Valencia, Spain was host to the 32nd and 33rd America’s Cup and while the buildings and the bars still resemble the scene from almost 6 years ago, on closer inspection you come to realize that most of the buildings have been abandoned and the bars that once had lines out the doors sit almost empty. Some places have been repurposed. Locals use old beer gardens as rollerblading arenas and old race viewing areas as fishing piers. It is incredible to see how much goes into changing the entire waterfront for these types of events and the importance of city planning in the entire process. This whole scene is along my running route and it is a bit like arriving at a party right after it ended. I can run up into the once exclusive viewing sites and get a panoramic view of the whole harbor. The bars are still open to the public with their white benches and fully stocked bar, but even in the evening it resembles more of a ghost town then a lively night scene. A shell of an area that was once host to a world event. It is haunting and beautiful at the same time.
This is not to deter anyone for visiting, this is just an observation of one area in a large city and if you are like me this exact description actually gives you all the more reasons for checking out the harbor. It was one of my favorite places to photograph.
Our travels brought us to Valencia. We had a gap in our ( very loose ) itinerary and we thought we should return to Spain for some sun and to explore a different area of the country. Justin was the one who picked out Valencia. It had not been recommended to us, nor did we ask around about the city in particular. After a little research online and booking an ideal little airbnb apartment we were off for Valencia within 48 hours.
This city has proven time and time again to be one of the best decisions we have made on this trip, from its culture to is beaches it was just the seaside ending we were looking for. The city is fascinating, if not a bit perplexing. It has a ‘just happened’ feeling that leaves you amazed and bewildered. We kind of love it. It is a city you have to discover.
Finding a good home away from home is very important to me when I travel. I like to have home base and go from there. With the length of our trip I wanted to find little apartments that would really let us feel like locals in each city we visited. For our honeymoon we booked a Paris flat through VRBO. We had great success with that so we tried something similar for this trip. Booking almost exclusively through airbnb we have lucked out with wonderful hosts and our very own apartment wherever we go. I want to share some of these places with you. Enjoy!
We stumbled upon many amazing sights during our time in Barcelona, but none took my breath away quite like the Fuente mágica de Montjuic. It wasn’t due to the fact that it was bigger, better or more beautiful than any other site. It was just something about that night. It was the overwhelming feeling I got when we rounded the corner to a wall of water and a group of people that were simply enjoying the night as much as we were. We stayed for 2 hours, watching a new water show every 30 minutes and by 11pm the air was heavy with water droplets. It made for impossible photographs, but I am a true believer that some of the best moments are only meant to live in your memory. There is something about Barcelona at night that makes my heart beat a little bit faster.
We started out the day visiting the Miro Museum. Joan Miro’s work can be seen all over the city and we wanted to learn more about this contemporary artist. There were no photos allowed in the museum, but Justin and I both enjoyed his later work after 1965 the most. Burnt canvas was a favorite of ours.
Keep in mind that if you plan to visit the museum it is only open until 2:30 on Sunday and is closed on Mondays. We found the audio guide well worth the 4€. If you have kids there are areas in the museum that allow kids to make their own Miro creations, which seemed to be a big hit. We arrived around noon and waited in almost no line. You can also buy tickets online and skip any waiting entirely.
We then headed off to the Ariel tram . We had no idea there were two trams and ended up boarding the wrong tram. It was quite a surprise as we were dropped off at the base of the Montjuïc Castle, an 18th century castle that overlooks the city and the harbor. Again our unstructured day led us to one of the most amazing views of the city. Justin was thrilled when he incountered his first draw bridge. The castle is free to tour and if I were to suggest a place to go in Barcelona this would be at the top of my list.
Mind you that you also have to get down off this huge hill. For that we found the second tram that took us over the water and dropped us off right on the beach. We stuck our toes in the very cold Mediterranean Sea and talked about returning tomorrow for a little beach day.
Often when Justin and I travel together we have a rough idea of what we would like to see and where we would like to end up. Apart from that, we often just set out walking in the general direction. This assures that we get lost a couple of times, before reaching our destination. This may not work for everyone, but with Justin’s love of maps and the adventure’s luck I inherited from my mom, we always end up in the best situations. This was the case as we set out the other day. After walking over 4 miles we found ourselves at Park Guell at sunset. A photographers dream. The last few photos- just check out that sky!
To learn more about Park Guell check out this website which has a beautiful description of Gaudi’s vision. http://www.parkguell.org/
You know those dreams you have and you think- “No, we couldn’t… Not now… Maybe later.” This year Justin and I moved 5 times. (I know- it was kind of crazy!) We learned so much about each other, our dreams and what ‘home’ means to us. Those dreams and ideas that seemed so big and scary at one time, really don’t any more. We just were talking one night and asked ourselves – why not now?
So for the next two months we will be adventuring around Italy, Spain, Switzerland, France and the UK. Thank you to all the family members and friends who encouraged us! We could not ask for a better support team!