Monday, October 29, 2012

Spain Part III: Valencia & Grenada

After packing the van with all of our luggage and backpacks, we drove the 3.5 hours to Valencia. Valencia is Spain's third largest city and is known for their paella-making skills, which of course we feasted on.  Upon arrival we unloaded, changed, and set our sights on walking through town.

We wanted to hit the central market, but when we got there it was closed for the day. After a late lunch, we walked towards the old town taking notice of the medieval buildings and the old cathedral. We made our way to the Torres de Serranos, the only remaining part of the city walls, then took a walk through Jardines del Turia park back to the hotel.

The Central Market

Old town in Valencia

Torres de Serranos. Entrance to the old town.

In the park.
The next day we went to the City of the Arts and Sciences, which is a huge complex consisting of five different areas including an opera house/event holder, an imax theater and planetarium, a walkway and garden, an open air oceanographic park which houses Europe's largest aquarium, and a science museum. It's a city of its own with very futuristic buildings and beautiful grounds. We only had time for one activity so we spent our time at the science museum. This museum is geared towards learning science through hands-on experiences so you are encouraged to try (and touch) everything it has to offer.

Joe & Lori with the aquarium and bridge in the background.
The Imax theater/planetarium and the opera house/theater
The Science Museum

We found ourselves excitedly running through the museum looking at the many different exhibits we could touch and play with! Among other things, we found out how many centimeters high we can jump, how hard we can kick a soccer ball, our balancing abilities, and how many decibels loud our screams are.
Joe testing out his voice
Practicing his surgical skills
How hard can Lori kick the soccer ball?
Really cool space exhibit: me, Joe, Jon 

We spent a good two hours inside, but had to leave... Grenada was calling our names and it was a five hour drive away. Driving through the countryside of Spain is gorgeous, with flat land around us and  mountains from the Sierra Nevada in the distance. We passed a few sunflower fields and always pointed out the metal bulls on top of nearby hills that seemed to show us our way.

Grenada is located in the south in the region of Andalucia. What we first noticed about this city is that while it is big, it still had that quaint feeling to it. Our hotel was located down a very narrow, car-free street with restaurants and small boutique shops around the corner. One particular store that caught our eyes (well just me and Lori) was a shop filled with new and fresh spices and teas. Grenada also seems to be a young and vibrant city, with many people dressed nicely, sitting outside having sangria with some tapas before dinner. It was also the only city where we didn't see any beggars or gypsies roaming the streets harassing people for money.

Our hotel, down a secluded street

A pretty cool streetlight making the streets glow

The next day we went to the Alhambra, an Islamic palace and fortress built in the 9th century that sits on top of a large hill named La Sabika. It is made up of gardens, streams, fountains, a mosque, and a palace, all within a fortress wall and bordered by 13 towers. Jon and I have been to our fair share of palaces, castles, and fortresses in Europe, but this was so very different from all of the others we've visited. The decoration of the Alhambra consists of Arabic inscriptions and colorful geometric patterns, along with many columns and arches. Very intricate and detailed designs cover the walls.

Columns from Palacio de Carlos V

Outside the palace

An entranceway

The Throne Room

Patio de los Leones

Patio de Arrayanes



Sala de Dos Hermanas
We were truly impressed with the intricacy and design of the palace. We can't begin to fathom all of the man-hours it must have taken to complete the beautiful details, let alone the sheer scale of the grounds. After our tour, we strolled down the long winding path to the city center where we stopped for a delicious lunch with sangria to fill our stomachs for the drive to our next destination. Next up, Cordoba and Seville!

1 comment:

  1. GRAND and ELEGANT is how I would describe the city of Valencia! And even though it has a certain grandeur and elegance about it, I would describe it as also being very warm and welcoming! The architecture is amazing! The medieval castle, which leads you to the entrance of the Old Town, is gorgeous! It must have been very exciting going through the entrance, wondering what was on the other side! The aquarium and the bridge definitely look like structures that would be built in the future! A very different contrast between that and the other "older" and grander buildings! The pic of the Imax Theatre/Planetarium and the Opera House/Theatre looks like part of the buildings are underwater! And what can I say about the Science Museum!! It is absolutely amazing! Even though it is beautiful, I still prefer the more elegant and grander buildings! For me, I find the futuristic buildings not as warm and cozy as the other type of architecture. The pics of the Alhambra, the Islamic Palace are exquisite! From the entranceway, to the throne room, to a scenic balcony, to a beautiful abstract stained glass, and to the very pretty gardens, everything about the palace exudes elegance! Loved reading this blog! Keep em' comin'!!