Colorful stops as we headed North

Our Palace for a night

Our Palace for a night.

Úbeda is a town you have probably never heard of! By now, we were tired of large cities, and we had heard that Spain had nice “paradores” or historic sites that have been turned into hotels. Úbeda is in the Spanish country side, seemingly far from everything, and its parador is a palace that was built in the

Inside of our palace (for one night)

Inside of our palace (for one night)

1400´s. Evidently this palace was built because there was a noble in town who was asked to ‘receive’ the king. He did, but he also told the king that there was not really a suitable place in town for a king to stay. So the king mustered up some funds to build this palace (which the noble happily lived in), and presumably for future visits, the king had a nice hotel! This town is known for its Renaissance architecture, which from our point of view, seemed very simple and “square” compared to a place like the Alhambra. We enjoyed the rather calm “chilled” vibe while we were there.

Valencia - City of Arts and Sciences

Valencia – City of Arts and Sciences

Valencia. Now this was a HUGE change of pace from Úbeda. It is Spain’s second largest city, located on the Mediterranean, very modern, very sophisticated and intriguing. We stayed near the area called “The City of Arts and Sciences”. The “WOW” factor there is that Spain invested several years ago in building a variety of incredibly space age looking buildings which house a theater, art gallery, “oceanarium”/aquarium, science museum and convention center. We often felt like we were on a set of Star Wars.

Convention Center

Convention Center

Arts Center, Valencia

Arts Center, Valencia

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The Oceanarium is one of the best aquariums we have ever seen. The tanks are huge and connected with tunnels where you walk underneath all the fish. Yes this exists at home, but these were enormous, and there were two separate buildings. We could have visited just that part alone for most of the day.

Valencia Oceanarium - this went for 1/10 of a mile!

Valencia Oceanarium – this went for about 1/10 of a mile!

There are more Valencia photos at the end of this post.

Ainsa old town

Ainsa old town

Aínsa. After lots of coastal time, we were ready for some mountains. We decided to drive North towards the Pyrenees, and this was one of our first stops. This town was a fortuitous find, one of those things you accidentally run across while searching the web. Aínsa is a modest town, but it is situated at the confluence of two beautiful glacial rivers, and at the highest point in town, there is a beautiful medieval village, which looks out over the entire surrounding area., so the 360 degree panoramic view a includes the Pyrenees mountains and their steep green foothills and the river valleys. There are lots of hiking trails in the area, so we could have stayed longer!

Pamplona. Of course we´ve all

Pamplona.  A right hand turn is made here in the bull run. Accidents frequently happen here..

Pamplona. A right hand turn is made here in the bull run. Accidents frequently happen here..  Perhaps if they had Char directing traffic there would be fewer problems.

heard of the running of the bulls, so we thought it would be fun to visit here if only for a couple of hours. So we pulled into town, bought some cookies and coffee and followed the path of the bulls. The town itself does not seem out of the ordinary, compared to other Spanish towns. One thing we learned is that Ernest Hemingway spent a lot of time here, and it was Pamplona and the surrounding area which inspired him to write “The Sun Also Rises”. Actually Pamplona is the only town in Spain that still has bull fights.

 

More photos of Valencia are below.

A few favorite photos from other stops in this section are below.

 

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