Trip to France and Spain
FRIDAY 4th JUNE 2004 Departure h. 10.30 Km 0.000
A boulder on the heart and a stone on the hand.
It weighs me down, it weighs me infinitely to pick up my pen again now that my "editor", the affectionate admirer of my travel stories has "gone across the street" and will no longer scrutinize my new "product" with his rough , careful criticism, to conclude that the last story always turned out to be better than the previous one, infusing me every time, even when I feared I had slipped towards a rapid decline, new courage and new gratification.
Half an hour before entering the operating room, Pio Petrocchi was on the phone with me to make sure that the involuntary errors of putting "online" had been duly corrected. He wanted to leave all things in order before concentrating totally on the surgery he had decided to undergo: it was his appointment with death, but he didn't know it. He did not know that his destiny was fulfilled there, in those resuscitation and intensive care wards, where for days and days they would crucify him with cannulas, tubes, tracheotomy, oxygen and drip, until a hospital infection, eradicated all treatment, he would have delivered him exhausted and violated to death.
To whom, now, will I deliver my thoughts, my travel memories?
"... I'm across the street ..." Yes, but how do I get to you? How will your judgment reach me? how will my heart warm as it did when you briefly mentioned passages in the story that you particularly appreciated?
I do not know; at the beginning of this journey I don't know, but maybe, in the end, behaving and writing like all the other times, I will find the answer.
SATURDAY 5 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 9.35 Km 678
The French autoroute to Spain lights up with the yellow of the gorse and the multicolored stripes of the flower plantations.
Whisks of perfume alternate with whiffs of the smell of fertilized fields, which remind me so much of the characteristic smell of the Region de la Mursia, extensively described in my first 'Recuerda'.
We are heading towards Barcelona, where the European Canine Exposicion awaits us.
This time the queen Bonita she is not part of the expedition, because she stayed at home, with the rest of the "wild horde", to look after two of her magnificent puppies,Manzanilla is Cucaracha, obtained from the great, mythical pack leaderPepito, who instead, ignoring with majestic carelessness the splendid progeny that generously spreads on the planet, travels with us, fulfilling another of the three essentialities of his life: unconditional love for the mistress, equally unconditional love for food and the love for 'a hit and go', where his intervention is requested by some bitch.
As always, his presence is calming on the de los perros squadron, traveling between Italy-France-Spain. Besides Juanito, my loveCandy, love of Mimma, we have other 'new entries':Doña is Chorizo. Doña, promising young long-haired chihuahua who will be presented in the exhibition and Chorizo, her half-brother, less promising young long-haired chihuahua, who will not be presented in the show, but which Mimma generously gave me to keep Juanito company, el sol de my home. The result is that Juanito, started on the path of ren..mento, as the only child of old parents, suddenly woke up from his geriatric routine without emotions, finding himself next to a 'grandchild' (Chorizo's mother is a half-sister of Juanito ) excited, long-haired, monorchid and with a 64-toothed smile like a hyena ridens or, optionally, like one of our politicians, who pulls out whenever he wants to curry favor with humans.
Ready to go
So structured, four humans (the usual three plus Alfredo, my husband, who tries the company again after the unfortunate one in Croatia-Montenegro interrupted by thieves) and five dogs, aboard the intrepid Don Antonio Ecovip Camper, now tempered by many more short trips, we head shot towards Barcelona.
We arrive there in the afternoon "without too much bloodshed", in the sense that we find the place of the Exhibition with great ease: it is right in the city, between the Plaza d'España and the National Museum of Catalan Art.
We are located in a large covered parking, in front of the exhibition halls, together with all the other exhibitors' campers; the well-informed (Italians) immediately warn us that a nightmare night awaits us, thanks to the nocturnal solfeggi of the various dog breeds.
We do not allow ourselves to be discouraged and, after an unavoidable hygienic walk of the dogs, almost a gymnastic among the products of the hygienic walks of the dogs that preceded us and which, from the consistency, all appeared to be deposited by breeds such as Sanbernardo, Leonberger or Alani, with absolute determination we decide to hail a taxi to go back to eat paella at "7 Portas", a well-known restaurant already appreciated in our previous trip to Spain.
The driver is talkative and helpful. We ascertain that they are happy with Zapatero: good! We ascertain that the "barceloneti" contest the bullfight: good! We ascertain that dogs are not to be considered toys, but they must be respected: good! We ascertain that nowadays there are two great powers, the USA and public opinion: however! (reflection to meditate on).
We let ourselves be advised and led to another restaurant on the seafront in Barceloneta, betraying "Las 7 Portas". It was bad for us: the paella de mariscos is reduced to a seafood risotto and leaves us quite unsatisfied.
There is still light when we walk along the promenade where restaurants and bars unfold, one after the other, which just when we are finished, around ten in the evening, begin to liven up and fill up with party people, eager to enjoy a nice evening in the quaint harbor area. All around there is music, chatter, joy.
Before getting into the taxi to return to the camper, I am captivated by the characteristic, melancholy music of the Andean flutes, played outdoors by a group of musicians with classic Indian traits.
"Forgiveness. Forgiveness for what we have done to you, for what I have done to you as a member of the white race of conquistadors. Forgiveness for all that we have taken away from you: dignity, culture, wealth, freedom, future and identity. Forgiveness for so long. pain, for so much violence, forgiveness for having destroyed your entire history in a short time, forgiveness for all the harm that our "civilization" has done to yours.
It seems to me that the reflection of that pain has remained in the sound of their flutes, in the penetrating melancholy of their songs: a pain without rest, a resignation without hope, an acceptance without illusion.
As always, I repress these outbursts of atonement for our sins that would make me look like a wild fool and get into the taxi with the others.
In Viale Regina Cristina, where the Dog Exhibition is located, a beautiful surprise awaits us: the colorful water games of the large fountain at the end of the avenue, in front of the National Museum of Catalan Art. It is a grandiose spectacle: columns, jets, sprays, pinwheels, surges of water of different colors in an exciting succession of jets.
When I reached the camper, I picked up my two Chihuahuas to take them for a walk away from the dirt of the sidewalks. So I found myself alone in the midst of the people who were stationed, sitting on the steps or standing around the fountain. It seemed to be in the middle of a small village fair. Street vendors had laid out their wares on the ground and were showing them to me urging me to buy. "No tengo dinero! ..." "Malo, malo! Que vienes a hacer aquì si no tienes dinero" or "Un abanico para uno de tus perros! ...." "No, a thousand abanicos para uno de mis perros" I was laughing at my counteroffer, while amused I hugged Juanito and Chorizo to my chest, terrified by the lights and the confusion.
Mixed with the crowd of the small village festival gathered around the fountain to admire its iridescent beauty, I almost felt Spanish among the Spaniards. Happy with my lonely adventure in the warm Catalan night, I went back to the camper to tell others about my linguistic and exploratory prowess.
SUNDAY 6 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 16 Km 1,164
It is the morning of the "competition". Mimma carefully prepares to lead the two charming girls, Doña and Caramella, to the exhibition; she swamped in bottle green, with small touches of light obtained from sporadic rhinestones set on the light mesh jacket, black leashes with collars complete with rhinestones the two damsels. All three make a nice glance "and it is not easy after spending the nightmare night, as announced upon arrival! The canine exchanges, in fact, have rocked us throughout the night, rumbling and amplifying through the huge covered pavilion.
We accompany Mimma and Romano to the show ring, where we find other breeder friends whom, by now, I also know. We waste ourselves in kisses and hugs with everyone, including our opponents from Gibraltar, with whom we have become almost relatives, we distribute a lot of "good luck" to everyone and we go for a walk that is, Alfredo and I go for a walk , the others remain.
