After my cousin's departure, I managed to enjoy a couple of nights out with our friends, finally feeling responsible only for my-self. We went out for dinner with a few people in Soho to celebrate the world cup victory and cheer the moral up of us, poor homesick immigrants. It worked. Richard's dancing performance in the club was particularly uplifting. The night before our vacation we went to Rachel, Jules, Penny and Clare's 30s birthday, and Lofty and I managed to fit an Italian tête-à-tête dinner in between.
***Our four days in Valencia were hot. The heat was at times unbearable downtown where our lovely hotel was based. Inside the air conditioning at all force contributed to create a sense of green house effect outdoors. The city is lovely though: ancient ruins mingle with renaissance and modernist buildings, in the same style of Gaudi's Barcelona, but more discreet than, say, the Sagrata Familia. The first night, after a Spanish meal based on chorizo, Serrano ham and lomo, we went for a walk throughout the pedestrian roads of the city centre, and this is what we did pretty much for the following four nights. The following morning we explored the food market, the main cathedral and some more churches. In the afternoon we went to the City of Arts and Sciences: an impressive contemporary complex resembling marine animals with a futuristic touch. The actual museum was a bit disappointing except for some interactive games that kept us occupied for most of the day. I particularly enjoyed looking at all sorts of exotic insects, of diverse shapes and dimensions. Some of them were camouflaging superbly with the nature around recreated around them. That night we opted for a first class restaurant where we had the most delicate beef, and tuna Carpaccio. The second day of our staying we went for a walk, then got lost for a while, and finally reached the beach where we spent a few relaxing hours. After spending most of our food budget the night before, we decided to try a pizzeria serving 100 different varieties of pizza. Tasty but rock heavy. On our last Valencian day, our highlight was visiting the aquarium hosting fishes and mammals from all over the world. The tropical fishes swimming over our heads were quite spectacular; the sharks quite impressive; the sea lions in the swimming pool hilarious; the dolphins breathtaking. How intelligent are they?! Their show nearly moved me. The visit to the aquatic life was followed by the modern art museum, where an exhibition by Elizabeth Murray was featured (below is the painting that most caught my attention). That night we tried paella but we did not have luck: it was sticky and horrible. Valencia is a quite trendy place and it is not so easy to find traditional Spanish restaurants. We concluded the first part of our mini-holiday sipping "aqua de Valencia" in a converted-pub-pharmacy.
***The second half of our holiday was miles away from the comfort life of Valencia. No more bed, air conditioning, hot water, electricity, or clean toilets. Instead, a small tent, unisex and chilly common showers, smelly toilets and a tiny torch accompanied us (and other 35,000 youngsters, amongst which ten were our English friends) for the following four days in Benicassin. Amazing bands played non-stop from 8pm on to 8am. The atmosphere was quite civilised (let apart that my camera got stolen), and everybody looked beautiful, young, glam and fresh (perhaps a bit less fresh towards the end of the weekend). It's incredible how quickly I got used to the showers and to this basic life style--if it wasn't for the heat preventing me from resting well. By the last day I could even cope with the toilets, in my own way: holding my breath, not touching a thing and sterilise my hands before and after the sin! We generally spent our days at the beach, which was a long trek down the hill where we were based, and the nights at the festival. Being our campsite next to the stages, we had no chances to fall asleep before 5am. On our last day we went to the water park and had pure fun! I wanted to try the blue and yellow high slides when the sight of a few girls with collars discouraged me from the adventure. The bands I most enjoyed: Morrissey, so arty, stylish and a tiny bit eccentric! Depeche Mode, class and with the best photography! Franz Ferdinand, surprisingly great! Madness, very entertaining! Placebo and The Pixies, great to dance!Our travel back was quite of a struggle: we had to wait in the queue under the peak sun for nearly two hours before getting on a bus. The flight to Madrid was delayed and so the flight to London. From Heathrow we had to catch the tube because nobody was available to pick us up and took us over one hour of journey to finally get into our comfy bed. It was all worth it and I would do it again ... So, you see? I am not too old for rock ‘n roll festivals!P.S. Don't despair. We managed to save a couple of memory cards, and our friends took plenty of pics which will be available shortly. Below are a couple of snapshots from our camera phone.