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IMAX in the Hemisferic

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Who doesn’t like a good old-fashioned IMAX film? That’s right: nobody. Everyone loves IMAX. We’re crazy for it because it blows our minds; it’s like a roller-coaster for the soul.


Valencia’s IMAX is found in arguably the coolest building of the City Arts and Sciences: the Hemisferic (location). The theater is the pupil of the eye. For €7.50 per head, you can thrill to classic IMAX staples about the Nile, Outer Space and the Deep Sea. I think they actually have multiple shows about Egypt right now. One can never have enough mummies!

If you do go, show up early and confirm the show times. Because, the schedule on their official website is full of lies. We showed up extremely late, because the time listed online was simply wrong. And: don’t sit in the back row, like we did. From the last row, the IMAX screen looks just like a regular one, only blurry and distorted. It made us nauseous.

We’d love to see some Hollywood blockbusters on Valencia’s IMAX screen … The Dark Knight and Monsters vs. Aliens are said to be even better on an IMAX. Why don’t they come to the Hemisferic?

Location of the Hemisferic on our Valencia Map
Official Web Site

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April 30, 2009 at 5:36 pm Comments (0)

Plaza de Pilar: The Monuments of Fallas 2009

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2nd Place

2008 Ranking: 5th Place
“Una noche en la ópera”

Plaza del Pilar may have finished in 2nd place, but this tremendous monument was undoubtedly the people’s champion. Over and over, we heard people say things like “I can’t believe Pilar didn’t win”, “Obvious that Pilar deserved it”, “A disgrace”.


And we agree wholeheartedly. In our minds, there is no doubt that Pilar put together by far the most magnificent monument of 2009 — outclassing the champion in scope, style, ambition, humor, originality and theme. If you managed to squeeze into the tiny and always densely-packed area of the Plaza del Pilar, you were guaranteed to be astounded.


“A night at the opera” was executed to perfection by artist José Lafarga, who was marking his debut in the Sección Especial. A huge Phantom of the Opera was the most prominent piece, but there was so much more… frisky antics in orchestra seats, a podium and cello with amazingly lifelike wood-work detail, flamenco dancers, funny horses, and a mock wedding with the leaders of the world celebrating (who else?) Obama. There was almost too much to see.


It’s a shame that Plaza del Pilar didn’t win because, to this foreigner’s eyes, it captured to perfection everything Fallas monuments should aspire to. Maybe next year.


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April 29, 2009 at 3:37 pm Comments (0)

Museo Taurino – Bullfighting Museum

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Tucked into the passageway of Dr. Serra on the eastern side of the Plaza de Toros, you might happen across the little Museo Taurino (location). Even if you just have 15 minutes to spare, it’s worth ducking inside.


15 minutes because the museum is tiny, worth it because it’s free.

We went earlier this week with my dad, who had been disappointed that there were no bullfights in the city during his two-week stint. So instead, we contented him with the museum.

The permanent museum exhibition is little more than a single hall, with portraits, costumes and information about the history of bullfighting in Valencia. From the 1800’s to the present day, you can learn about the acts of a bullfight, the costumes of the toreros and the personal histories of many famous toreros. I had no idea so many died by goring.

All of the information is presented in English, as well as Valencian and Castellano. It makes an adequate, free consolation prize for any vacationers who’d been hoping to see a bullfight in person. If you go, make sure to do so on a day without rain, and you’ll be able to walk around the Plaza de Toros as well. We were denied this pleasure by weekend rain.

Museo Taurino: Surprisingly Impressive Website
Location on our Valencia Map

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April 28, 2009 at 2:25 pm Comments (4)

Prince Felipe Science Museum – Our Visit

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science museum valencia-1

One of the largest buildings in Valencia’s insane City of Arts & Sciences is the Prince Felipe Science Museum (location). Like many science museums, this is designed for kids, offering a lot of hands-on activities.

Too bad it sucks.