The city offers itself to us in all its grandeur, its wide streets, its widths, its characteristic Ramblas. Gaudì's architectures strike and disorient with their innovative lines, their unusual particularities.
The City Tour takes two and a half hours and drops us off on time at Plaça d'España.
When we go back to the ring everything has already been completed, Caramella qualified third at the European Exhibition and Romano and Mimma are already demobilizing their positions.
We leave Barcelona and travel south to settle in a beach campsite. We take a long walk with the dogs unleashed to chase and play with the surf, until Doña, light as a biscuit, is sucked into a longer wave, and takes a full bath.
It's nice to see dogs running around free from rules or leashes! ... It's nice to follow them, free from rules and leashes too!
Free to run around
MONDAY 7 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 10.30 Km 1,235
Monday of the monasteries.
Leaving the coast we head towards Lleida-Zaragoza, we miss the Santes Creus Sanctuary due to inattention, but we enjoy a nice walk through the narrow streets of Montblanc and a guided tour in French of Poblet Abbey. Montblanc is a medieval town, enclosed in a massive circle of walls and once home to the Catalan Cortis.
We visit the beautiful church of Santa Maria in the heart of the city, ascetic and sparse inside, baroque in the facade, in front of which Alfredo, taking advantage of the various sculpted lion heads, is pompously photographed to best symbolize his presidency of a Lions Club.
A Lions among the lions
We swarm through the streets of the Ghetto, browse the shops and end up buying some soft and fragrant Spanish bread, with the intention of preparing a moderate snack inside the camper. In fact we end up at "Molì del Mollet", one of the most expensive restaurants in the area!
Let's not be intimidated: Alfredo throws himself on a plate of beautiful indigestible caracoles (snails), Romano sul "conejo brasado" (roast rabbit), Mimma on meat with "aiello" (garlic), flavored to the point of killing a vampire with a breathless and me on "patatas rellenas con mousse de bacalao" (stuffed potatoes with cod mousse). They are cyclopean portions with an "automatic" side dish, in the sense that it is served to you, abundant and varied, even if you don't ask for it. Immersed in our gustatory commitment, we all re-emerge very satisfied; the least convinced is Alfredo, who, however, consoles himself by dusting one of my excellent patatas rellenas.
After so much abundance, the only one who doesn't stop and also makes a Catalan cream is me!
The cloister of the Poblet Monastery
A little clouded by the impact with the excellent tasty and rich Catalan cuisine, we find ourselves in the shadowy spirituality of the Monastery of Poblet, founded in 1153 and entrusted to the Cistercian monks.
We admire the cloister graced by flowering rose bushes, the vast austere refectory, the library and the calefactorium, the only heated room where elderly or sick monks could take refuge to defend themselves from the harsh hilly winter.
In the Romanesque Gothic church rest in the Pantéo del Reis eight kings and six queens of Catalonia and Aragon.
The last visit is to the ancient cellar where the excellent local wine was produced. The excellent wine is still produced and Alfredo does not give up on buying a bottle which, far from taking it home as a souvenir, we will happily drain during one of our dinners in the camper!
In the evening we climb up the Montserrat with the camper, to reach the sky and lie there.
TUESDAY 8 JUNE 2004 - Departure h.16 Km 1.431
The Mirador del Montserrat, this morning at seven, it offered itself as a vision of paradise. The peaks of the massif emerged from a slight white haze with smooth edges from the subdued morning light. I was alone up there, at the Mirador of Montserrat, with Chorizo and Juanito joyfully carrying out the morning services (the results of which I would have scrupulously cleaned up), but the shivers that I felt running down my arms were not shivers of cold, but of intense emotion .
I think it was a rare occasion to be able to find yourself at the Mirador del Montserrat alone, early in the morning, with the whole world at your feet and the sky above your head, the infinite limit of the universe, the sun rising warm on the horizon and the moon. three-quarters that still lingered in the sky.
The Montserrat massif, so particular with its soft and rounded rocks, which emerged from the ocean floor millions of years ago, was solemn, but friend, as if it had always been waiting for me, as if the steps of my life lead me there, to admire, to breathe the serene power of its ridges.
The crown of the Angels
The symbol of Montserrat is represented by a group of angels who hold a saw in their hands, with which they carved the crown of the peaks of the massif: only angels could notch it so well!
For believers, the massif is a very important place of worship, because in the cathedral there is the "Morenita", a black Madonna holding the child, who appeared in 888, one Saturday afternoon, to three local shepherds. I would like, however, that once the Madonna would reveal herself to an intellectual or a philosopher or a historian of the time, also in order not to always privilege the same social classes.
We are leaving Spain. Adìos España mi amor!
Although Andalusia has remained in my heart as a fairy tale of light and passion, I was pleased to know Catalonia better and I appreciated it as a different land from Andalusia, more severe and spiritual, but also rich in a great historical past.
A pink-orange and purple sunset leaves us run to France, withering of ever more faint light.
TO Roussillon, a Catalan village in the Languedoc, inside a motorway restaurant, we choose a sheltered and comfortable corner for us and the dogs and spend a quiet night there.
WEDNESDAY 9 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 10.30 Km 1,678
We are traveling to Thirst, where we already passed on our first return trip from Spain.
It is a splendid day in late spring: the yellow and the scent of the broom frame our journey. We feel at peace with the world and with the camper. Don Antonio Ecovip Camper is always bold, but also generous in his hospitality: if we take care of him, Don Antonio does not miss anything; offers us comfortable beds, comfortable sofas, large driver's seats, a bathroom with shower, a large fridge with a freezer, an essential kitchenette, but sufficient for a hearty breakfast and spaghetti and a table around which to gather, sometimes withered from fatigue , to enjoy our refreshing meals.
In Adge we stop with the excuse of visiting the basalt city and buying something to eat.
Le Canale du Midì
The hidden intent (but not so much) is to make us a feast of moules (mussels) and, Alfredo, of sardines. We immediately unmask our intentions at the first temptation of a skilled restaurateur who, eyeing our feignedly good expressions that casually scrolled through the offers on the menu, almost forced us to sit at a table along the Canale du Midì, flattering us with descriptions of plates of freshly caught sardines (... by themselves) and bowls of moules poached in au fromage bleu sauces.
I tried to say that we could take a tour first and come back later, but I was immediately silenced with a glass of French sangria that didn't even tie my shoes to the famous jarron of sangria enjoyed at Reina Isabel Camping, in Granada.
Calmed by the moules and sardines, we then made the tour of Adge, admired the basalt Cathedral, darkly imposing, and walked along the canal du Midi until we got back into the camper.
Off to the blue sea of Sète!
Before arriving in Sète, a stop is planned along the splendid beach that connects Marseillan-Plage to Sète.It is a radiant afternoon: sky and sea are dyed the same blue, even bathers in the sea are tinged with blue.
We scatter with the five dogs on the vast beach, languid from the moules, from the white wine with which we accompanied them and from all the beauty in which we are immersed. The dogs run around on the sand and on the shoreline, chasing each other, climbing over and ending up in the sea, as previously happened, unaware that a massacre could have occurred in a few minutes, almost a Shakespearean tragedy. In fact, when a more energetic wave drags some of these "giants" of the canine species into the sea, one of them, Caramella, performs the most normal action that a dog can do: it rolls in the sand like a madwoman, slipping the sand into the eyes.
