Spain 2024 Travel Photos

2024 Trip to Spain: Barcelona, Valencia and Madrid

March 12th to March 27th, 2024


Our trip began in Barcelona, where some of us went to the Palau de la Musica Catalana to hear the Quartet Casals. The first gathering of our full group was for a day trip out of Barcelona: first to Figueres to see the Dali Museum and then on to Cadaques and Portlligat, where Dali lived and worked with his wife Gala.


We all took the train from Barcelona to Valencia, arriving during the Fallas Festival.

A 'Falla' is a sculpture which has a particular style. Many Fallas of varying sizes are constructed all over the city by different local groups. The groups have organized roles and also participate in parades in traditional costumes throughout the festival.The Fallas are then burned one night during the week. The tradition is believed to go back to the Middle Ages, and there are references to it in 18th century Spanish law.

The Fallas Museum is a good way of seeing the evolution of the Fallas style. At first, I thought the modern Fallas were inspired by Disney or Pixar, but the Museum shows the style evolving over the years, and how the materials used have changed.

We were given a guided tour of some of the many Fallas, many of which have satirical content. I particularly liked the satire of Internet culture, including one making fun of "Inteligencia Artificial". There's also the 'andamio' in the plaza, a huge wooden structure of the Madonna and Child: this is gradually covered with flowers, not burned.

Valencia was packed with tourists as the Burn night approached, so it nice to head out to the countryside in Montanejos. There's a park with Thermal Springs there, a legendary "fountain of youth" (but Dan was the only one willing to swim in the cold waters!). We also took a short hike to a waterfall near there.

The big day starts with the Mascleta, a fireworks barrage in the afternoon. At night, burning begins with a parade of demons who set off fireworks as they march. Finally, crowds gather around all the Fallas as they are burn, usually with more fireworks.

The next day we went to another part of the city where we first visited a market, then learned to make the Valencian style of paella.

We took a day trip out of Valencia to Aragon to see the Mudejar architecture of two cities Turuel and Abarracin. Turuel has a famous "Lovers of Turuel" legend, parts of which are told in plaques on the walls of the narrow streets there. Abarracin is a fortified city, with a tower built in the 10th century.

Another day trip was to the Utiel-Requena region, where we visited a winery. The Bobal grape variety is grown here and made into this wine variety rarely seen in the U.S.

Back in Valencia, we toured the National Museum of Ceramics and Decorative Arts "Gonzalez Marti", which, in addition to all sorts of ceramics, is in the Rococo palace of the Marques de Dos Aguas. Later we stopped for horchatas at a place that has made them for hundreds of years. One night some of us also got to the performance of a musical based on "El Tiempo Entre Costuras", a novel that we had read as a group.

Another site in the city is the Art and Science Center, which a few of visited mainly for the extreme modern architectural style. Later we gathered here for a Flamenco show and dinner.

For an archaeologic perspective on Valencia, there's a small but impressive museum near where we stayed:


At the end of the Fallas week, most of the group returned to Barcelona, but I went on to Madrid for a couple of days. I stayed at a hotel overlooking the Palace, and visited the famous Prado and smaller but excellent Real Academia de Bella Artes de San Fernando.

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