Thursday, June 30, 2011

Valencia quiere Fórmula 1 hasta 2021

Francisco Camps, presidente del Consell, Rita Barberá, alcaldesa de Valencia y Bernie Ecclestone, dueño de la Fórmula 1, llegaron a un acuerdo verbal para cambiar la fecha del Gran Premio de F1 que se disputa en Valencia, que sería adelantado a mayo en caso de ratificarse el acuerdo por escrito, convirtiéndose en la primera cita europea del calendario la competición, según informaron diversos medios valencianos. El objetivo es atraer más turistas, que estos se queden en la ciudad por más tiempo y gasten más dinero, un turismo que no atraiga únicamente a aficionados del motor cuyo único propósito sea ver la carrera.

Tras el éxito de la Fórmula 1 en Valencia este año, las autoridades locales están predispuestas a hacer todo lo que haga falta para que la competición se mantenga en la ciudad por 10 años más, hasta 2021, especialmente si Barcelona no puede mantener su Gran Premio. Las negociaciones con Ecclestone ya han empezado y por ahora van por buen camino, según se desprende de lo filtrado por ambas partes.
El circuito de Montmeló tiene problemas económicos y las autoridades catalanas no aseguran la permanencia de l carrera por más de dos años, algo que no es del agrado de Ecclestone, más dado a cerrar tratos de larga duración. De no disputarse en Montmeló ninguna carrera de Fórmula 1, se baraja la posibilidad de que Valencia acoja el Gran Premio de España y, por lo tanto, el de Europa buscaría una nueva plaza, quizás Rusia.


A little piece of Japan in Valencia at this shop specializing in Japanese food products and cookware.

+34 963 73 30 28

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Me Love You Wordreference!

With no disrespect to my other friends, many of whom happen to be human beings, I have to say that my best friend here in Spain continues to be the online dictionary, Wordreference. There are a couple of useful things that one learns while trying to master another language (or languages) as an adult. The first cruel reality is that the process never ends. There is no finish line. You won’t land a fighter jet on an aircraft carrier with a huge banner reading “Mission Accomplished.”  I imagine myself on my deathbed asking the doctor to talk slower because I don’t understand him. “You want to put what in my where?” My online dictionary will hopefully be able to clear up this misunderstanding.

Wordreference is an amazing tool in my study of French and Spanish. I can’t imagine going back to a language dictionary in book form. That would be like going back to an outhouse after years of living with indoor plumbing. This morning I read an article in Le Figaro about Imams in Benghazi preaching revolution, with the French paper in one tab and Wordreference in the next. In the time it would take me to reach over and pick up a dictionary I have an exhaustive list of possible definitions for the word in question.  The time I save means more time for prayer!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Europe Stifles Drivers in Favor of Alternatives

The New York Times Article

Although fairly hostile towards pedestrians,* this is one of the few articles of this nature that I have seen in an American publication and a message that Americans need beat into their heads every day.  

Zurich’s planners continue their traffic-taming quest, shortening the green-light periods and lengthening the red with the goal that pedestrians wait no more than 20 seconds to cross.
“We would never synchronize green lights for cars with our philosophy,” said Pio Marzolini, a city official. “When I’m in other cities, I feel like I’m always waiting to cross a street. I can’t get used to the idea that I am worth less than a car.”

As far as Valencia has come in the years I have lived here it is still maddening how long pedestrians have to wait at many intersections just to cross the damn street. They are also forced to wait two times to cross a single intersection just so cars can keep driving well over the legal limit. More than anything Valencia needs to slow traffic the hell down. As fast as a lot of traffic moves in this city and accident involving pedestrians or cyclists will have a very serious result, to put it mildly.

Of course, because The New York Times is closely monitored by far-right nut cases seeking to turn back the tide of socialism, the first comment to this story comes from a member of their half-witted ranks.

“Lets keep European ideas and implementation of Traffic in Europe where they belongs. Don't import these ideas and plans to this country. I don't want a Nanny government to dictate how I travel and what modes of travel I use.”

So by this logic the government shouldn't be building roads. as the glorious free market  will provide for all our needs.  As if America should ignore any idea simply because Europeans thought of it first. I don’t want a “nanny” (I hate that over-used word) government telling me that the only way that I can get around is by car. I doubt that the person who wrote this semi-literate comment even bothered (or was able) to read the article and they certainly skipped over this part:

“Mr. Fellmann calculated that a person using a car took up 115 cubic meters (roughly 4,000 cubic feet) of urban space in Zurich while a pedestrian took three. “So it’s not really fair to everyone else if you take the car,” he said.”

