Thursday, January 1, 2015

Final Thoughts on Valencia and a Feliz Año Nuevo!!!

 Wednesday, 31 December:

After a great night’s sleep in my inexpensive hotel, New Year’s Eve, or Noche Vieja as it is known in España, started in Valencia but would end back home in Murcia with friends.

As I started the last day of 2014 with a typical walk in search of breakfast, I came across this incredibly stunning news . . .

 Tanque and Mondatio
were being sold?!?!

I’ve only been away from Murcia for a day but the Cobras’ General Manager has apparently opted to sell our starting center, Tanque, and one of our defensive backs I believe, Montadito, for the staggering sum of 2.95 million Euros.

It is the sports news all over the streets of Valencia.

I’m against this move.

After a good café con leche helped me get through this shocking roster change notice, I boarded the #35 autobus to view Valencia’s aesthetically stunning . . .

This City of Arts and Sciences complex is mostly the work of world-famous, Valencian born architect Santiago Calatrava. His is a decidedly different style from the buildings that we saw yesterday in Valencia’s historic core.

Calatrava’s work is somewhat controversial for many of the locals. Some Valencians complain that it was too expensive to build and that various design flaws have necessitated major repair costs, as we’ll soon see.

I did not have the time to visit any of the museums and exhibits in the complex and, instead simply strolled around it taking, surprise, a lot of pictures.

Still, I found it awe inspiring, how about you?

The Ágora

Museo da las Ciencias Principe Felipe

 The Hemisfèric Planetarium

 Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía

Its “shell shimmering with translucent mosaic tiles” as my Lonely Planet Guide Book noted were nowhere to be seen.

The shell was under repair making several Valencian tax payers happy this Noche Vieja, I’m sure.

Back on the #35 autobus for the return to the city’s core, I had a mission to accomplish.

Horchatería de Santa Catalina

You may recall from yesterday’s post that we passed the 200+ year-old Horchatería de Santa Catalina late in the evening after it had just closed for the night. It is located at Plaza Santa Catalina 6.

My guide book mentioned that this horchatería is one of the two traditionally great places in Valencia to enjoy this refreshing beverage with a fartón or two.

The other horchatería you ask? Why it is the Horchatería el Siglo located right across the way at Plaza Santa Catalina 11!

Only one thing to do in this case . . .


The view from my seat at the
Horchatería de Santa Catalina

Both the horchata and the two fartóns that I dipped in the horchata were incredibly good, way better than the offering yesterday in the Mercado Central.

After paying the modest cuenta, I ambled across the narrow street to compare horchata.

What the HELL?

It turned out that the Horchatería el Siglo closed very early on this Noche Vieja.

Thus, I declared Horchatería de Santa Catalina the winner because, just like great offensive linemen, they outwork their opponents in anonymity.

Random Church Tower

It stands between the two warring horchaterías and I’m sure that a Pope or two has had to meet inside this church with the two horchatería owners over the years to help settle disputes, much like Pope Francis did recently with the USA and Cuba.

It was time to slowly work my way to Valencia’s Estació del Nord for the 3 ½ hour train ride back to Murcia. I still had time to try a tapa or two and see a few more sights.

Ice Skating on the
Plaza del Ayuntamiento

 The Valencia Club Fútbol’s Store

 Inside, Jerseys for 80 Euros

That’s about $120 USD for a soccer jersey, a bit rich for my blood.

Valencia’s Main Post Office

 Valencian Banderillero
Manolo Montoliv

He died in the arena.

The Plaza de Toros was open with a nice museum and freedom to roam throughout this Spanish cultural treasure.

Yes, I like bullfighting.

The Museum

Matadors from Long Ago

The Matadors “Suit of Lights”

 “Suit of Lights” close-up

 Ceremonial Cape

These are used only for the grand entry procession that starts each fiesta brava's corrida.

Not Real

Well, not real anymore at least, thank goodness.

Brands of various Ganaderías

A ganadería is the ranch where fighting bulls are raised. They each have their own distinctive brands and colors.

Corrida Scene

That reminds me, you better buy stock in Spanish fan making companies soon. I predict a big spike in sales once Laurie arrives in Murcia.

The best bull fighter ever

At least my Father and Grandfather always told me so as a youngster. Manolete died at the age of thirty on 29 August, 1947 after being gored by a Miura bull named Islero in the Plaza de Toros in Linares, Spain. I was about seven weeks old at the time.

Upon hearing of Manolete’s death, Spain’s dictator, Generalissimo Francisco Franco, ordered three days of national mourning during which time only funeral dirges were heard on the radio.

