Recent Off Topic

  • by mpowell

    If you’re like most people, you’re ready for 2009 to finally come to an end. The financial crisis hit the most of the world pretty hard, and unless you were a banker taking showers with government funded gold pieces, things were tough.

    new-year-grapes-spain

    Our lives were tumultuous, too. We moved twice, thanks mostly to the fire at the Teatro Princesa, and are looking forward to a quieter, more stable 2010.

    How was 2009 for you, and what are you most looking forward to in the new year? Personally, I’m excited for the sure-fire World Cup Final between the USA and Spain!

    Here are our top 10 favorite posts from 2009. Hope you enjoy the look back:

    1) Alcoy – Christians & Moors Festival 2009 – April 24th
    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…

    2) Valencia’s Regional Expo of 1909 – August 4th
    In 1909, Valencia inaugurated its Regional Expo. “Regional” doesn’t sound like that big of a deal — larger cities like Paris and San Francisco were celebrating World Expos — but it had a huge and lasting impact on the city…

    3) Paso de las Rocas – Corpus Christi in Valencia – June 21st
    The Rocas are huge wooden floats, some of them dating from the 16th century, which depict Biblical and other religious events important to Valencia and are only brought out during Corpus Christi…

    4) Day Trip to Peñíscola – December 1st
    A generation of movie goers can be forgiven for thinking that Valencia occupies a peninsular hill, protected by massive walls and a looming castle. The 1961 epic El Cid starred Charlton Heston as the titular hero, Sophia Loren as Jimena, and Peñíscola as the city of Valencia…

    5) Authentic USA Rodeo in the Plaza de Toros – September 27th
    Last night, we caught the American Rodeo in the Plaza de Toros on the first of its two nights in the city. Quite a spectacle — the show is two hours long and packed full of entertainment. In all, 7 rodeo disciplines are practiced…

    6) What is Fallas? – July 14th
    It boggles our minds how little Fallas is known outside Spain, and how little media coverage this festival (one of the world’s largest) receives…

    7) Grand Mascletà Napolitana – Fallas 2009 – March 8th
    At 6pm, a “neapolitan-style” mascletà was scheduled at the Playa de las Arenas. Thousands of Valencians showed up at the beach during probably the most beautiful, warm day of the year so far, and I doubt that many left disappointed…

    8) Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias / City of Arts and Sciences – November 8th
    The City of Arts and Sciences is almost certainly the most photographed area in Valencia…

    9) Pilota in the Trinquete de Pelayo – February 24th
    Pilota is one of the most important sports in the Valencian Community. A fast-paced team game which combines elements of tennis, racquetball, and handball, Pilota has been played in the region for centuries…

    10) El Puig’s Medieval Festival for Jaume I – December 14th
    This weekend, El Puig, a small town about 25 minutes north of Valencia by train, celebrated its liberator King James I. In 1238, he took El Puig and used the its strategically important location for an assault on Valencia, and his presence was honored with a medieval festival…

  • by mpowell

    Tucked inside the massive Cathedral of Valencia, you can find the Diocesan Cathedral Museum — a set of exhibition rooms filled with art and artifacts not used for worship.

    miracle-of-Valencia
    holy-peace-valencia
    holy-bone-valencia
    key-holder-Valencia

    The most difficult part of visiting the museum is finding it. Following the cryptic instructions of the information lady, I felt almost transported into The DaVinci Code. “The golden sun … can be found… through a door in the chapel of St. Frances Borgia … look for it under the Goya, but not that of the demons … and hurry, my love: They’re after you“.

    Once you find the museum (and elude the murderous monk on your tail), the first thing you’ll see is a huge golden sun. This is the largest monstrance (vessel for the Eucharistic host) in the world. Impressive.

    holy-sun-Valencia
    bird-boy-Valencia

    The rest of the museum is small but filled with interesting works, including the original sculptures from the Door of the Apostles, and paintings by Juan de Juanes. A curious exhibit features small sculptures from a scene depicting the circumcision of Christ.

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    jesus-circumcision-valencia

    However the highlight of visiting the museum is not literally found inside of it — the huge paintings by Goya occupying the lateral walls of the Chapel of St. Francis Borgia. Particularly of interest is the painting on the right-hand wall, showing St. Francis attempting to convert an unrepentant man on his death bed. This is the first appearance of demons in Goya’s work.

    goya-demon-valencia

    The museum can be visited in conjunction with the rest of the Cathedral — the entrance costs €4 and includes an audio guide (available in English). It’d be easy to visit the Cathedral and never know the museum exists, since it’s so hidden.

    Diocesan Cathedral Museum – More Info from the Cathedral’s Official Website


  • by mpowell

    radio-Valencia

    blog-interview-spain

    If you’re in Valencia on Sunday afternoon, make sure to turn your radios to Cadena Ser (1.179 OM/ 100.4 FM). Juergen and I were invited to their studio this week, for an interview as part of a recurring feature about Valencian blogs.

    But take some aspirin before listening to us! The interview was in Spanish, and despite having lived here for the better part of a year, our mastery of the language could be described as tortured, at best. Tortuado. Ha! I’m learning.

    Thanks to Ana and Juan Enrique Tur, who also writes a Valencian blog called Testigo Accidental, for setting up and conducting the interview… and for being so patient with our ridiculously poor Spanish!

  • by mpowell

    We’ve had a pretty light blogging schedule for the past week, and that’s likely to continue, as we are visiting my family in Kentucky, USA.

    Today is Election Day in the states, and we’re not shy about voicing massive support for Senator Obama. We went into the city of Lexington today, and found an Obama headquarters where we met some cool people and picked up some gear. The polling places that we drove by all looked peaceful and calm, although the lines were sometimes pretty long. Kentucky is probably going to go to McCain, but the people we encountered were either quiet, or enthusiastically for Obama.


    HolaValencia.net Endorses Barack Obama

    We might be looking at a landslide, here, but I won’t stop biting my fingernails until results start to come in — starting in just 3 hours!

    Apologies for using this space to talk about something which has nothing to do with Valencia, but the truth is that this election has global implications. And we’re just too damn excited. Obama’s candidacy is historic. Not only is he by far the better choice for the presidency, but his victory would be such a gigantic step forward for the USA, it’s hard to understate.

    Oh man, I’m so nervous. If the unthinkable should happen, and McCain somehow pulls it out … I don’t know what I’ll do.

    And we promise to get back to a more steady blogging schedule soon, once we return to Valencia.

    Interesting side note: there’s been a noticeable uptick in visits to our post about the Valencian Barraca. Apologies to those looking for the good senator!





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