Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Snippet- The Return

Apologises for not having done a 'Sunday Snippet' for ages and ages. My reading has been rather irratic lately and I've abandoned book after book so haven't had the chance to post a snippet, because I haven't stayed with anything long enough.

However, I'm back and I'm reading 'Games of Thrones' by George R.R Martin the first in 'A Song of Ice and Fire' series. I started watching the tv series called 'Game of Thrones', which is an adaptation of the novels and really enjoyed it. However, as I'm lacking my on dvd player at the moment (it's a long story!), it's hard to find the time watch more episodes, as the family tv is always being used. So I have switched to the books and so far, I'm not disappointed.

Here's a 'snippet':

Page 88: 'Jon climbed the steps slowly, trying not to think that this might be the last time ever.'

'Game of Thrones' by George R.R Martin


Which series' of novels do you enjoy?

Enjoy the rest of the weekend and I promise I will be back next Sunday, with another 'Sunday Snippet'.

Happy Sunday!

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Valencia Trip- Part 2

So where we left off, I was on the coach going to the Botanical Gardens. We had only been on the coach for about 5 minutes when it came to a stop. I hadn't a clue where the Botanical Gardens were, but assumed it wouldn't be in the middle of the City. Then I saw the coach driver with a map and thought 'Uh Oh, we're lost.' However, a few minutes later we were told that the Botanical Gardens were just around the corner, so we all go off the coach. When we stopped, we were in front of a building which looked more like a Government building, rather than a tranquil garden. However, our tour guide went inside and we followed. To my surprise, we were transported to another place entirely.


 'The Botanical Gardens' of the University of Valencia, was founded in 1567. The Gardens were used for classes in Botany and also the Medicinal plants were was for studies in Medicine. During the 20th century the gardens fell into adandon, until a major restoration of the gardens which began in 1987. I can't many names of the plants we saw, only Palms and Cacti, but here are some photos:



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There were many people sitting on the benches in the garden,s enjoying the peace or reading a book. There was even an art class, drawing the plants in the garden. I couldn't think of a perfect place to chill out and get away from the noise of city.

Surprisingly, a group of cats were wandering the gardens too. They have been adopted and are cared for by the employees of the gardens. They are very well cared for and very friendly:

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One was so friendly, that he/she came to sit on my mum's lap! The rules of the Gardens state that you are not allowed to feed or stroke the cats, but it was hard not to, because the cats were so lovely (we saw a lot of people breaking the rules though).

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Here are some more photos, we even saw a man climbing a tree to saw a branch off:

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After a wonderful couple of hours it was time to leave. I would definitely go back to the Botanical Gardens and next time I visit Valencia, I'm going to be more prepared and find out where the shops are, before we leave!

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Valencia Trip (Part 1)

On Tuesday, my mum and I went on a coach trip to Valencia and the Botanical gardens there. I have been a couple of times to different attractions in Valencia, Bioparc, Ciudad de las Artes y Las Ciencias (both well worth visiting if you ever get the chance) and a Sorolla art exhibition with my art class. Also not forgetting the disastrous trip to Valencia I took with some relatives which, to cut a long story short, ended with us boarding a bus that went around and  around Valencia,but was no where near where we wanted to go, even though the bus driver assured me it would take us where we wanted to go! Up until this point, my mum has never seen Valencia city, so I was wondering whether or not she was going to enjoy it.

Very early (well, early for me) in the morning, we caught the excursion coach and travelled for about an hour before being dropped off in the centre of Valencia itself. For those not used to city life, this can be a bit of a culture shock, as you're bombarded with cars and buses darting in all directions and people rushing every where. One of the first things you will encounter, if you are travelling by yourself, is the train station, one of the prettiest buildings I have seen:


After a bit of wandering, mum and I had to have a plan, so we decided to go to the cathedral. Although there are many churches and cathedrals to visit in Valencia, but the majority of tourists head for Santa Maria Cathedral. The admission fee (about 3 euros each) included a guided commentary on headphones in many languages. What we didn't know, what that in order to get the headphones, you had to leave some form of I.D as a deposit, which is given back after returning the headphones. As mum and I had planned to pack as light as possible, neither of us had any bank cards, or any form of picture I.D. So it looked like we would have to go around the cathedral, without the audio tour. However, then I had an idea. I didn't want to give my camera over, because I was planning to take photos, so I gave the lady behind the counter something very precious to me......my mobile phone. The lady thought it was funny when I told her 'I will definitely give the headphones back now!'

The cathedral is a beautiful structure and it houses religious statues and painting (by famous painters such as Goya) which date as far back as the 12th century (and probably further). The funny thing is that even though these artifacts as really old, they are in so good condition that they look as if they were made yesterday.




