Where: Valencia, Spain.

When: April 2018

Why: Valencia is an easy destination for us to get to, as there is a direct bus from Pamplona to Valencia. I didn’t want to have a huge holiday for my Easter break but I was desperate for some sunshine – so I booked an easy, cheap trip here.

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

Map

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

Introduction

Many people think that Spain is always sunny and bright, but winters here in Pamplona, up in the wild north, can be long and dreary. This year, 2018, was particularly bad: it rained, it was grey and cold, we had the central heating on way into March and the nights were long and depressing.

By the time the April Easter holiday came around I was desperate for a bit of sunshine, but I didn’t have a lot of cash to spend on a holiday. Luckily for me I discovered that there is a direct bus from Pamplona to Valencia and that for €28 each way I could get myself down to the sunny Mediterranean coast.

Although only six-hours drive from Pamplona, Valencia feels almost like it’s in a different country. The weather on the Med is much warmer and more gentle than the Atlantic north; the culture more Castillian. Valencia is much more traditionally Spanish than Pamplona – with flamenco and paella, rather than brass bands and pinchos.

Valencia is a great city to visit for a couple of days: there’s loads of touristy things to see and do, a nice beach to relax on, great food options, nice bars and ice-creams, plus interesting places to visit in the vicinity. I spent five days here and a lot of the time I just spent pottering about.

I should also mention something quite important, in that this trip was a little different to normal for me, as I was in the early days of being pregnant – and this had an impact on my trip. Obviously, being pregnant I had to watch my diet and couldn’t go out drinking and partying all night. Also, I was incredibly tired and spent much of my time napping: in the park, on the beach, on public transport and in my hostel. Despite this, I still managed to see and experience everywhere/ everything that I wanted to.

I really like Valencia and I’m sure I’ll be back again there soon: it’s a friendly, fun, entertaining city. It’s easy to get to and easy to navigate and a lovely place to be.

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

Getting there

Bus from Pamplona

Bilman Bus run a bus from Pamplona to Valencia and Benidorm. The bus from Pamplona to Valencia cost me €28 each way and the journey took about five hours (it was scheduled to take six, but we were fast). The coach was lovely: the seats reclined, there was wifi and a toilet, and they played movies. We stopped half way for a break at a service station in the middle of nowhere.

I booked my tickets online at www.bilmanbus.es. The website is in Spanish, so to book tickets select Compra de Billetes and then it’s pretty easy to work out from there.

Valencia Bus Station

Valencia’s bus station is located to the north of the city, next to Jardi del Turia. The bus station is a bit grotty, but they do have a couple of cafes and snack shops. There is a large shopping centre next door if you would like more substantial supplies for your journey or more food options.

There are bus stops just outside the bus station. The nearest Metro station is Estacio de Túria, which you can get to by turning right out of the bus station (the park will be in front of you) and walking past the shopping centre.

Airport

Valencia Airport is located 8km from the city centre. Two underground lines and a bus line (150) link the airport to the city centre: Transport info is at www.aena.es/en/valencia-airport/public-transport.html.

Train station

IMG_2463
Estacion del Norte, Valencia

Most trains to Valencia come in to Valencia North Station (Estacion del Norte). This is a lovely station located next to the bull ring. The station has cafes, an Asian supermarket, shops, left luggage lockers and toilets, which you have to pay for. I caught the train from here to Xátiva .

Local trains are run by Metro Valencia. You can get train information in English on their website. I travelled on one of these local trains to Xátiva.

You can also get train information (in English) on the RENFE website, though the Metro Valencia local trains do not appear in the Renfe search results – this is better for looking up long distance travel options.

Getting around

Bus

Although many of the key tourist sites are located in the city centre, the beaches, the science park and the bus station are located a little further out. As I was pregnant and very tired, I got buses to get to/from these places. Each bus ride cost me €1.50 and I bought my ticket on the bus. The bus information was embedded into Google Maps.

You can buy rechargeable bus-cards from tobacconists which reduce the price of each journey to 72c. The EMT website, listed below, has more information about these passes.

