February, 2011


Valencia is where El Cid (meaning’Master, ‘from the Arabic ‘sidi,’) served as mayor. Valencia is known not just for its old quarter, Ciutat Vella in Valenciano, but also for its fabulous new science museums whose swooping architecture offers as much contrast to the old town as, say, hip hop does to flamenco.

The seemingly short flight from JFK, preceded by the dash through the snow from the white snows of our little Pennsylvania town, took us to Madrid’s new airport additions. From there it is about an hour by plane or a few more by train to Valencia’s own modernity, followed by a subway ride to downtown. We turned the wrong way out of the metro but we asked a fellow pedestrian and soon we were on the right track. With two back packs, one hanging from the front the other from the back, I could not walk too much farther and in fact had to rest a few times. With all that stuff and my warm coat, I weighed about 75 pounds more than normal.

We knew Ximo from our time in Florida. He was getting extra training in electrical engineering at the University of Florida and in fact helped us move once. We’d met him at international folk dance event, which we attended most Friday nights. Valencia’s his home town and after a night at a hotel and the following day some visits to apartments, we went to his parent’s house to stay until we found a place.

They live just a hair outside the periphery, a short bus ride you pay for with a card charged up at a ‘stanco’ also called a Tabac. Their house is tall and skinny. She is the opposite, short and not, but he is almost my height. We practiced our ‘vostros’ with them (I shall explain later), and find them fairly easy to understand. Besides they are friendly and welcoming. They even have internet in the house. My how modern Spain has become.

And also how expensive compared to our last visit. That was in 1998. We lived in Madrid. A lunch in an every day place cost around $5.00 then. During our first day and a half we ate out every meal and the minimum is around $10.00. This includes a first and second plate, a desert and a glass of wine. Compared to Paris, say, it is a lot of food, but not much cheaper.

One night they made a rabbit and chicken paella, with green beans, large white beans, baby artichokes and red peppers. I’d had two paellas for lunch our first day and a half here. This was much better than what I was served in one of the restaurants and at least as good as in the more expensive place. They cooked it on their patio on a huge gas burner using a large paella pan. In technique she does not differ from anything I have read or done.

We sat at the kitchen table, eating right out of the pan, which is the custom when it comes to paella. I got in trouble for eating the burnt part, but otherwise, it was a lot of fun. We hope to see them again.


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