So following on from my 4 days in Barcelona, I took the 3 hour long train (which was surprisingly only 22 Euros) to Valencia for a two night stay.
I’d wanted to visit here after reading a lot about it on various blog posts (but mostly from the 3 posts The Travel Hack did raving about it) – I had to see what the fuss was about!
Safe to say I wasn’t disappointed!
I arrived around midday and checked into my room at Home Youth Hostel and was definitely a step up from the hostel in Barcelona. This hostel was a lot more open, better atmosphere, really helpful tips from staff, clean bathrooms and lucky me, ended up getting a 4 bed dorm to myself. Winner! Plus, look how cute my room was *squee*
The rest of the day was spent exploring by myself around the main market ‘Mercado Central’ which was pretty much directly opposite the hostel. Here they sell mostly fish, meat and fruit (all locally sourced) and also freshly squeezed fruit juices for 1 euro (a lot cheaper than the shops surrounding the market). You can also try their famous Valencian drink ‘Horchata’ (made of tiger nuts, water and sugar) for a euro too. Apparently it has many health benefits and is a great hangover cure – but definitely an acquired taste! The market itself is just huge, even the ceiling is pretty spectacular and everything just looks so fresh and appetising. Definitely a good place to head for a light breakfast without getting ripped off by surrounding touristy cafes.
Pretty much on the same street as the market was La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) – known for being one of the most famous civil buildings in Europe and one of the main cultural and economic structures in Europe. It’s styled in gothic architecture and so the buildings themselves are very ornate in appearance. In the centre courtyard, orange trees fill the yard leaving an amazing citrusy scent, especially in the spring and summer months. The entrance fee with an audio guide was only 2 euros (free on Sundays), and although it doesn’t take long to go around, its definitely worth a nosey for some pretty snaps.
For dinner that evening I tried a little place around the corner from the hostel and had a Paella Valenciana (although had definitely been pre-made and warmed up as it came out in 15 minutes) although trying to get paella freshly done for one person would be pretty expensive – but it was still pretty nice considering. I also trialed a glass of Valencia’s other local drink ‘Agua de Valencia’ – a mixture of OJ, vodka, gin and champagne… Fair to say it sure has a kick to it! Could already feel the effects of the alcohol after one glass and ended up chatting to the owner for 20 mins (I was the last one left in the restaurant) which isn’t like me at all. Definitely made me feel more at ease though and such a different vibe from my first night in Barcelona that’s for sure.
These good vibes carried on into my second day here. I joined the hostel’s organised walking tour – which considering it was free, was very extensive and covered pretty much the entire old town of Valencia and its history, what its famous for and what to try out here (pretty much where I got all my info written above from) so yeah a very extensive tour and a good 2.5hours long.
After briefly cooling off in the hostel and re-applying sun cream, it was time to explore the rest of Valencia, the modern side of Valencia. As it was so hot and would have taken a good hour to walk to and from or a hot bus, I decided to hire a bike instead and ride through Jardi del Turia – which used to be a river but has been dried and re-created into a long beautiful garden/ park area – perfect for children, families, athletic types to spend their leisure time in. It has a playground, sports gyms, fountains and gardens and dedicated walking/cycle paths the entire way and just absolutely stunning and really quite relaxing to cycle through.
At the end of the park was the outstanding Museum of Arts and Sciences and Aquarium. These buildings are absolutely fascinating to look at and admire and feels like a whole new world compared to the old town I’d come from just 30 minutes before.
After a leisurely afternoon cycling around the streets of Valencia (I hadn’t ridden a bike in ages so was making the most of it) and managing not to get too horrendously lost – it was time to hand the bike back in (boo!). After a well needed shower, I headed back out for my final meal of the trip – pizza with a large glass of Sangria -the perfect way to finish off an awesome trip.
Safe to say that Valencia definitely stole my heart, I mean, the photos can make you see why and defiantly preferred this city over Barcelona. Barcelona is just so touristy now, it kind of ruins the chilled Spanish vibe, which Valencia still definitely has.
Valencia – I’ll be coming back for more of you!
Till next time!