It’s time we made car drivers pay the true societal and environmental costs of the automobile. Highways and streets and horrifically expensive yet people scream bloody murder every time the government spends a dime on rail service, as if Amtrak should make a profit while highways continue to deplete tax dollars. I realize that many people in the USA would find it difficult or impossible to live without cars but this is only because we have made the decision to build our cities to exclude any transportation model besides the personal automobile. 

*Here is just a short inventory of the ways the tone of this article paints pedestrians as basically criminals intruding on the rights of car drivers.

creating environments openly hostile to cars

The methods vary, but the mission is clear — to make car use expensive and just plain miserable

Barcelona and Paris have had car lanes eroded by popular bike-sharing programs.

Closely spaced red lights have been added on roads into town, causing delays and angst for commuters.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Kanda Books

Come to Kanda Books for Valencia's largest selection of books in English. they also have a nice collection of books in French, Spanish, and German. They have a buy-back policy when you've finished reading whatever it is you have read as well as having great prices. So recycle your books and contribute to the general literacy of the city while saving lots of money.

Check out their selection of hand-crafted cards priced from 1.50 - 5.50

Open seven days a week!

Calle de la Tapineria 18 (behind la Plaza de la Reina)

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Formula One Grand Prix

Today is the big day! Formula One Grand Prix of Valencia will be blasting through the streets of the port area. I think that after Monaco Valencia is the most spectacular spot in the circuit. The course itself has proven to make for some pretty boring races in the city’s short history of hosting the event. Changes to the cars and tires this year should produce a more interesting competition in this, Valencia’s fourth Grand Prix. Of course most people here will be cheering for Fernando Alonso.

The Course: 308 kilometers, or 57 laps of the 5.41 kilometer track.

Saturday, June 25, 2011


Tapas y Mucho Más...

If you are looking for something to do this evening head down to the beach at Playa de las Arenas in front of the Neptune Hotel for an night of tapas and much more. DJ's, animation, carting, and everything you can imagine. Tapas may well be Spain's greatest contribution to humanity.  They may well be the greatest contribution to humanity ever. Don't miss out on this event. A great way to start out your night before the big race on Sunday.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Portland Ale House

I hate to use the word "trendy" as some use it as a sort of insult, but Portland Ale House is a trendy bar in the heart of the very trendy area of Canovas. At a time when other bars are complaining about "la crisis" Portland is packing them in...night after night. Their success is not a secret. They are a good old-fashioned brew pub, a common sight in Seattle and Portland but one of a kind here in Valencia.They brew their own beer and it's always the best in town. It's a great place to watch a game.  There's a pub quiz on Sunday evenings and on Wednesday nights there is an English/Spanish intercambio

Portland Ale House
Calle Salamanca 10  #963 810 406

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Night of San Juan

Tonight, the night of San Juan the huge Valencia city beach will be filled with people and bonfires. It is pretty much just a huge crowd drinking together. It's the one time during the year that the police look the other way while you burn fires and get stupid drunk on the beach. Basically it’s just a very pagan summer equinox celebration. Make a wish, jump over your bonfire, and jump into the sea (to put out your flaming bikini).

Booze, food, and the beach. What are you waiting for?

Tomorrow the beach will be filled with more garbage than you ever thought imaginable.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Sangria isn't too popular in Valencia; it's more of an Andalucia drink. Nevertheless, it's fun to make and a nice treat once in a while. I looked around a bit to find this recipe which is as good as any other I found and at least it's Spanish. Sangria is basically wine and fruit and whatever the hell else you want to throw in it. Spanish brandy is always nice are looking to add a little kick to it.

Another version in English. And bravo for mentioning in this video that Spain is the third largest producer of wine behind Italy and France.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Next weekend: Formula 1 in Valencia!

The Formula 1 track in Valencia explained by Mark Webber in the Red Bull simulator.

And this is how the same Mark Webber crashed last year.... Red Bull gives you wings!

Why the people are angry in Spain


Este pintor valenciano me gusta especialmente. Mi casa siempre ha estado repleta de libros sobre su obra y ha sido fuente de inspiracion para mi padre, y por ende, y por el gusto innato que heredo por la pintura, para mi tambien desde un punto de vista artistico.

No voy a dedicarme con estas pequeñas incursiones en la historia artistica de nuestra tierra a copiar de wikipedia una biografia del maestro en cuestion, sino desde un punto de vista estrictamente personal, expresar mis opiniones sobre la obra de los distintos representantes del mundo artistico valenciano en todas sus facetas.

