Journeys

Valencia

Getting there

Valencia is on the middle of east coast of Spain. There are plenty of cheap airlines flying to Valencia from the UK. That is one of the reasons, why we chose the location. The choice was between Gerona (quite close to Barcelona) and Valencia. Most people would probably go for Gerona – Barcelona is a very beautiful large city with loads of places a tourist might visit. Personally I have not been there, but I have heard quite excited opinions about it from people I am willing to trust.

Because of a hunch, sheer chance or some other reason (no one can remember now) we have chosen Valencia as our destination. I think we were lucky. The destination was decided long before we actually started buying the tickets and booking the hotels. Actually, it was really close for us to stay at home and compete in pretending that we enjoy the January Southampton weather for that weekend. That’s why we were lucky – we managed to get back to the thought of going to Valencia before it was too late. I am so glad we did – Valencia is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever seen throughout my travels.

We landed in Valencia on a nice Airbus from Gatwick supplied by EasyJet – despite being a low price airline, they have done a good job (didn’t really like budget airlines before this). During the 3 days that we have spent in the wonderful city of the sun we stayed at a wonderful hotel Nova Victoria. It claims to be a 4 star hotel, I am no expert, but it was nice, clean and quiet – those are all the things I need in a hotel.

Valencian transport

The page Valencia @ Wikipedia will tell you that the population of Valencia is just under a million people and that it is the capital of an autonomous region with the same name. For visitors this should say that there is a separate language in Valencia, different from Castilian (main Spanish dialect).

Despite its size Valencia has a well developed metro system with 4 lines underground and 2 more tram lines connecting directly with the underground. The nicest thing is that 2 metro lines go up to the airport, which makes getting to the city really easy and quick. Going around the city in a metro is not really convenient as they follow the main streams of passengers, who live in Valencia or its suburbs and want to get to the center. We ony took the metro to the airport and the beach.

My companions might disagree with me, but I find that if one wishes to visit the city center and have a look around the place in general it is quite enough to use ones own feet. Our hotel was right in the center of the city, so we could reach any point withing 30 minutes on foot. And trust me, if you are in Valencia, you don’t want to miss out anything that you might meet on your way. This city is perfect to wander around and admire – taking random turns always proves to reveal something new and magnificent.

Experience of the city

Valencia is not spoiled by constant attention from tourists. When we wandered around we found many places, where people spoke Spanish only. Which made us learn some of it and brought a smile to everyone around us while we were at it. They were not mean about it though – usually the people of Valencia were genuinely trying to help us express ourselves. And would smile at our attempts – guess it was funny. Mostly we could understand each other with some time spent on rearranging the cultural differences.

It is quite interesting to see what people can do given this little information about our wishes. Usually it was enough to express an approximate direction or area of what you would like (for example a paella – common dish in valencia) and they would not bother you about all the fine detail they would usually ask people – would just go away and do something sensible.

Although we have seen only the center of the city, I am quite positive that this is the most beautiful city I have ever seen. My companions probably had something to do with this impression – we had a hell of a good time, but even so – the city is magnificent.

The combination of old city’s streets and a modern city’s drive is incredible. Yes, there is a commercial center and all the high and ugly buildings are there as well, but they are well overpowered by the amount of old and beautiful architecture.

The largest impression, at least for me, was sun and 20C in January plus a magnificent idea of the city to create a park in a former riverbed. The green snake of trees, bushes, benches, flowers and fountains splits the city into 2. The parts are connected with bridges, both new and old, which makes it even more special.

This makes it incredible easy to go through the city just by following the riverbed – you are in the middle of town, yet you can walk to miles between tress (given that you go along the path of the river). Fountains in Valencia are a completely special story of their own.

The people of Valencia use the riverbed park as a place for jogging and cycling, so it is always full of people, even at night. Which is great and makes you feel safe there even at midnight – nights are really warm, so everyone wants to go outside and either jog or just walk, cycle or enjoy the moonlight. And this time everyone includes you.

This was my first visit to Spain and I doubt that all cities in the country are like that, but even if so, it is definitely worth visiting Valencia – no doubts about it.

Food

One of my companions was very persuasive about trying out several Spanish dishes:

Paella – a dish of rice and meat usually served at lunch time (about 3pm local time). Comes in a variety of ingredients and tastes. We had several attempts to get one – the most successful was in a place so far away from the tourist world, that we had serious trouble communicating, but we got a paella and some fish out of them, both superb.

Horchata – a white colour drink made from almond nuts, great in hot weather.

Churos – stripes of pastry deep fried and sprinkled with sugar. Usually served with thick version of hot chocolate. Really depends on the place, where you get them. But if it is the right one, they are delicious.

Bocadillo– sandwiches with the strangest of ingredients, we had a tortilla (omelet) one – delicious. The guy serving it looked so hot that the feminine side of our company could not stop talking about him for the rest of the vacation.

Sea in January

The beach in Valencia is a classical sandy Mediterranean beach with low waves and plenty of wind from land. Because it was January there were not many people there, so searching for food proved to be a problem. Took us some time to find a place serving food. It was a kebab place, so we were quite reluctant to go there first – a kebab is always a kebab, but we could not find anything better, so had to settle for that.

While we were searching for a place to eat we came across a school festival. Kids and their teachers were dressed up in costumes according to a theme special to each class going through the streets with music and dances.

The sea itself was really peaceful and somehow brought the sensation of the whole city together – peaceful and calm, yet understanding that time goes on. Sometimes rushing, sometimes slowing down, but never standing. I know that I will enjoy coming back to Valencia.

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