Repúblicanos Rallying in 1931

Valencia’s Plaza de Toros holds 12,884 aficionados for a corrida. On this day, it held considerably more in this city that was a stronghold for Repúblicanos during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39).

I’m sure that the memory of this rally did not sit well with the Generalissimo after the Civil War was over.

Old Corrida Poster from 1859

Valencia’s Plaza de Toros was erected in 1841 and has, to be sure, undergone many renovations over the years.

Ode to a Fallen Picador

These are the men who enter the arena on horseback and perform the necessary job of lancing the bull to weaken his neck muscles.

Again, like great offensive linemen, they are under-appreciated but extremely necessary to the success of the matador’s confrontation with the raging beast.

A Valencian Favorite

 Ode to a Brave Bull

It performed so well in the ring that it was granted an indulto, i.e., it was not killed in the arena. Instead, it was taken back to the ganadería to be put out to stud.

That seems like enough incentive to do well to me.

 Where the Matadors Parade
into the Arena

The Plaza de Toros

 A Burladero

Not for big people, its thin opening offers a place to slide through if the bull gets a little too close for comfort.

 A Burladero de Callejon

The Callejon is the passageway created between the arena’s Barrera (inner wall) and the stands. The Callejon is where some stand waiting for their turn to face the bull and also for people who are not participating in the corrida such as the press, breeders and doctors.

Occasionally a bull will jump over the Barrera and into the Callejon creating lots of immediate stress, thus the need for the Burladero de Callejon.

Me in the Arena

 Sir Alexander Fleming
Discoverer of Penicillin

Many of the Bull Rings that I have visited in Spain over the years have similar monuments to this great Scottish man of medicine. His revolutionary discovery of penicillin in 1928 has greatly improved the survival rates of gored matadors, banderilleros and picadors over the years.

Thus, the entire bull fighting world is grateful to the good doctor.

Bull Coming Out of Chute #1

 I just like the Number 11

It was QB Norm van Brocklin’s number with the Los Angeles Rams back in the 1950s.

The Plaza’s Exterior

One of Valencia’s Beloved Matadors

 Bull Fight Poster

Once out of the arena, I still had about an hour to use wisely, i.e., discover and eat.

Valencia Oranges

 How Old is this Store?

A law eliminating rent controls in Spain was passed in 1995, gave people 20 years to prepare for its enactment. This law goes into effect on 1 January, 2015.

Small business owners like Filiberto Leon may be in deep trouble.

With that, I was back on the train and headed to Murcia to join my friends Oscar and Rosa for a Noche Vieja dinner as we rang in the New Year.

Parrillada Argentina

Oscar is originally from Argentina and selected this excellent little spot near their home.


Beef, pork, chicken . . .

Beef, pork, chicken . . .

Beef, pork, chicken . . .


Oh, I had some salad too.

Our Hard Working Host

It was SO good!!!

We have GOT to get Angel
to open a branch in California

After this sumptuous repast, it was back to Oscar and Rosa’s to await the New Year on TYV with 50,000 of our closest amigos at Mardrid’s Puerta del Sol.

Oscar and Rosa
Madcaps Living in the Moment

Eating one of 12 Uvas

A Spanish Noche Vieja tradition is eating 12 grapes or uvas at midnight, one on each ring of the clock’s bell for good luck in the coming year.

Who am I to fight tradition?

Living La Vida Loca

It was a very nice way to welcome the New Year, GRACIAS Oscar and Rosa!


On the early morning walk back to La Hacienda, there were still revelers of all ages on Plaza Santo Domingo.

Los Reyes Magos at work?

Upon returning to La Hacienda after my visit to Valencia, I discovered some amazing improvements in my creature comforts.

Military Band Concert

I had a TV that now worked! As a matter of fact, I’ve been listening to a formally dressed Spanish military band in concert playing several traditional Spanish songs and yuletide favorites. As with France in 2012, about 95% of all the Christmas music that one hears is in English.

But the wonder did not stop there! All of my light fixtures now worked!

And last, but far from least, my internet connection was working!!!!!!!!

I am whole again.

The only possible explanation for this events happening was an early, unexpected visit by the Three Wise Men (Los Reyes Magos in Spanish) who are scheduled to leave children presents on 6 January.

Or maybe Roberto and Courier had something to do with it.


And now for an afternoon of Spanish telenovelas . . .


David said...

I think you need a Suit of Lights as your game-day coaching attire.

George said...



Rosa said...

George, nuestra mejor manera de comenzar el año ha sido con tu compañía, tambien de celebrar la noche de navidadd 2014, aunque no la conozco personalmente, extrañé a Laurie, que espero pronto llegue a España, mil gracias por todas tus palabras amables hacia nosotros, y por ser nuestro amigo y compartir.