Trams

I took the tram to get to the beach. I caught the tram from Pont de Sosta, where the tram does a little loop-de-looop, and I got off at Las Arenas, which is next to Playa del Cabanyal. There was a ticket machine on the platform and the tram cost €1.50. I don’t think the ticket machines took cards.

The trams and buses in Valencia are run by EMT. They have a good English website which includes a route planner and information about tickets and pre-buy card options.

Metro

Being based in the centre of town, I didn’t need to use the metro system, though I did travel on one of their local trains to get to Xátiva. These local trains are run by Metro Valencia. You can get train information in English on their website.

Bike Hire

There were lots of places in the city centre offering good-value bike hire. Travelling by bike would be a great, fun way to get to the beach or the city of science, as most of your journey would be in the wonderful, flat Jardi del Turia, which follows the path of the old river.

Had I not been pregnant, this is how I would have gotten around the city.

Wikitravel has information on the local city bike-hire scheme, including prices, and a list of hire shops too.

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

What I did on my holiday

Roamed the city

So my first afternoon I just roamed around the city, got my bearings and looked at things. It was Easter Monday and so most of the shops were closed and I wasn’t in the mood just then to actually visit anything.

Valencia is a lovely city to just walk around: there are lots of beautiful buildings, palaces, great parks and pretty squares. The old town pedestrianised area is not huge, but is a pretty area to potter about in. I wandered through and window shopped, ate an ice cream, sat in cafes with cafe con leche. It was nice to be in a cosmopolitan city, away from Pamplona. The sun was shining, the air was warm and it was lovely to just potter about aimlessly.

IMG_2366
Placa del Reina and the Cathedral

The centre of the city to me was Placa de la Reina, which is a plaza next to the cathedral and the Barrio del Carmen, surrounded by restaurants and ice-cream shops. Some of these ice-cream shops seemed to have a billion flavours. One of them sold doughnut flavoured ice-cream.

A great area for a roam is the Barrio del Carmen, a tangle of tight streets filled with trinket shops and cafes, in the old centre. This is where people head to, to eat, drink and party. A fascinating place to see in the centre of Barrio del Carmen is the circular Plaça Redona. This used to be known as El Clot (The Hole) and has a Roman feel about it – though I don’t think there is any connection there. It almost feels like you’re in the interior of a complete Colosseum. 

IMG_2375
Torres de Serranos, Valencia.

Two really cool things to see in Valencia are the old towers: Torres de Quart and Torres de Serranos. I didn’t make it to Torres de Quart but I did use the huge Torres de Serranos as my entrance way to the city on a number of occasions. These imposing, 14th century, castle like fortifications are very impressive – they are one of the biggest Gothic gateways in Europe. Apparently you can go up to walk the terraces for €2. Valencia City Guide has more information and opening times.

Mercat Central

On my second day I first went shopping (see below for more information) and then I went to visit the Central Market and La Lonja de la Seda

The Central Market in Valencia is wonderful. It has a beautiful ceiling and lots of cool food-stores, where you can buy local and international delicacies. I found myself buying lots of supplies from the international stands, such as the Greek and Persian stall; buying stock items that we cannot get in Pamplona.

Many Spanish markets now are set up so that there are little cafe-style food stores, where you buy little morsels of deliciousness to eat there and then. The Central Market in Valencia is more traditional, though you can certainly buy items to snack on while walking around; including the local special drink Horchata, which is made from tiger nuts (no, not those kind of tiger nuts!). There were lots of cool bakeries and snack stores. I bought a cheesy Lebanese pie, which I devoured while it was hot.

The market is a great place to immerse yourself in some Spanish culture and to pick up some fun gifts and delights. I spent about half an hour here.

Another ornate market hall is Mercado del Colon. This big market is located close to the bull ring.

La Lonja de la Seda (Commodity Exchange Building) (UNESCO)

IMG_2347
Contracts Room (Sala de contracio) at La Lonja de la Seda, Valencia

La Lonja de la Seda (Silk Exchange) is a beautiful building where the traders of Valencia used to meet to make deals. It is a gorgeous Arabic and Gothic style building with beautiful ceilings, large twisted columns and a pretty, relaxing garden courtyard.