Mimma, overprotective, in an excess of zeal performs a counter-action that could prove fatal: she takes Caramella, takes her back to the sea and rinses her eyes with salt water, then redeposits her on the vast beach, along which, however, it flows. the state road. At this point Caramella, with burning eyes, runaway and frightened, starts running towards the bottom of the beach, in the direction of the road.
Mimma's calls only serve to make her run further and further away, until she definitely pits the highway followed by Dona, a friend of her heart and half-sister, and by Chorizo, half-brother and poodle on duty.
Mimma screaming like a possessed woman manages to block the traffic, while the three fugitives swerve left and right, now in a panic. I too scream trying to catch Chorizo, who does not obey me, while behind us, in the middle of the road, the two wise men of the situation also arrive: Juanito and Pepito. Neither the heart nor the hands are enough for us to pick them all up, now we and them at the height of fear.
Only the patience and courtesy of the drivers prevented a situation of joy from degenerating into tragedy. With our arms full of picked up dogs, I don't know how, guiltily forgetting to thank the motorists, the main architects of the story with a happy ending, Mimma and I collapse on the beach, where Alfredo had remained unperturbed collecting shells, while Romano rested blissfully. in the camper
The beach of Sète
Flamingos dot the ponds surrounded by marsh vegetation in pink, the wild horses graze calmly on the sides of the road as we enter Provence.
We point out the flamingos in flight, the white herons in the middle of the swamp, the sea terns and all the beauty that surrounds us.
On an evening illuminated by a sun that is still warm and high in the sky, the city "La Grande Motte" welcomes us with its balanced modernity of good taste, with its white sail houses, immersed in impeccable gardens, in the midst of shady parks. , in orderly streets.
We stopped to photograph a group of pink flamingos strolling indolently at the edge of the road, in a pool of sky, where strips of vegetation floated. The flamingos let themselves be admired as they raked the seabed in search of food, while they spread their large black-edged wings, while haughtily they raised their long elegant necks to look into the distance.
THURSDAY 10 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 11 Km 1,906
The scent of the laurel bushes pleasantly pricks my nostrils as I lead Juanito and Chorizo on their first morning stroll.
Camping dell'Eden all'Espinette is quiet, relaxing, but full of dust; even the laurel is opaque with earth, however it manages to emanate its noble aroma in the crisp morning air.
After laborious operations of the usual emptying and filling carried out in the sticky dust of the campsite, while Don Antonio Ecovip Camper was docilely allowed to groom, polish and check the levels, we headed to Aigues Mortes, a quaint village surrounded by mighty walls and illuminated by the transparent light of the midì français.
The colors of the local fabrics reflect the light of the surrounding nature, dazzling with yellows, blues, greens, which are reflected in the water. I think of Van Gogh, his artist delusions, his thirst for yellow, his explosion of absolute colors.
TO Les Santes Maries de la Mer, capital of the Camargue and twinned with Grosseto (land of cowboys and my father's hometown), we decide to take a boat trip on Le Petit Rhone, among expanses of green, red, yellowish glasswort, on which the tamarisks rise " brackish and burned "and the reeds.
Horses of Camargue
At one point along the route, a show designed for tourists awaits us, but equally joyful: a buttero pushes a small herd of bulls, cows with calves and mares with foals to eat the hay that our boatman he threw as we approached the shore.
Everything is built, but the innocence of the actors is spontaneous, instinctive and without superstructures. With the same joyful boldness of the arrival, after the show (and the fodder) the performers went back to their pastures, in the fields.
How blue the water is, how celestial the water, how transparent the water, how impenetrable the water is; how pink is the horizon, how celestial is the sky, how unknown is the sky, how immense is the sky; how blessed is the Camargue!
How are we elected who have been able to enjoy it, confusing ourselves with the breath of flamingos, herons, the Knights of Italy, the white horses of the Camargue and the bulls with the horns "stretched towards the sky" of otters and otters, hares and of the little foxes and the poor snake that, unaware, Romano probably crushed under the wheels of the camper.
As the sun is golden, as the sun is red, as the sun is far away; how it sets the horizon on fire by burning the last part of the day, before surrendering to the mystery of the night!
FRIDAY 11 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 15 Km 2,037
How green the water is, how silent the water is, how deep the water is, how mysterious the water is!
Le Grand Rhone flows along the city of Arles, where imposing Roman remains recall times of distant history, but always connected to ours by a common past.
The splendid Romanesque cathedral of Saint Trophime makes us speechless with its lean and essential majesty. Before entering the Cathedral square, the sublime sound of a flute aroused me with its poignant notes the usual emotion: the desire to cry.
I could not resist calling my daughter Samanta with her mobile phone and sharing with her, hundreds of kilometers away, a moment of profound emotion: the languid sound of a transverse flute played with skill by a Spanish musician, one morning in June, in front of the Cathedral of Arles, in Provence.
These are magical moments that each time, in a different way, these trips give me.
Listening to that sound I saw my teenage daughter, composed in her beautiful posture of a tormented musician, with her lips gracefully resting on the bottle of the instrument, as she prepared for a lesson or an exam or a music essay.
A lot of his life he shared, suffered, with the flute. Always discontented, always striving to improve, always demanding with herself. Sometimes the notes it produced seemed to me like the music of angels; they dug my heart and elevated it towards the beauty of the absolute.
I hoped that such harmony would lead her to a life of art and refined emotions.
On the other hand, painful, heavy and even coarse experiences awaited her, which she paid for in person, all to the end, without complaining or complaining, but leaving them disenchanted and hopeless, turned off inside. Neither the flute was able to help her: it ended up buried in a drawer as an object that you can no longer even touch, of which perhaps you no longer even want to remember.
This morning that sound attracted me like a spell. While Romano, Mimma and Alfredo lingered to read detailed descriptions of the Cathedral, I could not hear anything but that music. Like an automaton, I found myself next to the musician with my cell phone outstretched, so that Samanta too could share that moment of paradise with me from her office.
My beautiful teenage daughter, in a white silk blouse and black velvet skirt, with her long brown hair loose on her shoulders, her big green eyes attentive to the score, her refined hands resting elegantly on the keys, her legs and feet together and parallel, the serious and concentrated expression suddenly reappeared beside me, with the fragility of a vision and the bitterness of a regret.
The Cathedral of Arles
Samanta is now a woman who occupies her solitude by reading everything about the dispossessed of the earth, from books by Gino Strada to books on West African child soldiers. She works with skill, dedication and a sense of duty, gaining consensus and gratifications, but she feels that she should do much more to help suffering humanity, perhaps a radical choice of life, such as offering herself as a lay volunteer for some mission in Africa.
6.30 pm: Don Antonio Ecovip Camper he returns home dejected, not to mention disheartened: an infamous arched underpass of a railway has stolen him of all its undulating beauty. The fallacious indication of m. 2.60 in height indicated only the peak of the arch, not its lateral fall! ....
SATURDAY 12 JUNE 2004 - Departure h. 8.45 Km 2,416
Last night, after the insult suffered by Don Antonio Ecovip Camper under the damned underpass of the railway near Saint Raphael, the gang of the camper plunged into the blackest despair.
Romano, a leader without blemish and without fear, who guided us up the impervious ascent of Montserrat, through the narrow alleys of a village on the Spanish coast, in which we had found ourselves involuntarily stuck due to lack of signage, and along the Mejanes road. in the Camargue panoramically splendid, but unpaved with curbs and deep holes, after climbing on Don Antonio's roof and noting the horrendous wound of his soft side curves, he diagnosed a damage of fifty million lire, he wondered how we could have returned at home if the friction of speed had finished uncovering the roof or the rain had flooded us and he closed himself in the most disconsolate silence.
