Relaxing on he beach during the day

We thought it would be fun to potter over to a bar one evening that had a flamenco show. I was happy as it would fit into my F word blog! We were not sure what to expect and were pleasantly surprised when we arrived at the 'Café del Duende' (Duende meaning Soul or Pain and an important one in the world of  flamenco). It was a cosy, little bar with an intimate feel and not the large touristy experience that we were worried about.  My prior flamenco knowledge was that of a a woman stamping her feet and flinging her arms around but what we discovered was so much more. I was not aware of the importance of the combination of three forms of musical expressions within the art form which are

  • Cante or singing: The singer(s) lead the group and mark the rhythm and intensity of the performance.
  • Baile or dancing: The dancer is a synonym of elegance, grace and temper.
  • Toque or playing the guitar: Their ability is challenged by the singer who imposes the rhythm and sentiment.

Modern Art in The Turía Gardens

Café del Duele

The Two Singers

Modern Architecture-

The City of Arts & Sciences

The highlight was Flamenco...

Flamenco at The Café Duele

The Empowerment of Flamenco

Flamenco Fact:

The flamenco was powerful, sensual and inspiring. It was just what we needed from our girlie  weekend- a sense of empowerment and a celebration of  the strong sisterhood of  women.

Good Food- Valencia's Famous Paella

The Guitarist

Historic buildings & culture

Bull Ring - now used for concerts

The Dancer

Flamenco and friendship in Valencia.

My oldest school friend and I decided it was about time we booked a girl´s weekend away for just the two of us. We met at primary school at the age of 8 but sadly her family moved up North towards the end of Secondary school. We managed to stay in touch and I often went up on the train to stay with her and we had some fun times. As teenagers we enjoyed a month inter-railing around Europe together with our brothers. We headed off through Europe on a circular tour from France, into Italy, over to Greece, back up through what was known as in those days as Yugoslavia, Austria, Germany, and eventually back to the UK. We mostly slept on trains, used the station facilities and spent the odd night at a campsite. That month as nomads sparked my wanderlust and love of travel.

We also enjoyed a week together  in Lanzarote and borrowed a canal boat for a memorable trip on the Chester Canal, in our 20's. However, jobs, family life and the distance between our home towns has meant in the last 30 years we have managed to keep in touch sporadically but always in the company of various family members. So for various reasons we thought it would be great to take some time out and spend some quality time together, without any distractions.

It did not take long to decide on a venue. Our requirements were city break, with good food, warm climate and a beach. I also fancied somewhere in Spain so that I could practice my newly acquired Spanish. Valencia had everything on our tick list and the chance of a Flamenco show thrown in too.

Twilight stroll along beach and marine area

The roots of  flamenco  lie in the  mixture of many cultures that inhabited Andalucia in Southern Spain including Islamic, Andalucian, Gypsy, Sephardic and  Arabic. Throughout the centuries Andalucía has absorbed people from different cultures and backgrounds – including Romans, Jews and Moors. The  nomadic gypsies, who  settled in Southern Spain in the 15th Century, were important for the introduction of new rhythms and musical instruments into the area. From this melting pot of cultures grew the passionate music and dance of flamenco.
We were seriously impressed by the
 flamenco dancer and deemed her an athlete in the truest sense. Her foot work was swift and powerful and we coveted her  toned legs and thighs. We were even wondering if we should have flamenco lessons on our return to tone our leg muscles too. She danced with a proud stance, strong deliberate arm gestures and a fiery,  emotional intensity. We loved it!

Valencia did not disappoint.

The weekend was all about having some time and space to just be ourselves again. Sometimes life's demands can be overwhelming and it is easy to feel defined by our jobs or our roles as mothers or partners. Loving children doesn't mean it is always easy to cope with toddler moods or teenagers  requirements and sometimes it is important to step away from the bustle and have time and space to just be yourself. A  chief  motive of our weekend was space to think and rest.

A few of the things that we appreciated during the weekend were  

  • the ability to get up at the last minute for breakfast
  • not having the TV or other screens on continuously in the hotel room
  • time to sit and read a book
  • wandering around the streets without complaints of tired legs or boredom
  • long coffee stops to sit and chat uninterrupted

We could have achieved most of the above anywhere but it was definitely made easier by  the calm, charm of Valencia. The sun was shining and we could potter through the city from our hotel along the beautiful Turía Gardens, the backbone of Valencia. The gardens are 9 KM of  reclaimed ground after  the government decided to re-route the River Turía that flooded in 1957 due to the destruction and further risk of flooding. The regeneration of the riverbed has produced an amazing mix of sports, music and cultural facilities dominated at one end by the modern architecture of  The City of Arts and Sciences, a spectacular complex designed by the Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava.

We soon fell into the Spanish slow pace of life. We got up late, rested during the day over prolonged cafe breaks (not technically siestas ) and stayed up late with a glass or two. I managed several glasses of wine over the weekend but being a light-weight  mine tended to be tonic or coke. 

 Valencia has a very long strip of accesible sandy beach with many little cafes along the promenade. It  was also a great place to unwind, read a book and get lost in the world of people watching and we were very lucky with the weather- 30 degrees!