Joaquin Sorolla Bastida (1963-1920) abusa del costumbrismo, de las escenas cotidianas a orilla del mar, de los jovenes que coquetean, de las mujeres que tranquilas pasean ludiendo sus blancos y elegantes atuendos, de los pescadores que recogen sus redes y de las niños que juegan mojando sus pies. Retrata la parte mas cercana a sus recuerdos de niñez, el mar, su familia...

Creo que este es uno de mis favoritos "Paseo a orillas del mar". La blancura de los vestidos, el sutil y poco habitual movimiento reflejado en la imagen, la belleza y serenidad que transmiten las dos mujeres en su paseo...

Sorolla se obsesiona en buscar y transmitir la luz, viaja durante toda su vida buscando nuevas tecnicas que le permitan captar la tan anhelada luminosidad, sin embargo, salvo contadas y menos conocidas excepciones, se mantiene fiel a sus imagenes marinas y playeras, a su estilo de pincelada larga y rapida ejecucion y a los colores mediterraneos caracteristicos de su Valencia natal.

Actualmente Sorolla sigue siendo uno de los mas aclamados y cotizados pintores a nivel mundial; prueba de ello es este cuadro "Las tres velas" subastado recientemente en Sothebi´s por un valor de casi TRES MILLONES DE EUROS!!! Ahora la eterna discusion sobre los astros: realmente es tan caro su talento????

Young people want to live abroad

According to the latest Eurobarometer survey, 53 percent of young people in Europe are willing or very interested in working in another European country. The survey emphasizes the huge gap between their desire to work abroad and the actual mobility of workforce, highlighting that less than 3 percent of the European population lives and works abroad. The survey’s commentary suggests the lack of financial means as the inhibiting factor.

“The survey shows that young people are keen and willing to work abroad. That’s good news for Europe; unfortunately they still face too many obstacles. We need to make it easier for them to study, train or work abroad and to raise awareness of the financial support available through EU schemes like Erasmus, which can give them a first taste of living outside their home country”, said Androulla Vassiliou, the European Commissioner for Education, Culture, Multilingualism and Youth.

Only one out of seven young adults in Europe has studied abroad. On the other hand, 33 percent of them claim they cannot afford to go abroad, and 63 percent of those having studied abroad used their own financial resources to do so.

Eurobarometer surveyed people from 15 to 35 years of age from 27 countries in the European Union, plus Croatia, Iceland, Norway and Turkey. The largest number of whom managing to become expats is from Iceland (84 percent), Sweden (76 percent), Bulgaria (74 percent), Romania (73 percent) and Finland (71 percent).

It seems that the level of education is one of the determining factors, as out of the respondents who successfully moved abroad 55 percent had a higher education qualification, compared to only 33 percent who had only a lower secondary level qualification.

The main reason for wanting to work abroad was for better job opportunities, followed by improved academic knowledge, improved foreign language skills and awareness of another culture

The Bells of San Valero

Cockney is both a linguistic and geographical term generally referring to people living in East London. A standard definition is that in order to be a Cockney, one must have been born within earshot of the Bow Bells of St Mary-le-Bow church. The church was actually destroyed in 1666 in the Great Fire but was rebuilt again. The bells were ruined yet another time in The Blitz of 1941 only to be replaced again in 1961. The Ruzafa neighborhood of Valencia could also be defined as those within earshot of the bells of Saint Valero Church in the Plaza Landete.

The bells are the one bit of noise that enters my apartment that thoroughly charms me every time I hear them. Every morning you can hear the smaller bells ringing to signal the daily mass at this 15th century iglesia. The larger bells are rung at irregular times during the course of any given day. All of the bells are rung together for weddings and other special occasions and this can be heard very well throughout the entire neighborhood of Ruzafa, or the center of the universe as we call our home. The full pealing of the bells can just about knock a man off his bike. To me the ringing of the bells is very comforting; this sound is as much a part of where I live as the physical structure of the church itself.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cycling in Copenhagen

Valencia should be more of a bike city than Copenhagen. We have much better weather and it's as flat as a tortilla. The new Valenbisi program is a huge success, almost TOO successful as the stations are often completely full or completely empty. A big problem here are car drivers who have zero respect for cyclists. Many more people would ride bikes in Valencia if they felt safer on the streets. Bike theft is also a huge issue which is why so many people have embraced Valenbisi. A new law makes it illegal to chain your bike to trees or to any street structure (mobiliario urbano) while there are only 4,000 bike parking slots in a city of 1 million citizens. Do the math; we need more bike parking and we also need the police to actually do something about bike theft.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Highway Removal

Some of the most well-known highway removals in America -- like New York City's Miller Highway and San Francisco's Embarcadero Freeway -- have actually been unpredictable highway collapses brought on by structural deficiencies or natural disasters. It turns out there are good reasons for not rebuilding these urban highways once they become rubble: They drain the life from the neighborhoods around them, they suck wealth and value out of city, and they don't even move traffic that well during rush hour.