Withered and bewildered we, suffering Don Antonio Ecovip Camper, set off for Siena not knowing how to console ourselves.
The final evening of the journey along the seafront of a small town on the Côte d'Azur is definitively faded, we can only gnaw our liver and chew bitter.
At ten in the evening, near Albegna, a stop is required. Dogs closed for hours in their kennel scream all their desire for food, pee, cuddles in the company of humans.
Romano announces that he does not feel like eating anything, however he agrees, out of kindness, to sit at the table with us, instead of remaining gloomy in the driver's seat.
Fortunately, our Italian spirit wins! Faced with a pan of ricotta and spinach ravioli and gnocchetti alla Sorrentina emerged as if by magic from the freezer, the barriers of pain and discouragement have softened: one ravioli after another, one gnocchetto after another, half a dry sausage me, half a dry sausage to you, a sip of Lambrusco me, a sip of Lambrusco you, a small piece of Ligurian panettone just to like, another just to taste, we ended up getting better like mmm. sorrows in a bottle of Lambrusco and a bottle of sparkling wine, just to finish and celebrate the last evening together.
Dogs and humans then, without too much resistance, plunged into a well-deserved rest, leaving Don Antonio Ecovip Camper to lick his wounds in the silence of the night.
In a couple of hours we will be in Siena, bruised, but all in all intrepid, ready to start over. Each journey has its adventures, for better or for worse, each journey enriches us and makes us grow, even if we are already old. We grow up because we learn something every time. We learn because we know new things, because we are put to the test by unexpected events, because we are plunged back into memories by sudden emotions, because we can look inside ourselves, discover ourselves again, perhaps surprise and touch ourselves for what we were, for what we have become , for what we still have to learn or to give.
Surprise us for the breath that is still in us, for the eyes that can still widen with amazement and take in the wonders of the world, for the heart that can still beat (beat even for those who are no longer there), for the mind who can still ironize, joke, welcome reality without illusions, but also without despair, in the certainty of still being there and being there with dignity and love.
Love for those who are dear to us, but with whom we cannot share these experiences, love for those who have gone "across the street" and can no longer follow us, but who still remain within us for the words that they have given us, for the depth of the examples they have left us.
Yes, the dead really do die when we let them die, not as long as we hold them tight in our hearts. A heart that becomes heavier and heavier for the baggage of memories that it sustains every day, but always richer for the love it has received from all those who have found an unchanged home there in life and all the more later, when they passed " other side of the road ".
They were all with me, inside my heart and inside my eyes, when I mingled with the people, at night, in front of the water games of the Barcelona fountain, they were with me, early in the morning, at the Mirador del Montserrat, they were with me when the flights of pink flamingos in the celestial sky of the Camargue kidnapped my soul, they were all with me when the sound of a flute, in front of the Cathedral of Arles made me remember images of hopes scratched by life and dissolved in past.
They are all with me now, as I look without seeing the river of cars that Don Antonio Ecovip Camper, partly recovered from the offense of the arched underpass, passes with youthful boldness.
They are all tight, tight in my heart, the faces, the tones, the gestures, the looks, the kindness that was given to me and that I returned with affection or love.
The way of pronouncing my name resonates in my heart: my father's "dear Albetta", the only one to call me that and Pio's recent "Alllba", affectionately ironic and said in a low tone, stretching on the L and leaning on on the last syllable.
I give you this last story, Pio, who knows if you will say, as then, with your obvious tone that it is better than the previous ones, giving me an emotion that I was careful not to show, so as not to exceed in fuss that you would not have allowed me.
The answer I was looking for at the beginning of the journey was built by itself: those who go on, as long as they go on, also continue for others, giving themselves and giving, carrying the burden and the joy of life even for those who have laid them down, until someone picks up mine and takes me with him, giving me his eyes, his heart, his love.
RECU - ELLE TOI
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The view of the cathedral is unmissable… from the outside because the streets around it are so small that it seems even more huge. From inside because there is visible the greatness of a Spain that in those years became an empire.
Just why Granada is the symbol of a Spain that is strong, determined, stubborn and capable of imposing itself on the world, the Spanish Sovereigns are usually buried in this cathedral. Certainly the aforementioned Isabella and her husband, Ferdinand of Aragon, beak and stick (probably) also in the tomb phase, as the great Christopher Columbus, according to many Isabella's lover, is buried a short distance from the sovereigns, according to many.
Together in life, together to make Spain great, together in death because sharing certain marriages could possibly lead to harm. Small warning for the visit of the Cathedral (and it applies to all of Andalucia and beyond): bring something to cover yourself ... whether you are men or women. In Spain it is very hot and usually turns in shorts and a tank top. This does not generate opinion in common wandering but if you want to enter some religious place, it will be necessary that your shoulders are covered and that your shorts reach at least the knee. I was obvious by carrying myself a sarong and a t-shirt in the backpack... they weigh little and help not to hurt sensitivities different from ours. The greatness of a journey is also measured by this.
Back to us ... when you leave the Cathedral of Granada you will forget about Christianity and you will feel catapulted into the best Arab souk ever seen in the world. Seriously, you will probably be sucked into narrow streets that are always in the shade (and thanks because it's so hot)… and streets so full of things to buy that you won't know which way to turn. What does this trickle of streets do a real souk lies in the strong smell of leather products and the contrasting colors of the leather placed next to intense turquoise, white or red workings. In addition to this, you will be attracted by the strong smell of spices and it will not be difficult for you to hear Arabic rather than Spanish. And here is the beauty of a city like Granada… in its still being a perfect melting pot with realities that someone believed they had driven out of southern Spain forever.
With all that hunger going around it will come at you like a ravenous bear but don't worry because you are in the right city. Granada Tapas are so great that they can easily replace a meal. And if, like me, you reach the pearl of Andalucia in the middle of August ... all you have to do is wander around from one part of the center to the other ... August is also a party month in Italy. Festivals and celebrations are on the agenda. In beautiful Granada you will have to walk very little to find some party where you can taste unforgettable typical dishes and chorizo. I really loved Granada. It must have been for Garcia Lorca, it must have been for his story, it must have been for the great mixture of everything.
The idea that sooner or later we would take a trip to Andalusia had already touched us some time ago, but the one in Andalusia was just one of the many trips that were in that drawer inside my head and that gets more crowded every day.
Has been for fun that I tried to look for some flights to Seville or Granada, for fun and for the desire to dream, also because the prospects of leaving for a holiday this year were quite limited.
But then, simulating flight bookings, seeing the costs of hotels in Spain and the opinions of other travelers on the forums, the idea crept into me that perhaps a traveling trip to southern Spain, I could also take them into consideration as it is relatively within reach of pockets.
However, I did not have high expectations also because I would not have traveled alone, and my idea could have turned into something more concrete if and only if my travel companion would have allowed himself to be convinced of the validity of the proposal.
So it was that one evening, back from work, in a hurry I drew up an approximate cost estimate for a car trip in Andalusia with the costs of flights, car rental, accommodation in hotels, in order to support my proposal with concrete data in hand.
At the time of proposing it, I was very excited, especially because I really enjoyed organizing that first travel draft and I was satisfied with my work, even though I was still quite pessimistic, sure that the proposal would have been accepted with some of the classic "No", " It would be nice though… ”or a“ we'll see ”far-fetched.
