I’m pretty good at taking advice from people. If someone has “been there and done that”, then why not listen and learn instead of floundering and figuring it out for yourself? Last Wednesday I went out to dinner with one of the ladies from my team and she said that whenever they visit a new city, especially abroad, they always do a bike tour or walking tour early on the first day. She said “It only takes a couple of hours and you get some good highlights and your bearings with regards to direction and what you might want to see more of. This advice is spot on.
We did a Segway tour this morning starting at 10AM and that took us from the heart of “old town” where our apartment is all the way along the dried up river bed that has been turned into a part, past the City of Art and Science, and all the way to the port of Valencia. In a few short hours we saw 5 or 6 of the top attractions here and learned all kinds of detail art the city from our guide AND learned how to ride a Segway. Freaky at first, but once I got used to it, it was OK. (I would still choose a bike though, so that will likely be what we do in Barcelona when we get there).
The contrast between the open spaces and the parks and the densely populated urban areas is substantial. All the parks are lovely and well maintained while the city itself is littered with graffiti. The City of Arts and Sciences is an architectural and artistic Meca which was first started in 1996 and has not been completed yet. Parts of it are not finished, according to our guide, because of lack of funding. It seems these artists and architects have big vision, but the tourism in this city pales in comparison to other’s in Spain. Still, what is here is considered one of the 12 treasures of Spain, so it seems like they are doing OK.
The tour we went on was pretty rapidly paced and since I was fearful of crashing my Segway, I did not have an opportunity to take a lot of pictures. The featured image here was snagged off of the all-mighty Wiki. That structure was inspired by an eye. It is half of an eye surrounded by water so when there’s a good reflection, you can see the full “open eye”. That’s super cool. The “City within a city” lived up to it’s name and we may just go there again tomorrow to explore the inside.
Unlike me on Segway, Jim was a complete show off, speeding around and not only took pics but also captured video of us on our ride. By the time we were through, I was ready to walk on my own two feed again and it felt great to climb the 140 steps to the top of the Torres de Serranos. It is one of several towers left of a ancient wall that served as the border to the city. The views from the top were quite impressive and you get a good 360 view of the city.
By the time all of this was done, morning had turned into afternoon and we were spent and in serious need of fuel. Luckily, there is no shortage of that here. It seems that there is a cafe or restaurant o every block and around every corner. The street level of almost every building is a composition of shops and bars and grocery and services. It is very easy to see how someone could live here without a car, as most probably do. Such a different lifestyle. Not better, not worse, just different.
We found a cute little place called “el Dorita” and had some tapas and red wine. After that Our afternoon ended up being pretty lazy. We sat around and talked, and napped, and “napped”. Then we cooked dinner at the apartment which was followed by another walk. We did a little more research on what we want to do tomorrow and then snuggled on the couch to watch a movie. It was a nice balanced day in Valencia indeed.
It’s so strange to think about how it is past midnight here and only 5:30PM back home. Probably by the time I get used to it, it will be time to leave.
Cheers to Day 1,