When I first saw images on Flickr of the futuristic buildings at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), I knew I wanted to go there and photograph them. A destination in sunny Spain is nothing to sneeze at either. And so, TJ and I put Valencia on the list. We ended up booking our trip for Easter weekend. Note: The images below link to my Picasa photo album with all trip photos.
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is a futurescape set in the old river bed that winds around and through the heart of Valencia. The white tile, glass, and metal of the buildings seems a bit out of place in an old world city like Valencia. But, it signals the future. And TJ and I were happy to get lost in its modern appeal.
I saw this coffee mug at the airport. The graphic was way too cute to resist taking a photo. However, the price tag prevented me from considering a purchase. Maybe if I drank coffee.
This adorable representation of El Toro was in stark contrast to the bull fighting event that was shown live on TV. There were at least 5 bull fighters in the ring. Spain's president was in the stands along with a host of celebrities; this was a big event. The bull looked old. And tired. And, I have to say, I found it difficult to appreciate the pagentry and tradition of the sport. It seemed very violent. And very unfair. A true bloodsport. I turned it off before the swords were used.
I saw a bat on several manhole covers and was a bit perplexed. It turns out that the bat is a symbol for the city.
The bat rests over an emblem (crown and shield) as shown in this gate ironwork at the old city wall. A bat! How cool is that? Between that and the multitude of orange trees (and their fragrant flowers) all around the city, it's hard not to like Valencia.
And it is hard not to like the food of Valencia. Between the paella and the seafood (grilled cuttlefish and calamari), TJ and I indulged in a bit of Spanish gluttony. I also found a new tasty treat in torrejas.
Paella is one of the most well-known Spanish dishes. In Valencia, they make a variation called paella valencia; it is not your typical paella. Ingredients include green beans and great northern beans. Typically, there is no seafood. Instead, the meat is usually chicken. We were offered rabbit in one restaurant. Since, it was so close to Easter, we passed. You can't eat Peter Cottontail on Easter weekend. Still, it could have been worse. Rata de marjal (marsh rat) was one of the main ingredients of early paellas in the 18th century. As living standards rose in the 19th century, this early ingredient was replaced by other meats. Rat. I bet it tastes like chicken.
Speaking of Easter, we were looking for a place to eat on Saturday night and came across an Easter Mass at Valencia Cathedral. It was quite the procession. Thought this photo captured the requisite amount of religious mysticism.
To see more images from our trip to Valencia, click here.