Nowadays we read and learn so much about a city or a place we will visit, we see so many pictures and videos. Does it happen to you too? Already have seen a movie stetted there, maybe. So it kind of ruins all the fun and the surprise of a new place you are visiting. That did not happen to me with Valencia. I didn’t know much about it and I preferred not to read or look at any pictures of the city. Amazed! Loved it! After all I love everything about Spain.
What to do? If you don’t really check beforehand, you might skip something interesting, some great recommendations and regret it when someone asks you: “Have you been there, or seen this?”, so, you kinda have to decide between the surprise, or checking almost all there is to see. You can always check once you are there, after all we are in the “Wi-Fi WORLD”. You can always ask the locals, and it’s always better if you can understand the language, because in my experience, only with English you don’t go very far. (Yes, i have been lost more than once asking for directions. That’s why Google Maps is so famous).
In this case, in Valencia, it is somehow difficult to communicate in English… Thank God for Latin soap-operas i used to watch when I was a little girl… so I could try to speak Spanish and communicate with locals (I thank them for the patience with me). I know Valencia is famous for Las Fallas Festival every March, but this time I was there in February. I would love to go back for the festival of course. What I did in Valencia to try to enjoy it like a local? First, I said “Hola!” all the time. Friendly people. Spain is love, after all. Vamos!
Relax at Plaza de la Virgen
From here you can glance at the 14th Century Miquel bell tower of the Catedral de Valencia, the domed Basilica de Virgen de Los Desamparados, and the 17th Century Palau de Generalitat.
The cathedral is well worth visiting. You can climb to the top of the Miguelete bell tower and admire views of the city.
Inside the cathedral, the Holy Grail is one of the must-see attractions for those of a religious following. Legend has it that the cup travelled from Rome centuries ago. However, when the Muslim rulers took over Spain, it was placed into hiding for centuries and only returned to the city in 1427 by the gloriously named King ‘Alfonso the Magnanimous’.
Valencia is famous for its oranges and the streets are filled will beautiful orange trees, offering shade from the sun’s rays whilst you relax in street cafes and bars. Oranges of the street trees have a very bad taste, as I have heard, so I recommend breakfast at Plaza de la Virgen, enjoying the pace of life of this historical city.
Local Market (Mercado Central)
It’s a paradise for food lovers . A big modernista covered market, with a vast array of local smells and colors. Sunday is closed. I always have “bad luck” and decide to visit some specific place the day they are closed. My local host recommended me to just go there, find a tapas bar, sip some wine and enjoy the atmosphere. Inside the market i found e cool beer place, with all kind of different beers, with pretty bottles, made me fall in love with beer.
Also, the Local Market is surrounded with coin and stamps market. You can sell your coins there. I loved the big stamp books. I went by only to take a look, the seller offered a chair to sit and check all the time i needed. You can find any kind of stamps for 10 cent (China and Japan stamps are 80 cent per piece “LOL”), so I ended up with a lot of exotic places stamps of places I plan to visit (Asia, Africa, Latin America all the way).
The first day there, I also loved the area of Plaza del Ayuntamiento, literally translated “Town Hall Square”, is the main square in Valencia and my favorite, even just to stare at the fountain rhythm, which by the way becomes colorful at night. Purple took so long to show up!
City of Arts and Sciences.
Be ready to get transported into the future. First, so I don’t forget, is very easy to walk or take a bike here. You can rent a bike to go to City of Arts and Sciences and also to the beach area. Do not make my mistake. I did not do that. Everyone recommends it, and I have seen a lot of locals and tourists with bikes. Made me so envy, really. I am transporting you there through the pictures. Didn’t really do a good job on the pictures for this trip, but could not leave out Valencia anyway. But, take my first advice, don’t get too informed before going. Just go and immerse yourself there.
Just chill there after long tour inside.
Finally I showed my face… Well, almost!
The original paella was born in Valencia.
Paella Valenciana, besides rice, this includes chicken and/or pork. Also, many natives include rabbit.
Paella Mixta, is a mixture of the paella Valenciana and the paella de marisco . It contains meat, chicken and seafood. Sometimes this paella is called Paella Andaluz and is the most commonly ordered and eaten paella, specially by tourists. (It was too heavy and messy for me. Where is my shrimp!)
Paella de Marisco (known as Paella Marinera when it has 5 seafood ingredients) – This is a seafood paella that does not contain meat. It usually contains prawns, mussels, calamaris, clams, and other seafood.
Of course you cannot go without trying the traditional Paella Valenciana, which I liked, but I prefer Seafood Paella (Paella de Marisco), even though it is cooked with different herbs, so it tasted different that the ones in Barcelona, according to my humble opinion as food lover.
Are we there yet? The Beach!
Just take a bike! Valencia has e really long stretch of shoreline. The most popular beach, La Malvarrosa, which starts around the port area and is split into Playa las Arenas and the Playa Cabanyal, eventually stretching up to the Playa de Patacona. A bit further away you will find the other local beaches such as Playa de Pinedo and Playa el Saler. North of the city you will find Playa Port Saplaya, and a bit further still, the Roman area of Playa Sagunto.
I wasn’t there during summer, it was really nice and quiet. Perfect for my dreamed bike ride. Also, you can stop for a beer or lunch in one of the many seafront bars and restaurants.
In Valencia you find yourself transported from historical old city, into the future, in pure science fiction. What an experience!