The most famous part of the Lonja is the Contracts Room (Sala de contracio) which is a light and airy room with amazing high, twisted columns, often seen on post-cards.

The other beautiful room is the Consulate of the Sea (Consolat de Mar), which has a stunning ceiling and cool carvings. This ceiling was built in the 15th century and was originally in the Town Hall, but was moved here.

IMG_2358
Part of the ornate roof in the Consulate of the Sea (Consolat de Mar), La Lonja, Valencia. This magnificent ceiling used to be in the Town Hall but was moved here.

Although it was very pretty, my visit to the Lonja only lasted about twenty minutes. For all that it is a beautiful building, the interior is pretty empty so there is no need to linger in the Lonja. Luckily it only cost 3€.

Valencia Cathedral

IMG_2368
Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia or St Mary’s Cathedral or Valencia Cathedral

Valencia Cathedral, a.k.a. Metropolitan Cathedral–Basilica of the Assumption of Our Lady of Valencia and St Mary’s Cathedral, is the location of the Holy Grail (Capilla de Santo Caliz); not underneath Petra, as Indiana Jones claims.

Valencia Cathedral is a big, Gothic building, consecrated in 1238. It has an interesting, hodge-podge exterior with porticoes and towers in different building styles.

In the chapel to the right of the main doors is the Holy Grail. I had this chapel to myself and I quite enjoyed spending time with the Holy Grail, trying to work out how I could possibly steal it. Whether this is the real Holy Grail or not, the chalice dates from 1st century AD and many people think it is the most likely Holy Grail. Also, the Capilla de Santo Caliz has been used by many popes throughout history. Unlike the simple cup in Indiana Jones, this one has been decorated and embellished, so it is now very ornate.

Anyway, I had the chapel to myself for at least fifteen minutes, so I had a very nice, early-pregnancy sit here – enjoying resting my feet and looking at all of the cool artwork on the walls.

When other people started to creep in, I hauled myself off my feet and went to look at the rest of the building, including the alter area (Capilla de las Resurection) and the Museum, which contained relics from the cathedral. I really enjoyed looking around the museum but one thing that I found strange was that you could go into the ‘basement’ area of the cathedral to see some of the old structure, and down here there were skeletons – just lying there in the dirt. Now, I’m presuming that these were real skeletons and I felt rather strange being down here, disturbing their peace, as it were.

Entrance to the cathedral was €8. I normally don’t like having to pay this much for cathedrals, but if this money can help to preserve the building and its treasures then I don’t think it is too much.

Wikipedia has more information about the cathedral and its history.

Outside of the cathedral is the octagonal bell-tower, El Micalet/El Miguelete. You can climb the tower for €2. It has lots of stairs but apparently has great views of the old city from the top. El Miguel, like Big Ben, is actually the big bell at the top of the tower.

IMG_2369
Plaza de la Virgin. Good place for breakfast.

Behind the cathedral is Plaza de la Virgin, a nice square with cafes, ice-cream shops and a cool fountain.

Beach (Playa de Malvarossa / Cabanyal Beach)

IMG_2378
Beach in Valencia. No idea what it’s actual name is.

I’d come to Valencia because I was dreaming about going on the beach. I was desperate for some sun, sea and sand. The problem was, I was out of practice of being summery and so I forgot to bring my swimming costume with me – but I decided to go have a look at the beach none-the-less.

To get to the beach I caught the tram from Pont de Sosta to Las Arenas, which is next to Playa del Malvarossa / Playa de las Arenas / Playa Cabanyal. (I’ve seen this beach area called all three names and I don’t know which is correct – but all come up on Google Maps in the correct place, so I think all these names will work). There was a ticket machine on the tram platform and the tram cost €1.50. The journey to the beach took about 20 minutes.

