Tapas and Paella, is there anything better?


Now that I showed you one of my fav places in Spain yesterday (Santiago de la Ribera), let me show you my fav restaurant at that location; the Restaurante Bellavista!

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From its prime location on the boardwalk, the Bella Vista offers – just like its name promises – great views! Roman and his family and coworkers offer authentic Spanish foods. I am particularly fond of the tapas and the arrozes (rice dishes, like paella). The restaurant is reasonably priced, there is a laid back and welcoming atmosphere and this is a great opportunity to speak Spanish! Just be aware that due to the dialect in Murcia region, they are very hard to understand. I am glad to notice that I do get an increasingly better understanding of what they say for every visit.

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Now, make sure you pay the Bella Vista a visit, should you happen to be in this part of Spain. You are in for a wonderful meal and a great time, whether you go for lunch or dinner! I am sure you will soon see why I keep returning to the place.

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(And no, this I not a sponsored post, I figure it must be possible to say something nice without getting paid)

The gem on Costa Cálida


The what and the who, now? The Costa Cálida (“Warm Coast”) is a 250 km stretch of the Mediterranean coastline of the Spanish province of Murcia. Here you find a micro-climate which features comparatively hot mean annual temperatures and a relative degree of aridity (average precipitation less than 34 cm per year)

The northern end of the Costa Cálida includes Mar Menor (“Lesser Sea”), Europe’s largest saltwater lagoon, and on the interior shores of Mar Menor, you find an old fishing village, Santiago de la Ribera, with 4 kilometers of fine, golden sand-beaches. The Mar Menor is rather shallow, so you have a longer season for bathing and swimming in the Mar Menor than in the Mediterranean. Even though the town is a fav vacation spot for Spaniards, it does not feel nearly as touristy as the nearby towns. Santiago de la Ribera is a true gem, as I am sure my pics from Oct 2016 will show:

Me gusta Valencia, taking in the city


As mentioned in several posts already, Valencia is definately worth your while to visit. If you are not into visitig museums and churches, then at least take a walk through the old parts of Valencia and sit down at one of the many outdoors cafees at a square and enjoy your cafe con leche or vino tinto and relax. It is an exquisite, magical city, as these last pictures will reveal.

Make sure you check out my previous posts from Valencia as well:

Me Gusta Valencia, Mercado Central

Me Gusta Valencia – The Silk Exchange

Flamenco is not just a bird!

Me Gusta Valencia, Town Hall Square

Me gusta Valencia, the Cathedral

Me gusta Valencia, The Oceanographic and the Prince Felipe Museum of Science

Me gusta Valencia, The Oceanographic and the Prince Felipe Museum of Science


When in Valencia you’d be well advised to spend a day at the Oceanographic and travel around the planet’s main seas and oceans. It is quite big, so a full day will be needed at this magic place. There are several places to eat in the park, but none offer great culinary experiences.

The Prince Felipe Museum of Science is also very much so worth a visit – especially with kids! Maybe not the youngest kids, but let’s say from 6-7 years and up to the teens. It is an interactive and elicit place. It’s great fun.

If none of the above-mentioned activities interest you, you should still go there just to see the cool architecture:

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Me gusta Valencia, the Cathedral


When in Valencia, I will recommend a visit to the Valencia Cathedral, bearing this impressive name in Spanish: Iglesia Catedral-Basílica Metropolitana de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora de Valencia (English: The Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia). If you relish historical works of art, this is your spot!

The cathedral is a Roman Catholic parish church, consecrated in 1238. It was built over the site of the former Visigothic cathedral, which under the Moors had been turned into a mosque. The predominant style is Valencian Gothic. The cathedral contains numerous 15th century paintings, and the Santo Càliz de Valencia (English: Holy Chalice of the Cathedral of Valencia). This chalice is recognized by the Vatican as a historic relic, although not as the actual chalice used at the last supper.

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Me Gusta Valencia, Town Hall Square


 

Now, should you visit Valencia at one of the many, many feasts and holidays they celebrate here, then la Plaza del Ayuntamiento (Town Hall Square) is the place to be. During Fiestas and Fallas, the entire place is bursting with energy and spectacular mascletas (pyrotech).

