And it will be spent in... Valencia, Spain.
And in case you were wondering about our state of mind, the state is positive. Barbie and I have both enjoyed the heck out the last fifty days, but we are also looking forward to things like our home, friends, and family. It is a nice balance, actually. We are looking forward to getting home while also enjoying the last day of the trip, and perhaps even enjoying it more because the comforts of home feel near.
In order to see as much as we can of Valencia, we have signed up for the official excursion The Best of Valencia which involves our waking up as early as we have woken up all summer. And now you know why I was able to take a picture of an actual sunrise.
Time for Valencia trivia; the name Valencia comes from the Latin valentia, meaning strength and valour. In English, the Latin valentia became valiant. The Romans founded Valentia in 137 BC, naming the town after the valiant Roman soldiers who had fought the local Iberians.
As we drove into town from the docks, I spotted what I thought was a football stadium.
Of course, I have learned to take everything guides say with a grain of salt. Or a whole salt shaker. Especially in these secondary cities, where all they do is keep repeating how Madrid and Barcelona have nothing on their hometown. Local pride can interfere with the facts.
...an outdoor concert hall for tens of thousands. (The above is a picture I took of a poster showing an MTV concert festival from February 2010. If you told me that crowd numbered over 100,000, I would believe you. Right-Click it into a new window if you do not believe me.
This new part of Valencia is simply incredible, and clearly Valencia is either incredibly rich to have built all of this or they are severely in debt for having done so. A few people in our group asked about how it was financed, and the answer from the guide was, "This we cannot say for sure." Uh huh. But I will say this; Valencia's port, where we were docked, reminded me of Hong Kong with its miles of containers. It turns out that Valencia is Spain's most trafficked container port, and handles a great number if Spain's imports and exports. There is a lof money to be made importing the goods that the land-locked capital Madrid requires. And as a manufacturing city, perhaps the Valencianos are not as in debt as we arrogant Americans believed.
They love us for our fast food. How could they not?
Soon enough we were in the old part of town.
Our guide is taking us to the market to show us both Valencia's huge indoor market and give us a taste test of three levels of Iberian ham, the world-renowned Jamón ibérico.
Time to walk across the street. Why?
And now... a different topic. Young women. I rarely let you in on this, but there are occasions when we are in foreign cities and attractive young women happen to pass by and on some of these occasions, perhaps many, I take a candid picture.
Now... the reason I shared that is because one of the older men on our tour basically put me to shame. Maybe thirty seconds after I took the above picture, he noticed her and walked right up to her.
Then he said something nice to her and she smiled, and posed.
The next thing that makes Valencia Cathedral unique is one of its relics. It is in possession of the Holy Chalice, which might be the actual cup that Jesus drank out of at The Last Supper.
Let me say this. If everything in the New Testament happened, and happened as described within it, I still have a hard time accepting that the Son of God, who preached beautifully about poverty and salvation, would have been drinking out of a golden cup so big that it had to be lifted with two hands. There. I said my piece.
I should confess to one last piece of bias. Our guide, during his Holy Chalice spiel, referred to the authenticity of the chalice and stated that archeologists had studied it and verified that the chalice is the type used by, "Palestinians at the time of Jesus." This really did floor me. I said nothing, as he had just showed me his cards, but to refer to the people at the Eastern edge of the Mediterranean as Palestinian and not Judean is ridiculous. Jesus lived in Roman occupied Judea and nobody would ever disagree with this fact. This guide might have just made the most ignorant-slash-politically-charged statement I have ever heard. Yep. He lost me right there. I do not need a grain of salt to listen to this man; I need a bag of salt.
I should just be happy that he did not refer to the Star of David as Palestinian.
Our Lady Square features this fountain which our guide said uses the Roman water system that dates back 2,200 or so. Note that I present these tidbits as our guide said and not as facts.
Valencia Pedestrian Candid. August 2011. One of the great candid scores of my career. A nun and a pretty Valenciana in a single shot!
The next and last stop of our tour will be...
Now, this 1,100,000 square foot complex -- yes, 1.1 million -- takes a full day to see. And the planners of our tour have given us one hour that included getting in and out. It was unanimous. We would go to the sharks, take pictures of the sharks, and then leave.
There is an amazing effect to these underwater walkways that cannot be captured by a camera. There is an optical illusion above you that make the fish appear to be in the air above your head, as if you could reach up and touch them.
People gazing with amazement at sharkees.
This shot will mean nothing to people unfamiliar with the Busway in Los Angeles's San Fernando Valley, but I found it very interesting that Valencia too has chosen to turn a former train track into a busway.
You do not know it, but a whole diatribe about mass transit sits in my mind but you have been spared this time around.
And with that, we returned to the ship for the last time! The next time that we step off of the SeaDream is the last time this visit.
There was some social time by the pool, but everyone on-board had to pack as well. Soon enough came dinnertime, and there was the usual prom-like complexity of who sits where. At our table, which was undoubtedly the cool table, we sat with two of the very coolest couples aboard SeaDream; Jerry & Joan and Ira & Robin.
Now... for the final dinner the SeaDream chef has provided a Menu Dégustation. Yes, a fixed menu with but two entrée choices. Daring.
I will just say it in advance; every dish was superb. Absolutely superb. If a restaurant in any city in the world served this meal the place would be booked for weeks if not months.
There. A seven course meal, each one wonderful.