Our visit to the science museum was one of the more disappointing experiences we’ve had since moving here. Generally, both Juergen and I are big fans of such museums, but the Prince Felipe just utterly failed to impress us.


The main problem was that roughly half of the “hands-on” exhibits didn’t work. Simply broken. Have they absolutely no maintenance budget? It was pathetic. Machines were turned off, “under repair” stickers everywhere. One crazy device, which I think was just trying to weigh me, crashed as soon as I stepped up to it, Windows 95 operating system flickering into blackness.


The exhibits were old-school, stuff you’ve seen a million times before, presented in a cold and uninteresting manner. Juergen looked at how marijuana affects your brain: Flashing lights, spooky images, psychedelic music and misinformation which could have come straight out of brochures from 1983. I stepped onto a “futuristic” board which could roughly sense the direction in which I was leaning. Hey science museum: buy yourself a Wii Fit; seriously, it’s light years more advanced. My bathroom contains devices more interesting than anything this museum had to offer.


The highlight of the museum is Calatrava’s architecture, even more stunning when seen from the inside than the outside.


We also got to see a temporary Marvel Superheroes exhibit, which tried its damnedest to connect the world of comics to science, but was as uninspired & busted as the rest of the museum. “Can you beat Iceman? TOUCH THE ICE!!” Oh wow, it’s cold. That was really it — just touching the ice.

So, unless your kids are really young or particularly easy to impress, we would recommend staying away from this museum. There are plenty of other things for kids to do in the city — such as Gulliver’s park, which is free.

My mother and I morph into one horrifying creature

Prince Felipe Science Museum: Official Site
Location on our Valencia Map

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April 27, 2009 at 8:36 am Comments (5)

Alcoy – Christians & Moors Festival 2009

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What must be the Valencian Community’s most impressive Christians & Moors Festival takes place in the beautiful mountain city of Alcoy on the 22nd, 23rd and 24th of April.


Scratch that — this must be the best such festival in all of Spain. We went on the 22nd, and find it hard to imagine that anything else could even come close. This was one of the most impressive celebrations I’ve ever seen. (If you want to go, make sure to book your hotel or hostel in Alcoy early!!!).


With beautiful, ornate costumes that manage to look both hundreds of years old and sparkling new, thousands of marchers transform the streets of Alcoy’s magnificent old city into a gigantic party. The festival’s first day sees the entrances: first of the Christains at 11:00, and then of the Moors at 17:00. Each parade lasts hours and hours, and is chock full of incredible music, dancing, floats and costumes.


The streets were jam packed, and it was difficult to find a place to stand. So, purchasing a seat for the parade is well-worth the money. You can do get tickets from Alcoy’s tourist office.


On the 23rd, Alcoy celebrates the Fiesta de San Jorge. All day long, the streets are packed with revelers. And on the 24th, the city sees recreations of the infamous battles between its historical masters. This, from the pictures I’ve seen, consists of people marching down the streets with shotguns, making a lot of noise.


All three days are worth seeing, but the Moorish Captain we had a chat with after lunch confirmed that the entrances on the 22nd are the most interesting for tourists. For locals, the battles of the final day are the most anticipated. Probably because they party all night.


If you go and spend the night, it’s worth trying to get into a Fila hall. We didn’t do this, so I don’t have first-hand advice, but the Filas are the different groups in charge of the festival, similar to Valencia’s Fallas commissions. There are Moorish Filas, which try and recreate a feeling of Arabian marketplaces, and Christian Filas, too. These are private grounds, so you have to be invited to participate, but this is usually possible without too much effort.


While you’re watching the parades, we can highly recommend the typical drink: la Mentira. Details here!

Even without the festival, Alcoy is definitely worth a day trip from Valencia. The old city is gorgeous, accessible from a more modern area of town across a long bridge. The streets are hilly, and there are plenty of monuments and natural beauty to gawk at.

Book your rental car here. BCO best prices for rental cars in Valencia.

Many more images:


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April 24, 2009 at 3:30 pm Comments (8)

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