Thursday, December 17, 2009

Valencia afternoon

Today was my last day in Valencia. We got together with Cote, Rety and Bruce's best friend here and a Couchsurfing member, and his wife Ana and went to the Cuidad Viejo for tapas. Cote knew of a place that served the traditional tapas he likes and ordered up a selection of them that we enjoyed thoroughly: mussels, fried potatoes, a deep fried roll stuffed with tuna and veggies, a salad made with some sort of large bean, and deep fried calamari. After the coffee we had in an ancient and friendly cafe we walked around the city while the afternoon wore on into evening. It was good luck that Cote acted as our guide because we visited places that I didn't know about and that I'd have missed if not for him. Here we are at the tapa bar. From left to right we have Rety, Bruce, Cote, Ana, and Y'r Ob't S'v't.

First stop, the Silk Market (Lonja de la Ceda). Before heading off we met a young Chinese Couchsurfer from Canton, Xiaochao, (say: zow-chow) who is currently living in Nice, France, while she attends school there. She was fun to chat with and to have along on the last day of my visit. The Lonja de la Ceda was built between 1482 and 1533, and is a masterpiece of late Gothic architecture. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Above is a shot of one of the many gargoyles hanging around the place. The flag is that of the City of Valencia. Now the weirdest thing about this building IMHO is that it was, and remains, a masterpiece. Yet the carvings that adorn practically every cornice and doorway are decidedly, er, obscene, or at least mildly offensive in nature. Take a look for yourself. Each of these are approximately 12 inches in height and are sometimes part of a filigree or high-relief that might extend 15 or 20 feet, sometimes all the way to the border of the ceiling, and is composed of scene after scene like the ones below.

Here's another:

And another (below left). What is this guy attempting to do here? I leave it for you to figure it out.

Here's a sample (right) of a longer carving near a doorway. The entire building is decorated in this fashion.What motivated the designers to commission and pay  for such work at a time when the Roman Catholic Church reined supreme,  a church that was responsible for suppressing the sexuality inherent in other great works? Many ancient Greek sculptures of the male figure had the genitals chopped off centuries ago by ignorant priests and bishops of this same church. I guess that question deserves some research. Google anyone?

The artistic creations are not limited to stone work. There are fabulous carved wood ceilings throughout.

We stopped next at the Ceramic Museum. Here is one small portion of the extravagantly carved  entrance portico.

I took photos of some of the incredible pieces that reached out to me. I'm no student of art as I've admitted before, but these particular pieces reached out to me in some fashion so I include them below. Here is a bust I call the Porcelain Lady. Pretty incredible, no?

Recreated inside is this ceramic tiled kitchen. I'm not sure about the time it dates from but being a big fan of anything gustatory, here it is. I have a photo of Rembrandt's kitchen and thought this was its perfect counterpoint.

And this next one we jokingly referred to as the Penis Platter from the modern art section of the same museum. Hey, this is legitimate art. No complaints please.

We left the museum and headed for Cote's car. This fountain with its accompanying orange trees was begging to be photographed. That's Rety with her foot on its edge.

And lastly, another Christmas scene. Below is the Valencia City Hall lit up for the holiday.

I'm headed to Paris tomorrow. Talk to you soon....