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September 1, 2009

In my last post I wrote about a few of the highlights from my recent holiday in Spain. I only mentioned briefly that my absolute favourite day of the holiday was our day trip to Valencia. It was a very busy day, full of amazing scenery and much fun. I’m not sure I’d be able to do the day justice, but I’ll certainly try.

Originally going to Valencia was never even discussed as it was 2 hours away from where we were staying, which is a long journey when you’re meant to be having a relaxing holiday. However while in the tourist information offices collecting a few leaflets about the surrounding area and attractions we may want to visit, Naomi’s parents came across a leaflet for the Oceanografico which is part of the City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia. The City of Arts and Sciences’ website says,

‘The City of Arts and Sciences is a unique complex devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination which is made up of five main elements: the Hemisfèric (IMAX cinema and digital projections), the Umbracle (a landscaped vantage point and car park), the Príncipe Felipe Science Museum (an innovative centre of interactive science), the Oceanográfico (the largest aquarium in Europe with over 500 marine species) and the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofía (which takes care of the operatic programme). The Ágora, which will give the complex a multifunctional space, is under construction.’

© Lou Johnson

I’m sure you’ll agree that it sounds (and looks) impressive, so impressive that we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to go and check it out. Before this, I knew next to nothing about the city, only that it looked rather pretty and happened to be the home of the rather boring track used for the European Grand Prix.

I didn’t dream that my holiday would have anything Formula 1 related in it, other than watching the race on Sunday that is, but given that we were going to Valencia the day after the Grand Prix had been held there we figured that we may as well take a look at some of the track while we were in the area, and what an amazing area it is! Okay it has some older run down parts to it as most cities do, but to me it seemed like it has the perfect balance between old rustic architecture and new impressive developments (like the City of Arts and Sciences).

Our first priority once we arrived in Valencia was to locate the track before lunch, just so we knew where it was before we did anything else. I think it’s probably best to explain this now but before this the closest I had ever been to an F1 race track is Brands Hatch, which doesn’t exactly host races anymore so this was a huge deal for me. Even seeing all the official F1 signs dotted around the city directing everyone involved to various places made me excited…so excited I even took a few photos!

© Lou Johnson

We spotted the pit garages (the old fish market buildings) and satisfied we were in the right place parked the car and trundled off to have lunch. Lunch isn’t important to the day though, well not in comparison to the amazing afternoon that followed. Once back near the car we ventured out onto the track (which had been partly re opened to traffic).

© Lou Johnson

This was taken moments after my first steps on an F1 track (it was a massive deal to me!). It’s the view down of the straight that runs into turn 2.

We continued walking down the straight and got as far as turn 4 until the heat started to get to us. I would have given anything to continue walking the track at that moment rather than turn back, and if I had been on my own I probably would have done. However everyone was really feeling the heat (how people managed the day before for the Grand Prix I’ll never know), so we decided the best thing would be to walk back the other way and make our way to the closest old fish market building that I believe is used for hospitality for some shade. I was surprised by how open everything was to the public, even though the Grand Prix was over I expected there to be barriers to keep people out, but there wasn’t. We walked through the old fish market building to the harbour and continued walking following several signs to the pitlane (where I was sure we’d be stopped and told to go away). As we walked up the pitlane exit I was smiling from ear to ear, just being there, seeing the tyre marks on the road, seeing where the garages had been.. it all meant the world to me. We reached the pitlane exit and were told by a man who seemed to appear out of nowhere,

‘No entry!’ he exclaimed.

‘We just want to have a look.’ was the reply from Naomi’s Dad.

‘There are no cars, no people, no nothing… no entry.’

‘We understand that, but we’d still like to have a look please.’

I was all prepared to turn around and walk back down the pitlane, however after pausing for a moment the man gestured towards a doorway and told us that if we were quick we could go through there.

After a very quick dash through the doorway and up the stairs on the right we found ourselves on the podium, I was almost overwhelmed with happiness and excitement at this point, we can’t have spent more than 3 or 4 minutes up there but it was amazing, made all the more special that Rubens Barrichello had stood there less than 24hours previously collecting the trophy for his first victory in five years, and first with Brawn GP.

© Lou Johnson

© Lou Johnson

This made up for not walking the track! It was such an unexpected surprise, and one I’ll treasure for years to come.

The rest of the day was spent at the amazing Oceanográfico, seeing all sorts of amazing sea life, including Beluga Whales! I have a little bit of a soft spot for Whales, but especially Beluga Whales, they seem so graceful and happy all the time, plus they just generally make me smile.

© Lou Johnson

While at Oceanográfico we even got to see a dolphin show. I’ve been lucky enough to see a dolphin show once before (at Sea World in Florida), but this show seemed to be even more impressive. It could be the fact I last saw dolphins a good 8 years ago but this show seemed to be less for children and concentrated more on educating the audience about the amazing creatures and showing what they could do. Well I assume so anyway, I don’t speak Spanish so the question and answer session was a little difficult to understand.

© Lou Johnson

The City of Arts and Sciences is huge, you’d need a good day for each section to be able to give it the attention it deserves, but based on the afternoon we spent at Oceanográfico I’ll hopefully return to Valencia one day and experience the rest of the amazing development.

What an amazing day, and i can’t thank Naomi and her family enough!

More photos taken of the Valencia Street Circuit can be found here.

More photos taken on my holiday can be found here.


7 Comments leave one →
  1. Christine permalink
    September 2, 2009 12:59

    The man appeared from nowhere and turned out to be nice. He’s like the F1 Guardian Angel of your trip 🙂

    Plus, dolphins!!

  2. Lou permalink*
    September 2, 2009 19:25

    The man appeared from nowhere and turned out to be nice. He’s like the F1 Guardian Angel of your trip

    aw i’d never thought of that before! 🙂

    Plus, dolphins!! Dolphins are amazing 🙂 i think i prefer Beluga whales though, they are just so peaceful, and always seem to look happy 😀

  3. September 2, 2009 21:00

    i think i prefer Beluga whales though, they are just so peaceful, and always seem to look happy

    Hmm, still not having any in my zoo.

  4. Lou permalink*
    September 2, 2009 21:09

    Hmm, still not having any in my zoo.

    i’ll settle for Lemurs 😉

  5. rubbergoat permalink
    September 3, 2009 06:36

    Awesome pics Lou – I love the fact you captured the track from the driver’s perspective… and it’s awesome that they let you have a good nosey around!

    And the dolphins? I went to a dolphin show on my holiday too and it was amazing – those animals are so smart it’s unbelievable – far from performing, I think they just like having fun when they do tricks!

  6. October 1, 2009 04:45

    Hey very nice blog!!….I’m an instant fan, I have bookmarked you and I’ll be checking back on a regular….See ya


  1. Daily: 3rd September 2009 | Sidepodcast : All for F1, and F1 for All

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