My handless clock

There is no use trying to read the time on the clock of our hotel room in València. It has a face, yes. It also has what I can only assume is a stuffed cuckoo—a fake one, I’d say—hanging from it. But it has no hands. Yes, our hotel, a couple of blocks from the impressive City of Arts and Sciences, is one with thematic rooms that walk the fine line between humor and Kitsch—and often enough step way beyond that line.

The drive from Barcelona—better, from Viladecans, near the airport, where we slept after my arrival—took us to Sitges for a late breakfast, which in reality was a lunch made of small octopodes, and, later on, to Sagunt, where I was forced to show off my driving skills thanks to some awfully steep, narrow, winding town streets.

Beside the really beautiful and huge castle that we were able to see only from a distance and never actually reach—despite my attempts at getting closer by car—Sagunt is an otherwise sad-looking place, which reminded me much of a certain Lucanian town I visited a few summers ago. The only notable difference was the persistent flowery smell that accompanied us the whole time, and that for some reason I wasn’t able to identify right away as that of azahares, the blossoms of the citrus trees that constellate the whole area.

I must admit it took us a few seconds too long to associate the sight of oranges with the name of València, a realization that came as both obvious and totally unexpected. But one of the very nice things about València itself is that the smell of azahares is everywhere in the city this time of year, and is often so strong the wind can easily carry it far from its source. Nothing beats a light lunch in the warm, scented breeze on the Carrer dels Llibrers, right in front of the stock exchange, where we clearly stood out among the restaurant’s very local crowd of customers, yet never for a second felt out of place.