Ilivetolearn's Blog

May 16, 2006

last trip before summer

Filed under: on the road,Spain — ilivetolearn @ 2:16 pm

We spent the last long weekend of the school year in Valencia, where we had trouble finding a hotel room (it’s booked up partly because of the America’s Cup) so ended up renting an apartment. This worked well in Barcelona (especially because we were two families and 9 people) and we had also done it in Cuenca. It’s cheaper and you don’t have to eat every meal at a restaurant. Well, this one was off the beaten track to say the least, in a neighborhood called Nazaret about halfway between the center of the city and the port—so we had to drive to the city for the attractions there and to the port for the sailing stuff (though each would have been within walking distance for energetic adults without whining children).

The neighborhood was probably originally all fisherman and others involved with the life of the port and was decidedly downscale. And the apartment, a fifth-floor walkup, was minuscule. Margo walked in and said, “How adorable!” because it was all miniature—a tiny living room, two tiny bedrooms, a closet of a kitchen, and a bathroom you had to sidle into. But it was fine for our purposes; there was a produce market right across the street and several playgrounds and bakeries nearby…and Saturday night starting at about 10 there was a street fair with live music—a band from Brazil and troupe of drummers doing African rhythm work, though they were all Spanish. I don’t know what the occasion was but there is always some festival to be celebrated by hanging out till all hours in the street.

Valencia has a set of monumental buildings (designed by Santiago Calatrava, a hugely famous Spanish architect who has won everything but the Pritzker prize, it seems), that form a science museum-aquarium-observatory complex.They are quirky and playful and very impressive to see from the road or the water (or the air, I suppose) but we were left a little underwhelmed by their indoor uses. We have been spoiled by great hands-on science museums in Madrid and Lisbon, and this one was too much like an airplane hangar with loosely connected pedantic exhibits. And the aquarium had taken a leaf from modern zoos, organizing the collection by habitat, and making visitors walk long distances between, say, the Antarctic and the wetlands area. AND because of the vagaries of Spanish scheduling the dolphin show billed for 5 had taken place at 4, so we missed it. Was it because it was Sunday? Or a holiday?? Or do the times posted at the ticket office and those posted at the tank itself never have anything to do with each other?

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