Day 2: Valencia - Grampies Go Valencia to Paris: Spring 2024 - CycleBlaze

February 8, 2024

Day 2: Valencia

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Even though our first stay in Europe this time was at the Travelodge chain, the breakfast was still a thrill. It included real croissants, real cheese, bacon, eggs, some vegetables, yogurt, and such. Mexican food is fun, but our heritage is still European and the food here is what our bodies seem to know works best for them.

Vienoisserie!
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Not spectacular, for Europe, but still great.
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Gregory GarceauIs that a dish of navy beans in a runny bbq sauce I see in the foreground? Aside from that, if the Travelodge chain served breakfasts like what I'm seeing here, they wouldn't be almost extinct in the midwestern part of the U.S. (There are only two in Minnesota.)
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Gregory GarceauThis us the one dish that is there for British tourists, sort of like baked beans, part of the full English breakfast that one either love or hates. We lean more to the hate camp, but the Brits seem to really long for their full English.
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Our first chore was to go and free our bikes from the storage locker. It would be easy to get to them, because they are very near the San Isidro metro stop.  Our hotel was opposite the "Roses" metro station, so in principle we could just go. There was a hurdle, though, - the classic one of figuring out the ticket machine, when the ticket office is closed.  Every train, metro, and bus system has its own unique arrangement of zones and ticket types, so that even if you can understand how to operate the ticket machine, it will not be clear what to buy. We had a few false starts, until some bystanders stepped in, and soon we were the proud owners of a card containing 10 metro or bus rides, for 5 euros only. That's a low price, and clear evidence of an enlightened approach here to public transit.

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We were already aware of the Angel Guimera central interchange station. We headed there, changed lines, and soon were at San Isidro. What a pleasure it was to use this Metro. Whether in Montreal, Paris, London, or here, they are all great once you get the hang of them.

In the Metro, this ad for Spanish lessons looks tempting.
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Here is a look at what the general ridership of the Metro looked like today. I notice that they are all "young", something that I see more and more as we get older and older. Also, they seem very white. There was one woman on the train that perhaps came from Central America, and one black person, but otherwise the people have no interesting skin tones. One of the bystanders that helped us was in fact wearing a hijab, so that's something. Interestingly, she spoke perfect English.
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Karen PoretI probably will regret posting this (spoiler alert!) but the second passenger wearing the long gray tie resembles :( D Trump junior…
His Father is why I am really afraid of November 2024…
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretYup, we are dreading that date also.
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We had a slight glitch in getting into the bike locker, due to partly having forgotten the passcode. But a man came along and gave us the hint that it was 6 digits, and that was enough to jog our memory.  You would think we would have carefully written a thing like that down. Maybe we did, but how to remember where we wrote it!

It took a little while to get the bikes loaded and organized, including pumping the tires to restore pressure lost over three months. One was in fact completely flat, so we'll have to keep an eye on it.

We set off toward our hotel for today, the wonderful NH Center. Because this is Valencia, the trip was entirely on separated bike lanes! The temperature also was great, starting at 18 degrees. A high of 23 is forecast for tomorrow or the next day.

Oh, do we love Valencia for cycling!
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Karen Poret18 degrees, or Celsius? 18 degrees is c-o-l-d and 18 Celsius is about 65 degrees..lovely!
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretCelsius, of course. You guys and the Brits are about the only holders on to the non metric measures. And at least you guys drive on the proper side off the street, even if you still measure in miles.
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We stopped to adjust our packs, and encountered this troupe of seniors, out for some guided exercise. The group leader asked if we were headed for Santiago de Compostella, and we could accurately say yes, by way of Malaga. She seemed quite impressed by that.

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So far, for birds, we had only seen pigeons, but here is a collared dove.

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We gambled a bit in coming here without knowing what weather conditions would really be like, in February. But look at these flowers!
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Karen PoretBougainvillea ?
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretIndeed.
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And wow, oranges. (Valancia oranges?) We will soon quit photographing things like this, as they become commonplace.
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But oranges PLUS a Decathlon will surely always be special!
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We showed up at the NH Center and were pleased to find that the reception man recognized us from last year. Even better, there was no problem in going to our room right away. The room is on the tenth floor, and features a fully opening window. In hotel rooms, we are always looking for fresh air, and often put a shoe in the door to encourage circulation. But this tenth floor window is well positioned to catch higher altitude winds, and we can blow air through the room at a prodigious rate. 