Now several cities are pursuing highway removals more intentionally, as a way to reclaim city space for housing, parks, and economic development. CNU has designated ten "Freeways without Futures" here in North America, and in this video, you'll hear about the benefits of tearing down the Alaskan Way Viaduct in Seattle, the Sheridan Expressway in the Bronx, the Skyway and Route 5 in Buffalo, and the Claiborne Expressway in New Orleans.

Valencia has been creating bigger and bigger roads on it peripheries. Avenida Cortes de Valencia has a ridiculous amount of traffic lanes (14!) which has a very dehumanizing effect on the surrounding area. These big thoroughfares cut the city into pieces instead of joining neighborhoods together. The recently remodeled Gran Via Germanias acts like the Berlin Wall and separates the downtown area and Ruzafa. Fewer roads and slower traffic are better for the people and for the city.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Alli Pebrre

One of the finest delicacies of this region are eels. They are also one of the pricier items in the market at over 14 euros a kilo which seems like a lot for this half worm, half snake. A great place to order this dish is in Palmar in the middle of the Albufera which like eel central.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hemingway in Translation

I recently reread (in Spanish) Ernest Hemingway’s Fiesta, or The Sun Also Rises as it’s called in English. I actually prefer the Spanish title as it is more accurate and much less pretentious.  Hemingway translates well into Spanish, especially his books which take place in Spain. His books can be found everywhere here in Spain and at reasonable prices.  As I have said many times, books translated into Spanish are generally easier to read than those written by Spanish writers. Hemingway is a breeze since his style is so simple. I barely touched a dictionary through this short novel.

I can’t remember exactly when I read this book for the first time, probably sometime during my lost final year of high school when I was a terrible student. The only thing that saved me was the fact that I read a lot on my own. Hemingway, Steinbeck, Faulkner, Dickens, and Vonnegut were my favorites.  Now that I think of it, I read Fiesta earlier, when I was 15 because I remember that I thought that for the first time I had read a book for adults. The theme of this book was simply different than anything I had read before. Just what this theme is still escapes me, however, but I’ve always had a soft spot for this book, horrible anti-Semitism and boorish drunk behavior aside.

Chapter 12 was my favorite then and now. It was also probably about 100% responsible for the fact that I now speak French and Spanish and live in Spain. When I first read this I was living in the Midwest and had never traveled anywhere. The Paris and Spain described in the book where, to me, like Disneyland must be for some (spoiled) children, or Mecca for Muslims. These were places that I just had to see with my own eyes. The only other time that I have been so totally consumed by a place in books was for the Low Country of South Carolina described in Pat Conroy’s novels.

I never much cared for fishing, both as a kid and as an adult, but I was thoroughly mesmerized by this passage of the trout fishing expedition that Jake and Bill take in the Pyrenees. As a young boy from the center of the USA I hardly knew what wine was, but I knew that a bottle of wine taken from a cold mountain stream and drunk on a warm day must surely be as close to heaven as any liquid can be.  I should write a chapter about mountain biking in the beautiful Cascade Mountains of Washington and skinny dipping with a gorgeous woman—it sure beats fishing.     

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Plenilunio (Full Moon)

After reading just two of his books, Ventanas de Manhattan and Plenilunio, I would have to say that Antonio Muñoz Molina is my favorite contemporary Spanish author. Plenilunio is ostensibly a police novel that deals with the case of a murdered child. I don't read books of this genre as a general rule but this novel really stands well above the usual pulp stuff. I would read more crime novels if they were more like this one. He is every bit as skillful as John Le Carré. I think what I dislike so much about the whole serial killer genre is that most of the time they make the killer out to be some sort of evil genius, like a James Bond villain. Muñoz Molina has a villain who is just a creepy loser like they are in real life. There often is a certain banality in evil and it is never glamorous.

