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Contaria – Children’s Theater Festival

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From the 20th to the 24th of October, kids can be entertained during the 2nd Contaria — a festival of theater, held at various locations throughout the city.

We only found out about the festival, because we could hear the loopy sounds of today’s performance of “The Eye of Horus” at the Plaza del Patriarca (location) from our apartment, and were curious enough to check it out.

Possibly because of the nasty weather Valencia has been suffering all week, there weren’t many kids watching. A shame, because the stage, outfits and production were really well-done, but there were more performers & volunteers than youngsters.

Well, hopefully the weather improves for the rest of the week. If you’ve got a kid who can speak or understand Spanish, make sure to catch one of these shows, and leave a comment if it was any good! There are over 20 performances, which you can review here.

Contaria – Official Site

October 20, 2008 at 5:12 pm Comment (1)

Narrative Figuration at the IVAM

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IVAM Narrative Figuration -4

Considering the terrible weather which struck Valencia this weekend, we decided to restrict ourselves to indoor activities and went to the IVAM Modern Art Museum (location).

IVAM Narrative Figuration -3

IVAM Narrative Figuration -7

From September 18th to January 11th, 2009, you’ll have the chance to see an exhibit on Narrative Figuration, and we highly recommend it. Figurative Narration is a French movement from the 60s, which rose in opposition to abstraction and is highly correspondent to Pop Art. With an emphasis on story-telling, and a eye towards politics, crime and film, the art on display is nothing if not entertaining.

IVAM Narrative Figuration -6

IVAM Narrative Figuration -5

In fact, this is one of the few modern art exhibits I’ve ever found myself enthusiastic about. I isn’t all that cultur’d: one of those people who consider most modern art to be a gigantic piss-take on the world, where artistically untalented tricksters plop paint onto a canvass and then come up with some long-winded justification as to how it constitutes “art”. Case in point: almost everything in the IVAM’s concurrently running Abstraction exhibit is stuff I quite literally could produce myself. What I couldn’t do, perhaps, is put on horn-rimmed glasses & a scarf, and condescendingly explain how the red square represents the rage in my agitated heart, and… you see: notice the blue square! It’s the essence of water, cool and soothing. Yes, it’s spiritual, you see. It’s art, dahhling!

Movement in B-Flat, No. 2: A Vision

Limited edition prints available for €3000.

October 17, 2008 at 5:38 pm Comments (0)

Sagunto, Part II

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We took a day trip to Sagunto for the 2nd time in a month, this time bringing a few visitors from Germany. Informed by the last experience, we showed up earlier and had a lot more time to see some of the Tier 2 highlights.

Top among these was the Sagunto Historical Museum, found on Calle del Castillo (which leads to the err… castillo). The museum contains a large array of archeological finds from the area, though the best part may be the building itself. Built in the 14th century, the house (la Casa del Mestre Peña) has long been a part of Sagunto’s culture.

Standing Guard

A little bit further up the road, you'll find the Hermitage of la Sangre (brotherhood of blood?! Sweet!), an old temple that has been converted into Sagunto's ground zero for Semana Santa. You can see the icons and sculptures paraded about during the holy week, and visit a small museum. We love Catholic iconography, and the brotherhood provided a lot of opportunities for great pictures. Plus, for €2, you could buy a little hooded figurines -- one is sitting on my desk right now. He's cute, but scares the hell out of me.

On the way back home, we stopped at a restaurant across from the history museum. We don't often do negative reviews on, but in this case it's warranted. We must recommend that you avoid La Jueria. The food was terrible: undercooked meat, unscrubbed empty mussels in the cold, stale paella, laughably undercooked eggs, and the worst service imaginable. Plus, they overcharged us by adding the drinks separately from the menú del día, a €10 "mistake" I'm certain was intentional -- every guest orders the same thing, but the foreigners get overcharged? Do yourself a favor, and stay away. It was the worst meal we've had in Spain.

But otherwise, Sagunto is lovely!

October 15, 2008 at 2:21 pm Comment (1)

Recreation of the 1428 Cavalcade

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1428 Cavalcade-7

As part of celebrations for the Day of the Valencian Community, the city was treated to a highly authentic recreation of 1428’s civic cavalcade, originally commissioned by Alfonso the Magnanimous (not a bad moniker, that) to honor the memory of King Jaume I. Unfortunately, the parade suffered the torrential winds and rains which have been tearing up the region the last few days.

1428 Cavalcade-1

The storm had held off all day on the 9th, allowing the procession of the Senyera to occur, but just as the cavalcade was due to get underway at 17:30, it hit. Nasty weather, though, couldn’t stop Valencians from turning out in force. This particular parade is not a yearly thing and no one wanted to miss it, even if that meant getting wet.

1428 Cavalcade-4

And the cavalcade truly was something to behold (even if it could only be beheld in quick glimpses through a wall of umbrellas). More than 700 marchers were dressed in medieval clothing and equipped with authentic weaponry recreated with the help of historians. Some musical instruments, in fact, were made from scratch, just for this march. Horses were clad in regal vestments, matching their riders, many of whom wore full suits of armor. There were jugglers and jesters, ornate ladies-in-waiting, and gigantic bulls.

It’s really a shame the weather wasn’t nicer, but hopefully they’ll do this parade again next year. There’s a rumor that they might.

1428 Cavalcade-8

Visit the Zoo in Valencia

October 14, 2008 at 2:23 pm Comments (0)

Separatist Shenanigans at the Lowering of the Senyera

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Flag Lowering Valencia-6

October 9th, the day of the Valencia Community came and went in a blur. At noon, a huge crowd had gathered in the Plaza del Ayuntamiento to watch the city’s flag, la Senyera, be lowered from the city hall’s balcony. The unconventional route is dictated by a tradition which says that it may not pass through a doorway nor bow to any man.

This tradition made the ensuing action all the more bitter and outrageous for the thousands of citizens who had gathered to see their flag be paraded through the city. A group of Catalan separatists had somehow managed to get into the building next to the city hall, and unfurled a gigantic flag representing the movement for Catalan independence, just as the Valencian senyera was being lowered.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but from what I’ve been able to gather, some Catalan separatists tend to assume that Valencia belongs in their longed-for nation. This annoys Valencians, who neither want part of an independent Catalonia, nor consider themselves in any way Catalan. The intent of the separatists was to force the Valencian flag to pass underneath theirs. For about a half hour, the parade was stopped, as the city refused to bow to such chicanery. The situation got a little sketchy, as regular, justly offended Valencians were joined by black-clad and overly vehement ultra-rightwing nationalists hurling abuse at the separatists.

Valencia’s Flag definitely wins on style

Crikey. No more crema de catalan for us!

Eventually the Catalan group relented and raised their flag, which allowed the parade to progress as planned. After a stop at the Cathedral, it proceeded to the Parterre Park (location) where a short ceremony was held in honor of King James — Valencia’s hero. Then, the flag was brought back to the Ayuntamiento, and honored with a loud, celebratory mascletà.

Here some pictures from the event:

October 11, 2008 at 11:35 am Comments (32)

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