With this large window at the 10th floor, our room is never going to be stuffy.
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It was nice to get into the room, because it allowed us to pull stuff from its airplane travel arrangement and convert to cycle travel. It's something that will usually take a couple of hours. We have the time and comfort here to do it happily. After that, we have an idea - we'll go for a bike ride!

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We dropped the ides of a bike ride and instead walked out to El Corte Ingles, which is a huge department store. The name translates as the English Court, but we don't know that means exactly.  El Cortes Ingles is the biggest department store in Europe and third worldwde, but may only have stores in Spain an Portugal. The store is "American" style, with vast displays of  items from handbags to electronics to bedding. The huge store here is probably dwarfed by the flagship location ion Madrid.

We were not looking to buy a handbag, or smartphone, or bed with this outing, but only to find the post office. (It's in a corner of the bedding section.) The idea was to do a mailback of gear. This is surprising, because we have yet to actually pedal to any destinations. Yet we see how mild it is here,  and have decided to ditch a bunch of sweaters, mittens, warm socks, and such. We could regret it later, on the Atlantic coast, but we are counting on the season having advanced by the time we get there.

Unlike in Mexico, Correos is very much alive here, and has branches all over the place.
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Dodie is loading a box with 4 kg of surplus woolies.
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Janice BranhamStellar bike travel hack. We make a game of shipping ballast down the road. Totally worth the postage.
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Karen PoretDodie: I like your shoes! Look very smart and comfortable! Good combo!
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretKaren's, comfy from the first time of wearing. These are a Burgundy colour, one of my absolute favourite colours.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesKaren’s..brand?? Or, simply my name in your reply? Too funny! :)
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Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretStupid auto correct. I forgot to check the spell check. It should have read Karen's (damn them to hell, I can't make it stop) I mean Keen 's. See the clever extra space before the apostrophe?
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesWell, this Karen is “ keen”, on noticing Dodie’s shoes🙄
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Wading past the expanses of handbags, and the electronics in brands and configurations we have not seen before, we did spot the camera department, with many high end SLRs. There was also that Nikon P950, that we have been eyeing. But yes, it is way too big to be carrying on a bike trip, especially for people who will mail home a pair of wooly socks, to save weight.  They also had the P1000 - and that was mammoth. It's the SUV of point and shoot cameras!

El Corte Ingles includes a giant supermarket, where the stock ranged from ordinary household items to luxury baking, cheeses, and especially hams.

The basic supermarket is quite huge.
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Yes, that price tag is 350 euros!
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For some reason these hams are cheaper, at just 69 or 79 euros. But there are lots more, such as visible in the background, and behind a counter, lining a whole long wall.
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There were coolers and coolers of packaged meat products, like these.
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And many feet of coolers with cheese, like this.
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We got thoroughly tired walking through Corte Ingles, and had to sit down to rest twice, before making our escape. It was not just the department store, but the many mall style stores surrounding it. The mall area had very wide tiled space, and I found myself marveling at all the large floor tiles that comprised it, thinking of all the work involved in installing such a thing. 

Corte Ingles would probably not be a big deal to Americans used to large malls, with flagship anchors, but we have not been in one for some time.  Amazon, with a delivery service coming to your door, has been the way of world - our world anyway - for some time. Unlike some of the American flagships, like Sears or JC Penny, Corte Ingles sales have been holding up - around 15 billion euros annually - and profits, while down during the pandemic, had been growing and were about 300 million euros.  We didn't help, though, having bought nothing at all through the giant store.

Today's ride: 5 km (3 miles)
Total: 5 km (3 miles)

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Karen PoretSears-Roebuck and J.C. Penney..American icons no more…The other “no more” is OSH..Orchard Supply Hardware..Now , there is Costco and ( we don’t have it here in Santa Cruz -phew! )..Walmart. 🙄
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2 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Karen PoretYeah, in our town we only have a Walmart. Canadian brands are also largely gone too, like Eaton's and The Bay.
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Karen PoretTo Steve Miller/GrampiesI still do not “shop online”…finally figured out I really don’t “need it”..
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