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27th October, 2012



We came from the darkness of a Mediterranean night into the manufactured light of a very active port. Then the arriving sun, still below the horizon, caused the high clouds in the eastern sky to glow a burning amber, and rose from the horizon in an ever brightening ball. A spectacle only marred by the towering container cranes on the dock next door.

Valencia, the third largest city of Spain, is a place of contrasts and in many ways rather unusual. There are some splendid buildings in the old quarter, including the Gothic Cathedral where it is reputed the Holy Grail resides (I wonder where it was before?). Outside the massive doors we saw three brides, separately, having their photographs taken and seemingly quite oblivious to the inquisitive tourists all around. I presume it must be traditional as their wedding ceremonies had taken place elsewhere.

Pavement cafes were busy, as were the shops selling take-away paella (Valencia apparently being the home of that particular gastronomic delight). Others had on display a variety of sweet deserts and ice cream of every flavour. The narrow streets quietened down with siesta, but the high street shops and department stores remained open. Good news for some, but necessarily not for the male of the species.


I was impressed by the amount of greenery, not only the date palms on either side of the busy streets, but also the long ribbon of park that flows around the city. It does so because until 1957 this minor valley was covered by the River Turia, which was diverted following serious flooding.

The old bridges, including one from medieval times, are now all renovated, and there are a couple of far more modern design. Built further ‘downstream’ and close to the sea is the very impressive City of Arts and Sciences, a contemporary complex that includes an aquarium, planetarium, opera house, museums, concert halls and Imax cinema. This was a very popular stop by all accounts.

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The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.