The Playa del Malvarossa beach area in Valencia is a little strange as there’s very little infrastructure there. This is a beautiful city beach, so you’d think there would be shops and businesses built to cater to the tourists flooding here – but no. There were a few beach front restaurants, up towards the harbour, but not many, and no shops or cash points etc. Even the public toilets were closed on the day I visited, even though this was Easter holiday and so presumably a busier time.

Playa del Cabanyal /  Playa del Malvarossa is a gorgeous, wide, stretch of golden sand. There is a nicely designed promenade at the edge of the beach; perfect for biking or roller-blading along. There were palm trees and benches and art. As beaches go, it’s a very attractive city-beach.

The day that I went to the beach was pretty breezy, with sand blowing about everywhere. I went to have a nap on the sand and to eat a sandwich. However, when I woke up everything was covered in sand: my sandwich was crunchy and I was wind-blasted. All the sand had stuck to my sun-tan lotion. It was in my hair and my eyes. I was still finding sand in my pockets weeks later.

I popped into the sea to wash off what I could and the sea was freezing! Then I wandered over to one of the beach front cafes to use their toilets and it was only once I saw myself in their mirror that I realised that I looked like a freaky sand-monster.

To get back to the city centre I caught bus 95 from the bus stop next to Marina Reial Joan Carles I tram stop. This cost €1.50 and ran me right back into town.

Another famous beach is El Saler, which is in the south of the city. Apparently this is more natural, with protected sand-dunes, and has nudist sections.

Science Museum (La Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències)

IMG_2433

One of the most famous sites in Valencia is the City of Arts and Science, set in fabulous, modernistic buildings designed by Santiago Calatrava. At this site there is a science museum, art gallery, IMAX theatre, aquarium, planetarium and a concert hall. There are also really cool gardens, astronomy instruments and funky grounds, with pools, playgrounds and places to relax. The buildings are located at the sea-side end of the Garden of Turia, the park that was built where the river used to run.

I really wanted to visit Oceanográfic, which is the largest aquarium in Europe; but when I got there I found out that a ticket was over €30 – and I just couldn’t justify paying such a high-price. It’s such a shame as I would have loved to have gone to see the Beluga Whales. www.cac.es/en/oceanografic.

IMG_2434

To be honest though, I was more fascinated by the buildings and the City of Arts and Sciences site than the actual museums, so I spent time exploring the exteriors, for free. Even doing this there was quite a lot to see. On an area, next to the main road, there were a load of astronomy instruments that you could play with. You need sunshine for quite a few of them, and it kept going cloudy while I was here, but I had a fun half an hour playing with these, examining the skies.

IMG_2441

Next to this was the Umbracle, a light, domed, Arabic-style garden area with palm trees, paths and fountains. This was open and free, so I spent a little time walking through here.

Down below was a pool area and the Science Museum. Kids were rowing about on the lake and running around on the water in huge plastic balls.

The Science Museum only costs €8. Some friends of mine, who were in Valencia at the same time as I was, visited the Science Museum and they said it was a lot of fun, with lots of cool things to play with. www.cac.es/en/museu-de-les-ciencies.

Next to the science museum is the great eye-like Hemisferic, which contains the IMAX cinema. A ticket to see a film here is also €8. www.cac.es/en/hemisferic.

IMG_2445
Palau de les Artes. A concert hall shaped like a fish. Valencia.

Finally, at the end of the site, is the fish-shaped Palau de les Artes, a large concert hall shaped like a big fish. www.cac.es/en/palau-de-les-arts.

Jardi del Turia

IMG_2458
Turia Gardens, Valencia

The City of Arts and Sciences is located at the far end of the Turia Gardens. The Turia Gardens is a long, weavy park, located on what used to be the riverbed of the Turia River.

The Turia River was infamous for its floods and in 1957 it flooded large parts of Valencia, causing a lot of damage. So the city came up with a plan to divert the river around the city – with the old river-bed, complete with its bridges etc, becoming a green-space running through the city. It was a great plan (in my opinion) and now Valencia has this wonderful green, natural relaxation area, running through its heart.

IMG_2451
Gulliver’s Park: an adventure playground where kids can jump, play, climb and slide all over Gulliver, Turia Gardens, Valencia.