 The cathedral is busy with tourists nearly every day, but that doesn't stop worship. Whilst we were there, a service was taking place. Also, at the statue of Mary, it is tradtional for pregnant ladies to pray at the statue and then walk around the cathedral 9 times, to represent the 9 months they are carrying their baby. This bring luck and wealth to the baby. Whilst we were there an expectant mother was doing the circuits of the cathedral. I didn't know it was possible to have a play so full of activity, but at the same time, be so serene.




After the cathedral, we were in need of a bit of retail therapy, so we found a department store called 'El Corte Ingl├ęs'. This is a well known department store in Spain and I would say that it was a cross between 'Harrods' and 'Debenhams'. Browsing around the different floors of the store, we saw designer clothes which makes like Prada and D&G. They halso had a huge section of handbags (my weakness), but unfortunately at 200 euros for the cheapest handbag, I could only look. The weird thing about the store was, that even thought the prices of items in the store were expensive, there were loads of people pushing and shoving past with their purchases.

When we exited the store (without buying anything), we wondered what to do next. Mum thought it would be a good idea to just walk along and see what we would find, but that's where everything went wrong. Having walked for a while aimlessly through the streets of Valencia, we realised that we were lost. Very lost. It was decided that we would try and retrace our steps but only ended with us walking around in a circle. At first we weren't that worried, we had plenty of time to catch the coach and so we thought that we would find our way back in good time. We were so laid back at that point, that I even took another picture of the city (which strangely looks deserted although I can assure you, it was far from that:




Without warning though, the time quickly started to drain away and that's where panic set in. Not only were we to meet the coach at a specific time, but we were told by the lady running the excursion that we must have lunch before we left Valencia, because when arrived at the Botanical Gardens, there would not be a cafe/ restaurant to buy anything substantial, only vending machines.

So we frantically tried to make sense of the map were given (I hate maps!) and even asked several people for help, but they directed in the wrong way! By this time, mum and I were both in snappy moods and all we wanted to do was find the coach. However, rescue came in the form of a builder (a very cute one I may add), who pointed us in the right direction.....well nearly. By the time we were near the coach meeting place, we saw a advert for 'Burger King' which was very near the designated place. So, in the end, we followed the signs for 'Burger King'. We made it back to the right part of Valencia (we discovered later that we had made it all of the way to the outskirts of the city) and with less than an hour to spare, we managed to have lunch, before meeting the coach....phew!

We weren't the only ones in our group to get lost thankfully. The coach had actually pulled out and went round a roundabout, before the excursion organiser realised, that we were missing a person. We turned around and the poor guy that was left behind, was frantically running to catch the coach and was very apologetic when he boarded. I snapped this final photo, as we were leaving for the Botanical gardens........To Be Continued.....

Without warning though, the time quickly started to drain away and that's where panic set in. Not only were we to meet the coach at a specific time, but we were told by the lady running the excursion that we must have lunch before we left Valencia, because when arrived at the Botanical Gardens, there would not be a cafe/ restaurant to buy anything substantial, only vending machines.

So we frantically tried to make sense of the map were given (I hate maps!) and even asked several people for help, but they directed in the wrong way! By this time, mum and I were both in snappy moods and all we wanted to do was find the coach. However, rescue came in the form of a builder (a very cute one I may add), who pointed us in the right direction.....well nearly. By the time we were near the coach meeting place, we saw a advert for 'Burger King' which was very near the designated place. So, in the end, we followed the signs for 'Burger King'. We made it back to the right part of Valencia (we discovered later that we had made it all of the way to the outskirts of the city) and with less than an hour to spare, we managed to have lunch, before meeting the coach....phew!


Without warning though, the time quickly started to drain away and that's where panic set in. Not only were we to meet the coach at a specific time, but we were told by the lady running the excursion that we must have lunch before we left Valencia, because when arrived at the Botanical Gardens, there would not be a cafe/ restaurant to buy anything substantial, only vending machines.

So we frantically tried to make sense of the map were given (I hate maps!) and even asked several people for help, but they directed in the wrong way! By this time, mum and I were both in snappy moods and all we wanted to do was find the coach. However, rescue came in the form of a builder (a very cute one I may add), who pointed us in the right direction.....well nearly. By the time we were near the coach meeting place, we saw a advert for 'Burger King' which was very near the designated place. So, in the end, we followed the signs for 'Burger King'. We made it back to the right part of Valencia (we discovered later that we had made it all of the way to the outskirts of the city) and with less than an hour to spare, we managed to have lunch, before meeting the coach....phew!