Valencia and the beluga

Trip Start Oct 18, 2007
Trip End Nov 20, 2007

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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Day 13 Valencia - 30 October 2007

My friend Rushard is coming down from Madrid to spend the day with us.  We dock in another 'beautiful' container port but look outside and there's actually a passenger ship terminal and we are going to leave and return to the ship via a proper boarding tunnel thingy. Go out on the verandah and there's a guy stood down by the fence.  I tell Al who says "wave" and I say "it could be anyone" so Al waves and the mystery guy waves back and it's obvious it's Rushard.  I give him a call and tell him we'll be off in about 30 minutes.
Bit less than that and off we go.  Nice not having to go down into the bowels of the ship (A deck, the price you pay for being in a suite :)) to debark, instead we walk off from the lower promenade. It's great to see Rushard.  He's come down on the bus from Madrid.  Got in at about 5.30am after leaving Madrid at 1am.  Must have been fun loitering around the dock area until we arrived!  We only have one thing we want to do apart from catch up and that's to visit the Ciudad de Las Artes Y Las Ciencias.  I could see it from the ship and Rushard has been to Valencia before so off we go. 
We've been told to use the shuttle bus and not walk but what could happen if we ignore this?  Well, you end up walking along a road with no pathway, through a construction area, along another road and across a bridge with no pathway either and eventually get to the Ciudad..... half an hour before it opens. Gave us a great opportunity to take some pictures of the most amazing group of buildings any of us have ever seen. The pictures could never do the monumentality of the complex justice. It is spectacular.  Everything is covered in fragments of white porcelain tile a'la Gaudi.  How they managed to do the tiling is a mystery.  
Eventually it's 10 so we attempt to go in to the Palau de Las Arts Reina Sofia but it appears it is by pre-purchased ticket only.  I work out later it is actually only a complex of theatres and performances spaces and not a gallery as we'd thought.  So we head for Museo de Las Ciencias Principe Filipe.  Can't see anyone going in and think maybe it's closed but stick our heads in and we've just come in through the back door. 
Head up to get tickets and lucky Rushard is with us [PHOTO_ID_L=valencia---rushard-and-pete.jpg
because our limited Spanish would have been no use.  Neither of the girls on the ticket desk speak any English.  I know, it's Spain, but the complex is Valencia's main tourist attraction and it's strange that only a limited attempt has been made to make it a little more 'world' friendly. Without Rushard it would have been impossible to get the complex explained - how long the visit to each building should take, prices etc.
We choose a combination of the Oceanarium and the Science Centre.  We sit in a moving box that passes alongside Spain's America's Cup yacht; Rushard tries to give his translations when he can.  
We have funny lunch at the Oceanarium cafeteria - pretty ordinary food compared with everything else we've eaten, but get some wine with the food and it's very good so all is forgiven.  Pete can't even eat the squid beacuse there's way too much.  
The highlights of the Oceanarium are the Beluga and the penguins that you can watch swimming underwater.
Time's getting away yet again so head back towards the ship.  We can see it from the Oceanarium but not game to go back the same way so head straight towards it.
Our direct attempt is thwarted by the train line and a deep drainage ditch.  Rushard is hopeful there is an overpass but no such luck.  Go around in a big loop.  This whole area, and there must be hundreds of hectares of it, is being redeveloped.  Not sure if there was anything here previously, and from Rushard's comments about the Spanish just demolishing in preference to redeveloping/reusing, but it is just bare earth waiting for new buildings.  A lot of it is residential towers up to maybe eight floors.  Skirt along the edge of the America's Cup compound.  There's a mast visible above the German (?, there's a big German flag) compound and can eventually see a yacht when we get back on board.
Avoid getting run over by the hundreds of big trucks coming in and out of the dockland area and make it back to the passenger terminal in three pieces - that's one piece each.  
We're a bit early after all so sit in the terminal café and have a beer.  Time to say goodbye to Rushard.  I'm sure we appalled some of the oldies with our hugs and kisses. 
Second last night with Lester and Eduardo.
We'll miss their company at dinner.  On the way back to our room after dinner Eduardo and Lester invite us to their suite for a drink - Pete's been waiting to see what the room is like.  It's nice but not really what I expected.  It's roomy - big sitting area, walk in robe, bigger bathroom with a full size tub, huge verandah with two loungers and a table for four - but is it worth the huge difference over our room?  Is having a concierge that can make bookings that we can do ourselves that important?  Getting our laundry done for free? Our own private little lounge that we can mingle with the other deluxe suite and penthouse guests?  For us, no.  Eduardo opens a bottle of champagne that is finished in quick time and we head back to our perfectly adequate 'normal' verandah suite.  We have a few drinks before Al's eyes start to close and off we go to bed.  Sea day tomorrow, sleep in time.
Day 14 Sea Day - 31 October 2007
Sleep in.  I go to two rounds of bingo. The first is to try to win a seven day Caribbean cruise and I sit with Sue.  The second, later in the day, is to try and win the snowball jackpot and Al comes along to that.  Amazingly, we win neither.
Not much at all happened today. 
Our last dinner with Eduardo and Lester was sad. We'll miss their company.  Not sure how just us and the girls will go.  Irene has dressed up for Halloween with orange and black outfit and a spider in her hat thing.  Edith is also in orange.  There is a Halloween Ball after dinner with prizes for costumes.  It's a little rocky during dinner and Irene heads back to their cabin just before we're done to put a sea-sickness patch on.  
We ask the area supervisor Ketut at the end of dinner if we can change tables due to the heat problems and because apparently we don't want two newbies (although I'd actually like it as Edith, Irene and Sue are so damn moody).  Told we will be full ship after tomorrow so could be a problem. We point to a table that has been empty and ask if maybe we can move there? He goes away and comes back a few minutes later to tell us that the empty table is ours from tomorrow night. 
We say our goodbyes to E&L, I go back to the cabin, and Al and Edith go up to the Crows Nest to have a look at the Ball.  Al's back pretty soon and tells me I should head up there to see the two leather guys in harnesses and leather togas!!!  Something I don't need to see but can guess who at least one of them is.  Ugh!
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