August 3, 2012

August 6, 2012

We arrive at the bus station by midnight and have a one hour wait. The cafeteria is open. We cool off with a couple of ice cold Sprites. The bus is cool and comfortable. We both nod off from time to time on the four hour trip.

There is a stop half way through the journey at a large highway cafe used by the bus lines for pit stops. In honor of a habit that Claire taught me years ago we take a nice little walk, circling the building to stretch our legs. Jarod asks me the same question I asked Claire the first time I walked with her. Might the bus leave without us?

We walk from the Mardid bus station about a kilometer to Atocha, the main train station. From there we take an airport bus to Barajas. The cost is 5 euros per person. A similar price and much easier than the metro, which requires two connections.

 

We have breakfast at Barajas. Jarod’s last Spanish meal.

We check in at the American Airlines information desk beside the check-in counters. I complete the escort form and we check one of Jarod’s bags. We are instructed to return to the information desk at noon to meet Jarod’s escort. I am given a special ticket so that I can go with Jarod and his escort to the gate.

An interesting sculpture.

 

Jarod uses a baggage cart to practice his drift technique.

 

We wander around, watch planes take off and explore all of Terminal 4 this side of the security barriers.

 

With the escort we are able to bypass the lines at security, customs and boarding. Jarod is on his plane 15 minutes after we walk away from the check-in area.

I watch the plane until it leaves the gate. Then I slowly make my way out of the airport and catch the return bus to town.

I have lunch at a sidewalk cafe near Atocha and then walk to the bus station. I try to board a 4 PM bus with my 5 PM ticket but it is full.

The traffic is heavy on the highway back to Valencia, at times almost coming to a halt. The Madrileños want to spend their weekend at the beach. Our driver is expert at diverting on to access roads and then rejoining the highway after passing dozens of cars.

By the time I get to the flat I’m almost certain that Jarod has beat me home.

August 2, 2012

August 6, 2012

We finish packing and then go to Los Tonelles for Paella Valenciana, a rice dish with green beans, chicken and rabbit. Valencia is famous for this dish.

 

Jarod wants one last trip on the metro.

 

He studies the metro map and picks the F.E.R.I.A., a huge exposition center, as our destination.

During our long hot walk around this closed facility Jarod discovers evidence that life is not supported in this zone.

 

After I cool off at a bar with 1.5 liters of ice cold water, Jarod had a sip, we find that we must pass through a tunnel to complete our circuit. At last I am feeling the spirit of this adventure.

 

Jarod warms up for the metro ride home.

 

Cooling off with a fresa granizada at the heladeria just down the street from our flat.

 

After a shower we walk to the city center. Jarod is searching for any restaurant that looks good and that we haven’t eaten at before. He finally settles on Restaurante Risotto on Calle Ribera, a pedestrian street just a few blocks from our flat. Great location for a last night in Valencia! Great pizza!

 

Goodbye to the balconies.

 

 

Goodbye to the flat.

 

Around 11:30 we walk down to Gran Via Germanias to flag down a cab. The bus station is a 30 minute walk from the flat. Fine in cooler weather but impossible in this muggy heat.

 

July 28 – August 1, 2012

August 6, 2012

July 28

Jarod is up by 10 AM. He has a quick breakfast of cereal, Rellenos de Chocolate, his favorite. He writes postcards to his family. I plan to get them to the post office today so they might beat him home. We go to the city center for one last family gift to take home to Brownwood.

Jaime and Carmen pick him up at 2:30.

July 29 – August 1

Jarod is with his good friends in L’Eliana. He has a great time and he’s got the bruises to prove it.

On Wednesday, he is home by 6 PM. We get pizzas from Da Vince, a delivery and take out store just around the corner on Gran Via Germanias. We watch a movie.

July 27, 2012

August 6, 2012

I go to my usual bar for an early breakfast and then take a walk up the hill between the town center and Santa Bárbara castle. The streets are narrow and lined with plants and flowers in front of the old homes.

 

Jarod and I pack and check out by 11.

What’s up, Catfish?

 

We return to the bar for Jarod’s’ first breakfast, my second. I order bocadillos to eat on the train.

 

A last look around the esplanade.

 

We retrace the route that Jarod took each afternoon to El Corte Inglés during my siestas.

One last game session while we cool off.

