Thursday, February 23, 2006

Valencia part 2

Now that I have had a good night's sleep I can finish up my tales of Valencia...

One very cool area we visited in Valencia is known as la Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences). It is a set of buildings, all of extremely modern design by the same architect. One of the buildings is an aquarium, one an art museum, and one an IMAX (yes!). Anyway, we didn't really go in any of them, just kind of looked around and took pictures. The best part is the architecture anyway.

We also went to el Museo Fallero, which requires a bit of backstory. There is a huge festival sort of thing every year in Valencia known as Las Fallas. As I understand it, each neighborhood sponsors a "ninot," which is like a huge 3-D scene display, made of all kinds of stuff like cardboard and papier-mache and whatnot. Everybody who goes to see them gets to vote on which one they like best, and then, at the end of the weekend, all of the ninots get burned (yep, like in a big bonfire) except for a couple of figures from the winning one, which go to the Museo Fallero. They are all really extravagant and each one has a theme; some are very political, some (especially those in the children's category) are based on some Disney movie or other. The museum was very interesting, but it is hard with some of them to understand what the whole display was about when you are only looking at a couple of figures from it. Also it seems like such a shame to burn so much good work just because it wasn't the very best!! Nonetheless it is a unique and interesting Valencian tradition. Here is a website explaining it a little better (in English) if you are interested.

The thing I liked best about Valencia was not the city but the countryside to the South. Known as "la Huerta de Valencia" (I am pretty sure huerta means orchard...or something) it is a whole area covered with orange trees, almond trees, lettuce, rice fields, and probably some other stuff that I just didn't recognize. It is so pretty, in a barren kind of way. We totally drove around on these tiny country roads (some of them gravel or dirt) in our little bus, bouncing along at what seemed like an outrageous speed at the time. There were definitely a couple of times, probably when the water bottles and bags started falling out of the overhead compartments, that I thought my life might be in danger. Nonetheless, everyone made it back to the highway unscathed. We stopped at an orange grove to pick up oranges off the ground; I am pretty sure that was illegal, but there was at least a rule that we couldn't pick them off the trees... I don't know, but I was psyched, and ate several oranges, though they were really pretty tart, and I got my hands all messy. It was all part of the fun : ) The almond trees (who knew? almonds grow on trees!!) were in bloom, so they were really pretty. The only picture I got, however, was out the bus window while we were careening along, so it is a tad blurry (but much better than some of the other ones I took!). I really like almonds in Spain for several reasons. First of all, the Spanish word for almond is almendra, which, yes indeed, does rhyme with Kendra! Secondly, lots of sweets are made with almonds here (they are not at all fond of peanuts), including turron, which is a type of bar thingy common at christmas time, but it is so good that if I lived here I would stock up at Christmas then eat it all year!!

This next picture is of some sort of irrigation thingy next to the orchard... I don't really have anything interesting to say about it, I just like how it looks, so there you have it.

So, that was pretty much it for our trip to Valencia. Tomorrow I am off to PaĆ­s Vasco, although we may get turned around due to snow on the roads. I promise a Lisbon post will be up shortly!!


At 1:45 AM, Anonymous learn spanish said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 3:35 AM, Blogger Annie said...

OMG! kendra you are such a dork! When I started reading about the almonds, I was like, omg, she is not going to say it again,omg yes she is! almendra...haha. Hey, did someone write an obscene post? Why, pray tell, did you delete one? Hmmm? very interesting. You better not remove mine!!

At 5:24 PM, Blogger Kendra said...

Hehehe. Yes, I AM the administrator, and I CAN delete comments whenever i get the notion. Keep that in mind when you are throwing around names like "dork"... (the post I deleted wasn't obscene, it was just from somebody I didn't know, advertising their blog, and I find those annoying)


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