There is nothing like European coffee for making me feel continental. I don’t know if this stuff is made from the crushed dreams of small children (quite delicious!) or ground fairies mixed with unicorn horn, I absolutely love the little cups of rocket fuel used to jump start hearts and minds all around Europe.
This morning, we got up suspiciously early (WAAAAY before Spaniards even consider such foolishness!) and boarded the “Bus Turistic” for a double-decker tour bus experience extravaganza. On our way to the Plaza de la Reina to get on the bus, we stopped at a small pastry shop, and I had a lovely conversation with a lady to order breakfast items for all of us. And coffee, that sweet, hot, creamy, rejuvenating fluid of happiness. Bus tour, here we come!
There are two tours on this particular venue, a north and city center tour, and south and coastal area tour. With a break for more coffee (yay!) and a snack, our morning filled our eyes, ears, and occasionally, our noses, with Valencia. When we left the bus, crowds were gathering, so we followed. (Okay, there’s some kind of sick logic to this: Hey, everyone is going to jump off a cliff. Wanna come?) We had heard that the Mascletà, a massive daytime fireworks display in front of the city hall, was going to be held at 2:00, and guess where we ended up? A Plaza Ayunamento, in front of the city hall. The fireworks were stunning, and incredibly close, and people were cheering and dancing, sort of, to the rhythm of the fireworks display. Very, very cool.
Which led us to pizza. As it was now about 2:30 PM, our American tummies were feeling a little deprived, so a luncheon was in order, and we found a place that served pizza, sandwiches, and tapas. Magical comestibles for any occasion, those three things are! I ordered patatas bravas, which is basically chunks of potatoes oven-baked with a drizzle of olive oil and roasted Spanish paprika. We enjoyed that with our meal, and while Kevin and I had pizza, Michael ordered a ham and cheese sandwich with an egg in the middle. Very happy-making food that is perfect right before a little siesta snooze.
One of the nice things about my travel companions is the “wanderings” attitude that we all share. Want to see something over there? Fine, let’s head in that direction. Something over there pique your interest? Let’s go look. Open for business, great! Closed for business? Okay, we’ll come back later! Perfect way to vacation, without a doubt.
Back on the streets, we came across a presentation of sorts in the street, with teams of women and men dressed in costumes, a couple of guys on camels, music setting the theme of the play, and loads of little kids with fireworks. The streets have themed hanging signs across the streets with various colors, lights, and decorations, and many of the circles within the streets have half-assembled sculptures within them under bright lights and watchful-eyed neighborhood “guards.”
Saturday evening found us walking through the north part of Old Town, in an area known as “The Carmen” in Valencia. Okay, I’ll admit that getting lost was really more of our style. We were trying to go from point A to point B, but ended up back on point A after walking a whole lot. Point B was an eventual find, but the entire experience led to a whole night of traveling around, seeing the sights, and occasionally stopping for map consultations and admiration of the sights. Many of the Fallas teams (more on that in a bit) had dinners and parties in large tents in the middle of the streets.