Adventures in Alicante and Valencia

Post Granada we drove North and East through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Alicante. First of all, did you know there is a Sierra-Nevada Mountain range in the west coast of the US and also a Sierra-Nevada Mountain range in Andalucia, Spain?  Until this trip, I am certain I thought they were one and the same. Imagine a dinner party where I am nodding my head, fully understanding the geography of someone’s camping trip… not at all.

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This is why we travel – we learn so much!  And the mountains were breathtaking. Alicante is an interesting city – Santa Bárbara Castle stands proudly on Mount Benacantil in the centre of town. The marina is quite large and is also home to the VOLVO OCEAN RACE headquarters and museum. We went on the only day of the week the museum is closed, so our poor planning was also our loss.  But we took time to check out both the old town and the marina area. Inside the VOR Headquarters we met the charismatic (and friend of Tony’s) CEO who took us in to see the technical nerve-center (main computer room) of the whole race operation. It was like a futuristic set in Star Trek. We were impressed, needless to say.

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(above) Volvo Ocean Race Headquarters and old town in Alicante.  Next, we pressed on to the Spanish city we love most: Valencia.

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We spent a week in Valencia seeing many friends. Tony had meetings in Genoa for 4 days, so the kids and I spent our time in the city seeing our favorite old sites. We strolled the Mercado Colon and the Serano Towers, and shopped in our favorite shops. We had school each morning in the apartment (provided by our dear friend, “aunt” Eva), and got out in the town for the afternoons. The kids studied their Spanish in a fever – wanting to use their new vocabulary at every possible chance.

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Night view from our nicely located apartment balcony, above.

Mercado Colon, below.

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We spent a full day each at the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum and L’Oceanogràfic, Europe’s largest aquarium. We took in an IMAX movie about turtles at the L’Hemisfèric Cinema-Planetarium… we are in awe of Spanish open-space Architect Santiago Calatrava.  Calatrava was commissioned recently in NYC to design one of the 9/11 Memorial structures. We visited it in August and it was spectacular.  Here is a photo of it still under construction:

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You can see his style – it is unmistakable.

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We had nightly dinners with friends and strolled our old neighborhood on Calle Andres Mancebo. We love this town and we love our Spanish family there.  Most rewarding to our souls, was re-learning how to enjoy a five-hour lunch (divine!) and taking full advantage of the Spanish meal schedule:

  1. Desayuno (morning breakfast)
  2. Almuerzo (late morning snack + cafe)
  3. Comida (lunch)
  4. Merienda (early evening snack – usually pastries or jamon serrano)
  5. Cena (dinner)

With America-style mini-snacks of helado (ice creams) in between.

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Our friends are like family in Valencia and seeing them causes us to lament the miles between us. We are fortunate to see them as often as we do.

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