Valencia – Visit 1

Published by 2TogsOnTour on

When we embarked on our winter trip we had all good intentions of doing regular blog posts.  Well, we managed it for precisely two weeks!  Since then although we have kept a handwritten diary of our adventures and used Track My Tour (view here) to summarise our trip the blog posts have sadly never materialised – we have been far too busy having fun to knuckle down and write them!

We have decided instead to do some retrospective blog posts about some of the highlights of our trip.  For both of us Valencia was always going to make our highlights list but after an unexpected return visit to this beautiful city, it’s definitely earnt a top spot.

Our first visit to Valencia was back in early December.  We stayed at Devesa Gardens, a campsite approximately 20km from the city centre (€19 pn with ACSI discount).  We found the site clean and a good location for exploring the city (bus outside site €1.50 approx 35 mins), but with the benefit of being near to a beach and Albufera nature reserve for a little bit of calm and tranquillity.  A fantastic spot for stunning sunsets.

Albufera, sunset

Valencia has something for everyone and rather than try and cram everything in we picked a small selection of places to explore during our time there.

Mercado Central (Central Market)
A fabulous building covering 8,000 square metres with a stunning highly decorated domed ceiling.  Built at the beginning the 19th-century it houses more than 1,000 stalls selling every type of type of food imaginable producing an overwhelming medley of smells.

Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange)
A stunning example of Gothic architecture – built in the 15th century.  There are 28 Gothic gargoyles at the top of the building, whose practical purpose is to collect rainwater from the roof.  The building reminded us more of a Hogwarts-esque castle than a trading place.

Catedral de Valencia 
7€ entrance (includes an audio guide – well worth it if you want to know what you are looking at!).  Plenty to see including the REAL Holy Grail

San Nicolas De Bari
13th century church consisting of a single-nave with six highly decorated chapels between the buttresses and a polygonal apse.

Lunch was a bocadillo de jamon sat Placa de Reina enjoying the sunshine followed by a Horchata (a Valencian non-alcoholic drink made from tiger nuts, water and sugar).  Not something we would repeat – even Mr B found it too sweet and sickly!

The City of Arts & Sciences can be found just on the outskirts of the city centre.  A group of iconic ultra-modern buildings we chose to visit just to admire the stunning architecture – perfect eye candy for us photographers.

The rest of our time in the city was spent “food and drink sightseeing.”  After seeing Cafe de las Horas on Travel Man 48 hours in Valencia we decided to pay this unusual bar a visit to sample the Agua de Valencia.  Joined by a couple of our travelling friends, Sandra & Ian we happily whiled away an hour or so in this quirky bar.  WARNING Agua de Valencia, a cocktail made from a base of cava or champagne, orange juice, vodka and gin is VERY DRINKABLE! Well worth a visit.  We also experienced Pintxos for the first time.  These are yummy snacks that are served with a cocktail stick to hold them together – your bill is calculated by the number of cocktails sticks on your plate (they are very moorish and its easy to run at a large bill).

We also visited El Palmar (where Paella supposedly originates from) and sampled a traditional Valencian Paella at Restaurante L’illa – consisting of rabbit, chicken, green and butter beans and snails – not a piece of fish or seafood in sight much to Mr B’s delight he wasn’t brave enough to try the snails though!  It was delicious.

We had a fabulous first visit to this city and definitely planned to return in the future – however, fate played a hand and we ended up returning last week for La Falles (pronounced ‘fiyas’) 16-19 March and we are delighted we did.  Coming soon Fireworks, Flowers and Falles


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