Also, should you be here and there being NOT a fiesta, rest assured that the plaza is a popular meeting point for Valencians and is often filled with stalls selling flowers. A local tradition that dates back to 1924.

Our hotel was at la Plaza del Ayuntamiento, and was a great starting point for us exploring the lively, narrow lanes of Valencia’s Old Town.

As the name reveals, Plaza del Ayuntamiento is home to some of the most representative administrative buildings in Valencia, and features an outstanding mix of Spanish architectural styles. Dominating the square are the stunning neoclassical Town Hall (Ayuntamiento) and the magnificent Central Post Office (Edificio de Correos), designed by architect Miguel Angel Navarro in a beautiful eclectic style that combines striking Modernista features with lavish baroque-inspired interiors.

Check back later for more posts from this magnificent city! Also, check the previous posts:

Spanish Smiles

Me Gusta Valencia, Mercado Central

Me Gusta Valencia – The Silk Exchange

Flamenco is not just a bird!

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Facade

Graceful

Flamenco is not just a bird!


On our trip to Valencia, we took the opportunity to take in a Flamenco show at a restaurant, Mon, downtown Valencia. The restaurant was good, however not spectacular. The Flamenco, on the other hand, was. Spectacular, that is. I had never seen it live before, so this was a real treat for Old Mamasan.

What the heck am I on about now? Well, Flamenco is an art form native to the Spanish region of Andalusia and the two neighboring regions of Extremadura and Murcia. It does strike me as a tad ironic that we left the region of Murcia and drove two hours into Valencia – to experience the Flamenco. But when opportunity knocks, it is best to answer, right? Anyways, the oldest record of Flamenco dates to 1774. Although Flamenco has become associated with the Romani people in Spain, and somewhat influenced by them, its origin and style is distinctively Andalusian.

Anyways, as you can see in the vid below, the Flamenco includes singing (cante), guitar playing (toque), dance (baile), vocalizations (jaleo), handclapping (palmas) and finger snapping (pitos). Besides me falling in love with the guitar player – because he was just super-duper good – what I want to talk about is the dancing:

El baile flamenco is emotionally intensive, very expressive and proud and very rhythmic. The stamping of the feet in Flamenco is often confused with tap dance, but it is a completely different technique. As with any dance form, many styles of flamenco have developed. I am not sure what style we witnessed, but it was a lot more authentic than the “tourist-flamenco”; not a spotted dress in sight, and a total lack of castanets.

Here’s a little fun fact for ya: In traditional Flamenco, young people are not considered to have the emotional maturity to adequately convey the soul (duende) of the genre. Therefore, many Flamenco dancers do not hit their peak until their thirties, and will continue to perform well into their fifties and beyond.

And, here is one for you Quiz Masters: On Nov 16th 2010, UNESCO declared Flamenco one of the “Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.”

Olé!

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Me Gusta Flamenco!

Graceful

Me Gusta Valencia – The Silk Exchange


When visiting Valencia, you’d be well advised to visit the Lonja de la Seda – the Silk Exchange. This main monument of the city, and masterpiece of civil Gothic architecture, is located close to the Central Market, which I wrote about yesterday, see this link: Me Gusta Valencia, Mercado Central

Where the Silk Exchange stands, there was a previous Exchange from the 14th century, the Oil Exchange, or in Spanish: Lonja del Aceite. The Oil Exchange was not only used for trading with agricultural oils, but for all kind of business.

Valencia’s commercial prosperity reached its peak during the 15th century, and led to the construction of a new building. The City Council purchased 25 houses for demolition, and construction of the Silk Exchange commenced a year later, in 1482. Pere Compte was the man behind the project, but he unfortunately did not live to see his building completed. Several master builders continued to work on the building, and it was finished in 1548.

«The site is of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities.” – is why the UNESCO considered it as a World Heritage Site in 1996.

