Monday, July 26, 2010

Hello, Mr President! We Met Jimmy Carter at the Silk Exchange in Valencia!

As part of our walking tour around Valencia, Husband and I wanted to tour the Silk Exchange. According to wikipedia, La Liotja de la Seda, or the Silk Excchange, is a late Valencian Gothic style civil building, built between 1482 and 1548. As such, it is one of the major tourist attractions in the city. In 1996, UNESCO named it a World Heritage Site because they deemed it a "site of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in the late Gothic style, which dramatically illustates the power and wealth of one of the greatest Mediterranean mercantile cities."

According to Valencia-cityguide.com, the Silk Exchange consists of four main parts: the tower, the Sea Consulate Room, the Orange Tree Patio, and the Contracts Room with the famous spiral columns. In the Contracts Room, there is a blue band that runs along all four walls and in gold letters you'll find an inscription. Here's what it means in english: I am an illustrious house built in fifteen years. Try and see, fellow citizens, how negociation is such a good thing when there is no lie in the speech, when it swears to the neighbor and does not deceive him, when it does not lend money with an interest charge for its use. The merchant who acts this way will prosper galore and at the end he will enjoy eternal life. A merchant's golden rule, perhaps?

When we arrived at the Silk Exchange, I saw two clean cut men speaking English. This caught my attention immediately, since you don't often hear English spoken when you are out and about. Then I saw they had one of those clear curly wires stuck in their ears. A security detail of some sort? Secret service, maybe? Husband said that maybe someone was in Exchange right then. So we decided to keep a lookout as we toured the sight...

The Silk Exchange had beautiful mosaic marble floors, intricately carved and guilded ceilings, heavy wooden doors, lush draperies, and those amazing columns...Here is a sample of some of the floors...
The Contracts Room, also referred to as the Hall of Columns was really amazing...The spiral pattern and the height really made for a lot of drama. Imagine all the business that has gone on inside those walls...
A stairway that leads down to somewhere...
Iron gates open onto the Orange Tree Patio...
Another dramatic look out on the patio...
Stained glass window...Notice the Valencian flag up towards the top...
Don't know what this room was used for, but I loved the doors and draperies...
Here they are up close...
The Orange Tree Patio, but no oranges...bet it's pretty when they are in season...
Don't forget to look up...
We decided to see what was upstairs...We had all but forgotten about who might be here too...
Can you ever really get enough of these amazing ceilings??? Not me...they do give me a crick in the neck sometimes though...
Another fab floor...
All this culture is wasted on the youth...but one day they'll appreciate that we dragged them all around Spain...I hope!
As were descended the stairs, back down to the Patio, we were struck by how Valencia must have been a city focused on the future...Buildings located and even sometimes attached to ancient structures...can't stop progress...
Back on the patio, we noticed even more security had gathered, at least eight men and women, if not more. Was their charge here on the patio right now? We scanned the crowd and that's when I spotted him, former President Jimmy Carter, sitting on a concrete bench, taking a load off, and looking like somebody's grandpa. Then we saw Rosalyn who doesn't seem to have aged much in the last 30 years. We were trying to decide whether or not to interrupt their afternoon. We didn't want to bother them, but how often do you get to introduce your children to a living piece of American history, and on the 4th of July, no less. So Husband introduced himself to a member of the Secret Service and asked if it would be all right to approach the former President and perhaps take a picture with the kids. He said to bring the kids over when we asked and that he was sure it wouldn't be a problem.

So we walked over and Husband introduced himself, telling the President we were stationed in Madrid and were visiting Valencia for the first time. Would he mind taking a picture with the boys? He joked that he'd be happy to, but he didn't even know their names. So the boys had to speak up and introduce themselves. They were a little in awe, but did a good job. Then we posed for a couple of pictures, taken by his son. The President, then told us, they had just come from Barcelona, his favorite Spanish city, and were continuing on to Madrid, where he would visit the Prado again. We admitted sheepishly that we still hadn't made it to Prado, and he told us we simply had to go. He also revealed that Spain was his second favorite country after the "birthday" country...a little 4th of July reference. He thanked Husband for his service, and we went our separate ways. A little while later, as we were visited the closed, but supposed to be open, Serrano Towers, we heard sirens and saw their motorcade pass by. We waved and they honked...a coincidence??? Surely not...glad you aren't here to see Husband's eyes roll...hahaha...Hasta luego...

12 comments:

  1. What a nice surprise Ashleigh! And you have the photo as a lifelong memento. Reminds me of the time I met Ronald Reagan when I was younger. I got his autograph but no photo.

    Yes do go and see the Prado one day! It's an inspiring visit. Cheers, Sharon.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks, Sharon. I'm sure you are right that the kids will never forget it and the picture will be a lifelong momento. I'm sure you will agree...it's cool to meet a President. It's just not something that happens everyday.

    As for the Prado, we admonished my firned, Tiff, when we first moved here because she hadn't been to the Prado and had been here almost a whole year. Now here we are, in the same situation. We will definitely go this summer.

    ReplyDelete
  3. What a beautiful building! You're kids don't know how lucky they are yet, but someday, growing up in Spain is going to make them very impressive to people like me. Trust me.

    I haven't met a president yet, but it's clearly just a matter of time.

    ReplyDelete
  4. @American Tourist: I'm sure they will appreciate it one day...and as for you meeting a President, former or otherwise...clearly!

    @Erika Jean: Thanks, it really was!

    ReplyDelete
  5. What a great experience! And something your kids will remember forever :-)

    ReplyDelete
  6. Wow! What an impressive meeting!

    ReplyDelete
  7. @ Victor: We really couldn't believe it. We didn't expect to run into a former US President on a misty Sunday morning in Valencia...

    ReplyDelete
  8. What a great opportunity... These experiences are just so fantastic for all of you all!! And, so fun for us to get to follow along.

    ReplyDelete
  9. @Nadya: Sorry I missed your post. Thanks for stopping by! We think it's so cool!

    @jill: Thanks for coming along for the ride, Miss Jill!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Cool story! Sounds like you had a great visit to Valencia. Your beach stories are good as well. I like the reference to Sorolla. I am now in Castellon where I will have to look for that same light...

    ReplyDelete
  11. Good to hear from you U.S. Just looked up Castellon online and it looks like a great place for a "vacay." Thanks for taking note of my Sorolla reference. I want to buy a Sorolla print, but I'm trying to decide which is my favorite. I just recently found out that a his house and studio in Madrid is a museum and I plan to visit soon. Enjoy Catellon and I'm sure you'll have no trouble finding that beautiful light...

    ReplyDelete

Share your thoughts...

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails