Many hours without sleep and then Valencia.

As always, the trip from our home in Washington state to Spain was grueling. Nothing went wrong, the connections were actually quite good but still it was 30 hours without sleep before we arrived here. But I must say it felt great to be back and Valencia is a wonderful place to shed your jet lag. Valencia is Spain’s third largest city behind Madrid and Barcelona but it somehow just seems quieter. Yes, it is off season but still there is something going on here. It just seems so much less frantic than the top two cities, and I like that. Everywhere we go we seem to notice life going on at more a more measured pace. Mind you this has all been gleaned from only two days of wandering about, but it is interesting.

I continue to be both amazed and frustrated when I visit other countries and see what sorts of projects they have been able to accomplish while back home, these days, we can’t even seem to fill potholes. Valencia should be proud of all its current civic improvements as well as its rich history. We have seen a few impressive efforts in the short time we have been here. One appears to have been a repurposed diverted waterway. It today is an extensive below grade park featuring gardens and multi purpose trails that runs through much of the city and down to the modern opera house, science museum and aquarium complex that sits just above the port. These two features alone provide access to healthy activities such as walking and cycling, but also together they bestow a calming beauty and peacefulness that every citizen can enjoy and benefit from. We also discovered some gorgeous tree lined “grand via” type streets that provided access to other charming neighborhoods where the pace of life seems to be relaxed and just fine.

Tomorrow we will rent a car and drive to Almería where we will spend two nights before heading off by bus to Motril where some expat friends, Sam and Laura, from Portland will pick us up and takes us back to their home in the small village of Pampaneira. This pueblo, from what I understand, is located in the coastal mountains about an hour or so from Motril. More clarification on that later. But, for now day is done. Today was Robin’s birthday so we celebrated over a wonderful Indian lunch in one of those aforementioned charming neighborhoods and then strolled back to our hotel. As our room door swung slowly open we noticed a bottle of wine in an ice bucket sitting on the table with a card from the hotel manager. Curiously the card only had the managers particulars on it but no message. We are considering it to be a birthday gift but in truth we don’t know. Nonetheless, things are looking up. More tomorrow from Almería as our road show continues.

Madrid to Valencia

View from our room
Central market
Coffered ceilings in the Silk Exchange Casco Viejo

The Sistine Chapel of Valencia

Church of St. Nicholas of Bari

Opera house

Science museum and Aquarium

Cooling off in the aquarium

Walking off our lunch

Happy New Year

This blog has been in slumber mode for several months, but is now awakening. Robin and I will be heading off to Spain on Monday to walk part of the Via de la Plata (Seville to Salamanca). Prior to that we will be taking a short swing through southern Spain. Our plan is to visit Valencia, Almería, Granada (and some friends up in the Sierra Nevada area), Córdoba, Cadiz, and finally Seville where we will begin the VdlP.

We have been on the Camino every year since December 2010, and, in truth, it just gets better. Yes, we are feeling a few new aches and pains with each passing year, but so far (and thank God) nothing has been a show stopper. We are not opposed to modifying what would otherwise be 30-40 km stages to something around 20 kms. Our goal is to enjoy each walk we do. We can not control the weather so we just accept what comes. But, when it comes to walking we can and do set reasonable goals and a pace that won’t cripple us. We choose not to be grim pilgrims slavishly pounding out the kilometers, but rather to embrace a more joyful and measured approach that is in keeping with my thinning, grey hair and sagging skin. I know not a pretty picture but it is what it is. I remain very thankful that this aging body is still able to answer the call to the Camino. Hopefully, Robin and I still have some additional walks in our future, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. So, now to the task at hand, our VdlP. I can’t imagine a better way to usher in the New Year than walking a Camino, so stay tuned and we shall see how this all works out.

Wishing everyone a healthy and peaceful new year.

Order awaits.