Archives for posts with tag: Valencia

Third place in any competition does not get the recognition that it should. Sports teams that finish third are not afforded the opportunity or attention of the first and second place teams. No one ever talks about the runner-up to the runner-up.

Among the cities of Spain Valencia is third place. Everyone knows about Madrid and Barcelona but most folks have little knowledge of the third largest city in the county. Located about 200 miles from both of the two largest cities in the country, Valencia is home to about one million people and has a rich history dated back to the Roman Empire. During it’s long history it has been ruled by the Romans and the Moors. It was a part of the Byzantine Empire for many years and has Ben an important Christian stronghold for centuries.

The city was established on the banks of the Turia River which frequently flooded causing much damage to life and property. After the Great Flood of October 14, 1957 a plan was devised to divide the river into two branches that flowed around the city until it emptied into the Mediterranean.  The project was completed in 1969 and the old river bed was converted into a 9 mile green space through the heart of the city. The Valencia Biopark is at the western end of Turia Park and the modern City of Arts and Science is located at the eastern end. The park provides many cultural and recreation opportunities as well as allow people to travel through the city without use of city streets or roads.

Spain is known for many extravagant festivals and events. Valencia has one of the most unusual, yet little known.

The Running of the Bulls in the small city of Pamplona in northern Spain attract around one million visitors every July. This event was immortalized by Ernest Hemingway in his 1926 novel, “The Sun Also Rises.” For eight consecutive mornings, people come to race with bulls along a 930-yard street course to the city’s bullring, where the animals are killed during the traditional corridas.

Yesterday La Tomatina was held in the small town (population 9,000) of Bunol, Spain. Thousands come from all over the world for the ‘World’s Biggest Food Fight.” On the last Wednesday in August every year 20,000 people who are lucky enough to have secured one of the limited number of tickets gather in the center of town and throw more than one hundred metric tons of over-ripe tomatoes at each other.

While the Running of the Bulls and La Tomatina are well known around the world, Valencia’s unique festival of Las Fallas (The Fires) is not nearly so well known. Every spring more than two million people come for a week-long event unlike anything I have ever seen.

About 750 neighborhood groups with over 200,000 members- one-quarter of the city’s population- take a full year to construct beautiful and elaborate structures of paper and wax, wood and polystyrene foam, some towering up to five stories. These creations are displayed throughout the city during the week of the festival that culminates on March 19, the birth date of their patron saint, St. Joseph.

The Mascletà, an explosive barrage of coordinated firecracker and fireworks displays, takes place at 2:00 pm every day of the festival but sporadic outbursts of fireworks are heard periodically throughout each day.

On the final night of Falles beautiful and elaborate structures such as the one above are burned as huge bonfires at approximately the same time all over the city. After all the fallas dotted around the streets are burned, the main one is saved until last so that everyone can watch it burn. This climax of the whole event, La Crema, is set outside the Ajuntament -the town hall- where thousands of people have been gathering for hours to get a view of this spectacle.

The next time you plan a visit, be sure to include Valencia. It may be “third place” among the cities of Spain but you will not regret your visit anytime but it will an added bonus if you can be there during the festival of Las Fallas, March 15-19, annually.

Jamie Jenkins

 

 

Nearly 1600 years ago St. Augustine of Hippo said, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” I agree with this ancient theologian and philosopher but I wonder what he would say today. Would he see a world that is much larger and complex or would he see a world that is smaller and interdependent? Would he recognize our similarities or our differences?

best travel quotes travel makes one modest

Regardless, I agree that travel is life changing. It helps you to see a great big wonderful world but “travel makes you modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” (Gustave Flaubert).

In one of Willie Nelson’s songs he longs to get back “on the road again…making music with his friends.” I have no experience or desire to travel the same way Willie does but many experiences have been enhanced by others who have been on the journey with me. At the same time I think Mark Twain is right, “There ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”

Whether it is the snow-capped peak of Japan’s Mt. Fuji, Israel’s Mt. Hermon, the Tyrolean Alps in Austria/Italy, or the Rocky Mountains in the western United States- photos and videos are not adequate. Books and journal articles are not enough. There is no substitute for being there.

Hummus in Israel/Palestine, a churro with cajeta in Mexico, fish and chips in England, Nasi Kandar in Malaysia. You can eat these foods anywhere but it is not the same as when you eat them “there.”

