We took a train south-east to Valencia; it was a terrific train, with video screens and a club car. The countryside we travelled through was hard but interesting.
Here I wore the Domingo sweatshirt sent to me by a really nice person at Deutsche Grammophon, before we left Oz, wanting to see if the Spanish would react to the name of one of their greatest. But the Spanish, like the Venetians, are far too blasé to react to anything to do with tourists, and were unimpressed by my poncing around showing my back to everyone. ;-)
Valencia was a knockout ! -- the railway station alone worth going there to see, with beautiful coloured relief-work throughout the waiting-room area. And the *great* view from our hotel window indicated what we could expect from this city: we were not once disappointed.
We did regret the lack of water in the 'moat'. Valencia is on the sea, but it's a fair way away; so maybe filling the moat is verboten because it would create a very large body of stagnant water ...?
It was here in Valencia that a love-affair with ruined castles began; the Torres de Serranos and *especially* the Torres de Quart started it all. Serranos don't look at all ruined, but that's only because the rest -- all the crumbly bits ! -- is gone; whereas the ever-so-mediæval Torres de Quart are full of huge pock-marks from other countries' cannon, and are more impressive than the picture can possibly show. There history came alive for us, just through these magnificent towers.
Over-all impressions of Valencia included the absolute beauty, the small-town feeling even though it's a fairly big centre, the variety of buildings to wander around and gawp at, the continuance of our own inability to find the right places to eat in (the only nice one, where CS was being stared at a lot, turned out to be a gay bar !), and a wish to return, one day ...
And at that time, we had no idea of the status of Spanish football, its Primera Liga OR Valencia's standing therein, so this was yet another city in which we made not the slightest attempt to see a game ... Tsk ! [Ed.: Valencia won the championship, '01/'02 !]
Valencia's old centre is absolutely full of truly beautiful buildings, with most still in excellent nick; the Plaza Virgen, f'rinstance, is an excellent example of how to keep your fine, historic city looking good.