What an exceptional place to dedicate our final cruise day! Valencia is a city of 800,000, founded by the Romans in the Second Century BCE. It started as a Roman Colony for retired soldiers thus the origins of its Latin name, a place for the valorous. This is the 3rd largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona, and the 5th busiest cargo seaport in Europe and busiest on the Mediterranean.
Although this is our first visit to the city it is certainly our intention not to be the last. It is an incredibly beautiful, clean, and modern place that has done a marvelous job of merging the old city with the new. Until the mid-19th Century the old city was surrounded by a 4 kilometer long fortress wall and massive gated entrances. We saw 2 of the 12 gates, one standing nearly 100 feet tall and pockmarked by shells from Napoleon Bonaparte’s canons in the early 1,800’s.
The wall was removed in the 1,850’s to make room for urban expansion. Nevertheless, the old city retains its character in ancient buildings, narrow streets, and wonderful plazas. The new city that surrounds it has ultramodern architecture a first rate subway system and every attraction that cities many times its size offer.
Our luck was evident today as the weather was superb and it was the provincial holiday of the feast os St. Vincent, there patron saint. Most businesses were closed, but the streets were full of citizens decked out in their classic festive attire.
We visited the Cathedral Metropolitan, secured yet another set of sellos for our Pilgrim’s Credentials, and then ascended the incredibly steep and narrow spiral staircase to the top of its bell tower, nearly 200 feet high. I am totally blown away that Christine tackled this, given her historic avoidance of heights and confined spaces! This church is the site of the beautiful Chapel of the Holy Grail.
The afternoon was capped with a meal of tapas, Paella Valencia (rice with chicken, rabbit, and vegetables), all washed down with a cold Estrella Galicia… the worlds best beer (because it was the one in my hand!}. Christine chose her favorite, vino tinto (red wine). In the course of dining we were joined by cruise friends Mary and Gary, who have the neighboring stateroom and hail from the southwest side of Chicago, not far from where I grew up. We plan on visiting them the next time we are in the area. We will join them again this evening for our last shipboard dinner.
Peace Everyone! Pete