What I loved about the Turia Gardens was how well used it is by locals and tourists alike: there were many running paths, bike paths, sports facilities, restaurants, lakes, a concert hall, a fabulous playground – with kids jumping all over a downed Gulliver, plus so many places to sit and relax with a book. I walked back to my hostel from the City of Arts and Sciences, a good hour walk, and the park was constantly changing with new facilities and services. I loved the old bridges – left after the river ran dry.

The gardens are a key-feature of Valencia. What a wonderful place to have in your city.

Shopped

Valencia is okay for shopping. Most of the ubiquitous high street stores can be found on Carrer de Colon, around Colon metro station, or on the roads around it.

There were also commercial centres next to the City of Sciences (El Saler) and the Bus Station (Nuevo Centro).

I also found lots of fun and kooky shops in the streets around La Llotja de Mercaders.

I always try to visit a Spanish, second-hand bookshop called Re-Read whenever I am in a new city. They usually have at least one shelf of English books and as they are second-hand, the books available are always different – as it depends on what has been donated. I usually find at least one or two goodies. The Re-Read in Valencia is located on Gran Via de Ramon y Cajal – and I had a great morning walking out here, just so I could book shop; moseying into local shops on the way.

You can find a list of Re-Read’s bookshops, in English, at www.re-read.com/en/bookshops.

Also to note, every other shop in Valencia seemed to be an Ale-Hop. I think I counted at least ten.

Ate

IMG_2549
Doughnut ice cream

I ate well in Valencia. Valencia is a wonderful, cosmopolitan city with lots of great restaurants and bars. I ate anything that I can’t normally get in Pamplona, so smoked salmon bagels for breakfast at Coffee House; Moroccan food at Al Adwaq; a huge, fresh salad at Zumm Salads (I loved it so much, I ate here twice); fast-food Paella at Es Paella (who offer a vegetarian paella); and pub food at Finnegans of Dublin (though their food was more Spanish than Irish).

Sadly, being pregnant, I didn’t go out drinking


Xativa

IMG_2504
View from Castillo Meyor, overlooking Xativa

Xativa is a town about 40 minutes by train from Valencia. Much as I was enjoying my time in Valencia, I did want to try to do a day trip out of the city so I could see some more of this area. I wasn’t sure where to go, but then Jeff found this great article which listed cool day trips near to the city. Xativa not only looked interesting but it also looked very easy to get to – and so I decided to head here.

To get to Xativa I simply caught the local commuter train from Estacio del Nord station (which is next to the bullring). The journey took approximately an hour and cost €9 for a return ticket. Trains seemed to depart about once an hour.

Once in Xativa, I walked from the station up to the high street, then went to explore the back streets. I had no idea where I was going, so I just walked up what seemed to be the most busy streets and alleyways, looking for the centre of town. I ended up in Placa de Mercat, a porticoed square, where I had a coffee and looked at the church.

After this I did what I should have done in the first place and made my way to the tourist information office, which was located on Albereda Juame 1 (the high street). The man in there was incredibly helpful, gave me a useful guide and map to the town, told me about the little train to the castle and then corrected my Spanish for me (apparently I had accidentally been saying something very rude).

I had about an hour and a half before the little train left for the castle, so I went to look at La Seu Basilica (Santa Maria Collegiate Basilica).

Two popes from the Borgia family are from Xativa: Pope Calixto 3, a.k.a. Alfons Borja and Pope Alexander 6, a.k.a Rodrigo Borgia. They’re quite racy, the Borgias, so I was interested to find out more about them. (Incidentally, the excellent Xativa Tourismo website has an interesting Borgia Tour(gia) of the town, if you would like to find out more about their connections to Xativa. This includes a number of churches and monasteries, the Borgia Palace, the birthplace of Alex 6 and the fine art museum).

Calixto 3 was baptised at La Seu Basilica (Santa Maria Collegiate Basilica), and members of the family are buried here.

