Sunsets and Americana in Valencia

Un viaje en España – Days 7 & 8 – From Granada to Barcelona in two days


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Granada to Valencia

We were heading toward Barcelona – the last and final stop on our road trip – but needed a place to stop over between Granada and Barcelona, as the drive was much too far for one day and only one driver. We had chosen Valencia as our evening stop.

Our hotel in Valencia was perhaps the easiest to get to. We didn’t have to squeeze through Medieval streets or one-way alleys. The biggest challenge was the massive roundabout that went from four lanes of traffic to nine, with a million turn-offs that meant cutting people off as there weren’t any lane lines to follow. Otherwise, once we parked, it was a relief.

Finally, after seven days in Spain, we wanted something else to eat that wasn’t tapas. To be fair, tapas were amazing. They were delicious. I liked tapas, but if I had one more sliver of Iberian ham or chunk of Manchego, I might’ve gone crazy. Thus, when we sighted Hard Rock Cafe, I sold out my “let’s eat local foods” habit and agreed that it’d be lovely to sink my teeth into a massive freaking American burger. Ah, beef!

The sun was setting around the plaza nearby, highlighting the classical architecture and beautiful buildings. It was a nice, quiet night in Valencia, and though we’d only be staying the evening, I liked the ambiance of Valencia, considering how much of a foil the area around our hotel was to the knocking old walls of El Albayzín.

Valencia to Tarragona 

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Valencia to Tarragona

Morning in Valencia brought out the beautiful sunshine on the old buildings and balconies of the apartments across from the hotel. It was in the morning sunshine, after a delicious breakfast at the hotel, that we made our way toward Tarragona, a halfway stop between Valencia and Barcelona proper.

Morning sunlight on balconys

Tarragona was a city on the seafront from the old Roman days. Roman ruins abounded, including an old chariot track and an amphitheater on the waterfront. Arches and walls from the Romans circled near the town proper. The turquoise sea spread out like a jeweled carpet from the vantage point near the city centre. Boats, sails, and cruise ships dotted the shining water. The air was salty and humid – but the breeze cut the heat greatly.

We had lunch, walked around the Roman ruin sites, and found a shop for ice cream. From there, we left Tarragona and drove around the steep and winding coastline toward Barcelona. A bit treacherous at times, the views were beyond compare on the road. Even though the GPS kept yelling at us to get on the toll road – later to then yell at us to not use the toll road – we went in circles for a bit (on and off, then on again) to get on the highway. Then, we gave up on the GPS, turned onto the less treacherous highway, and watched for signs for the El Prat Airport outside Barcelona.

Tarragona to Barcelona 

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Tarragona to Barcelona

Once at the airport, we had to find the car rental check in area, park the car for Eurocar, and then get it assessed. Of course there had to be a dent in the bumper – though we honestly don’t remember bumping something that hard on that side – and ended up having to go through the rigamarole of finding the “office” to see what we’d have to pay for the dent. That meant hauling all of our luggage to the elevator, waiting close to twenty minutes for the elevator to stop on our floor and have enough room in it for us and our bags, and also push off people who were not understanding that a sizeable queue had formed for the elevator and that it wasn’t cool to jump the queue with their bags either.

By the time we arrived on the main floor, found the rental office, and then go into another long queue, I was in need of caffeine. Real caffeine. Caffeine that smelled like heaven and tasted like jet fuel. I went in search of such a thing whilst my friend waited for an opening at the rental office desk. I returned with jet fuel coffee and found out that since she’d had the extra insurance on the rental, we didn’t really need to do anything as insane as wait in all those queues after all. Grrrargh.

Tired, sweaty, gross, and needing sleep and cold water, we exited El Prat Airport and attempted to wheel our luggage cart down an unmoving movable walkway to the taxi stand because no way in hell we were even going to attempt Metro transport in our current mental and physical states. Halfway down the unmoving movable walkway, one of our bags toppled off the luggage cart and rolled ahead of us onto the unmoving moveable walkway. It nearly took out a woman in front of us but stopped short of us having to explain away an annoying and embarrassing situation.

Since my friend already had ahold of the luggage cart, it had to be me to retrieve it. With a coffee in one hand that I was not, under any circumstances, going to let go of or spill, and two smaller bags in the other, I hauled up the massive suitcase, managed to right it, and got it down the unmoving movable walkway without spilling a drop of my jet fuel coffee. Success!

After throwing ourselves into the taxi and giving the hotel’s address, we settled in for an air-conditioned ride to the hotel and our final stopping point on our Spanish road trip. However, we no longer had the issue of finding parking for the car or minding our way through skinny alleys, so that was a load off our minds at the time.

Now, just to navigate the storied streets of what became my favourite stop on our trip – Barcelona.

My apologies to Granada for cheating on its medieval and Moorish beauty, but Barcelona grabbed my heart and ran away with it the moment I scouted the streets of the Gothic Quarter and spotted the masterpieces of the great Gaudí.

After all, how could it not?

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