Instead, to my enormous satisfaction, the proposal of the trip to Andalusia was liked and the feedback was more positive than I would have ever expected, leaving me displaced, so much so that when Raffaele was almost convinced I was the one who began to question the journey itself. The doubts concerned above all the costs, in fact to what I had estimated it was necessary to add the meals and the various expenses that, like it or not, you have to face when traveling.
In the end, however, we made our decision, and this is how the evenings of the following days and weeks were spent browsing the internet between forums, itineraries and quotes.
[I am writing this update in October 2016]
Why am I telling you this story? Because it is from here that Diarioinviaggio was born, from a trip by car in Andalusia that was not foreseen and from the desire to organize our itinerary in complete autonomy in pursuit of freedom. The trip to Andalusia marks the beginning of an adventure that has proved to be of a very long duration and which we hope will continue to accompany us for a very long time.
Hello traveler, before starting to write the story of my trip to Lapland I want to share with you a nice competition to win a trip to Spain, in the region of Andalusia, organized by the Spanish tourism body, therefore super official.
Otherwise you can connect to this page, register by entering your details and participate in the survey. With this form of participation, in addition to participating in the travel draw, you can immediately download a mini Lonely Planet guide "Spain, one trip leads to another".
Simple, simple, there is nothing to do but cross your fingers hoping to be the lucky extract who will win a voucher for two people for "The trip of your dreams" (estimated value of € 15,000.00) which consists of a tour of Andalusia aboard the legendary and luxurious El Andalus train.
Andalusia is one of the areas of the world that struck me most, and in the depths of my heart I jealously keep the memories of my travels to Seville, Granada and Cordoba, a city where time seems to have stopped.
It's now official: Spain is my second country! Yes. I am convinced more and more. This time I realize the desire to see Valencia, the third Spanish city.
Fortunately for me, my wife Laura and my daughter Serena share my passion for this land. come on, let's go!
With the usual advance, in January, after monitoring for a couple of weeks, a day when prices had dropped by about € 20 per person compared to the average, I buy tickets for the period 26/30 June with a direct Ryanair flight from Palermo: total for 3 including purchase of assigned seat and priority boarding 240 €. In the following days I begin to study the city and identify a hotel that meets my needs: breakfast included, air conditioning, mini fridge, well served by public transport and reviews from 8 points to climb.
And here the 26th of June has arrived and at 18.20 we leave for Spain: Valencia.
We arrive slightly late and from the airport itself (how cool!) We take the red metro line 3 (there is also line 5, depending on where you have to go) but be careful because on the same line there are 2 different terminus in terms of a certain point the line splits. But first we buy a subscription that costs us € 20 and practically every time it is used, according to the cost of the ticket - which can vary based on whether you are in zone A B or C - it is deducted from the credit. Do a little 2 math. (here the official site for public transport services - http://www.guida-valencia.com/muoversi.html) I used it to come and go from the airport and for A / R from the sea and I have advanced € 4
The Metro is sparsely populated and fairly clean. After about twenty minutes and about fifteen stops, we got off at Benimaclet, which is just about ten meters away from the Olympia Universidades hotel (Doctor Vicent Zaragoza, 13, Valencia, 46020) meters from the exit of the metro station and about 15 minutes walk from the center.
The hotel is modern and very simple. At the entrance, before the reception, you will find the breakfast room and the bar at the back. They speak Italian as I had read on Booking.com. Going up to the room, I first had a start for the carpet in the corridor, albeit a little worn, but upon entering the room I pleasantly discover that there is a beautiful new parquet here, cheers! I hate carpet! Then in the summer. danger escaped! the room is a bit cramped for a triple room, but otherwise it has everything that will make our stay comfortable: mini fridge, air conditioning, nice big TV with Italian channels, it's very clean and quiet! More than positive experience. I for 4 nights in a triple room with a more than good breakfast included I paid 420 €. I think it is a good quality / price ratio. Also consider that 5 meters outside the door there are metro-tram-bus stops that take you wherever you want to go. Write it down http://www.booking.com/Share-J7bW0e
We can quickly get the bags and, since it is already almost 10 pm, we immediately go and look for something to eat. It takes very little time, because right next door to the hotel is the entrance to "100 montadidos", which we had already enjoyed in Seville a couple of years ago, we do not hesitate and for our first Valencian meal we sit here: nothing more practical, fast and, why not? Cheap. After dinner, we go back to the room, arrange the bags a bit and go to sleep
As we like to do to optimize the time of the holiday we get up early, at 7.00, we get ready and at 8 we go down to breakfast. The quality was very good, not an excessive assortment, but there was enough salty and plenty of sweetness for all tastes. Immediately after we go up to take the backpacks and we leave for the first day of the city tour. As always, in order to enjoy the city to the fullest, we go on foot, and starting from the hotel we cross the royal garden, then from porta serrans, barrìo del Carmen with its beautiful streets, up to Placa de la Regina, the cathedral square. The square has a rectangular shape, very elegant and full of clubs and shops. Here, and this seems to be one of the few exceptions, we also see some street vendors. The central garden full of flowers is beautiful, if you want, if the time is the right temperature, you can sit and enjoy this wonderful site and city for a while. From here, for those interested in this type of experience, open buses for the city tour also depart.
Unfortunately, bad luck meant that the famous tower of the Miguelete in the days of our stay in the city was closed for construction ... a great pity! For € 8 you will get entrance tickets and audio guide in Italian. Ah, here Payment only cash, no cards ...
It has 3 entrances (portals) all in different styles, the Baroque portal "de losHierros", the "Portal of the Apostles", in Gothic style and the "Portal of Almodaina" in Romanesque style.
Inside there are various chapels: of San Pietro, San Tommaso de Villanueva, San Francisco Borja. The altar and apse are beautiful, with the 2 large opposite wooden doors that cut across the altar marking the axis that oriented the Mezquita towards the Mecca behind there is the chapel of the resurrection with the relic: the arm of San Vincenzo martyr, in front of this the statue of the Virgin of the Choir which seems to be good for pregnant women who observe some rituals during the visit (9 laps of the cathedral, one for each month), then the chapel of San Giacomo with the statue of bishop Andres of Albala, who, in the thirteenth century, ordered the construction of the cathedral, and the cornerstone where it is thought the construction began, which in any case was built where other places of worship already existed: a Roman temple before and a Muslim mosque after . Next to it the chapel of San Dioniso martire and Santa Margherita martire.
One of the rooms that make up the oriented path of the visit to the cathedral and dedicated to the Museum of the same with the largest monstrance in the world 5 m high, is in silver (it is said that 600 kg + 1 kg of gold and 750 gr dj were needed platinum) the very ancient manuscripts exhibited here are beautiful.
Finally, there is the famous hall of the holy grail, where it has been kept since 1916 (although it is said to be in this cathedral - since it was donated by King Alfonso the Magnanimous - from the middle of the 15th century and after countless vicissitudes. The cup where Jesus drank during the last supper. here your breath will stop for the emotion: suggestive !! To frame this archaeological jewel, a wall (retablo) in entirely carved alabaster
The next destination, not far from the cathedral, right in the barrio del Carmen, is the "Valencian Sistine Chapel", or the Church (iglesia) of San Nicola venerated here in Valencia from the 13th CENTURY (he lived in Asia Minor in the 4th century after his remains arrived in the Apulian city, which is why it is called that (and of St. Peter martyr).
It was one of the first churches in the city, built in the thirteenth century, it boasts a perfect balance between gothic and baroque.The beautiful interior frescoes were made at the turn of the seventeenth century by Antonio Palomino and was later restored by the same artist who restored the Sistine chapel. But the real work of enhancement and restoration has recently been completed.