Plenilunio is a police novel without the detective using his gun or fists to do his job. In one section when he is interrogating the suspect he doesn't even raise his voice to the level of shouting and his most aggressive act towards the criminal is abandoning the formal usted for the familiar form. Muñoz Molina also doesn't pander to readers looking for revenge. I can probably count on one hand how many books and films about criminals end with the guy actually getting arrested and the due process of the law doing what we put it there to do. We always seem to want to inflict our own idea of justice which means shooting the bad guy or throwing him off a bridge. It's not that easy as he explains in this brief but telling passage:

No había un modo de reparar el ultraje, de hacer verdadera justicia,de borrar siquiera una parte del sentimiento provocado. Sentir orgullo, envanercerse del éxito, le hubiera parecido no sólo una obscenidad, sino también una falta de respeto hacia las víctimas.

There was no way to make amends for the outrage, to have real justice, to erase even a part of the hurt. To feel pride (the detective for catching the criminal), to feel vanity for his success, to him would have seemed like not only an obscenity, but also a lack of respect for the victims

What I love most about this novel is his incredible eye and attention for detail. I noticed the author's acute vision when I read Ventanas de Manhattan which is one of the mot insightful travel narratives that I have ever read. The story of Plenilunio takes place in a fictitious small town in Spain but I would love to see the actual place the author had in mind when he wrote the book. He describes everything in such incredible detail that we can almost see for ourselves exactly what the author sees. His characterizations are equally as well detailed, if not more so.

I watched the movie adaptation of the book right after finishing the novel. It was fairly faithful to the book although they tried to make more of the killer than the author intended. I suppose that movie goers would feel cheated if they weren't given a criminal to really hate. In the book he was just a nondescript loser.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

A Proverb a Day

A la cama no te irás sin saber una cosa más*

I translated the following from my Diccionario Júnior:

Refrán (Proverb or saying) Popular phrase repeated traditionally in the same manner that reflects things man has learned and seem like great truths.

The Spanish language is up to its eyelids in proverbs. I remember that what I loved the most about my very first Spanish grammar book were the proverbs that came at the beginning of each chapter. I’m sure that the other languages that I have studied over the years have their fair share of proverbs; I just can’t recite a single saying in French, or Greek, or Arabic. I can go toe-to-toe with just about the best of them when it comes to Spanish proverbs.

At the Sunday flea market I picked up a copy of Los Mejores Refranes Españoles with 11,225 proverbs. This is by far the best 2€ I have spent since I got here. I’m sure my time would be better spent cramming vocabulary or grammar into my head but I just like learning Spanish sayings—I can blame it on that first text book I used. I suppose that these pithy little sentences make the sometimes-tedious process of learning a new language a little more fun. At least it was until I read about 200 of them.

*Never go to bed without having learned something new. This has always been one of my favorite sayings…in any language. I make an attempt to fulfill this promise to myself although some days are better than others.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Via Verde Ojos negros

A short video about the train ride to Teruel where cyclists begin the Via Verde of Ojos Negros.  At 148 kilometers it is the longest Via Verde in Spain but if you start in Teruel it’s downhill all the way! Perfect for experienced cyclists who want to ride hard and fast and also for domingueros looking to see a bit of the beautiful countryside.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Pollo al Ajillo

 Yet another iconic Spanish dish that I have been meaning to perfect for quite a while but could never find the right recipe.  I was thinking about making my own video for this dish but the one above nails it. I made one slight variation in that I drained almost all of the oil before I added the spices and garlic.  Most of the people I know—and they are almost all Valencianos—complain that this dish is too oily—and that’s saying a lot for Spanish folk.  I have made this two times before and I had the same complaint. No complaints with this recipe.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Will Someone Erect a Statue of You?

I took the picture of this statue which is on the Gran Via Católica. I have a little rule of tourism: if I take a picture of a statue I then try to learn something about the person who posed for it. I found out a little about Salvador Giner because I figure that he was probably more renowned in his lifetime than I'll ever be in mine. I seriously doubt that anyone will bother to erect a statue in my likeness after I pass away (perhaps I should pay someone to do it?). I did come up with the cure for the common cold but I will probably never get credit for it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lliria by Metro

Lliria and the coastal plain.

Lliria is at the end of the #1 Metro line from Valencia. Bikes are allowed on the metro on the above-ground stations. You can get on with your bike at the Emplame station. Remember that bikes are allowed on the Metro on Saturdays until 14:00 and all day on Sundays. The village has an interesting historic center and towering above are the ruins of La Ermita de Santa Bárbara. If you are looking for some good hills to climb, this is the place for you. The surrounding area is great for biking either off-road or on the uncrowded highways.

La Ermita de Santa Bárbara

VIDEO: how does Globexs work?