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2008 – What a Year!

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Man, I can’t believe 2008 is already coming to an end. In February, we moved to Valencia from Western Ireland, exchanging one the Europe’s worst climates for one of its best. We experienced our first Fallas celebration in March, and during the summer hosted a ton of friends and family, who were eager to explore Valencia and see if it was as great as we kept saying. (It was)

We thought we’d say goodbye to our first year in Valencia, by taking a look back at our favorite posts. Hope you all enjoy a fun & safe Nochevieja!

1) ¡Despertà, Valencia! – February 24th
At 7:30am, I shot out of bed and looked around frantically for a bible, certain that Armageddon was upon us…

2) Sueca – Street of Lights – March 15th
Part of Fallas is the annual competition of lights, and traditionally Calle Sueca in Russafa carries off the prize…

3) City on Fire – Valencia’s Cremà – March 20th
Last night, more than 750 monuments were burned during La Cremà — the fiery, official end to the Fallas celebrations…

4) Explore Valencia’s Harbour – September 5th
Taking a walk at the harbor is a must when visiting Valencia. Preferably when it’s not too hot, and right before sunset…

Valencia Harbour Walk-4

5) First Visit to the BioParc (Valencia Zoo) – February 28th
This morning, we took the first of what will likely be many trips to Valencia’s brand new zoo, the BioParc…

6) Last Mascletà – Fallas 2008 – March 19th
This is the craziest thing I have seen – Best Mascletà Ever! I couldn’t even hold the camera still…

7) The Traslado of the Virgin de los Desamparados – May 23rd
One of the most insane religious gatherings I’ve ever seen…

8) Bullfight Valencia: Matador gets gored – March 17th
Yesterday, we went to the bullfights in the Plaza de Toros. Towards the end of the very first fight, a cocky matador named “El Califa” tried and failed to finish his bull off…

9) Wine Festival: Heaven on Earth? – April 4th
Hundreds of people milling about, providing an atmosphere which starts good and gets better as everyone gets more and more drunk…

10) Ballroom Dancing in the Pl. de la Virgen – July 21st
Anyone who’s bored in Valencia is simply not trying…

Whew! It was really a full year, and we’re looking forward to an awesome 2009. Hope you’ve enjoyed the blog so far!

December 31, 2008 at 5:53 pm Comments (0)

New Year’s Eve in Valencia

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Unlike in either of our home countries (Germany and the USA), New Year’s Eve isn’t an excuse for massive parties here in Spain. Most Spaniards celebrate the turning of the year, called Nochevieja, in their homes or restaurants. There are no public fireworks displays as the clock strikes midnight, at least here in Valencia.

But, that’s not to say that the holiday is without tradition. The Spanish custom is to eat grapes with the gongs of the bell. One grape for each bell. This is a tradition followed all throughout the country. And of course, cava (sparkling wine) will be consumed in large quantities throughout the night.

In Valencia, there will be people celebrating in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento at midnight, if you’re looking for a public place to go ring in the New Year. Just don’t forget to bring grapes!

December 30, 2008 at 6:50 pm Comment (1)

Happy Holidays!

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Mercado Central, Christmas Eve wishes everyone a great holiday season, weather you’re home or away!

We’ve had a great year, both personally and with this blog. It was our first year in Valencia, and we’ve completely fallen in love with the city. We’d like to thank all our readers, and hope you stick around for more of our thoughts, observations and tips on Valencia!

December 24, 2008 at 11:47 pm Comments (0)

New Metro Card & Prices – January 1st, 2009

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If you use Valencia’s metro system with any frequency, you’ll have noticed that the ticket readers are all getting an upgrade. With the new year, comes a new way of paying for public transportation in city.

Gone are the disposable paper tickets of old, and in is Móbilis — an rechargable card with an electronic chip. At the very least, the Móbilis cards will be a lot more environment friendly.

But that’s not the only change for the new year! Companies often try to fly unpopular news in under the radar… and Metro Valencia is no exception. “Hey! Check out our amazing new technologically advanced Móbilis cards! (And please, pay no attention the fare increases being introduced on the same day)”.

Ugh… great. Well, the truth is that Valencia’s metro was pretty cheap to begin with, especially when you get the Bono (10-trip) card, which you should always do. A single trip within the A zone is rising ten cents to €1.40, and the Bono raises forty cents to €6.50. So, with the Bono, it’s still just 65 cents a trip — making it hard to complain. A full breakdown of new fares can be found at the Metro’s website.

December 23, 2008 at 4:24 pm Comment (1)

The Drawing of El Gordo Christmas Lottery

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I’ve never seen anything quite like the drawing of the Spanish Christmas Lottery, popularly known as El Gordo.

The drawing lasts for nearly 3 hours, and consists of two kids, one of which draws a winning number, and the other of which draws its matching prize. “Sounds simple”, you think. “How could such a thing possibly last hours and hours? Surely, he must be mistaken or exaggerating!”

But I’m not! There are hundreds and hundreds of numbers drawn; hundreds and hundreds of prizes. Most of the prizes drawn are small (€1000), with 13 main prizes thrown into the mix. “Well, actually”, you start to reason, “that does sound kind of crazy!”

HA! I laugh at you, because I haven’t even gotten to the crazy part. Each time a number and prize is drawn, the kids have to sing it out loud. So for three hours, it goes like this:
“♫ Trece Mil Novecientos Ochenta y Seis ♫”
♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫

It’s not so much the winning numbers, but the “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫” which end up making you lose your mind. Because the huge, huge majority of winning prizes are “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫“. They’re constantly singing “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫” every 10 seconds. “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫“. “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫“. Here’s a short capture from our TV… very poor video quality, but it’s all about the singing:

♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫

Once in awhile, the monotony of the signing is disrupted because one of the 13 big prizes has been drawn. Excitement Time!! As the kids walk over to the judges table, we start hopping up and down on the couch, wondering how we’re going to spend all the money we’re about to win. Of course, we don’t win, and don’t even come close, and the kids go back over to draw more balls. “♫ Miiiiil Euros ♫

This year the Gordo went to number 32365. Congratulations to all you big winners in Alicante, Barcelona, Guipuzcoa y Jaén. Jerks.

December 22, 2008 at 11:04 am Comments (3)

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