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Pilota in the Trinquete de Pelayo

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pilota-en-valencia

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. And despite some close cousins (such as Basque pelota), it’s a sport unique to the Valencian Community.

pilota-player

Valencian pilota is played in a long, narrow hall. Athletes hit a hard, round ball with their bare hand (some use minimal protection) over a net to the opposing side. The walls and spectators are in play, and the only rule is that the ball can’t bounce twice on the ground.

That’s right — I said the spectators are in play. One of the unique twists of Valencian pilota is that the crowd sits on benches which are part of the playing field, and right on top of the action.

pilota-platers
watching-pilota

After the despertà on the 22nd, a set of championship games are played in the Pelayo Trinquet — the traditional epicenter of Valencian pilota. The entrance is completely nondescript, and we had walked by hundred times without ever knowing it existed.

We only had enough time to watch the kids play on Sunday, but it was really a fun sporting event to attend. We’ll definitely be going back some day soon to see the adults take the court.

Trinquete de Pelayo
C/ de Pelayo 6
Location on our Valencia Map

This tournament was a part of the day’s official Fallas events, which meant that the Fallera Mayor and her court graced the trinquete with their presence. We managed to get some great pictures of the guapas:

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falleritas
mayor-pilota

fallerito

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Fallera Mayor Infantil 2009
Fallera-Mayor-Fallas-09
Fallera Mayor 2009
Falleras-Fallas-2009
fallera-fallas-09
fallera-infantil-Snakc

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February 24, 2009 at 7:25 pm Comments (2)

Sunday Soccer in the Turia

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Soccer-Valencia

Sunday afternoons, the dusty soccer fields near the Torres de Serrano come alive with fast-paced matches between Valencia’s club teams.

There’s a festival atmosphere to the whole thing. Often, up to 4 matches are being played simultaneously, and friends and family dot the sidelines with coolers of beer and food, usually paying more attention to their conversations than to their hardworking husbands or sons out on the field.

torres-soccer

The skill on display is not bad, and I’ve found myself genuinely impressed a number of times. Certainly, these guys play at a higher level than the high school soccer team of my past (no offense, Coach Gaines!)

So if you’re a sports fan, and have been dragged away from the TV by your wife or partner for a Sunday stroll… suggest a walk through the Turia. This time, you win!

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January 27, 2009 at 12:05 pm Comments (3)

The Mestalla – Go While You Can!

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Mestalla-Valencia

Valencia-FC-Fan-Articles

valencia-ticket-booth
We went to the VCF-Mallorca match yesterday. It was a horrible game — uninspired soccer from the home team, ending in an embarrassing 0-3 defeat. So, let’s concentrate on something more interesting: The Mestalla.

mestalla-gate-valencia

mestalla-curve-valencia

mestalla-open-seat

This is one of the best stadiums I’ve ever been to. We’ve been sitting in the cheap seats — La Grada de la Mar — which is a decision I can whole-heartedly recommend. Only €15 for a good bird’s-eye view of the action, plus an incredible panorama of the city over the stadium’s western wall. If you suffer from vertigo, though, I recommend choosing seats further down. The terrace is incredibly steep.

puking-valencia-fan

The Mestalla was inaugurated in 1923, and has played an important historical role in the city ever since. During the civil war, it was used as a concentration camp and storage area, and in 1957 was almost destroyed by the massive flooding that devastated Valencia. But like the city itself, it came back better than ever. Over the years it has added more and more seating (the terraces of La Grada de la Mar are clearly a new addition), and can today seat more than 55,000 spectators.

But if you want to experience a Valencia CF match in the Mestalla, don’t delay, because it’s being replaced. The Nou Mestalla is scheduled to open in 2009, close to the Palau de Congressos (location of future site). Not quite as central as the old Mestalla, but still within walking distance of the city center.

Until recently, I had been privately critical of the new Mestalla. Ridiculously, I (an American, who’d been to 2 matches) had developed a sense of allegiance to the old stadium. Well, my ridiculous loyalty didn’t prove to be very strong — after watching the 2-minute introductory video for the new stadium, I abandoned it entirely. And now, I can’t wait for the future to arrive.

Website of the New Mestalla
Valencia CF’s Home Page

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March 31, 2008 at 3:45 pm Comments (5)

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