The building resembles old Medieval Castles with its rigid appearance of a stone walled fortress. It comprises three distinct buildings and a garden – the Courtyard of the Orange Trees: In the Contract Hall with the beautiful columns is where the deals were struck, the Chapel of the Immaculate Conception, and the Consulado del Mar (Consulate of the Sea) in Renaissance style – where maritime and trade affairs were taken care of. There are a lot of decorative features, including 28 Gothic gargoyles on the top of the building, whose practical purpose is to collect rainwater from the roof. There are allegorical figures, fantastic, monstrous or satirical, and their enigmatic symbolism has been widely debated throughout the years – and still are.

Check up the opening hours before you visit this magnificent building, as they do close for siesta.

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Me Gusta Valencia, Mercado Central


Oh, wonderful Valencia! If you want to treat yourself to a beautiful, interesting and historic place – try Valencia!

Valencia is the capital of the autonomous community of Valencia and the third largest city of Spain. Valencia was founded as a Roman colony in 138 BC, by the consul Decimus Junius Brutus Callaicus, it was then called Valentia Edetanorum. In 711 the Muslims introduced their language, religion and customs when they occupied the city. And in 1238 the Christian King James I of Aragon reconquered the city and it became a part of the Kingdom of Valencia. For two short periods, Valencia has been capital of Spain. There is a lot of interesting history to this city as it has been politically and culturally rearranged several tmes, and we will get into bits and piece of it in the posts to follow.

Valencia’s historic center is one of the largest in Spain, and it holds a vast heritage of ancient monuments, views and cultural attractions, and this is why it is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Spain.

The traditional Spanish dish, Paella, is said to originate in Valencia. Whoever it was that first thought of making Paella, I am forever grateful – because it is mm-mm-good! Talking about food, why don’t we start at the Central Market:

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Mercado Central is inside this Art Nouveau building

Mercado Central is a public market and a popular location for tourists and locals alike. Most vendors sell food items, although souvenirs are also found. You can spend hours in here just looking at the fantastic displays of foods – fresh, smoked, cured – some weird and interesting, others just plain yummy. The vendors are often giving you samples so you get the chance of trying something new. I might be weird, but I could spend all day at this great market, then again – eating and preparing food is one of my passions.

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See anything you like?

The Mercado Central is situated on a spot that was inaugurated in 1839 as an open-air marketplace called Mercat Nou. The city of Valencia sponsored a contest for the construction of a new roofed market in 1910. The present Art Nouveau design was chosen, a design by Alejandro Sole March and Francisco Guardia Vial, who trained at the School of Architecture of Barcelona. Construction began in 1914 and was fully completed in 1928.

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Just pick a place and enjoy your lunch!

The area around the Mercado Central is jam-packed with restaurants, perfect for lunching on some super good Tapas and perhaps some vino tinto? I bet you are craving some yummy foods after spending some time surrounded by all these goodies in the market.

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Froot Loops does not qualify as food, but you can get it here anyways.

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See all the weird fruits!

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Bob Esponga!

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If you can’t look your food in the eye…

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These would be perfect for Halloween! Witches-fingers!

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This is my department! I love the ham!

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Yup, you can get your Asian food here also!

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These are dried chillies and peppers, super good!

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Anyone for baked Ox Muzzle?

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There certainly is some bite to this dinner…

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This is right outside the market, isn’t it pretty?

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Headin’ towards the Mercado Central

Spanish Smiles


Last week we went on vacation to Spain. We are talking 10 days of constant touristy smiles here, so it is almost impossible to choose just one… To spend time with loved ones is a definite big smile, to learn that I do remember some Spanish also made me smile. Enjoying the fab tapas and paella/arrozes – also grounds for huge smiles. The list goes on and on, and I will be bugging you with posts and pictures in the days to come.

I have decided to interpret this week’s smile literally – with smiles I have managed to capture on my cam during the vaccy in Spain:

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Ox Muzzle? I am very curious as to how they prepare this.

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Here’s a great smile for ya!

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This would be a dentist’s retirement plan…

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Sheeps heads, these I know from Norway

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Another charmer 🙂

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Dried sharks jaws?


I am joining the #WeeklySmile bunch, as I wholeheartedly agree with the host, Trent, that we need some positive posts in between all the serious stuff in the news and on the web. Give someone a smile today, and see what happens!

Care to join us at the #WeeklySmile ? Then go to Trent’s World  and join the LINK UP!