Friday, December 9, 2016 | Spain – Andalusia, San José | Petra
THE BEAUTIFUL CITY AT THE SEA
Filled with memories of the wonderful time we had together with Uli in Barcelona we move on to go to Valencia. We don’t know anything about the city and have no idea, what we will get. Wir are curious about the city with its 790,000 residents.
The rain, which beats down on Spain’s coast since days, is steadily there, also, when we start with our first visiting tour. The next day all of a sudden the clouds disappear and we get fantastic weather. Here we are!
In the city center the beautiful well preserved town hoses catch our eyes. They give us an idea of Valencia’s prestigious past as a significant commercial and financial center.
Today Mercado de Colón, a former market hall in the city center, with its coffee shops, bars and restaurants invites visitors to stay. The historic district and also modern Valenica pours on the charm of coziness, appear vibrant and pleasant. Curiously we stroll from one street to the next. It’s great fun to explore this chic metropolis.
In the Palace of Marquis de Dos Aguas we plunge into the past of the 18th century. Attentively we walk through the grand rooms passing lavish wall coverings and rich furnishings. We easily can picture to ourselves the ladies and gentlemen of the society spending their time here back in the days. Today Museo Nacional de Cerámica y de las Arges Suntuarias “González Martí“ is housed here and shows a numerous collection of historic pottery and also contemporary pottery of modern artist.
The famous Cuidad de las Arges y las Ciencias (City of Art and Science) by architects Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela is the landmark of modern Valencia. It houses a museum of science, a planetarium, the opera and Europe’s largest aquarium. Many years the dry channel of river Turia used to be an annoying black spot of the town until the nineties, when it was turned into a presentable park and architectural complex. Today residents and tourists amble along daring architecture and green pleasure grounds.
WHERE IS NÚRIA
But here is another uniqueness we desperately want to discover in Valencia. My friend Núria.
It is many years ago, since we have met the last time, usually during the International Toy Fair Nuremberg. The mail I sent to her short before we arrived at Valencia, first remains unanswered. Her current phone number I don’t know. I know that she runs a store selling Flexa furnitures for children. When we pass her shop by accident, it’s just siesta. At the second try after lunch, which is 4 p. m. in Spain, a man is in the shop who definitely isn’t Núria. Should we ask him?
It is already getting dark, when we walk to Mercado de Colón and pass a second Flexa store and – there is no coincidence – there she is. Núria! She looks blank the moment Win and I enter the shop with a spirited „¡Hola!“. It is a successful surprise and we are happy to meet again.
We are delighted that Núria takes her time to have dinner together with her husband José and the two of us the next evening, although she has as lot of work to do. The warmth and hospitality, Núria and José give to us, are gorgeous.
CAN’T STAND THE RAIN
The next day we need a rest and stay at home. It’s pouring rain. Completely unusual for this region, Núria assures.
We take a look at the rice fields of El Palmar, where they grow paella rice since the year one, and decide to move on south tomorrow. In Benidorm we stop to visit my brother in law, who lives in nearby La Nucia the best part of the year. He tells us about Benidorm’s allures: “Even in winter it’s busy, whereas most other places along Costa Blanca are closed. You won’t meet anybody there then.”
Indeed Benidorm is busy, we can confirm. Many Englishmen and Germans flee from winter in the north and often spend several months in Benidorm. Numerous hotel towers, shops, pubs and karaoke bars, tapas bars and cafes waiting for guests. And it is Benidorm of all places, where we get delicious Indian cuisine in a wonderful restaurant with cozy ambience and perfect service for a favorable price. A good reason to become reconciled to the hulking great urban canyons at the beach.
Sixty years ago Benidorm used to be a fishermen’s village, that was turned into a large concrete tourist development for millions of tourists by it’s visionary mayor in a minimum of time. In summer the beach is crowded with sun-seekers packed in like sardines. There is nothing left from the former fishermen’s village apart from stories ad nostalgic photographs.
We leave Benidorm behind and just drive past Alicante. It still rains or yet again and I’m getting more and more frustrated. I want to have sun and a beautiful landscape but can’t find it.
Win desperately wants to visit the region of Almeria, where they located giant artificial farmland during the last decade, although the region is everything else but fertile. The greater part of vegetables for the German market comes form here, cultured in green factories under white plastic foil. You even can see the white plains from a satellite. This is what Win wants to see in real life.
The prospect of infinite greenhouses in a boring landscape doesn’t really help my bad mood. On our way to San José my worries are confirmed.
Here it’s not beautiful …