Further East again

October 1, 2017 - Valencia, Spain

Today we were taking a train to Valencia which was due to leave at 10.40am so we could take our time this morning and sit over our breakfast. As we looked out the window we watched a build-up of Police at the Atocha Roundabout. Earlier they had blocked one side of the Paseo del Prado and now they blocked both sides and were directing traffic, taxis and buses away from the area. One couple we talked to said they would have to take a taxi to meet up with their tour bus at some other location. They only had a vague idea of what was going on except that it affected their bus.

As we ate breakfast and sipped our coffee it became apparent that this was more about bicycles and families. Hardly a red and yellow flag anywhere, just many bicycles and blue balloons.

The woman on reception when we checked out said that the Paseo del Prado would be closed until 3pm and that it had something to do with Cycle Safety but she was not really sure. When she said Cycle Safety I immediately thought of a guy I saw last night. He was

riding his bicycle in dark clothes with single flickering white light. It was on a well-lit street but he was in the middle of four lanes of traffic heading toward the roundabout (at least three lanes go around) and travelling at the same 30kph as the rest of the traffic.

Outside the cyclists were riding down our side of the Paseo del Prado and up the other side, with more and more arriving by train. Many of them had numbers (up 7756 that I saw) but all were happily pedalling along and we wandered across the crossing between groups.

No trouble this time to find Platform 6 as we knew where to find Planta Baja and the departures security checks. We sat for a little while but the train was ready for boarding even though it was only 10.10am. So we had our tickets checked again and walked the length of the platform to find Coach 10. Why are we always at the far end. If it is Coach 2 or Coach 10 it is always the long trudge down the platform. Grumble, Grumble. Only Turista Class for this leg but it was only a short trip of about one and a half hours. Seat 6A and 6B were as comfortable as any although the carriage was fairly full. We sat absorbed in our books. (Margaret has just finished 'Winter in Madrid' by Sansom and we have seen the last of Madrid.) The morning had been overcast but the cloud lifted and lightened as we approached the coast.

On our arrival in Valencia we managed to walk off the platform and through to the taxi lines as if we were frequent commuters rather than first time tourists. Straight into a taxi who took us of to the Hotel Caro in the old part of town. As we approached the hotel through the narrow Calle and Carrer of the old town we came to a line of cars all held up with a police block on the streets leading in to the Plaza de la Virgen. Luckily cars began to filter around the one car that insisted he wanted to go the other way and we could move on again. A little further along we were held up again. This time for Wedding Photographs outside one of the many churches. We decided to cut our taxi ride short as I could see on the driver's Google Maps that we were on the right street and just a little short of our hotel. We gave the driver a few euros more than the fare on the meter and bailed out. He probably ended up passing the hotel before us but we got to see the wedding party.

We were a bit early for our room to be ready but we were given a glass of cava and an introduction to the city map by one guy while the woman on the desk tried to hurry housekeeping. We then sat in the terazza by the pool (a single lane glass tank about 10 metres long) and had a beer while we waited. Our room was soon ready and we were taken up to introduce us to the intricacies of the operation and the free (but non-alcoholic) mini bar.

We soon settled down to unpacking and then checking the internet. While we were doing that there was a delivery of a few little afternoon sweets; two little slices of cheesecake with raspberries, a strawberry and cream, and two little cupcakes. Ah, how sweet.

Siesta time was now making itself felt but we did a bit of handwashing and strung clothesline around the room. One of those useful little elastic lines. This may be the first time it has been used in earnest and not really that long since our trip to the laundromat in Santander, but we wanted to have as little laundry as possible when we head to Lisbon. (Don't ask me. People everywhere need to do laundry so Valencia or Lisbon, who cares?)

We did very little to orient ourselves after our siesta. Just a walk down the Calle to Plaza de la Virgen and a little look around for the restaurant recommended by the chap at the hotel before a woman outside a restaurant convinced us that hers was the best place to eat. I don't know if it was the best as it was our first but the food was good, and plentiful.

A bottle of a local red (Grenache and Tempranillo), and three entrada (starters); their own version of Ensalada with tomatoes, chicken, various greens, nuts but olive oil rather than dressing as the normal dressing has garlic, Calamar Andaluzan (calamari with octopus, lightly crumbed and fried), ventresca atún (tuna belly with mash potato) as well as bread with oil and sun-dried tomato. Good thing the waiter talked us out of a fourth entrada. By the time we had coffee we had eaten way too much and still left a little of each dish.

We walked back through the Plaza de la Virgen which was a bit quieter now that people were sitting and eating but was still busy.


Waiting for a train
On the way to Valencia
A special little afternoon treat
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