Unplug and Unwind – October 9-11, 2009

Friday, October 9, 2009

We beat the alarm clock by a good hour and we are up and dressed by 9:30.  We pay our hotel bill and head for the train station. We grab a quick breakfast in the Club Lounge and then we wander towards the area from which our train will leave.  We board at 11:20 and are in Valencia a little before 3:00.  We unpack and separate the dirty clothes into lights and darks and head for the Laundromat, which is closed.  We discover that today is a holiday – Moros y Cristianos.  Moros y Cristianos celebrates the reconquest of what was then Moorish Spain by the Christians.  Since Spain’s national hero – Rodrigo Díaz de Vivar, the Cid – was from Valencia, the celebration is all the more meaningful for me.

As we are returning to the house the parade begins and we stay and watch for an hour or so.  We see a bevy of interesting costumes, acrobats, jugglers, fire twirlers, floats and marching bands.  We are back in the house at 6:30 when Pepe calls and invites us to have a drink with him and Sara at 8:00.  We volunteer to meet him at his place.

It’s 7:55 and the parade is still going strong.  We attempt to cross the street, but it is not possible.  I speak with a police officer and ask how we can cross the street.  He replies that we have to wait until the parade is over…in an hour.  I call Pepe and say we can’t get to his place.  He says to wait where we are and that he will find a way to cross.  He and Sara show up across the street and we wave at each other.  He signals us to head down the street in search of a crossing point.  Nothing.  I then see someone open one of the barrier gates and scurry across to the other side.  Susan and I follow his lead.  The stranger, Susan and I are pressed up against the barrier gate and I ask a woman comfortably seated on a chair if she would move and let us pass.  She looks at me with an “over my dead body” look and tells me to find a different path.  A gentleman to my right takes pity on our plight and helps clear a path so that we can reach the sidewalk.  The four of us are finally reunited.

As we walk looking for a place to have a drink, Pepe looks at me and tells me that, in sneaking across the street, I looked like someone trying to illegally cross the border into the States.  We find a place to perch and we chat for a while.  Sara gets up to leave because she needs to change for a dinner engagement that she and Pepe have later that evening.  I ask Pepe to recommend a place for dinner and he takes to El Molinón, which is located in El Barrio de Carmen and he introduces us to Quique, who I believe is the owner, and Quique tells us he will seat us in ten minutes.  As we move towards our table, Pepe moves to the exit.

We dine on a variety of tapas that include pimientos de Padrón, croquetas, pulpo a la gallega, berberechos al vapor and queso cabrales.  We wash it down with a bottle of Condes de Alberei Albariño.  A little coffee and dessert and we are good to go.  We make our way back to the apartment and hang it up for the day.

Saturday – October 10, 2009

Today will be devoted to rest and recovery after we make a quick visit to the Central Market and pick up a few necessities.  We return to Aries, a restaurant where we had dined previously and treat ourselves to arroz con bogavante, a rice and lobster dish.  It is a dish I first discovered in Asturias and have frequently sampled in Madrid.  This version is a bit different in that the Asturian version is more garlic and olive oil based.  Today’s version has the rice cooked in a rich fish stock and the taste and aroma of shellfish permeates the dish.  I make quick work of it and, to my surprise, I am asked if I would like seconds.  I say yes and in two minutes I am looking at a half serving of arroz con bogavante.  We have dessert and coffee and then we are offered a chupito, which we graciously accept.

We head back to the apartment where we spend the rest of the day working on the computer and reading.  We take a break at 10:00 PM for supper, which includes jamón serrano, queso manchego, salchichón, a salad and a crispy loaf of bread.  We open a bottle of Torres’ Coronas and chow down.  We are in bed by midnight.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

We putter around the house most of the morning and we finally hit the streets around 2:00 PM.  We are headed for El Molinón again.  We walk in and they remember us from the other evening.  We are quickly escorted to a table and we proceed to order several dishes from the menu.  We choose albóndigas, mejillones, patatas con cabrales and a revuelto de morcilla.  For dessert we share a leche frita con helado and we finish up with a coffee and a chupito.  I make a number of napkin roses for the waitresses and I do a little magic for the young woman who was our waitress Friday night.  We make our way home and once again we work on the computer and get comfortable with our Kindle.  We read until 11:45 and then we shut off the lights and shut off our brains and sleep quickly overtakes us.

moros y cristianos 002moros y cristianos 005moros y cristianos 009moros y cristianos 013moros y cristianos 021moros y cristianos 026moros y cristianos 029

Quique and me

Quique and me

Cariño and me

Cariño and me

Our Sunday waitress

Our Sunday waitressalbóndigas y patatas

One of the many wine lists that occupy the walls

One of the many wine lists that occupy the walls

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