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Los Baños del Almirante

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Right off Calle Palau, within 2 minutes of the Cathedral, lay the Baths of the Admiral — a bathhouse originally constructed in 1313.

Unlike the baths we visited while in Granada, these are of Christian origin, though with their arched doorways and star-shaped skylights, clearly owe a lot to Moorish aesthetic.

We’d been meaning to visit for more than a year, and finally did a couple weeks ago. Our visit began with a short video demonstrating how a 14th century lady might have bathed herself. Afterwards, we took a short guided tour of the building. The baños consist of three rooms — cold, warm and hot. Unlike the Arab baths, guests would only sponge themselves and sit in steam, and not fully emerge in water.

The architecture and history are neat, but this isn’t exactly Valencia’s most interesting cultural offering. The Baños have been fully restored, but have lost any sense of their antiquity. The introductory video was a little cheesy, bordering on distasteful, and our guide was unenthusiastic, bordering on comatose. But again it was all for free, so it’s difficult not to recommend a visit.

The doors open every half hour for the visit. Just wait outside until invited in.
Tue-Sat: 9:30 – 14:00 and 17:30 – 20:00
Sun & Holidays: 9:30 – 14:00
Location on our Valencia Map

Bragains from Spain

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June 29, 2010 at 9:38 am Comments (2)

Reactions from Valencia’s 3rd F1 Race

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In a day that also so Germany crush England in the World Cup, 4-1, German Sebastian Vettel raced past the competition in the European Grand Prix, including second-place Lewis Hamilton of England.

Photo Credit: Julio G Milat

The first two races at the Valencia Street Circuit were roundly derided as boring by racing fans, but did that change for the better this year? Here’s a quick round-up of reactions from around the web:

The BBC’s Andrew Benson was impressed:

For the first time in its short history, the Valencia track produced a thrilling grand prix but the irony is that in doing so a potentially even better one – in terms of the battle for the lead – was lost.

But the Bleacher Report disagrees:

[Many] will argue that the Webber crash alone made this race at least a little exciting. However, whilst I agree the incident was indeed tense (and thank God both Webber and Kovalainen walked away safely), the resulting safety car actually made the race even more boring than it otherwise would have been.

The consensus seems to be however, that this year’s race was a lot better than previous editions. But was Red Bull the winner or the loser?

The race at Valencia was a very exciting one with the Red Bulls getting back in business. Vettel proved himself once again as he converted his pole to a victory in Valencia. But his partner Webber had a disappointing race as he crashed into Kovalainen and his crew flew into the side wall.

At least one team wasn’t happy at all… take it away, Ferrari:

“A scandal, that’s the opinion of so many fans and employees who are all in agreement: there is no other way to describe what happened during the European Grand Prix. The way the race and the incidents during it were managed raise doubts that could see Formula One lose some credibility again, as it was seen around the world.”

Here’s Webber’s crash, if you missed it. Thank God nobody was hurt.

A visit to Philadelphia

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June 28, 2010 at 2:25 pm Comments (6)

Concerts of the Feria de Julio

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It’s always exciting to see who’s going to be performing during the summer concert series in the Viveros Gardens, part of the Feria de Julio. So, let’s see what we’ve got here:

July Concerts in the Viveros Gardens
8th Muchachito Bombo Inferno 18th Deep Purple
10th Revolver 19th The Wailers
13th David Bisbal 20th Serrat
15th Pereza 21st Paco de Lucía
16th Calle 13 + La Mala Rodríguez 24th The Cult
17th Estrella Morente

The Cult? Deep Purple? COME ON! The Spanish-speaking world is a little more modernly-represented with Pereza, Muchachito Bombo Inferno and Valencianos Revolver.

The highlight (for me at least) is Puerto Rican reggaeton group Calle 13 — one of the coolest bands anywhere in the Americas:

What do you think? Anything you’re especially excited about?

More Feria de Julio events: Batalla de FloresBeach FireworksPublic Ballroom Dancing

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June 25, 2010 at 2:58 pm Comments (0)

The Portland Ale House – Great American Microbrew Pub

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We’ve been watching a bunch of the World Cup games at one of our favorite bars in Valencia — the Portland Ale House. Found on Calle Salamanca near Plaza Canovas, the Portland’s blinking neon arrow provides an unfailing beacon for the thirsty.

Portland Ale House

The Portland is extremely popular among young American and British expats, but also among natives, and there’s a nicely mixed crowd on most nights. Especially popular are the Sunday night pub quizzes, which get underway at 20:00.

As far as I’m concerned, there are two overwhelming reasons to show up. First is the sports — American football is shown here (during the season), making it perhaps the only spot in downtown Valencia to get your pigskin fix. Secondly, the Portland has a number of great microbrews.

And it’s a place to meet people, especially if you’re an expat who’s missing the homeland a bit. The owner, Mike, is actually from Portland (Oregon) and always happy to chat. Check it out… regardless of where you come from, this is an awesome pub in one of the city’s best corners.

Portland Ale House (on Facebook)
Calle Salamanca 10
Location on our Valencia Map
963 810 406

Book your Rental Cars here

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June 24, 2010 at 1:46 pm Comments (2)

Valenbisi: The City’s New Bike Rental Service

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There’s been talk of a city-wide bike rental scheme for a long time, and it’s finally here. Introducing Valenbisi.

We lived in Berlin, where the Deutsche Bahn (the railway company) operated a very popular bike rental service. You’d just type the bike’s serial number into your cell phone, hop on, then park it when done. Very practical, and we’ve been aching for Valencia for implement such a system.

So Valenbisi, run by the city government, is very welcome. Bikes are the best way to get around Valencia, bar none, and we think that the service is going to be extremely popular. The bikes look sturdy and strong. The prices are reasonable — €10 for a 7-day subscription — the first 30 minutes are always free, then it’s €0,50 for the next 30 mins and €3,00 for every additional hour.

There’s at least one major problem: the dispersal of the “rental stations”. They’re all in the same area of town! I’d like to say that this was just a roll-out problem, but … check out this map. The red arrows are the current rental stations, and the white ones are the “future” ones:

Not a single station anywhere in the historic center? Ruzafa? The train station? There must be a reason, but tourist friendly, it’s not. Great for students of the U of Valencia, and perhaps that’s the true target market. (Though if you’re targeting hip college students, this might not be the best image to put on your website).

Update: The consensus in the comments is that the bikes will be better distributed throughout the city in the future, and there’s a link for future locations can be found there. Valenbisi should put this information on its website.

Anyway — the addition of 2750 bikes to Valencia’s streets is extremely welcome. We need more bikers on the streets, which will lead to better bike paths and more respect from drivers.

We’d love some comments from anyone who’s used the service, in regards to the quality of the bikes and the ease of rental.

Valenbisi’s Web Site (with really bad English! Seriously, guys, hire a translator! There are a few native English speakers in the city)

Holiday Rentals / Hostels / Hotels

Cheap Car Hire

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June 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm Comments (7)

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