To report the multitude of chapels which frame the church, where there are a sequence of religious images and centenary statues, including the chapel of San Raffaele with Santa Teresa and Santa Barbara. Sant'Antonio da Padova with statue of Santa Rita Calvary and the baptismal font, San Giuda Taddeo, advocate of desperate causes. The main altar is wonderful where many of the scenes depicted are based on the life of the 2 martyrs to whom the church is dedicated. We took the combined ticket, which includes a visit to the silk museum exhibition “la loja saddle silk” 8 € adults 4 € minors. The cost of the ticket included an audio guide, thanks to which we were able to better appreciate the splendid works represented here. We are already at lunchtime, we continue our tour ...
An explosion of colors, scents and flavors! In practice, while you are touring, even more so since we arrived at lunchtime, you taste here and there the products that most attract your curiosity and you hardly realize how much, what and how you eat !! But eat. much. between one stall and another, the prices are the same and the quality as well. I, among other things, for € 2 I got glasses kept cool in counters full of crushed ice filled with fresh fruit that are the end of the world!
It is wonderful to see how in Spain (I quote the triana market in Seville or the boqueria in Barcelona ...) they manage to transform a "simple market" into an incredible attraction ... everything is perfectly clean, there is air conditioning, bathrooms (50 cents), the sellers are not at all insistent, the goods are displayed with maniacal care. Very beautiful!
Open every day except Sunday
After leaving the market, we went to the famous and ancient Santa Catalyna horchateria - I confess more out of curiosity than hunger - but that's it. here you can choose between their famous horzata (but I had tasted it at the central market and did not appreciate it at all), churros with hot chocolate or other sweets. The girl who served us was very nice and very kind. Churros and hot chocolate for 3 around 14 €. But I always remain of the idea that we Italians in the field of desserts and various pastries, as well as in all gastronomy, are hard to find better than at home! But it was worth taking a look at this age-old shop.
Adjacent to the ruzafa district, right next to the north station, it was built in the mid-19th century, after countless vain attempts, where in fact bull events were celebrated. Since then it has undergone several renovations and modifications, also because in the 1940s there was a fire. The last intervention dates back only to 2010 ... Today it also hosts artistic-cultural events, such as exhibitions, concerts ... etc. A curiosity concerning the eventual programming of bullfights is given by a system of displaying flags in the pylons at the top of the arena: these indicate which type of bullfight will take place (young bulls, mature bulls etc…). For € 2 you can also visit the bullfighting museum if you are interested.
Built at the beginning of the last century in a "modernist" style, the facade bears sculptures of Valencian agricultural products such as oranges and flowers. The interior looks like a living room, all clean and tidy as you will rarely see.
Silk Museum. (Lonja del la Seda)
Site declared a World Heritage Site ... Here you can see and understand what and how much importance silk had then in the distinction of social classes, as well as in the economy of the time.A tour that begins with the discovery and establishment of the silk road and gradually up to the most prosperous period of this product between the fifteenth and eighteenth centuries When this industry was first recognized by the ruler of the time as "art" and then "college" the category adopted as patron saint San Girolamo.
At the end of the tour, we pass by the souvenir shop, where, considering the even more affordable prices of the shops around the city, I recommend a stop.
After this artistic and cultural part of the first day in Valencia, now we dedicate ourselves to as many tourist passions: shopping.
And here there are obligatory stops: hard rock for the collection of various Starbucks sweaters and sweatshirts for the cups and, of course, the frappuccino (which here from 17.00 to 19.00 they offer at 2x1!) Then primeark right behind the arena des toros
Satisfied with what we have done and seen so far, we return for a pit stop at the hotel.
For dinner we identified a restaurant where we read they make a very good paella: the Restaurante Flor de Valencia, Avinguda del Cardenal Benlloch, 22, 46017 Valencia. It is important to know that there is no room without a reservation, so I called and booked a table. The restaurant is very elegant, the service level and they speak a good Italian. Immediately after taking the order they offer us very good appetizers. For a fish appetizer, a plentiful and delicious paella, desserts and coffee we paid € 115. If you are planning to treat yourself to an elegant dinner in a very refined place where you can eat really well, I suggest you take it into consideration.
To clear our conscience for the hearty meal, as well as for the outward journey, we retrace the 3 km left to get to the hotel on foot by taking a nice walk along the Turìa gardens for a long and pleasant stretch.
I have classified these gardens as one of the flagships of Valencia. A huge green lung (but not the only one) for the city, which the Valencians live intensely. You will notice how people live it ... running, walking, relaxing, picnicking, cycling or skating in the special tracks, doing physical activity with lots of gym equipment in the appropriate areas, playing football, rugby or baseball, in the regulatory fields present therein. For the little ones there are dedicated areas with playgrounds.
They transformed what was a serious problem in the 1950s, namely a river that flooded the city, into a beautiful, majestic and very useful work! In practice, after this tragic flood of 1957, the Turìa river was diverted into an artificial course and dried up, hence the creation of this immense green area that has made and still makes the happiness of Valencians and tourists (mine certainly!) ... Brilliant !!
For this day I had already purchased tickets from Musement for some time (also taking advantage of an Ikea promotion that gave me 10% discount if I had purchased from this operator by entering the code IKEAFAM10 -)) and booked for 10.00. The combined ticket includes a visit to the oceanographic, the science museum and the hemispheric. And it costs € 38 for adults and € 24 for under 13s.
So, after this experience of mine, I want to give some tips to make your possible visit more practical: start from the oceanographic, and if you really want to see the rest, take note of the times in which the hemispheric gives the film screenings in Italian (during the day give 2/3.) Keep in mind that the first part takes at least 3/4 hours. Also in this case, first check the schedule of the dolphinarium performances - which in my opinion remains the most interesting part of the visit - rather than go and wait for the show to start - and you can easily see the rest as and when you like. The section with sharks, the tropical, the Arctic and the Mediterranean are worthy of note.
Inside, the prices of the places that serve food are very high, between one tour and another we went to the El Saler shopping center - just opposite - and got a couple of burgers from McDonald's. or you can opt to bring something to take away and consume it as needed (although here and there some signs say "no picnic)
In summary. if I could go back, I would only see the oceanographic at most, but only if this does not take time away from other attractions among those scheduled to visit!
We leave at 6 pm and return to the hotel to freshen up.
We love walking on vacation, I find it a more intense way to experience the city. Here too we do this and keep what is our average: 20 km a day of healthy walking! This allows us some more "food excess", moreover.
Speaking of this, given the tiredness that is felt, we opt to have dinner in the area of our hotel, and then I take a look at TripAdvisor and spot a couple of places to eat tapas, because tonight - after last night's paella, those we want to eat. For further scruple, I ask the receptionist and she recommends one of those I already had an eye on: awarded!
RESTAURANTE EL RINCÓN DEL DUENDE, Carrer del Dr. Vicent Zaragoza, 52, 46020 Valencia, It is a small but characteristic place. The fact that it was immediately filled with natives (others waited a long time for the tables to be vacated) immediately gave us hope. The waiter was very nice: to make us understand better the dishes they serve, he left us his mobile phone to let us look at the photos of the dishes. I confess that from the photos we did not understand the proportions well, so in the end it turned out that we exaggerated a bit.
But this remains a great place to eat tapas and more. for 10 different tapas, 3 cuttlefish, a plate of tuna and chicken with tomato and peppers, a sort of giant bruschetta, a “jar” of sangria, water and coca we paid 45 €.
