A place apart in Spain
February 01, 2008 1:01 AM

by Joan Tupponce

Ed and Lisa Ramsey love to stay in Valencia whenever they are in Spain because there they feel transported to another time.

“It’s one of the few places in the world where I go that I feel like I’ve stepped into a different way of living,” says Ed Ramsey, who regularly travels to Spain for business. The city’s pace is comfortable — siestas, often between 1 and 5 p.m., are a respected tradition. “Between 2 and 4 p.m. you sit down for a full meal. You don’t eat dinner until 10 p.m. You really feel the difference.”

The Ramseys describe the residents of Valencia as “some of the friendliest people in the world.” “We have found them to be very gracious and hospitable,” Ed Ramsey says. “If you make an effort to speak Spanish, they really appreciate it.”

As vice president of Taylor-Ramsey Corp., a Lynchburg-based forest products company, Ed Ramsey travels the globe. “We trade all over the world. I make at least eight trips or more each year,” he says. “We export to about 56 different countries, everywhere from Jordan to London to Vietnam.”

The company’s domestic and international hardwood divisions process hardwood lumber — oak, cherry, ash, etc.  — for use in furniture, flooring, kitchen cabinets, molding and woodworking. The company employs about 350 people.

When the Ramseys travel to Valencia, they explore the city’s old town area as well as its modern environs. Located on the Mediterranean coastline, Valencia’s Historic Centre dates back to Roman times. The city’s cathedral, one of its most famous sites, features Romanesque, Gothic and Baroque architecture.

Valencia’s ancient bridges, 15th-century towers and historic monuments surround the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural wonder created by renowned Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. This city-within-a-city is home to El Palau de las Arts and L’Hemisferic, space-age buildings that shelter venues ranging from an opera house to a planetarium and IMAX theater. “That part of the city has some of the most beautiful modern buildings we’ve ever seen,” Ed Ramsey says. “There’s also a magnificent aquarium. My wife says it rivals any aquarium she has ever seen.” 

The city’s economy

Valencia mixes old with new in its architecture and its economy. The city has long been an agricultural and merchant center. Its port is one of the largest
on the Mediterranean coastline. Exports include Valencia oranges along with furniture and textiles. This past year, the port of Valencia was chosen to host
the 32nd America’s Cup. Tourism is now one of city’s largest revenue streams thanks to its large convention and trade fair business.

Where to eat

Valencia is known for its paella, a rice dish with vegetables and usually seafood or chicken. If you’re looking for paella, head to Restaurante
L’Establiment, La Rosa or Casa Roberto. “My wife’s favorite dish is a plate of small lamb ribs at La Gruta in the Paiporta section of Valencia,” Ed Ramsey
says. For beef, try Meson Restaurante El Rebeco in central Valencia; for seafood, it’s El Canyar and for tapas, the inexpensive Bar Pilar.

Where to stay

The Ramseys have a few favorite hotels in Valencia. The first is the Hotel Las Arenas Balneario Resort, a modern luxury hotel on the seafront. “It’s
absolutely wonderful,” Ed Ramsey says. “It has a panoramic view of the Mediterranean Sea.” Near the City of Arts and Sciences, the couple suggests The Hotel
Opera Valencia. “Lisa likes to stay where she feels comfortable. Her favorite hotel in the shopping district is the stylish Hotel Vincci Lys,” Ed Ramsey
says. “It’s in the center of the main shopping district and in walking distance of restaurants, the train and the bullring.”

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