The Kings are coming!

The Kings are coming!

The Spanish really know how to draw out a holiday.

First, it was Christmas then New Years and finally this week, the Epiphany or ”Fiesta de Los tres Reyes Mages” which in English means “The festival of the three Magic Kings”. Which means that it’s felt like the Christmas holiday has gone on for way longer than we are used to in the UK.

Reyes is celebrated on 6th January and celebrates when the Kings or Wise men brought gifts to the baby Jesus. Traditionally this is the day that Spanish children receive their gifts rather than on Christmas Day. Although, I’m reliably informed by my younger students that they are allowed to have some presents on Christmas Day too. Just as well. Can you imagine if kids in the UK had to wait two weeks after breaking up from school to get their presents and then go back to school the day after getting them?!

As ever with these things, we were keen to witness what Reyes in Valencia entailed and headed into the city last night to catch the action. We pitched up in time to see the finale of the parade in front of the town hall in the main Plaza de Ayntamento. It was a spectacular affair which had started at the port about two hours earlier and moved slowly through the city under police escort, surrounded by an army of kids. Finally, the kings entered the Plaza in full convoy with guards, dancers, torches, chests of presents, all solemnly carried by King’s servants.

Despite the fact that we had been told how much bigger Reyes is in Valencia then Christmas, we were still surprised by the party atmosphere and buzz in the city. We had a great night AND we get to have ‘Christmas Day’ for the second time today.

Albufera – Day trip from Valencia

Albufera – Day trip from Valencia

Well worth a visit if you are in Valencia is the area just to the south of the city known as Albufera.

Albufera is a large freshwater lagoon separated from the Med by just a couple of sand dunes. It has been designated as an important wetland area and provides sanctuary for millions of wetland birds on their migratory routes to Africa. Being a bird person I was a little disappointed not to see more exciting/exotic birds then the mallards and herons that abounded. However it was still delightful to see them and I wonder if a trip during the breeding season in spring might not be a better time to visit if bird life is what you are after.

boat ride at Albufera

boating through the reeds at Albufera

Very easy to get to by the frequently running number 25 bus from Colon for €1.50 per single ticket, it takes 30-45 mins and you can even take your bike on the bus if you want to experience the nature reserves and various cycle routes.

If you get off the bus at Gola de Puchol, you will see the gaggle of boatmen on a jetty waiting to take visitors out on the lake for a 35 min tour for €4. Apparently the sunsets over the lake are particularly lovely and we are definitely planning on going back to do this next time, who doesn’t love a sunset crusie? The towns in this area El Saler, El perellonet and El Palmer are worth a visit too either for the beaches or to sample the region speciality dish, paella! During the summer the many campsites along this stretch play host to the throngs of holiday makers seeking relief from the heat of the city so I imagine it gets quite busy. We went in October when the weather was perfect and it was all very quiet.

Overall a very pleasant day trip for the cost and effort

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