Jarod hopes that an El Corte Inglés will soon be opening in Brownwood.

The satisfied traveler.

We are home by 4:30. After a shower and some shopping, Jarod Skypes his Mom and a friend while I take it easy.

July 26, 2012

August 6, 2012

After an early breakfast I return to collect Jarod. At the traditional bar where I bought our bocadillos the other day he has toast with tomatoes, a croissant and orange juice. I have another cortado and toast with tomatoes, my second breakfast but probably not too fattening.

We tour Mercado Central. The meat, cheese and wine are on the ground floor and the fish, fruit and vegetables are in the basement.

We tour the Castillo de San Fernando, a second Alicante castle that Jarod found on the map.

After cooling off with a limon granizada at a hilltop cafe we start down the hill to investigate the ruins of the Roman Hippodrome. It’s nothing more than the barest outlines of the foundations of the track among a lovely park for walking and jogging, no bicycles allowed.

The Plaza de Torros looks impressive on the map. When we finally see it we realize why it was so difficult to find.

Cooling off in a nearby fountain.

This same plaza, near the bullring also has a beautiful sculpture.

Lunch at Plaza Nueva.

Just before the bar closes for the afternoon siesta they take our money and ask us to just leave our plates on the table. Spaniards are serious about their time off. I wish the rest of the world would follow that example.

Eating well in Spain.

After my siesta we watch from the Watch Your Step Bar a storm coming in from Tabarca.

We watch the 8 PM ferry arrive from Tabarca. We count 6 or 8 wobbly passengers debarking.

Shopping on the esplanade.

The police make a casual sweep for unlicensed vendors. These vendors place a blanket and a bag full of junk at the beginning of the esplanade. When the police confiscate this blanket the other vendors run for cover. The police stroll along the esplanade and when they leave the vendors return. No yelling, no violence, no drama.

While I nurse my second glass of wine Jarod returns to the nearby fair and plays air hockey with a kid from London. We have pizza near the water, return to Yo Yogurt and are in bed by 10:30.

Ouch! Slow down, Jarod.

July 25, 2012

August 6, 2012

I am up early again for my cortada and toast with tomato. I find a nice traditional bar and also order bocadillos for our lunch on Tabarca. We leave on the 10 AM boat. It’s a one hour trip to the island.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tabarca

Arriving at Tabarca!

 

#1 beach is large and pleasant with clear water and hundreds of umbrellas with recliners for rent. It’s a snorkeler’s paridise. A dozen or so luxury yachts are moored off the beach later in the day.

 

#2 beach is farther down the island and so less populated. There is a cliff that is good to sit against and the beach is covered with soft dried leaves from sea grass. In the water there is a forest of sea grass surrounding clearings of white sand. Perfect for viewing fish. Jarod has goggles and assures me that we are surrounded by fish.

We wade out to the small island and explore the water of the passage.

 

Jarod, farthest away from me in the water, is adjusting his goggles, preparing for another dive.

 

Lunch.

 

#3 beach is at the outer end of the island. The waves are stronger and the rocky beach has a steep decline into the water. An interesting beach but deserted as it is not a good place for snorkeling or leisurely swimming and wading.

 

#4 beach is tiny and deserted except for a couple who are leaving as we come in. There is an interesting tide pool but on second thought I decide that we should not swim in it. The waves are pulling and pushing through the rocks and I worry about unknown currents in the deep pool.

 

On the way to the fifth beach we visit the closed fort situated on high ground in the middle of the island.

 

#5 beach is between #1 and #2. Since we are now determined to visit all the beaches we decide to negotiate the steep approach.

The shore is covered with the soft sea grass leaves we have seen before. In the water there is a sea grass forest surrounding clearings of white sand. I can see some fish swimming around me. Jarod assures me that there are many more.

 

Return to Alicante port.

 

Jarod explains the underwater life at Tabarca while we wait for our pizza.

 

Yo Yogurt.

 

One of the many lovely Alicante plazas.

 

We visit a fair at the beach. Jarod rides a flight simulator, shoots baskets and exhausts himself inside a plastic ball on a pool of water.

 

We are in bed by 10:15. It’s been a long, fun day. I have a moderate sunburn and Jarod has a mild one.

