July 26, 2010
On July 16-18, we went on an optional trip to Valencia with most of our group. We stayed in a nice hotel with excellent food. Dale and I arrived in Valencia after the others because we were booked on a later train.
When we got there, Prof. A had left us a note on where to find restaurants and shops. We headed across the street to the shopping center she mentioned, with a big Corte Ingles and lots of other stores. We couldn’t find the restaurants and got very confused because we were tired, so we headed back to the hotel. On the way back we saw a restaurant called Pius XII, which was almost next to our hotel. We went inside and who did we see but most of the chicas from our group! They had ordered vegetable paella which hadn’t come yet and all I really wanted was a salad. So we ordered salads which were large and very good! We tried the paella when it came, but just a spoonful. We didn’t want to eat that much nor have to be included in paying for it.
The next day we went to the beach in the morning. This is what all the chicas were really looking forward to, except for SM who is very into museums, and us. We took the bus and got off near the beach, then walked. We had heard that you could rent beach umbrellas but no one bothered to find out about it. We spread our towels, slathered on sunscreen, and soon Dale and I went for our first ever dip in the Mediterranean Sea! It really was wonderful. I am not a beach person per se, but once I was in that cool, refreshing water I felt that I could stay in there forever! The waves were mild and the water temperature was absolutely perfect.
But of course others needed to have their turn and we had to watch people’s stuff. Several of the girls were by this time into serious sunbathing. I lay down for a little while, covering my eyes with a shirt I’d brought with me, but soon became bored and a little scared of getting sunburned, in spite of the SPF 30 I had reapplied all over my skin after getting out of the water. We went in the water again, then Dale and I took a walk along the beach.
We had been warned of women going topless and we spotted a few of them. There were also lots of little naked children, particularly boys. KF said that a boy of about 4 years old was near them, who dug a big hole, peed in it, covered it up, then went swimming. When he returned he repeated this process! The kid was completely naked the whole time.
I was not offended by any of this, but rather by the dirtiness of the beach the farther we walked. It was crowded with people all along our walk but the farther we got from the permanent umbrellas and the boardwalk, the dirtier it got. Prof. A says they clean part of the beach, but not all of it (perhaps just the area closest to the luxury hotels). There was plastic, paper, wrappers, cans, bottles and all kinds of litter, some of it on shore, some of it floating in the water. The further we went the worse it got. I even saw a sanitary minipad floating in the water!!! Gross!!!!!!!
After we got back from our walk, we went in the water (in our cleaner area) again for awhile, then Dale, GM and I decided to leave. We had been there two hours and I had no intention of spending the entire day on the beach. I was, at that point, beginning to get scared because it was very hot by that time – mid 90s at least – and the sun was high overhead. It was about 1:00 in the afternoon.
We took the bus back to the hotel and took showers to wash the sand off ourselves. Then we took a nap and read for awhile! When we were ready to go out, we ended up back at the shopping center where we had a salad for lunch at a place called Rodilla (fast food-ish), then Dale wanted to visit all the stores with sales in the mall to look for cheap shorts. He did not find any shorts that were either suitable, the right size or the right price, but meanwhile, I found some really cheap clothes!! I ended up buying two shirts, a pair of linen capri pants, and a bathrobe, all for 27 euros!!
That night we went to another hotel across the street for an elegant dinner. That hotel had an incredible chandelier that extended down two stories!
Afterward, we went up to the very top of the hotel, where there is a bar on the roof terrace. We walked around and admired the city at night and Dale took some pictures. Most of the chicas stayed up there at the bar for a few more hours, having drinks and talking. Us older folks went back to our hotel and went to bed!
The breakfasts at our Valencia hotel were awesome!!! The bread was freshly baked and warm. There was ham, good cheese, other breads, coffee, and juice.
It was also nice to stay in a hotel room because we had the showers to ourselves as well as a TV which had BBC News in English.