Thursday, February 2, 2012

Valencia and Altea

The Orchestra Hall at the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia, designed by Calatrava and Canela

We ( I should admit, I) decided to rent a car in Barcelona for the remainder of the trip, although Yata is driving.  Oh boy, those round-abouts take some getting used to as well as the lack of signage when in the town centers.  Yikes.  We could not find our apartment and had to park and have our landlord come and find us.  Turns out this is not uncommon.  Our apartment was in the old city and thus the streets are way too narrow for parking much less two way traffic and all the streets run at angles and curves so it is a true maze.  But we got there.

The next morning we ventured out to find the Fine Art Museum where the painting of Joaquim Sorolla Bastide are hanging in a new salon dedicated to his work.  This is specifically why we went to Valencia.  We found the exhibit but were disappointed by the fact that it was mostly his portrait work which is not what he is most famous for.  He grew up in Valencia but most of his well known work is in Madrid.  Then we walked along what was formerly the river and now a sunken garden that runs through the city, Jardin Turia, to the City of Science and Arts which is made up of  all these spectacular modern buildings which house the Music Hall, the Orchestra Hall, the IMAX, the Aquarium and the Science Museum.  After about seven miles of walking in awe, we hopped on a bus and rode back to the old city center, hopped off and toured the Modern ARt Museum of Valencia. 

Aceitunas a la Mercado Central
We've been trying different forms of paella and we closed our days in Valencia with a fabulous mixed meat version.  Perfect satin crust on top and the layer of rice lighter crusted on the bottom.  They serve directly from the pan in which the paella is cooked, bringing you two plates and utensils.  It's always a two person minimum.

We also had great seafood paella in Ampora, south of Barcelona on the coast, at La Pinyana.  I tried the pasta version called Fidealla (sp?)...not as good as the rice.  Leaving Valencia we drove through the dormant rice field marshes. They  offer these meals called 'plate of the day' in which you choose a first course (usually soup, salad, pasta, etc.), second course (baked fish or paella, etc.), pastry (sorbet, tiramisu, creme catalan, etc) and two drinks (coffee, wine etc.).  Usually about $15 for all. 

Last night we stayed in this charming Hotel Tossal L'Altea, formerly an olive oil pressing plantation, on the edge of Altea, with a view out our window of the Mediterranean. 

Today we head to Granada and the Alhambra.

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