Hello, friends–I’m back from Valencia, Spain, where I attended last week’s European Social Science History Conference. It’s a big conference–I had no idea how big–and it was an honor to meet and interact en Inglés with so many European historians and other scholars. I’m always in awe of people who can manage to give papers and communicate in a language besides their native tongues. We Anglophones are truly put to shame by our European colleagues’ virtuosity & daring.
Click on the video clip for a little sonic atmosphere–more trenchant commentary and my holiday snaps on the flip.
The conference put on a pretty boss cocktail party for us at the Palau de Musica on Thursday night (which was conveniently across the street from my hotel), and my co-panelists and I were at our roundtable on Friday morning bright and early at 8:30 a.m. local time (12:30 a.m. MDT!). We had a great conversation about Women’ work and the Atlantic Economy, and I saw several panels on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.
But of course I still had plenty of time to enjoy the city and the lovely, warm, dry weather. Spring flowers were blooming, and the orange trees were full of their fruits.
Interestingly, I saw more soldiers or police with big guns at the airport and on the streets of Valencia than I have seen in Colorado. It was quite a surprise to find men police armed like this, guarding the other side of the cathedral with its decapitated saints. The air of menace brought by heightened security concerns in Europe has arrived at the Mediterranean vacation coast.
The cathedral features the predictable relic of a saint, in this case, St. Vincent Ferrer, a fourteenth and fifteenth-century Valencian, Dominican missionary, and very wired-in church politician.
But this was an unusual intrusion of modern politics into the daily life of a cheerful provincial city. Many more sights were charming and lighthearted. Valencia was quite different from the major British, French, and Italian cities I have visited in the past, in that the streets were full of Spanish families with young children, and in general, the Spaniards outnumbered the tourists, even during Easter vacation week!
We ate incredibly well, enjoying massive late lunches of paella Valenciana, then bibidas y pinxtos (drinks and snacks) in the early evening, and then dinners at 10 p.m. Why not? You only live once. My theory is that eating and drinking well is a good antidote for jet lag (and I don’t want to hear any opinions to the contrary).
Hoy futbol! It turns out that Valencia has a futbol team that’s a pretty big deal, in third place after the equivalent of the Yankees and the Red Sox of Spanish sports: