The old town
Whenever I go to a Grand Prix… Hang on, does that sound complacent? *self awareness kicking in* I know how privileged I am to be doing so many, but I’m also a realist, for which I make no apologies! …so whenever I go to a Grand Prix, it’s like an excuse for a mini break to another new city; Melbourne, Barcelona, Monaco, Valencia, Budapest… But because I’m at the track much of the daytime, the city tours generally happen at night. And last night was no exception.
Valencia apparently has two distinct parts to it: the old town around Colõn and the Bullring, and the new town, recognisable for its distinctive architecture. Well the Grand Prix track, despite being a ‘street circuit’ is in neither of these areas (it’s down by the harbour). So last night was an opportunity to see the old town.
Pose, and… doh!
A few of the Merc team and Signõr Bean are keen to watch the footie, but having followed little or none of Euro 2012 so far, I figure the old town is a more appealing option, so Mr P takes me across town to see it.
AN: Signõr Bean is Mr P’s Italian colleague, who bears a frightening resemblance to Rowan Atkinson’s character with his many “Beanerisms”.
So we hail a cab and fly across town, fly being the operative word. I’m sure the driver jumps at least two red lights and is clearly an Alonso fan (loving that iPhone predictive text thinks ‘Alonso’ should read ‘Aliens’!) as he’s leaving his breaking to the absolute last metre. As the sound of horns grows ever louder, I’m starting to think he could be on the run from the mafia? However, the cheers from those outside the cafes we pass, soon gives away the football score, Spain are thrashing someone?!
Anyway, we get to the Old town; v impressed (and embarrassingly uneducated) I drop a clanger and remark that I didn’t know Valencia had a coliseum… On realising the impressively-illuminated circular structure is, obviously, the bullring, I quickly move the subject on to the need for beer and tapas, and we head off in the opposite direction.
Having taken the necessary and sensible action to avoid dehydration (ie we order a bottle of water with our cerveza e patatas bravado con allioli), we move on again and discover a beautiful square, surrounded on all sides by some of the nicest architecture I’ve seen here.
Besides the ironically-named Intelligent bank, the other buildings are definitely worthy of a picture. Out comes the camera. I eventually remember how to use it, I think; I frame my shot, wonder why it’s still whirring? I find the switch to turn it from movie back to still shot, frame my shot again, switch the flash off and… the building’s floodlights go out. Dammit. Right, after watching me faff around long enough to miss that opportunity, Mr P takes the camera and just casually snaps the adjacent building, looking very smug (clearly, I did the hard work setting the settings correctly…)
By this time, as a result of either stupidity and/or alcohol, we start to get a bit silly… Swiping my card to gain entry to an unlocked ATM facility, getting chased down by a road sweeper polishing the marble pavements, and taking photos of people peeping out from behind palm trees… I suspect the CCTV from last night’s cameras could prove quite entertaining!
Eventually struggling to keep eyes open, we call it a night around 2 or 3. Tomorrow is race day so sleep would be a prudent idea! Night.