People can tell you about the great cathedrals of the world but no description can compare with actually standing in awe when you visit Notre Dame in Paris, St. Paul’s in London, the Cologne Cathedral in Germany, or St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome.

There is no way to fully appreciate the Parthenon in Athens, the Coliseum in Rome, the pyramids of Egypt, or the rose-red city of Petra carved into the hillside in Jordan without being physically present in those places.

One cannot comprehend the beauty and majesty of the Grand Canyon, Niagara Falls, the Great Barrier Reef, or the Northern Lights without traveling to those locations. Turia Park, Keukenhof Gardens, Bellingrath Gardens, and Monet’s Garden require a visit to Valencia (Spain), Amsterdam, Mobile, and Giverny in order to be captured by their splendor.

The significance of the beaches of Normandy, Pearl Harbor, the Cabinet War Rooms in London, Auschwitz, and Hiroshima cannot be understood unless you have been there.

A few years ago a friend and his family spent the Christmas-New Year holidays in a distant land where violence and tension provide daily news stories. After returning to Atlanta I asked him what was the most memorable part of that experience. He replied, “I realized that we are all alike. We want the same thing for ourselves and our families.” Maybe Aldous Huxley was right. “To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries.”

I enjoyed a recent trip to England. We drove through the beautiful Cotswold region and stopped by William Shakespeare’s home in Stratford-Upon Avon. I saw the Houses of Parliament, Big Ben, Buckingham and Windsor Palaces. But the trip centered on places of significance to the Methodist Movement in the late 18th century. My faith was strengthened by traveling to places of my religious heritage as I learned about the Wesleys and the spiritual awakening that they fostered. Many trips to the Holy Land (Israel/Palestine) have made the stories of the Bible come alive.

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While the articles and podcast interviews of the website www.anepiceducation.com focuses on family traveling, there is so much truth to it’s tagline- “Travel is an education and the world is the classroom.”

Where do you want to go? What do you want to learn?

Jamie Jenkins

Best-Travel-Quotes--better-to-see

My next trips are to the Holy Land (March 11-22, 2019), Greece and Turkey to follow the journey of the Apostles (April 23-May 3, 2019), Holy Land (again Feb. 15-26, 2020) and to the Oberammergau Passion Play and European Capitals (Munich, Berlin, Dresden, Leipzig, Regensberg, and Prague- June 3-12, 2020.

Your are invited to join me. Contact me if interested.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My grandchildren speak three languages. Don’t leave me now. I promise I won’t bore you with an exhaustive description of how wonderful they are. This is more than a story about my grandchildren. It is an attempt to offer a parable for living.

Jamie and Felicia were born in Tokyo and lived there until 4 years ago. They are now ages 14 and 11.Thus Japanese is their first language but they are fluent in English as well. They have just moved from Spain where they have lived for the past two years. Although they spoke no Spanish when they arrived, they were immediately enrolled in Spanish schools. As result, after two years of immersion in Spanish culture they have added a third language. At the end of this month they are moving to Mexico and will have to adjust to the Mexican version of the Spanish language.

The main train station.

I promised that this was not about my grandchildren and it is not. Rather I offer their experiences as an example of the importance and the difficulty of being multi-lingual. For the first years of their life they lived in a “Japanese world” in Tokyo. Except for spoken English at home and with a small group of other English speakers, everything was in the native language of their mother. Their parents intentionally spoke only English at home so the children became comfortable in the languages of both my son and daughter-in-law.

Two weeks after moving to Valencia, Spain in 2015 both children (ages 9 and 12) began school where all classes and assignments were in an unfamiliar language. Their lessons presented in the classroom and their conversations with classmates were in Spanish. Homework assignments had to be translated from Spanish to English and then back from English to Spanish. This was hard but as a result they now can communicate comfortably in the new language they learned.

Now what does that have to do with anything?

image of language learning - languages crossword  - JPG

We live in a world that is increasingly diverse and all of us could benefit from learning a second (or third language). The purpose of this writing is not to suggest that in a literal sense. However, I am proposing that there is another “language” that we need to learn for the well-being of ourselves and our world. It is the language of love.

