The biggest challenge facing our party this morning was doling out the pocket money ready for assault on the Valencia club shop. After – yet another! – huge breakfast, we set off for the Mestella laden with calories and euros. Arriving at the awe inspiring Mestella stadium, our party were instantly taken with – a small dazed pigeon huddled recovering next to the entrance gates. It was a Spanish one, at least. As we were early for our tour, we went first to the club shop – the children could barely contain their glee. Great impromptu Maths lesson – if I buy this for Mum, and this for Dad, and these for me, and those for Uncle Tom Cobbly and all, do I have enough money or do I have to make further withdrawals from the impromptu bank set up in the shop? All good cross curricular experiences. Rumours that they closed the shop once we left to restock are not true, but they certainly appreciated our visit.
Kicking off our stadium tour, we began in the trophy room to see the club’s collection of six La Liga titles, seven Copa del Rey titles, two Inter-Cities Fairs Cups, one UEFA Cup, one UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup and two UEFA Super Cups – almost more cups than there are in the Prep staffroom. From there, we went into the changing rooms – an unusual experience for most of our children as there was no lost property strewn all over the floor. In the press room, the children had a chance to sit in the spotlight and experience what it would be like to be faced with a sea of cameras, answering questions about the day’s performance or forthcoming fixtures. When questioned, Harrison agreed that he is available for transfer for £5000 – any takers? It was truly incredible to walk out of the tunnel to the pitch – climbing up the last few steps to see the pitch and the south stand towering over us was quite remarkable. It’s a 50,000 capacity stadium, but it feels incredibly intimate – it allegedly has one of the best atmospheres on match day. What a privilege to sit in the dug out to take it all in.
We’ve had a lot of choice at meal times and the children have eaten nearly as well as Mr. Altdorf, and after another hearty feast we once again took over the rooftop swimming pool for a bit of leisure time. Again parents, we have to say this was under duress, it wasn’t a pleasant experience and the children were forced to endure the cool refreshing waters under the warm afternoon sun. Honest. The Valencia team had been due to leave their training facilities at 1pm and the children were given the opportunity to walk down and try to see them, but they chose lunch and the pool instead. Reis and Dante did walk down with Mr. Suter to try and see them, but with due Spanish punctuality, the team had left an hour and a half early.
Training again this afternoon, and our Valencia coaches remarked just how relaxed our children were this afternoon. The girls especially spent the whole afternoon laughing and joking, whilst still applying themselves to their training and charging around the field.
Time then to put the glad rags on ready for a night out in Valencia. The food in our restaurant was fantastic – a choice of several mains but of course they will all be forgotten as it was ice cream for afters! Fair play to Matthew, Josh, Dravid and Craig who started a card school between courses. And then to Lazer Quest, an instant hit, as our group put their athleticism to new users. A final dance off in the centre of the mall – a good effort, given that there was no music – and then back to the hotel to bed.
A few postscripts. Our children are developing a love of walking into things. Luca has managed a lamppost and a car wing mirror (tomorrow he’s going to walk into the sea), Oliver B managed one lamppost and then when telling someone else about it, walked into another, and Lilly is joining the group by walking into her own this evening. Dante, Reis and Alfie P currently hold the record for lost room keys – seven. Miss Armstrong is rapidly developing her Spanish skills and is acting as tour interpreter between Mr Altdorf and Louis our rep, who cannot understand Mr. Altdorf at all. Perhaps understandable. The miraculous healing properties of swimming pool water should be hailed – after her hospital visit for a check-up yesterday, and return to the hotel in a sling, Freya discarded said sling for swimming costume – “The water helps it!” and has been back on the training pitch this afternoon, even wanting to go back in goal!
Training tomorrow morning, and the beach – role on day 5.