July 24, 2012

August 6, 2012

Jarod is more efficient than I. He attaches his siesta to his overnight sleep. I take mine in the middle of the day. I’m up and out for un cortada y tostada con tomate at a cafe on the esplanade, just a few steps from the hotel.

After Jarod gets up we check on the ferry schedule to Tabarca and make plans to go tomorrow. Today we are going to explore the Castle of Santa Bárbara, which is reached, thank goodness, by an elevator.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Castle_of_Santa_B%C3%A1rbara

A view of the port.

 

The Island of Tabarca is visible to us off the headland, just this side of the horizon.

Stranger than fiction. Jarod finds his twin in this photograph, one of many in an exhibition of local history from the early 20th century.

He is wearing a hat, sitting behind his mother, looking at her from over her right shoulder.

 

After pizza and my siesta I go looking for Jarod and find him playing video games at El Corte Inglés. We go to Plaza Nueva for wine and a coke. It’s a relaxing place for an aperitif or a meal.

 

After a visit to Yo Yogurt we shop on the esplanade. There are many stalls and also vendors who sell from blankets or sit in a chair, offering to draw your portrait or plait your hair.

Jarod buys two bracelets from a friendly Ecuadorian woman who makes them while we wait.

July 23, 2012

August 6, 2012

We catch the 10:05 train to Alicante. We will be staying at the Hotel Maritimo for four nights and then will catch the afternoon train back to Valencia.

Almuerzo in the cafe car.

We are surprised by our room, which is nicer than expected. Hotel Maritimo is the nicest one star hotel I have ever stayed in. Elevator, air conditioning, 24 hour desk and just a few steps from the esplanade that runs along the port and the beach.

 

Playa del Postiguet.

http://www.alicante-spotlight.com/beaches.htm#postiguet

 

We have lunch at a charming bar on the water, next to the Tabarca ferry dock. I call it the Watch Your Step Bar because the front row of tables is on the edge of the deck overlooking the water.

 

I take a siesta while Jarod checks out the video games at El Corte Inglés.

Later we have a swim and take a walk down Playa del Postiguet. After a shower we walk to the end of the Postiguet esplanade, finally returning to a bar on the beach for wine and ice cream. Then we have a meal near the port and explore the town center. Jarod discovers Yo Yogurt on the esplanade just a few blocks from our hotel. It’s a do-it-yourself frozen yogurt shop, and is quite good.

July 22, 2012

August 6, 2012

Jarod sleeps until 1:00. Ryan’s 2nd birthday party is at 4:00.

Ryan blows out the big 2!

 

Chris, Ellie, Ryan and Marie.

 

Jarod trying for a 3 pointer into my wine glass.

 

We get home by 8:00 and pack for our trip in the morning to Alicante.

July 19 – 21, 2012

July 22, 2012

July 19

We rest and pack and catch the 2:30 train to Jerica. We’re off to see Mike and Marta and Ajfan and Fermin, and to spend a couple of nights in the cool mountains. Jarod wants to see Rainbow and Candela as well.

Rainbow, Candela and Jarod at Mike and Marta’s.

 

We spend the first night in Ajfan’s cabin.

July 20

Jarod is up early and roams the hills and forest until Rainbow gets up. The three kids play all day. Rainbow and Candela have a swimming pool!

Jarod and I take and evening walk to Jerica for ice cream and coffee.

A long cool tunnel with interesting mineral deposits. My favorite part of our walk.

 

We return to the cabin and visit for a while with Ajfan and Fermin. Then Jarod is off to swim. Jarod and I have supper with Mike and Marta and spend the night in Bunker #3. It’s quite nice. So nice that Jarod sleeps late.

Under the mosquito net. Good night.

 

July 21

Hey, Jarod! Wake up!

 

After breakfast we spend some time with Mike and Marta. Then down the hill for a short visit with Ajfan and Fermin.

Cooling our feet before the walk to Jerica for the 12:57 train to Valencia.

 

We unpack and clean up at the flat. I get a good bit of rest while Jarod Skypes him Mom and his best friend.

At 10:30 we catch the last #3 bus to the beach. Jarod is looking for a group of friends that he met there two Saturdays ago.

Jarod’s beach friends. They play until 2:30 while their parents linger over supper at tables set nearby in the sand.

 

We bike home and are in bed by 3:00.