Valencia Spain : October 2017
Our drive into Valencia was interesting to say the least. We had found a camp site on the bus route into Valencia but when we got to the circle close by, we found our way blocked by the policia. Some big cycle race was on and they were not letting us through. So we drove in the opposite direction around a few more circles and then back towards the camp from that direction. Either that or we were going to need to find another camp site. Luckily it worked , not sure of the logic but they allowed us to go around the circle from this direction?
This camp site Camping Coll Vert was fairly basic. Easy shaded pitches with old fashioned ablutions but clean and very convenient for visiting Valencia. Oh don’t forget Sue is sitting in the back. She seemed to enjoy her jaunt in ScootR and now has to find her way into town to meet Selena and Sasha. For the rest of this post in the interest of typing, “The three S girls, Sasha, Selena and Sue will now be known as ‘the girls’. Young vivacious group of girls! Sue went off on the bus and we settled in and I did some washing. Did you know?.. .I have learned to do hand washing? Scrubbing and rinsing and wringing is now to be added to my CV. Ok moving on, we got ourselves together and headed into town and met the girls at a small bar around the corner from their Airbnb apartment. They were finishing lunch so we had a drink. The square was so pretty and the atmosphere was relaxed. We were in the historic centre and it was busy and quite full. (We had noticed lots of Spanish flags draped over balconies and being waved by people around us, initially I thought there was a big football match on, discovered that this was the locals supporting a United Spain because of the Catalonian independence vote that was taking place the next day)
After lunch we took a walk. No particular itinerary in mind so just a wander about actually. By now it’s siesta time so it’s hard to tell if places and areas are good as shutters come down and are covered with graffiti. We wandered past the closed central Mercado , twice , and eventually ended up in a little pasteleria for a sweet treat. We tried a selection of pastries;including Fartones which are a popular Valencian pastry mostly eaten dipped in coffee at breakfast. After this revival we walked on, taking a long stroll around the city and ending up back in the square Plaza de la Reina.
Valencia is a small city, or feels like a small city but its actually the third largest city in Spain. It is known as the origin of Paella and has beautiful places to visit including the “City of arts and Sciences”, Oceanográfic, the aquarium and lovely beaches
We sat down for another! drink at one of the many restaurants but when the service was non existent we decided to move on. The plan to get a bottle of something and go to the apartment for drinks and siesta. Sue and Sasha got the snack and Selena and I the cava. Well that was an experience all on its own as the waitress seemed pretty happy to sell us a bottle but then we waited ages while she served other people at the tables first. We nearly gave up but we were thirsty, so a little desperate. Anyway bottle in hand we settled into the apartment and flopped onto couches with snacks and drinks for all.
By the time everybody was ready to move, they weren’t really wanting to move terribly far, so supper was at a place recommended on the net, called Sagardi, close to the apartment and full of tourists. (Not Chris’ best) One couldn’t book, but the wait wasn’t too bad and we soon snagged a great spot on the pavement. The restaurant specializes in hot and cold tapas each item costing €2.50, each tapa arrives on a toothpick, so when one is ready for La Quenta (the bill), the waitress adds up the number of toothpicks on the table and presents one with the bill. There was a fairly large range of simple yet interesting tapas including from Delicious mushroom croquettes to mini croissants with chorizo.
By the time we had finished eating and drinking it was rather late, and our last bus had long departed, so we flagged down a taxi. The driver didn’t really listen or know exactly where he was taking us, but seemed keen on getting us there before the bus. He eventually got a little lost, but with some help from us and our Google Maps we made it back safely.
The next day the girls went off to the beach and we muddled around in the camper in the morning before making our way into town. It was Sunday and we had a lovely walk through a wonderful park in which amongst other things there is the science museum, opera house, concert hall, amusement park as well as well laid out paths and fountains; people jogging and families spending time together all made for a lovely warm feeling of community. We had read about the Barrio Rusaffa which was young and trendy( like us of course) so we made our way through the streets. Chris loved the way that at each intersection the buildings were cut back at an angle, creating a little square (more like diamond ) with space for cafes, bars and restaurants.
Being Sunday, most of the shops were closed, but the restaurants were alive and getting busier by the minute. We found a little coffee shop for coffee and a cinnamon twist. Quite a trendy little place with cute decor called Le Mas Bonita.
The market is also apparently very good but again being Sunday it was closed so I had to be content with a pic from the outside.
Quite fascinating were the number of tiny little takeaway shops selling delicious looking traditional dishes which the locals were obviously buying to take home for a family Sunday lunch. We pressed our faces against the shop windows and drooled.
The girls were on the beach and we had planned to meet them for a late lunch and hopefully find some paella, Valencia being the home of paella. I wasn’t hopeful as the tourist spots on the beach front are not known for authentic paella but if the company is good then who cares. We bussed to the beach with ease and then called the girls to try and meet up. I’m really not going to go into the details but let’s just say blue and white striped tents were involved and Chris was close to losing his cool.
But moving on we settled on a restaurant and ordered a seafood paella and an arroz negro to share. The black paella(arroz negro) is made with squid ink and I think spectacular to look at. (Chris: if one can describe burnt black colored rice in a large black pan as spectacular . . . Then it was spectacular)The taste was not bad but I couldn’t help thinking it would be much better made properly and not made for tourists. One day I shall ask someone to make the real deal for me. But lunch was fun and the food is always better with friends.
Sasha and Sue opted to take a taxi home from the beach, whilst the three of us caught the bus back to Barrio Rusaffa. Firstly to buy some cakes and pastries that Chris had spotted earlier on at a clearly popular pastry shop called Cafe Dulce de Leche, and then to find a spot for a sangria and a natter. Whilst in Pursuit of the perfect sangria spot, we saw a large group of people and decided to investigate, in the large square outside the market there was a whole dance fiesta going on; the men and boys generally playing instruments and making the music and woman and young girls from seven to 70, all dressed in the most magnificent traditional costume dancing. We stood and watched, absolutely entranced.
Sasha and Sue met us later at the old central market for dinner. This was not so much a fresh produce market as more of a food stalls and restaurants under the beautiful building which used to be a market.
Dinner was a casual affair with delicious Jámon and olives snacks to share. Again much cava was consumed, a lot of sh&t was spoken; Chris more than held his own in the conversation with 4 girls.
Now it’s time to say goodbye or Hasta Luego as they say in Spain.
The girls had an extra day but we needed to get moving. We still want to visit Granada, Cadiz and get to the Algarve in Portugal for a visit with Chris’ sister, Anne, so got to go!
The taxi ride back tonight was far more sedate and uneventful.
Next Pursuit sees us doing a big shop, a long drive and the magnificent Alhambra in the historic city of Granada