We arrived in Valencia about 10.30 pm and went straight to our hotel and to bed. The following morning we were met in the lobby by my cousin Sylwia Czochara. It was great to catch up with her after first meeting her as an 11 year old 15 years ago on our visit to the homeland. She has finished her business administration degree and after spending 6 years in Spain is fluent in Polish, English and Spanish. She works as an executive in a global company that supplies Hotels with all kinds of foods.
It seems the folks in Valencia diverted the river and in the space provided built a heap of stuff at a cost of many billions of Euros.
For lunch Sylwia took us to see the Mediterranean Ocean. Kay and Sylwia demolished a lobster paella while I had sea bream and a few Estrella beers, very nice I have to add.
After lunch Sylwia took us to her new flat which was very tastefully being redecorated after which we walked into the old city. We saw lots of Plazas and churches before having dinner and meeting her partner Juan Jose, a really nice guy and they make a nice couple.
Finally we said our farewells and I must say how great it was to spend the best part of the day with cousin Sylwia. We promised to go back for her wedding.
After seeing the bull rings and having been told of the horrors and agonies suffered by the bulls and that up to 10,000 bulls die in agony each year in Spain alone I just had to see if just occasionally the bulls had a win. I have included a few images where the bull had a moment of satisfaction over his tormentor.
We left Paris via the Charles de-Gaulle airport a freezing 4 degrees. After a 2 hour flight arrived in sunny Madrid, a very pleasant 20 degrees. We stayed in the city centre and enjoyed the sights and sounds of Madrid, a city of over 6 million.
We took a tour of Madrid and saw all the usual tourist sights including the Bull Ring which is still being used. I find it difficult to understand how the Spanish consider torturing a bull to death is a sport, I guess its similar to our duck hunters consider slaughtering our water birds a sport.
We visited the commercial end of Madrid and saw these two leaning towers, they lean at the same angle as the famous Pisa leaning tower, about 4 or 5 degrees from vertical.
We also saw the stadium of the famous Real Madrid Football team. A huge stadium that can hold over 80,000 spectators.
The next day we took a tour of Toledo. a very old town built on a hill with lots of narrow streets and lots of churches. I learnt more about the catholic religion that day from our guide than all the years I spent in Maryborough at Saint Augustine’s Primary school.
The following day we took the very fast train from Madrid to Seville. The trip is about 540 km and takes about 2 and a half hours. Imagine leaving Melbourne Southern Cross station and arriving in Sydney Central a little over 3 hours later instead of the current 9 hours. We all know it isn’t going to happen.
Seville was delightful, a mixture of the old town with its hundreds of narrow winding streets, where one can easily get lost, to the wide streets in the modern Seville.
Seville still tortures bulls in the bull ring but we and an English couple let our guide know that we considered it barbaric and something a civilised society wouldn’t participate in. He agreed with us.
We also came across this very old and very large plaza in Seville and were at a loss to work out what purpose it served other than to entertain hundreds of Japanese tourists with selfie sticks and Americans on segways.
That same evening we left Seville on another fast train for Valencia. We got very close but only got to 299 km per hour. Bit of a shame as I really wanted to crack the 300 barrier. Maybe next time.