Inscriptions of vandals in the fortress of Santa Barbara. Stock Photography

One does not have to look far or know much to realize that our civilized society shows many signs of becoming/being very un-civil. We are seeing all too frequent expressions of anger and hostility instead of understanding and mutual respect. There is the increasing need to learn or re-learn the language of love.

Yes!

The language of love is not easy but I believe it is necessary for our survival. Let me suggest an exercise that might help in this effort. Every day for the next week read Matthew 5:21-48 and Luke 6:27-42 in the Bible. Try to understand and to practice the principles of that “new language.” I believe it will make a difference in your life and in our world.

 

Jamie Jenkins

 

The world is an interesting place. I am constantly surprised by strange sights and sounds. Let me share a few.

Marietta Tree Protest

Just last week the local news media ran a story about a woman camped out in a tree. Jenifer Firestone, a resident of Cross Creek Condos, used a ladder to climb a giant oak tree in an attempt to discourage Georgia Power from cutting it down. Residents were protesting the utility company’s plans to cut down some trees as a part of a large scale infrastructure project in Northwest Atlanta.

Brian McCann 1

Major League Baseball Spring Training is about to begin and the Atlanta Braves are a team I hardly recognize. There has been a wholesale dismantling of the team in the past few years. Although several major trades have been made, the one I still cannot quite comprehend occurred in December 2013 when Brian McCann was  sent to the New York Yankees. Seeing him in a Yankees uniform seems wrong.

Donald Trump

Candidates for President of the United States have been campaigning for what seems like an eternity. The rhetoric has been rather acrimonious. Some of the verbal exchanges have seemed like they came from 5th graders instead of candidates for the highest office in the land. But the strangest part of this crazy countdown to election day is the sight of billionaire entrepreneur Donald Trump as a serious contender.

rush limbaugh

I do not usually listen to talk radio but with the threat of ice or snow last week I turned my car radio on to catch the weather report. While I was waiting for Kirk Mellish’s latest predictions I heard Rush Limbaugh say, “Bill Clinton is the reason so many black men are in prison.” Strange sounds.

Duck Billed PlatypusHave you ever seen a Duck Billed Platypus. If you ever wondered if God has a sense of humor the sight of one of these unusual animals ought to give you a hunch.

Ash Wednesday 2
Last week I attended an Ash Wednesday service. With so much talk about the younger generation’s disdain for organized religion, I was surprised and pleased to see hundreds of young adults present for the imposition of ashes at the beginning of Lent.

Rice Fields 2

On a recent visit to southern Spain I was amazed to see rice fields. Just south of Valencia, between Suecca and Cullera, the countryside is covered with rice fields as far as the ey can see. That was a sight I did not expect.

Malaysia Houses of WorshipMy family spent a couple of weeks in Penang, Malaysia over the Christmas holidays in 2013. It was a fascinating experience but one of the most interesting things was to see Christian churches, Hindu and Buddhist Temples, and Moslem mosques side by side, sometimes even sharing a parking lot.

Diverging Diamond 1

Talk about a new idea. What about the new and rapidly expanding traffic control configuration called the Diverging Diamond. In the fall of 2000, Gilbert Chlewicki was a graduate student in transportation engineering when he decided he wanted to develop a new design and write a term paper on it. The result is a type of diamond interchange in which the two directions of traffic cross to the opposite side on both sides of a bridge at the freeway. It is unusual in that it requires traffic on the freeway overpass (or underpass) to briefly drive on the opposite side of the road from what is customary.

INDIA-SCIENCE-GEOLOGY-ACCIDENT

And did you hear  that for the first time in recorded history, a meteorite is reported to have killed a person? The incident happened February 6 when an object, thought to be a meteorite, hit a college campus in Tamil Nadu, a state in southern India. The news reported that the impact killed a man and injured three others.

Tornado

I don’t know much about climate change but tornadoes in Alabama and Mississippi at the same time as blizzards in the Mid West and Northeast!?

Is there any common thread to this, you ask. Is there a moral to these stories? Lessons for life? No! I just wanted to share some of the things that appeared to be out of the ordinary. Not all of the sights and sounds mentioned are “weird.” Some are just things I never thought I would see or hear. Some are simply curiosities. Others might be food for thought and conversation.

Jamie Jenkins

What strange sights and sounds have you seen or heard?