Walk for digestion and then to bed.
Today we want to finish seeing - and in some cases reviewing in greater depth - the historic center of the city and some things that are missing from our original program. And, of utmost importance, complete the shopping for all the various souvenirs that we have in the habit of bringing to friends and relatives. Let's start with the barrio del Carmen, a network of streets full of thousands of shops, tapas bars and restaurants where, among other things, we found attractive prices. The atmosphere in this place is beautiful, not to be missed. Then we go to the Quart torres.
This was one of the 4 armed and guarded entrances to the city - as well as a warehouse and women's prison, built in the 15th century in the Gothic style. In the 19th century they were used by the government as a military prison and later, in 1931, they were declared a "historical monument". For 2 € each we go up to the top from where you can appreciate a beautiful perspective over the whole city and take some nice photos.
Then we arrive at Placa de la Virgen, where we overlook the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, dedicated to the Madonna and the miracles that are attributed to her during the period of the plague, and where inside there is a chapel dedicated to the royals of Spain the cathedral of Santa Maria: not far away you can see the beautiful palace of the generalitat (the palace of the city government)
The most important square in the city of Valencia today is called "Plaza del Ayuntamiento", but in its history it has had several names ", until 1987 when it took its current name. The area was born After having demolished the convent in 1891 Franciscan, using the spaces and gardens of the same.The current appearance is the result of several projects.
Next stop, again at the central market where before we had seen some little objects we wanted to buy and, while we're at it, still a couple of glasses of freshly cut fruit that doesn't hurt.
A few minutes away we find the palace of the marques de le aquas, an extraordinary work of excellent Baroque Rococo style which is also home to the ceramics museum. Built in the mid-18th century, it belonged to the noble family of the marquisate dos aquas. The real focal point of the structure is definitely the main facade, with the beautiful alabaster sculptures. It seems that previously there were still others, but that the atmospheric agents have damaged them irreversibly.
We continue for a quick visit to the colon market, which has not met my expectations very much, since I imagined it as a sort of competitor in the central market. but it is very different and much smaller. but if you are close to it, take a walk, if only for the beauty of the external facade (or to go to the bathroom for free, if you need it ...)
Continuing our program, we go to see the placa redona, a small circular square with a few bars and a few kiosks that I really liked. Here too we take a couple of memories to take to friends and relatives as tradition dictates. We continue to the beautiful placa of the Puerta del mar, at the end of calle colon, where there is a sort of small Brandenburg Gate that originally was the gateway to the royal palace and later to the city. But this current one, of course, is a recent reproduction.
From here we walk along the very elegant Calle Colon with all its prestigious shops, such as Louis Vuitton, to name one, a famous shopping center, “el corte Ingles” and much more. It deserves a nice walk.
We then continue to the hotel, then we eat a couple of sandwiches and then change and run to the much vaunted Playa di Malvarrosa!
Right in front of our hotel we take tram line 6 towards “maritim-serreria” and, after about ten minutes, we get off at the Eugenia Vines stop. Ticket cost: € 1.50 each way. Once you get off the vehicle, we just have to cross the road and discover the magnificence of this place with our own eyes!
Huge spaces, absolute cleanliness, sports areas as far as the eye can see, showers, toilets, beautiful people. truly an experience that I already know will remain indelible. Indeed, I promised myself that malvarrosa (together with the Albufera park, which we were unable to reach) will be one of the reasons why I will return to Valencia in a few years! And this says it all.
After having refreshed our souls, around 7 pm, we take the tram back to the hotel. Here I had the suspicion that probably on the way out I had done - let's say - a bit of confusion with the tickets: they had to be stamped, but I did not understand this mechanism and I was lucky ... 10 minutes and we arrive, we get off the metro and we are immediately at the hotel.
A nice shower and still out for dinner and a spin. I had in mind to go and “scout” the Ruzafa area to have dinner, but while we were on the street, not far from the goal, I see a place with many windows, well lit and really full of people. Neco Mediterranean buffet - Calle de Pascual y Genís, 9 - 46002 Valencia. I take a peek in TripAdvisor and I discover it is an "all you can it" place. the reviews are not excellent, but not bad either. but yes, let's try this experience too!
You sit down, order a drink (and you pay for this separately) and then you can go to the buffet to get whatever you want. Some things were not bad, I must admit, but clearly you could not expect an unlikely level of quality for the amount you pay: for 3 with drinks we paid € 38 10.90 each. more drinks. I point out some excellent mussels, a decent paella, an excellent roast, lots of fruit, desserts and ice creams that will surely find a match in the tastes of many. After the little gourmet dinner, we indulge in our inevitable, how healthy, walk back to the hotel. Half an hour to enjoy this beautiful city again, Valencia in the evening / night, if possible, is even more fascinating ... the lights of the turìa gardens with its Ferris wheel, the bridges, notably the ponte des le flors, the bridge de la exposiciò and the beautiful pont del mar, in plaza de america are really very suggestive. You pay for such beauty ... now to bed
Last day. a little sadness peeps out, but this is also taken into account ... the secret is to think about the next trip already! After breakfast, we go back to prepare the luggage which we then left at the hotel to collect it in the afternoon when we will go to the airport right from the metro station in front of it. I confess that even in this the hotel has shown excellent organization and just as much availability!
Now we don't really know what to do among the things that we had proposed again: the albufera was the most suggestive one, but perhaps the time left is short and I don't want to do everything in a hurry and risk being too late. so in the end we go down again in the center to relive places already seen so that we can enjoy them even more. An unhurried walk, without deadlines. just pure emotions. The only "out of tune" note is that on Saturdays. it seems that tourists have tripled: there are a lot of people !!
I admit that even wandering like this, aimlessly and without anxiety, is a beautiful experience. You enjoy hidden corners that before, perhaps due to the tight deadlines and the frenzy of being able to show as many things as possible, you would not notice, you stop to look at the locals, how they live, how they work, how available they are with tourists. Shopping again, then lunch, a bit of relaxation and shortly after we go back to take the trolleys to set off comfortably at the airport.
Allow me some thoughts on this trip and on the city:
Valencia is really a lovely city, very clean and efficient, people are quiet and helpful. The prices are quite affordable, especially when compared to other large European cities. There are no window washers (yet there are thousands of traffic lights!), I have never noticed people who could give suspicion of the type of pickpockets or thieves ...
In some moments it happened to hear a bad smell coming from the grates of the sewer system along the streets of the center, but it was not always and not everywhere. I did not understand what could be the cause of this problem, but it actually causes annoyance.
But I really liked it a lot. It was a wonderful experience, which enriched me and made me fall in love with Spain even more. I hope one day to be able to return ...
Thanks for your attention and sorry if I have dwelt ... but writing I relived every emotion and I could not not transfer it in these lines!
Annarita La Barbera at Alicante station, Spain
"I want to go back to Italy, are you planning to return?". Two days ago I received this message on my mobile phone from an Italian girl I met in Alicante.
Not understanding the reason for his words, I ask for explanations: Spain has blocked all flights to and from Italy.
So I try to find out more.
“I'm afraid of getting stuck here - says Marina, 26, fresh from a degree in political science and has been in Alicante for only two months - in a country that is not mine. In my opinion, they are not even taking adequate precautions to deal with the Coronavirus. I have already canceled three flights, refunding the money for the ticket ”.
After just one day from the measures announced by the Spanish Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez, about a hundred Italians were unable to return home from the Iberian Peninsula.
