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Cunard Queen Elizabeth 2016
World Cruise Sector - Dubai to Southampton
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Friday 6 May Valencia - Spain

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona. It is a major industrial centre, a leading port, and has a pretty Old City. We caught the first shuttle bus to near the Serranos Tower, on the bank of the dry bed of the River Turia - there was a $6 charge for the shuttle bus but we were only in port from 0930 to 1530 so we decided time was more important. Getting our bearings, we headed towards the Cathedral. The first church, the Ignlesia del Templo, was closed, but the Basilica de los Desamparados next to the cathedral was open but undergoing extensive renovation on the outside with scafolding preventing any new pictures.

The cathedral was also open with a charge of 3.5 euro for seniors. The building commenced in 1262 on the site of a mosque. The main style is Gothic. Behind the altar is the mummified arm of the martyr St Vincent the Deacon, who died in Valencia in 304. There is giant golden monstrance which is taken through the streets at Corpus Christi on display. Other important treasures are in the Museum which has two paintings by Goya leads to the Chapel of the Holy Chalice, containing the agate cup which is said to be the true cup used to celebrate the Last Supper.

Afterwards we climbed the octagonal Micalet Tower, named after St Michael because it was consecrated on his feast day, 29 September 1418. The spiral staircase has 207 steps to reach the terrace which is 51metres above ground. The bellcote on top with one large bell (El Micalet 1539, weighing 11,000kg) and one small (De Quarts 1736 weighing 724 kg) is a later addition. The other 12 bells date from between 1429 and 1816, and weigh between 3,590 and 260 kg. We could see the Torres de Serranos and the Torres de Quart, the two remaining gateways through the city walls from the top of the Micalet tower as well as the Mercado Centra and the roof of the Cathedral was laid out below us.

Emerging into the Plaza de la Reina we were confronted by tourist stalls and throngs of people. We had seen the roof of the Market from the Micalet Tower so knew which direction to walk. On our way we found the Church of Santa Catalina which was a Gothic building which has been recently renovated and is notable for its magnificent stained glass windows and statues. It also has a bell tower one can climb but one was enough this visit.

It was only a short walk then to the Mercado Central which is the main meat, fruit and vegetable market of the city and is in an art-nouveau building with a central dome. The fish market is adjacent with a smaller dome. We wished we were staying in Valencia and could buy and cook some of the produce, as it was we bought some tins of Fois Gras. A stall outside sold cooking equipment including paella pans. The Iglesia de los Santos Juanes faces the rear exit from the market.

Opposite the main door of the market is La Lonja, originally used for trading silk and then the Commodity Exchange Building, and built between 1483 and 1498. The building is divided by a three-storey tower with a spiral staircase, unfortunately closed. On one side, on the ground floor, is the Transactions Hall which is divided into three naves. It has a high ceiling, with 8 columns, and vaulting. The inscription around the walls translates as “I am a famous house which took fifteen years to build. See how fine a thing commerce can be when its words are not deceitful, when it keeps its oaths and does not practice usary. The merchant who lives in such a way will have riches and enjoy eternal life.” The other side of the courtyard is a two storey building with a cellar below; the upper floor has a fine painted and gilded wooden roof dating from the 15th century which came from the former Town Hall. The ground floor Consulat del Mar also had a painted wooden ceiling and is linked to the Transacations Hall.

That covers the main sites which are visited by the tours, but also wanted to visit the main square. It was easy to find. The main building is the City Hall, an ornate palace with clocktower, domes, and a ceremonial balcony which was full of what looked like a student party! The Post ofiice is opposite, and worth a visit inside to admire the circular glass ceiling. We walked down as far as the main Railway Station, built between 1907 and 1917 in a version of art nouveau.

It was now lunch time so shops were closing, and it was time to head back to the Ship. Instead of going in search of the shuttle bus we investigated the local buses. We had noted that a No 4 had passed the Cruise Terminal and we traced its route from the maps on a bus stop in the square and located a stop a few tens of metres away witha bus waiting. The driver confirmed it went to the port so we paid our 1.50 euros and were dropped off right by the terminal where we now identified signs for the other way - the route to the expensive shuttle bus was kept away from them but we know for next time!

Seeing the major sights had taken under three hours of continuous walking, and there were lots more interesting things to do, including visiting the City of Arts and Sciences which was almost en route back to the port. Last time friends had taken the shuttle bus, then walked back to the ship through the gardens along the course of the River Turia to the City of Arts and Sciences with its exciting modern buildings. Although it was a long walk (4 miles), it was flat along the riverbank, and gave the chance to visit the Palau de la Musica, Museu Fallero, Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia, l'Hemispheric and l'Oceanografic. Tickets were expensive (27.55 euros in 2013 for the combination ticket for the last 3 places), but everywhere seems expensive for tourists in Spain. In the terminal we found at the information office that there is now a Valencia Tourist Card which is a a combined all day bus pass with free or discounted entry to most museums for 10 euros which we will investigate next time.

Days at Sea, Verandah Restaurant and Southampton disembarkation

The Marquis de Riscal Wine Dinner in the Verandah

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Content revised: 11th May, 2016