The basilica was very impressive. It is one of the largest buildings in town, it’s tower sticking up over the rooftops. It has pretty carvings on the facade, huge, stone columns inside, pretty chapels and interesting art-work to see. There is a small museum, which the church caretaker opened up for me, which contained interesting relics from both of Xativa’s popes and antiquities from the church’s history. I was particularly impressed by the huge icon, which is carried through the streets during Xativa’s Holy Week festival. The caretaker was also really friendly and I had a full conversation with him in Spanish, which made me very happy. www.xativaturismo.com/en/the-colegiata.

Just opposite the Basilica was the 15th century Royal Hospital, which had a beautiful facade. Sadly, I didn’t have enough time to go have a closer look. www.xativaturismo.com/en/hospital-reial.

So, I have a confession to make: I love those cheesy, little tourist trains that drive around resorts (I used to commute on one when I lived in Tunisia) – and so when I heard that there was a tourist train that took visitors up to the castle, I was in! I’d get to see more of Xativa, have a ride on a little train and not have to walk up the hill to the castle. Perfect! The train left from outside the tourist centre at 12.30 and 16.30, and it cost 4.20€. I could have caught it down too, but I didn’t mind the walk downhill.

The train weaved us through the old town, taking us past the key sights: the bull ring, the fountain of the 25 spouts, Pope Alexander 4’s house, La Seu Basilica and the ancient hospital. The train then zig-zagged its way up castle hill, through the foothills, past the Moorish walls, and it stopped outside the main gate of the castle, in the top car park.

Xativa Castle is somewhere that I think should be much more famous than it is: I couldn’t believe that I had never heard of this stunning and fascinating place.

The castle is a complex made up of two really cool forts (Castille meyor y menor), on the peaks of the mountain. It is high up above Xativa and so has wonderful views over the town, the plains that surround Valencia and the surrounding valleys.

Xativa Castle has a fascinating history: there are pre-Roman, Roman, Iberian, Moorish and Castilian remains here. Hannibal, of elephant fame, lived here for a while; his son was born here. Then the castle was taken over by the Moors (much of the remains date from this period); then James I of Aragon began his crusade here, taking the castle off the Moors as part of the reconquista. In the fifteenth century the castle became the state prison for the crown of Aragon, and you can see the prison where many famous people were kept.

What I loved about Xativa castle is that it is a castle to roam over and climb. There’s lots of areas to the fortifications, with hidden gardens and rooms that you can go explore. And it’s a big site. All in all, I think I must have spent at least two hours here – and this is just the castle, not the grounds.

I started off exploring Castille Meyor. In this area there were chapels, cannons, gardens, gate-ways, the prison and towers. The highest point of the site was on this side. It was pretty hot while I was here, and I was in the early days of my pregnancy so I was extra tired, but luckily there were lots of rocks to sit on and shady areas. However, the pathway was still quite rough underfoot and there was a lot of climbing, so this site probably wouldn’t be suitable for someone who has trouble walking.

In between the two castles was the ticket office and a restaurant with a stunning view (Mirador del Castell); so before I went off to see Castille Menor I stopped here for a cool drink and a tortilla.

Castille Menor seems to be the older area of the castle, and this is where Hannibal lived. This area was more rough and ruined; there were walkways and stairs built over some of the rougher areas. This castle sits on cliffs, up above the town. It felt much more wild, exposed and dramatic. So much so, in some bits I didn’t feel that safe, so I didn’t spend so long exploring this area.

Entrance to the castle only cost 2.40€ (about £2.20). They gave me a really informative, free castle guide in English, which helped to explain the different areas of the castle.

www.xativaturismo.com/castell-de-xativa

After visiting the castle I walked back down the weavy road to the town; enjoying walking the shaded road with birds singing all around. I wanted to have a look at the Ermita San Josep, an ancient chapel, though sadly this was closed. By this time it was mid-afternoon and I was tired, so after stopping at another cafe for an ice-cream, I made my way to the train station and back to Valencia.

I really liked Xativa: it’s a lovely, small community with lots of fascinating history and tree-shaded streets. I could almost see myself living there one day. It has a great location, on the edge of the plains, on the side of a mountain, and it’s an easy day trip from Valencia. I didn’t visit half the sights in town so I really feel like I’ll have to go back. I can’t wait.

