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Valencia – Day 5

Cynthia and Manel

Today is the last day of Las Fallas. Early we met up with our friend Manel who lives here in Valencia. We headed over to Horchateria Santa Catalina for some buñuelos and coffee. We ended up visiting for quite awhile before he had to get back home to his family.

Being the last day of Las Fallas and a Saturday and (apparently) a full moon it was pretty crazy. The crowds are huuuuuge and the streets are packed. We went for a walk but it was a bit overwhelming so we decided to head back to the hotel rooms to rest up for the big finish, the Nit De Foc (Night Of Fire) which includes the fire parade and the citywide burning of the Fallas all over the city which doesn’t happen until midnight.

Valencia – Day 4

Las Fallas Fireworks @ 1 AM

We stayed up late last night to watch the fireworks at 1:00 am. Suffice to say, we were pretty tired by the time we hit the sack.

During Las Fallas there is a tradition called La Despertà where each morning starting at 8:00 am marching bands go down the streets waking everyone up. These bands are followed by men detonating large fireworks that make a lot of noise.

For the most part, we’ve not encountered this experience on our street. Our hotel is a bit out of the way so they don’t tend to make it to where we are. Yes, we do hear the fireworks late into the night and then starting up in the morning. It’s almost midnight as I write this and it sounds like a war zone out there.

But this morning La Despertà found our quiet little corner of the city and let loose with a barrage of fireworks that seemed to go on for about 15 minutes. We didn’t hear any bands playing, but we may have slept through that part. But the explosions could not be ignored. We woke up while it was going on, but we were so tired we fell back to sleep as soon as it was over.

We ended up sleeping in till about 10:30 am. This meant we missed breakfast at the hotel so we set off to a local restaurant.

After breakfast we just wanted to walk around and take in the sites. The first thing we wanted to look at was the progress of the Virgin being built from the carnations brought by the Fallera during the Ofrenda.

The Virgin

Flower Offering

She’s coming along quite nice.

Today was day 2 of the Ofrenda so there would be more processions blocking and clogging the streets. You can’t turn a corner without running into them.

Random Fallera Procession

Cynthia wanted to go to the Torres De Quart to honor the tradition we have of releasing a feather from her dear depated bird, Mr. Zippers. A tradition we started several trips ago. I was not in any condition to climb the structure, so Cynthia climbed up on her own and let the feather go.

Torres De Quart

We had a good time continuing to explore the city and then we went back (yet again) to our favorite little lunch spot La Pappardelli. We again had some local Valencian wine recommended by our waitress.

Today's lunch wine

Since we ate here regularly on our last trip and we’ve been regulars again on this trip the staff treat us very well. One of the waitresses even said they think of us as family. That was very kind. They always give me a complimentary grappa at the end of the meal which I find to be very cool and a nice finish to the meal.

Grappa!

After lunch we did some more exploring.

Art Covered In Old Shoes

After which we headed back to the hotel to rest a bit before my big project.

I wanted to go back to the City Of Arts And Sciences to take some photos. But I was very particular in wanting to go just before sunset to take advantage of the “golden hour” which is that time just after the sun goes down and before it actually gets dark.

We’ve just returned from that excursion and I think I got some VERY nice pics which I will be posting before too long.

Tomorrow is La Crema and The Nic De Foc (Night Of Fire) so it’s going to be a long and exciting day!

Lights Of Ruzafa

In Valencia’s Ruzafa district is where you will find the legendary light displays that are set up in celebration of Las Fallas. We missed these on our previous visit to this festival so we made it a point to seek them out this time.

As we wandered the area we encountered some of the largest, most ornate fallas we’d ever seen

Falla

Falla

But what REALLY sets this area apart is the incredibly ornate light diplays

Ruzafa District Light Display

Falla in Ruzafa District

Ruzafa District Light Display

Ruzafa District Light Display

Obviously, these things attract a large crowd so it does get fairly jammed up pretty much as soon as the sun goes down. Still, it was worth a bit of jostling just to see them.

After that we were pretty tuckered out. We’re hitting the sack a bit early in anticipation of sunshine tomorrow.

Valencia – Day 2

After such a great day yesterday we were a bit disappointed to wake up to rain in Valencia. Not a lot of it, but enough to dampen our spirits somewhat. We grabbed some breakfast here at the hotel and went back to the room. We were still tired from the night before and with the rain we decided to take a nap. That ended up being a great idea because we slept soundly for a few more hours and when we woke up the rain had stopped.

We set out exploring and as it approached 2pm we decided to attend the daily mascleta which is a daytime fireworks display designed for percussive effect rather than visual. Thousands of festival goers jam in to the central square to be as close to the event as possible. When it goes off it is so loud you can’t hear yourself even if you shout. The display goes for a full 5 minutes.

I recorded this on my cell phone. It does not do the event justice, but it gives you an idea

After the mascleta we went back to the room to re-organize and then went to have a late lunch at our favorite restaurant, Pappardella.

