Formula 1 and the America’s Cup. That’s all that we knew about Valencia, yet because of that we decided to make it our second stop off after Madrid. I guess putting all of that money into sporting events pays off when there’s people like us in the world!!
After a quick and easy train ride from Madrid, we arrived into Valencia and checked into our hotel. By 11am we had left the hotel, gorged on the seemingly obligatory second breakfast at a bakery, and were out exploring the city. The one thing about the way that we travel, as I alluded to in the Madrid write-up, is that it doesn’t really translate well into blog writings as most of our travelling is simply walking around streets and getting lost. However, we always seem to stumble upon something, and this time it was the Central Market. Housed in a beautiful old building, the food market sold everything. Meat, veges, fish, flowers, cheese, more cheese, fantastically amazing cheese, wine, cheese, beer, cheese…the list was endless (and includes at least 17 more cheese mentions). We are used to giving food markets a wide berth as in the continent where we live, they are usually accompanied by awful smells and highly questionable sanitary conditions. But this was a different world altogether. We wanted to buy everything, but instead crossed the road and suddenly found ourselves in La Lonja de la Seda, an old public building built in 1548 that had been very well preserved. The hallway with massive columns was a particularly stunning sight!
The rest of the day we spent doing the normal wandering around passing by many architecturally beautiful buildings and churches, and marveled at all of the trees in the city, each of which were full of oranges.
The following day we had a simple goal: Find the port, as this is where the America’s Cup and F1 was held. A relatively long walk through the Jardi del Turia park finally got us there but not before we stumbled across the City of the Arts and Sciences. The buildings along the park were amazing and as they were relatively new, provided a stark contrast against all that we had seen on the previous day. After some unplanned exploring we finally made it to the port and spent the day searching for specific corners on the old F1 track, looking for the Team New Zealand headquarters, and exploring the beach. That evening we were pretty tired, and so a few beers on the rooftop of our hotel were in order, and which provided us one of the best views in the whole city.
I should add at this point that when I say we wandered around a city, I really mean we walked for ages down as many streets as we could. Whilst we take subways when we have to, we try to avoid them as much as we can, and refuse under nearly every circumstance to take taxis. We knew that we walk quite a lot, and so we turned on our GPS units on our phones for this trip to see just how much we did walk. Day 2 in Valencia was one of the highest days at 20.6km, and as I am writing this after our trip has reached its conclusion, I worked out that in total we walked 331km in 22 days (not including days spent flying). So a cool 15km average per day. Not too shabby.
Valencia was very different to Madrid. It felt like a much smaller city (mainly because it is much smaller!) and had a quieter pace to it. Madrid felt like the real Spain, but Valencia felt realer. It just felt like an ordinary small city that had hosted some extraordinary events. I often think if I could live in the places I visit, and most of the time I think that I can’t, even if it is a particularly nice place to visit. But Valencia felt like the type of place that I could live in easily. Maybe one day…
Next stop: Barcelona, perhaps the place where we had received more gushing advice and jealousy than any other place that we have been. We couldn’t wait!