline too so that means they feed us and the drinks are free! Lots of glutenous foods being served though :(. But they did pass out Swiss chocolate! So without any further complications, and after watching 3.5 movies (I think I dozed…), we arrived home, on-time, and our sweet Lacy girl was there to pick us up!

First stop….Miguel’s Jr. for a couple of bean and cheese burritos before we start back on our diet, lol!

Day 14 – Valencia, Spain 2012 – May 27, Sunday

Today we woke up to say goodbye to our beautiful place at Hotel Montiboli. It’s bittersweet because it is so beautiful, and I would have loved a few more days here, but we also get to go to….wait……..wait for it……..VALENCIA!

We arrived to find Valencia very beautiful, but kind of confusing to find our hotel. There are lots of one way streets, blocked off streets, and bridges that take you underground leaving you completely disoriented about which direction you are going, etc. But we eventually found our way and unloaded our now heavier luggage….and we haven’t even done most of our shopping yet! We definitely have to find small things to buy from here on out!

After checking in and getting settled in our room, we went out to hit the streets of Valencia. This town is really quite beautiful in the old historic area. The apartments and buildings are so beautiful. Lots of pretty character to them all, and most are well maintained. The streets are mostly tree lined and there are lots of palm trees around too. There are outdoor café’s and shops all around, lots of people out and about too. We did a little souvenir shopping before stopping for a glass of cold horchata. I don’t really care for it, but Joey enjoyed it. They even had little mobile stands selling it on street corners. There was an open air market out in the middle of the plaza so we walked around there for a bit. Funny, but my feet have revived themselves! For now…

We eventually stopped for some dinner…our last night of tapas eating. There are lots of tapas places around here, lots of ice cream too! Everyone was eating ice cream, especially the older ladies! But we were saving room for our churros y chocolate for our dessert ;). We finally settled on a place for tapas and we each ordered a drink and helped ourselves to some tapas places out on the bar. Each one has a tooth pick in it (like an hors d’oeuvre might), and when you are finished, the waitress counts how many sticks you have on your plate and that’s how she charges you! Pretty efficient actually…unless you accidently use one to pick your teeth with and forget and throw it away. Afterwards we stopped at the chocolate shop where we got our churros y chocolate. Joey ordered the regular cup of hot gooey chocolate and I ordered a sampler plate which came with four types of hot gooey chocolate. This is heavenly! Seriously, hot melted chocolate with a hot fresh doughnut? How can it not be?

By this time it was about 10pm, STILL light out, so we waddled our fat little bodies back to our hotel and called it a night!