19.12.2012 - 19.12.2012 20 °C
It appears Valencia is the forgotten little sister of Barcelona. Being overlooked makes it less touristy but it is perhaps far more beautiful, far safer and cleaner than Barcelona if you can overlook the ridiculous traffic. We are enjoying our exploration of European cities with the only caveat that it takes nerves of steel to drive in them. I have learned a great deal about how small a space you can park in and how close cars can drive side by side and still have motorcycles pass in between. There have been numerous times that I have had to fold my mirrors in to make us fit in a parking spot and on one occassion just to drive. Valencia takes traffic congestion to a whole other level. The amazing part is they are more courteous and efficient than in Paris or Madrid (frenetic cities), there is less honking and they stop for pedestrians. All that said my knuckles were pretty white by the time I found a parking spot after 45 minutes in the middle of it all.
We started our day visiting the Mercat, which is a very famous and popular food market in an impressive greenhouse type building. We decided to leave the supermarket behind and do all our food shopping for the day in the Mercat. We didn't buy the eels (you choose them alive and then the are killed and gutted as you watch) and decided to be fairly conventional and buy some Atlantic Salmon as our protein. Hannah made a study of all the different kinds of meats and took pictures so she could look them up on the Internet later. I think Hannah is toying with cooking a rabbit. Abby has bought a can of baked beans to have at the ready if ever rabbit shows up on our menu. Abby said she thinks Europe will confirm her resolve to return to a vegetarian diet when she gets back to Canada.
In the afternoon we went to explore the main city park which is located in the old riverbed of a river that was diverted around the city in the 1950s. The park is a wonderful green corridor that stretches at least seven kilometers throught the city. Since the river was quite large the unique legacy is numerous bridges crossings over green space which makes for some unique park features. It makes for great biking and walking and some water features remain. At the end of the park is a complex of five buildings that includes a science centre, aquarium, iMax and Arts Museum that is perhaps the most outrageous architectural wonder around. The Spanairds are not afraid to spend money on public buildings that stretch the imagination. If you are ever in Spain Valencia should be on your must see list. Tomorrow we will rent bikes to get to the Aquarium and explore these wonderful structures.
In the afternoon and evening Abby, Muriel and I did a little Christmas shopping and looking at the lights at night. However, Hannah had something quite different to do from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, she took a cooking class. A half a block away from our apartment was a cooking school that was offering an evening session on how to make Spanish croquettes. Auntie Helen had given Hannah a generous monetary gift to develop her chef skills when in Europe so Hannah jumped at the opportunity even though the class was going to be in Spanish. Hannah went on her own and had a great time--apparently food really is an international language. Hannah gives a big hug and a kiss to Auntie Helen for making this possible (and she still has money left to do it again). We can really see that Hannah having lived in France for three months has made her very brave when it comes to overcoming language barriers. She really impressed us with her gumption.