For those of you already packed, Canon Superzoom Pixel Puncher pointed and ready to start snapping away at everything that resembles a boat, or Brad Butterworth, and quivering in anticipation of giant paellas and Europop, BYM brings you the definitive guide to Valencia and the America's Cup.
Before you set off, check your flight tickets. If you bought your tickets over the internet, from EasyFlap Wing and a Prayer last minute booking service, there is every possibility that you could be spending your treasured vacations in sunny Pennsylvania. Now Pennsylvania may be a wonderful place, for all I know, but let me assure you that (1) Although it is called the America's Cup and Pennsylvania is in America, there the similarity ends. You've picked the wrong Valencia. (2) There are, to my knowledge, no America's cup boats to photograph in Pennsylvania, but I do hear that they have some nice mountains
The Valencia we want is in Spain, which is that big lump hanging off of the bottom of France with Gibraltar sticking out from its nether regions. Gibraltar is not in Spain, but Spanish people will happily point out that it is.
Rule one: DO NOT mention Gibraltar, under any circumstances, unless you are willing to risk being marinated in garlic and olive oil and served up as tapas at the next beach barbecue. Gibraltar is not a popular conversational subject.
On arrival at Valencia Airport the normal course of action, after you have filled out your lost baggage reclamation forms, is to grab a cab to take you into the City of Valencia. A cab is neccessary due to the fact that the airport is probably closer to Madrid than it is to Valencia, but that is a subject better left to the idiosyncracies of the local planning department than one to address on BYM News. By the time you have entered your cab, you will probably have noticed that the driver speaks in a strange language. If you are lucky you may have found someone who actually speaks Spanish (Castellano), but in all probability what you will actually be listening to is Valenciano. Valenciano can best be described as being assaulted by a syllable firing machine gun at 150 decibels of volume. More on language later.
So now you are in your cab outside your hotel and the driver wishes to be paid. Don't worry, the Spanish cab drivers are notoriously fair and even handed. They overcharge absolutely everybody regardless of race, colour, or creed, so just pay what the meter says and run for it. Once firmly esconced in your hotel room you will now be free to enjoy the panoramic vistas of this ancient city. These vistas will generally be of tower cranes. The Spanish are notorious for their constant construction work and the fact that they never actually finish anything. This is down to the Spanish builders' conservation policies ie: If they conserve a few bricks and some cement, from every contract throughout the year, they usually get to build a house for free at Christmas time.
Tip. If you are based in the centre of Valencia, don't hire a car until you have checked out the traffic system.
You could still be trying to find the AC village by the time your vacations have ended. Use the "Metro", it's cheap, is mostly above ground, and will take you anywhere you want to go without fuss or the risk of cardiac arrest, brought about by trying to negotiate a car through the famous Valencia City Formula1 circuit.
Once at the AC village be prepared to walk, and walk, and walk some more. It's big. For those who decide to take a vehicle you will have to park in the underground car park at the north end of the village but be prepared to stop at the barriers while the guardia search your car and any baggage you may have with you. They are courteous, thorough and very very strict. Don't get pissed off with them for doing their job, because they can make your life hell if they so take a mind to. Once inside just wander around and have a good time. There is plenty to see and do.
Spectator boats can be found at the north pool and in the main AC pool.
Prices for the LV are around €95 per day including lunch for weekdays and €105 for weekends. I don't recommend going on a sailboat to see the racing. You need height to be able to see anything worthwhile and for that the big motor cats are definitely best, also the AC boats go a lot faster than a sailboat under motor, so you don't get to follow the race up the course. Zoom lenses are a must if you want any decent close ups of the boats and a wide angle helps for the starts.
Make an effort to speak a some words of Spanish. It is well appreciated and will get you a lot of help from the locals. You'll find a few words and phrases later, with a very rough guide to pronunciation, where it's not what you might think..Don't stick an "O" or an "A" on to the end of everything, then shout and expect people to understand you. It only causes the locals to think of you as a bunch of ignorant gits.
Spanish is a much softer language, than the local Valenciano, but is notoriously tricky because of its love of conjugated verbs and of the fact that everything is designated as being masculine or feminine. Generally speaking if a word ends in “O” it is masculine and if in an “A” it is feminine; so Libro (Book) is masculine, but Libra (Pound) is feminine. Another odd thing is that most of the letters in the Spanish alphabet are pronounced "th". Simple, isn’t it?
Valencia is a rice growing provence and is the home of the "Paella". Try a paella mixta while you are here; you'll never forget it. The seafood is wonderful and very fresh. Be prepared to up your intake of olive oil by about 2 gallons a day; it comes on everything.
Spanish beer is mostly lager type and is surprisingly strong. Be careful out there. Spanish wines are great. There is everything from heavy reds to sparkling chilled whites. Look out for Riojas, Cariñena, Valldepeñas and some of the Valencian "Requenas". If a lable says "Crianza" then it is generally very good. The Spanish drink a lot of aniseed based liquors (Normally "Anis Tenis") Unless you have a throat and a stomach lined with asbestos I'd recommend you to forget them; they are lethal. Stick to the normal stuff.
A few words of Spanish.
Thank you = Gracias (Grath-ee-ass), Please = Por favor, Yes = Si (Sea), No = No, Small black coffee = Café, Small white coffee = Cortado, Large white coffee = Café con Leche (Letch-A) Any of those, with a nip of whisky or brandy = Tocado (Tock-ah-doe), Beer = Cerveza (Thir-vay-tha), I don't speak Spanish very well = No hablo espanol muy bien ( No ha-blow ess-pan-yawl moo-ee bee-N), Where is the Port America's Cup = Dondé esta el puerto America's Cup (Don-day ess-ta L poo-air-ta America's Cup). If you really want to impress say Copa America. Oh yes, I should mention that you'll keep hearing Day-nah-da, every time you say thank you; de nada is the equivalent of don't mention it - very polite lot, the Spaniards.
Some donts and a do.
Don't take the piss out of the police or guardia civil. They don't like it and can be absolute bastards if they feel like it. Don't use your phone while driving. Switch it off. Don't smoke while driving. Always have everyone (passengers included) wearing seat belts. Always carry your passport about your person.
Now you are here amidst the action so all I can say is “Do have a good time” and I hope the weather clears for you because it’s been diabolical so far.Valencia is a very nice friendly place.