Valencia, Spain (yes, like the oranges)

 Valencia!
Even the word conjures delight.  Fresh oranges, juiced  with  just a little pulp and big flavor– my mouth is watering, just writing about it.  Orange trees are everywhere– ornamental and useful!
 

The 3rd largest city in Spain, we came to Valencia because the high temps in Madrid (104`) drove us out.  8-10` cooler, located on the western shore of the Mediterranean, we opted for a sea-breeze.  After packing a bag and riding the bullet train for 2 1/2 hours, our reality took a better turn.

Through Booking.com, we found a last-minute room with a view.  It seemed like it might have been an old boarding-house in the past but it has its own charm with the ever-present marble staircases and a really good restaurant-on premises.  The warmth of the staff softened the spartan rooms which housed the basic necessities– including a 1/2 balcony (if that) with a view.  The view! the view–it’s all about the view!

No air conditioning scared us at first but a fan supplemented the constant breeze quite nicely.

 

3rd floor stairs however, were a bear for me!  Geesh.  It is worth it , but I work hard–taking it slow, and conserving my trips (no pun intended!) 
(Note: When using a cane on marble, it can be tricky-so it helps to have a rubber tip.)
Neptune Beach seems to attract the physically challenged– I was amazed by how many wheelchairs, motorized and not, cruised the wide, flat, palisade boardwalk.  
Looking it up on the internet, I found that this is a popular resort for those who are walking-challenged.
(Note:  Europeans call the ground level,  “0”, so when we booked our room, we were planning on the 2nd floor and frustrated to find that room #209, alas,  was on the 3rd.)
It is easy to become meditative in places like this.
  • Negative ions soon saturate the the human body,  relaxing the brain’s stress load, allowing the mind to wander and wonder.
  • Sailboats in silent regatta, huddle together as if on secret mission.
  • The marina is filled with upright masts, like naked spires stark against the changing sky.
  • Communities of umbrellas sport their colors like flags staking claim.
  • In the distance, jet skis spew silent wakes, like baby whales spouting water.
  • The breeze, a sultry siren, urges me to stay and play awhile.  I’m easily convinced.
I noticed three specific beach types: 
  1. The quiet morning exercisers– biking, walking and jogging.  They are older, like me, with various degrees of health and levels of performance.  I catch myself thinking, “‘Lookin’ good for our age.”  (oh dear)
  2. Family groups— parents lead, with children tagging behind –while reluctant teenagers are lagging behind.  I’m charmed by how many grandparents  and grandkids engage, hand in hand, in close communication.  It’s a luxury we didn’t seem to have as parents.
  3.  

Night-life types, loud and boisterous, drinkers and dancers.  They didn’t quiet down until around 4:00 a.m.  We gave it up around 1:00.
Policia cruise regularly; it feels safe here.

Ever an eye for SnaZZy, I love the beach-wear!  Skirt-like, harem pants feel like you are wearing next-to-nothing, stitched in panels, flowing and breezy; Gold is big-lookin’ good with all the redheads over here; maxis, minis; At the beach, almost anything goes (or nearly nothing, in some cases!)  I saw tattoos in places and on types of people that I’d never imagined!

 

Sand sculptures that took weeks to create,  urge tourists to have a heart and show their appreciation– boardwalk busking, seaside.

I’ve grown accustomed to Spanish meals, enjoying a light breakfast usually of cafe` leche` (coffee with foamy milk) and a carb– such as bread or toast.  Near the Mediterranean, it’s common to top your toast with salsa-like chopped tomatoes and olive oil-or fruit preserves.  ‘Much easier to burn off on your beach-walk than eggs and fried potatoes.

 

 

Lunch is served late and large- 2:00 or so- just before Siesta`, so you can sleep off your calories.  This is a great time for the local Paella, cooked with local rice and saffron.

   

 

Dinner is late-very late, and moderate by State-side standards.

It stays light later here so eating at 10:00 p.m. sneaks up on you.
We like to eat where the locals do,  so we walked a few blocks off the beach to find a collection of outdoor tables and Spanish speaking patrons.  We weren’t disappointed– we chose a tapas of seafood and veggies , along with locally produced red (tinto) wine, taking a couple of hours  to soak up the ambiance,  along with our meal.
Europe does that to you.

The flood-prone river that once ran through Valencia was diverted to create rice fields, increasing agriculture in the area.  The dried up river bed is now green space with parks and recreation.

And the science museums are ingenious and extraordinary.

 

 

My favorite sight-seeing is of Roman (or before) ruins–and there were a few of those, strewn throughout.  Below is the remainder of Roman gates, part of the old wall that surrounded the city.