I arrived in Valencia late at night, fresh off the train from Seville and excited for La Tomatina which was only a couple days away.
Not one of my finer moments of organisation, I had got there knowing only my hostel name and how to reach it by public transport. I hadn’t bothered as I normally did to get a map sorted either, which would’ve been a particularly clever thing given I had no internet on my phone either.
All would’ve worked out though in theory.. except that I couldn’t for the life of me find where the bus stop was (and later found out they stop running by that time of night anyway).
After trying the one and only man at information who spoke no english, my plan of attack was to just give up and find a taxi.
I hate taking taxi’s (not only because of the price but more the safety factor) by myself but it seemed the only option until I met a group of Italian backpackers who appeared to know what they were doing.
I figured I might as well just join them and then get directions from their hostel.
Except they got hopelessly lost too.
Long story short, I finally got to where I needed to be a good hour and a half later and was most impressed by the gentlemanly Italian escort I received to make sure I got there safely.
One of the skinniest houses in the world!
Day one I decided to do a walking tour of the city, which ended with some sampling of horchata. On the train ride to Valencia I had sat next to a kind woman who grew up here and the cutest baby of all time.
She told me to make sure I tried some of this while I was in town so I was stoked to tick it off my list right away.
It’s a milky looking drink that is not overly flavourful but quite refreshing on a hot day. I had assumed it was alcoholic but it’s just water, sugar and nuts so it’s vegan friendly. The horchaterias also sell these sweet-ish breads you can dunk inside it too.
It was about 40 degrees celsius while I was in Valencia so my roommates and I decided to rent bikes for the day and ride to the beach.
It may have not been the best idea because it took a good hour each way but once we arrived there was definitely no better feeling than jumping into the ocean!
Our path there took us past the City of the Arts and Sciences, a set of buildings which are iconic in the city and extremely modern and innovative in design. As I was staying in the Old Town part of Valencia, it was especially a change in scenery.
These buildings are essentially at one end of the Turia Gardens, a massive park that runs for a few kilometres through Valencia.
In the 1950s the city suffered a massive flood from the river that used to run through there, so instead it was diverted and the empty space which remains today is this park – very cool to see!
It’s hard to write a post about a Spanish city and not include a reference to food. Beautiful Mercado Central is where it’s at not only for fresh produce, but also a place to grab some refreshments and snacks as you wander around town.
Having been in Spain for over a couple weeks at this point, I finally knew my what I liked for breakfast and a little café near my hostel did a decent combo of my order : tostada con tomate (toast with tomato), café con leche (coffee with milk) and fresh orange juice for only a few euro.
It wasn’t going to win any awards but it was a cheap and cheerful way to start the day and sure beat the inedible offerings of where I was staying!
My hostel was also a short walk from the Plaza de la Virgen a central meeting point in town, and near the Valencia Cathedral too, which is apparently quite beautiful on the inside.
I thought El Museo Nacional de Ceramica y de las Artes Suntuarias Gonzalez Marti was worth a visit to also.
Today it is the National Museum of Ceramics and only costs a couple of euro to enter but it was actually once the home of an extremely wealthy family.
The front entrance’s facade alone is pretty spectacular to behold wouldn’t you agree?
To conclude, Valencia is a genuinely lovely city and while it probably wouldn’t make the top of my list when it comes to favourite Spanish cities there’s a lot to do here and it’ll definitely keep you busy and enjoying yourself for a few days.
Two reasons why I thought it was especially rad though: the wide array of sangria there seemed to be available in their supermarkets.
And I discovered an ice-cream store in town where they make flowers out of however many flavours you decide to pick. Delicious!