Check for travelers to Spain
"There are people who have called me crazy just because I want to return to Italy at all costs. I believe that it is the right of a citizen who is in a foreign country to be able to return to his own state ", the girl says with regret who, continuing, adds" I spoke to the Italian Consulate and they told me that I can return either by sea or by of stopovers in other countries. The situation is hallucinating. They don't even know what to tell you ”.
So I try to call the Honorary Vice Consulate of Italy here in Alicante, the Italian Consulate in Barcelona and our Embassy in Madrid. No reply. A recorded voice invites you to write an email to their mailbox, but it is not certain - given the huge amount of work - that it is guaranteed that they will answer you or, if you really want to speak verbally with an office employee, you have to compose a paid number, valid only for Spain.
Marina is sure of one thing: she does not want to stay here in any way and, when I point out to him that the connections with Italy from Spain are interrupted until March 25, she challenges me: "My fear is that things , soon, they will also fall in Spain, because only now the government has woken up and has begun to take precautionary measures. I fear that, if the situation worsens here too, then my country will not let me return ”.
I read tension, anxiety in his words. How to blame her?
I, who have been living in Alicante for several months, do not have the desire to return: I am afraid only to travel.
An image of Alicante, Spain
What's more, the news that comes to me is devastating: I hear from my parents and closest friends on a daily basis.You live with bated breath and the fear that everything could collapse at any moment. Or maybe it's already collapsing.
My mother, a pharmacist by profession, is one of the few people who doesn't stay at home like everyone else in these hours. He tells me about his hectic days in the pharmacy: “I work with a mask and gloves. We are allowing access, inside the pharmacy, to only two customers at a time who must remain one meter away from us, without getting too close to the counter. These are precautionary measures because we are exposed to contagion at any time ”.
His biggest fear is that even medicines may start to run out: "I called to several stores and even the alcohol is finished".
He recommends me to be careful: “don't go to crowded places. Try to avoid eating out ”.
What I notice instead, in the place where I am, is that although the Government has started to take more serious measures, not all Spaniards have yet understood the gravity of the situation.
Speaking with a colleague, for example, I asked if he had bought the masks. “Spanish healthcare says masks are not necessary. Only those who are infected will have to carry them ”, he replied.
In truth, watching Spanish television, doctors and presenters constantly invite you to wear masks and wash your hands: it is enough to zap from one channel to another to see that the main topic is the Coronavirus. The attitude of the media, however, is a little different from that taken in Italy: they try to inform, without triggering panic.
An image of Alicante, Spain
Listening to an interview with a Spanish doctor yesterday afternoon, I was struck by one of his statements: "We have the best health in the world, I don't think the same Italian situation can happen and the isolation of the whole country will not be necessary. We will be able to keep everything under control ”.
Will his words be true? I hope so.
Yet the statements of an Italian woman, residing in Alicante for several years and reached by telephone, would prove the opposite: “I was in Rome a few weeks ago and returned to Alicante on the night of 6 March. Upon arrival in Rome, on February 16, the checks were massive: they measured everyone's temperature. On returning to Spain, however, I did not find any controls waiting for me. All very quiet. Now I'm panicking. I am not very well and I have been trying to call for four days all the numbers that the government has issued in case you are afraid of having contracted the coronavirus, but nothing, they never answer. It will be a simple flu, but I want to be swabbed and I can't find anyone to answer my phone. My doctor just gave me the number of emergencies. What to do?".
If you are in one of the municipalities belonging to the Valencian Community, it is useful to know that the toll-free number aimed at preventing the possible transmission of the virus and in case of urgency is 900300555.
The President of the Valencian Community, Ximo Puig, only a few days ago claimed that "as soon as the emergency number was activated, in a very short time, 3600 calls were received".
"Maybe, but I've been trying to call for days and they don't answer," replies the Italian woman.
“What are you going to do now,” I ask. “I'm staying at home, I don't want to be a potential oiler,” he tells me.
The term "greaser" begins to not tolerate it and, abroad we are now seen like this.
When I first arrived in Spain, when I claimed to be Italian, the first things I was told were "pasta, pizza, spritz" or, as bad as I liked, "mafia". Now "coronavirus".
Sometimes they tell you with a sarcastic smile, but it hurts, others humiliate you.
The other day, for example, I was at the municipal library to choose a book to take home. An elderly lady, as soon as she realized that I was Italian, asked the librarian why I was in there.
The latter, with a sweet smile addressed to me, replied: "Aquí no hay miedo". "There is no fear here".
At first it was the fault of the Chinese, now of the Italians. Ignorance leads us to think that people are the virus, that Italians have infected Europe. So, stay away.
A few hours ago, from the moment I am writing, another unpleasant scene.
I was waiting, with a friend, for the arrival of the bus near us a girl who, hearing me talk about the coronavirus and the Italian situation, took her suitcase and moved across the street, far from mine person. The same, however, was without a mask, unlike me, who travel possibly wearing it.
After all, it is difficult to find in crowded places - at least here in Alicante - people who cover their faces with masks. Yet the virus is galloping, in an impressive way, also in Spain: about 3000 cases and 80 deaths so far.
At the train station, I only see two tourists wearing anti-virus masks. People are sitting quietly waiting to leave, with their faces uncovered. The same thing also happens with regard to the police and those who carry out security checks. All without a mask and without gloves.
By chance, I meet two colleagues from a local television. They decide to interview me.
Closed the camera, they tell me that they are there waiting for the arrival of the train coming from Madrid.
"Just think - one of the two colleagues tells me - that our channel sent us to interview people arriving from the capital, where there are now a large number of infected people and no one has told us to wear masks or gloves. The government itself did not impose it on us as an obligation. We only know that we often have to disinfect our hands and the microphone with alcohol ".
I see the colleague from Spanish television worried. One of the few who probably understood that the Italian situation could also be upon them.
For the rest, even here, I try to protect myself. I take long walks on the beach and try to avoid closed or crowded places.
Annarita with a friend in Alicante
Every day I hear a friend of mine who lives in Syracuse and who tells me about her days as a "recluse", following the decree signed by Premier Giuseppe Conte and with which our country is trying to fight the Covid-19 pandemic. He describes the beautiful deserted Syracuse to me. "There is confusion only in front of the supermarket and there you have to queue to access it," he says.
It is basically a difficult time for everyone: for those who are in Italy at the moment and for those, like me, who are far from their loved ones.
“This situation is causing me strong emotions, incredible sensations inside”, my friend from Syracuse tells me.
Today, through an audio on whatsapp, she wanted to share one of her thoughts with me: “Think, Annarita, that sometimes I feel like crying. You know, a person takes too many things for granted in life. Then instead, at some point, you get up one day and find that everything is taken away from you for certain reasons. In this case, for heaven's sake, very understandable. On the one hand there is fear, so you have to stay at home on the other hand, you feel deprived of your freedom to be: not so much to live things, because it is not not being able to go out within yourself that makes you feel bad as much as the fact that you don't have to. Do you know what I hope? May all this pass soon and we can go back to hugging each other more than before ".
And that's what I hope too.
Maybe it won't be the same thing, but if we can't do it physically right now, let's do it with the heart: let's all embrace with the heart.
I embrace you with my heart. Rialzati Italy.
Calabrian by birth, but of Sicilian blood. Bachelor's degree in law. I started writing at the age of 20 for the political newspaper "Nuova Calabria". I was a correspondent for Locride for some time for Il Quotidiano della Calabria and Calabriainforma. I mainly dealt with the cases of anti-mafia access commissions and the landings of illegal immigrants on the Ionian coasts, in addition to the local news. I currently live in Spain