Another day dawns here in sunny Spain and we are now in Valencia. The last full day in Barcelona was marred by me mixing a couple of medications which made me quite ill, so I couldn’t do the the walk in Las Ramblas and the Gothic quarter which we had planned. By the end of the day I was feeling much better and was able to go out for a tapas meal that we had arranged with son of a friend.
After a quick breakfast in a nice cafe we discovered near the hotel, we were on the road to Valencia, via Tarragona. We only had time to pass through, but managed to see the Roman amphitheatre ruins by the sea. We had hoped to spend a bit longer there but a large market in the town put paid to any decent parking, so we headed off to Valencia.
It was quite a long drive from Barcelona to Valencia but we saw some interesting landscapes along the way. Many fields were dotted with tiny little huts like small fincas, which were often graffiti-laden. Common too were churches in the fields, and as we came nearer to Valencia, orange groves prolifterated.
Ah, Valencia – even from the outskirts I could feel I would like it and as we neared our B&B accommodation in the old town, I was sure I would love it. What a place! There are churches galore, beautiful buildings, an impressive city portal and a huge park, which has been built in the the path of a diverted river. It is quite an asset to the city I am sure.
Once settled in our B&B, we ventured out to explore the environment nearby, beginning in the pedestrian Placa de la Mare de Deu, which houses the historic pink Basilica de la Mare de Deu, plus the Gothic Cathedral with its amazing facade, and a very large fountain.
Margarita, our hostess, has made a wonderfully quirky place for travellers to stay at Valencia Arthouse. Set away from the busy tourist area, yet still very close, it is a perfect base to explore the old city, which we have been doing since early this morning, beginning with a stroll of the empty streets before breakfast. Breakfast itself was a profusion of colourful condiments, cereals, crepes, cheeses, French toast, fruit salad, yoghurt and breads – something to suit everyone!
We began our exploration of the city by heading off for the Mercat Central (market) to see how the Valencians do their Saturday morning shopping – it was packed, and the selection of fruits, vegetables, fish, meat etc was overwhelming. The building itself is truly awesome, both inside and out. Next stop was the Bullring but we couldn’t get in as they were setting up for a concert , so we went into the magnificent Estacio del Nord train station nearby, which boasts the most amazing tiled murals. It was worth a visit as is the Post Office, (Palacio de Correos y Telegrafos) another architectural treasure-the domed roof is remarkable. At this point the four of us split up so I could do a bit of shopping – Zara and Cos were just around the corner, but sadly I came away empty-handed.
Lunchtime had arrived by this time so we had a delicious Valencian paella in the Placa de la Reina. It was very tasty, and surprisingly was full of green and white beans.
We managed to find a place set back from the crush of tourists which today seem to be groups of middle-aged women. The parade of people we have seen since we have been here has been fascinating. It seems this part of town is the place for weddings and we have seen some beautifully dressed women pass by and even a bride or two.
Feeling full after the paella, we took off in a different direction to walk it off but it seemed to be a shopping area (Carolina Herrera was there no less!), and since it was 30 degrees we went back in our cool haven before we went off again to explore the old Arab Quarter.
After finding the well-known Portal de Vallidigna, we finally got to see inside the Basilica – each time we had passed it previously it was either hosting a wedding or the doors were closed. It is simply magnificent.
Our last dinner here was outdoors in a little side alley beside a church with some great gargoyles protruding from the roof above us.
As we wandered back to the B&B in the dimming light I was thrilled to see that the doors to the Cathedral were open – the first time since I have been here -it is less opulent than the Basilica but magnificent nonetheless. The Basilica doors were still open too so I couldn’t resist a second look inside.
Valencia has treated us well. We had have great weather (it was nice of the thunderstorm to happen when we were asleep), a perfect place to stay, delicious food and for me total immersion in the architectural delights this city provides. I am assuming it is quite a devout city as there are churches galore (and bells ringing to go with it). The history is palpable and I have loved it here. Tomorrow we leave for Granada.