Xativa Tourismo is an excellent website, in English, which contains all the information you could possibly need about visiting Xativa and the history of the town. It has information on the festivals and suggested guided walks. I wish I’d looked at this before my visit.

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

What I didn’t do on my holiday

Museum of Fine Arts

The free Museo del Belle Artes has one of the best art collections in Spain, including works by Valazquez, El Greco and Goya. It is housed in an old seminary. This is one place I’d really like to go back to see. www.museobellasartesvalencia.gva.es.

The Bullring

Valencia’s bullring is located next to the Estacion del Norde. When I was there they were hosting a really important tennis tournament. Bull fights take place during Las Fallas and at the summer fair. They have a bull-fighting museum (Museo Taurino), if you would like to learn more about this tradition.

The Valencian Water Court

The Valencian Water Court is the oldest democratic body in Europe. It is over 1,000 years old and as a result it has been declared an Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The Tribunal de las Aguas meet every Thursday, at noon, outside the Apostles Gate of Valencia’s Cathedral. They meet to arbitrate disputes regarding the water supply of the city and to manage the complex system of irrigation channels that circle the city; for example settling arguments over pollution and drought. And you can go see them do it. www.tribunaldelasaguas.org.

Church of San Nicolás de Bari and San Pedro Márti

The Church of San Nicolas is a thirteenth century church with paintings to rival the Sistine Chapel. Seriously, I can’t believe I missed this place – it looks amazing! Visit Valencia has more info. €5.

Las Fallas Festival (12 – 19 March)

Las Fallas is one of the most riotous festivals in Spain, possibly rivaling my own city’s San Fermin festival. This literally explosive festival culminates in all of the floats being burned in a huge bonfire.

Each barrio makes its own Fallas (caricature). These are judged to decide which is the best and then they are all set on fire at midnight on Nit de Foc (19 March). There is a daily firecracker display (Las Mascaletas) at 2p.m. in the Town Hall Square (Plaza del Ayuntamiento). I’ve heard this is so loud it can make you go deaf!

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

Where I stayed

The River Hostel

IMG_2390
The River Hostel, Valencia

Great hostel just on the edge of the old town, overlooking the Jardines de Turia. There are some hostels that just know what they are doing and what services and facilities travellers will want. The River Hostel knows what it’s doing.

Each bed has a light, access to plugs and a curtain – so even if you’re pregnant and want to sleep all hours, you can shut yourself away and not be disturbed by your dorm-mates.

The showers were good and hot and there was a hairdryer in the bathroom.

There’s a large common-room, kitchen-dining area and a bar/coffee shop/breakfast spot. I had the breakfast once and though it was okay, there are a lot of cafes nearby that charge less for something better, so I only ate there once.

They offer a free walking tour every day and run a pub crawl twice a week.

If I returned to Valencia on a budget or if I was travelling solo I would definitely stay here again as it’s a good located place to stay and it’s a good place to meet people.

I paid 17€ per night, for a bed in an eight bed, female dorm.

www.riverhostelvalencia.com

>->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->->

Useful links

www.visitvalencia.com

www.valencia-cityguide.com

www.spain.info/…/valencia

wikitravel.org/en/Valencia and wikipedia.org/wiki/Valencia

www.lonelyplanet.com/spain/valencia-and-murcia/valencia

www.roughguides.com/…/valencia

Jason Webster, a great author who writes fascinating books about Spanish culture, wrote an informative article for the Guardian about the city he calls home. This article gives a great overview of why this is such a cool city. The Telegraph newspaper also has a comprehensive guide to Valencia.

Disclaimer

Please note, some, if not much of this information may not be correct, or may be out of date. All these articles show is how we found these places when we visited and what we personally thought of each place. Where possible I will include links to site which will contain more up-to-date info. All of this is our own work and any opinion expressed is that of the author only.

All photos copyright of J Clemo-Halpenny, unless otherwise stated. If you would like to copy or reproduce any of these images, please email me to ask permission.

One comment

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s