Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Back to Las Fallas Valencia, Spain, Friday, 15 March 2013 11:05pm

For our last day in Madrid, we took a trip over to the Royal Palace that we've walked near a few times. There are 24 rooms open to tourists, which sounds impressive until you discover that the palace contains 2800 rooms. The palace is incredibly ostentatious. The rooms we visited were themed: this one in green, that one in blue, a golden room, a room full of silver, and they were overflowing with art. Huge canvases, ceiling frescoes, marble sculptures, inlay tables, and lots of decorated clocks (one of the kings had a passion for clocks). Most of it was not to my taste, but visiting is a jaw-dropping experience.

There's also a royal armory attached, which has the largest collection of actual suits of armor I've ever seen. Most of it is dress or parade armor, never actually intended to be used in battle, but there are a few pieces that have seem fighting. Along with the armor, there are lots of swords, maces, crossbows, and a very interesting collection of early firearms.

We made one last stop at the Mercado de San Miguel, to have lunch before hitting the road back to Valencia, and then set out on our way.

Once we got out of the chaotic Madrid traffic, the drive to Valencia was pleasant and uneventful. We dropped off the car and took the Metro back into town. As Adrienne pointed out, it's very strange to be in a place that seems so familiar and so foreign at the same time.

We've made a round-trip here rather than flying out of Madrid because it's the season for Valencia's biggest festival, Las Fallas. We did a bunch of prep work, visiting the exposition of sculptures and the Fallas history museum on our first stint in Valencia, but we were a bit surprised to discover that there were roving bands (sometimes marching bands, sometimes just singers) of celebrants carrying their various sculptures around on the Metro. I knew there were processions with them, but it never occurred to me that they might process through the Metro.

We spent the evening wandering the old city, seeing the various Fallas Mayores, the full-sized sculptures that the ninots that we'd previous seen are just part of, in various states of assembly. They're supposed to all be set up before dawn tomorrow, so we should get to see them actually finished on our last day here.