As a child in the ‘50’s, long before the days of Sunday opening had turned every weekend into just another couple of shopping days with bigger crowds, I remember my ‘Sunday best’, clothes worn only on that high day and holidays, and a stroll with my parents and siblings (often begrudgingly!) at the times we didn’t have a car, or a Sunday drive out at the times we did.
All that has vanished in the UK, but in Spain the couple of hours before the big Sunday lunch, when all the family get together, is still seen as ‘quality time’, a horrible Americanism, but one which perfectly sums up the Spanish approach; a couple of hours to spend with the nippers, have a meander with mum and dad, read the paper or stretch out in the sun.
One of my favourite spots in Valencia on Sunday morning is the area surrounding the fountains in front of the Palau de Musica in the Jardines de Turia, the dried-up riverbed that almost encircles the city. I can’t say that a friend was correct when he said that it was better than strolling in New York’s Central Park because I’ve never been there, but I love watching the world go by on Sunday in the park, whether it be on skateboard, bike, roller-blade, on the chuffy little train, or peddling those silly four wheel bikes where dad pretends to let the little lad steer but in fact wants to do it himself (like buying a top-of the line Scalextric for his son’s third birthday). Kids sail boats on the pond, lovers canoodle on the grass, grannies and granddads put the world to rights – and there’s always a doting parent or two taking photos of their chicos to slap in the family album and embarrass them with in years to come.