After a nice meal and a bottle of wine we took to the streets where we encountered a procession of Falleras apparently leaving some event and going back to their respective neighborhoods. This provide Cynthia and I with a few hours of photographic fun

Cynthia Getting The Shot

Fallera Procession - 1

Fallera Procession - 2

Fallera Procession - 3

Fallera Procession - 4

Fallera Procession - 5

Fallera Procession - 6

Fallera Procession - 7

Fallera Procession - 11

Fallera Procession - 12

Fallera Procession - 14

Fallera Procession - 15

Fallera Procession - 17

Fallera Procession - 19

Fallera Procession - 21

After this we went back to the hotel room once more to get ready for the evening where we planned to go find the legendary light displays of the Ruzafa district.

Valencia – Late Night

Cynthia and William

Cynthia an I caught our second wind and we ended up going to the midnight fireworks display. It was quite impressive. There were quite a lot of people there to see it and a very large police and fire department presence.

Just In Case

Crowds Waiting For Fireworks

The fireworks display lasted for a full 17 1/2 minutes. We were so close that it seemed as though they were right on top of us.

I shot a video of the whole thing with my Android phone.

Valencia – Day 1

The last day in Barcelona yesterday was good. but the weather was the pits. We saw some sights and enjoyed some good food, but the photo ops were pretty much non-existent. Despite our overall good attitude, we were a little bummed.

Today was the 3 1/2 hour train ride to the city of Valencia for the 2011 Las Fallas festival. We were here two years ago and simply fell in love.

As we left Barcelona the rain was falling in earnest and the weather reports called for rain in Valencia for at least a few days. But as we got close to Valencia the skies began to clear and by the time we got tot he hotel it was downright sunny. Huzzah!

Street

Valencia, even without the festival, is a fantastic and picturesque city. Add to that the fallas and it becomes magical.

Cathedral

Falla

Falla

Sadly, due to all the rain of the last week, many of the fallas have been damaged. The artists are working fast and furious to repair them and seem to be doing a good job. Today is the day they are being officially setup so the ones we are seeing are in various states of completion and repair.

We came back to the hotel room after enjoying a nice lunch at Pappardella, an Italian restaurant we found during our last visit.

We spent almost two hours over a leisurely lunch and a bottle of local Rioja

Wine break. Enjoying a local Valencia blended rioja

Since leaving Barcelona this morning Cynthia has been a little sick. Nothing major, but an upset stomach and some fatigue have taken her a bit off her game. The lunch really helped, but we knew we’d both benefit from a siesta so we went back to the room and sacked out for a few hours. When we got up we headed back out. The evening weather here is pretty perfect. And the city and the fallas are very cool at night.

Falla

Falla

Falla Infantile Procession

Random Band

Lights

Tower

Now were are back in the room and considering our options. There is a huge fireworks display at midnight. If we have the energy we may head out to see that. If not, there’s another one tomorrow night. And the night after that. And the night after that.

It’s good to have options!

Barcelona – Day 3 – Part 2

After collecting ourselves back at the hotel room we headed out and braved the metro to go see La Sagrada Familia, a cathedral designed by Antoni Gaudi. Construction began in 1882 and is not expected to be completed until 2026.

The structure is amazing to see in person. I was particularly happy to have my very wide angle Sony 16-35mm lens with me to capture a few images. These are both done using HDR techniques that involve taking 3 separate photos, each with a different exposure setting, and blending the images together to create one high dynamic range image that brings our the detail and evens out the overall exposure.

Sagrada Familia - HDR

La Sagrada Familia - HDR

And later that evening for a night shot

Sagrada Familia - Night Shot 2

Barcelona – Day 3 – Part 1

The sun came out today. After a full day of rain yesterday we were very happy to see it. We got up and headed out for some breakfast and then walked down La Rambla to the Cathedral of Santa Eulalia aka the Barcelona Cathedral to watch the Sardana dances.

Human Statues

La Rambla was bustling early. The crowds were building fast and the human statues were gearing up for a busk-o-rama day.

And the beggars were also taking advantage of the sunshine.

Beggar

Walking through the Barri Gotic on the way to the cathedral we marvelled at the ornamentation on the buildings in the neighborhood

Ornamentation in Barri Gotic

Ornamentation in Barri Gotic

Ornamentation in Barri Gotic

Ornamentation in Barri Gotic

Ornamentation in Barri Gotic

During our wandering we stumbled upon the secluded Gothic cloister which encloses the Well of the Geese (Font de les Oques) where 13 white geese are kept, the number explained by the assertion that Eulalia was 13 when she was martyred.

Goose

After communing with the geese for a bit we found our way to the front of the cathedral for the main event. Each Sunday the citizens of Barcelona gather in front of the cathedral for for the Sardana Dances. Some to dance, other just to watch and listen to the cobla.

sardana dances - 4

sardana dances - 3

sardana dances - 2

sardana dances - 1

After this it was back to the hotel to recombobulate and have a snack. The walk back was met by extremely large throngs of people jamming La Rambla

Crowds On La Rambla

Next up, La Sagrada Familia