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davidx Valencia - A travel report by David
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Valencia,  Spain - flag Spain
4434 readers

davidx's travel reports

Valencia, another plus for Spain.

  21 votes
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9
A short break [Monday to Friday] with more to do than I could fit in – both in and out of Valencia – but a place worth a far longer visit. Some superb architecture including 21st century.


Ayuntamiento
Ayuntamiento
General description [50 – 2000]
The bus in from the airport is cheap. That concludes a complete list of its virtues. It MAY not go in both directions along every street in the whole area and there MAY even be fewer than 7,031 stops – but it didn’t feel like it. I was glad to change to the metro [very similar to London’s older lines] for the one stop to Xativa, at the main Valencia north station. As our main stations in England that are worth seeing date from Victorian times, it’s quite a treat to see an art deco station built to impress.
Immediately opposite is a wide street leading to the Plaza de Ayuntamiento [or Plaça de Ayuntamient in Valenciano, which I’m assured is different from Catalan – even if nobody outside Valencia believes this.] Whichever you call it, It is a most impressive square, completely surrounded by high and imposing buildings. Beyond this is the Plaza Reina giving onto the Cathedral complex at the far end and with the hugely high tower of Santa Caterina church away to the left. The tourist buses both around the city and to the lagoon at Albufera [see later] start there. Some of the maps are not overly helpful and I found one from a TIC with nearly all the street names was by far the best. To my mind there is little to be said for the tourist bus around the city. It’s terrific for strolling, it matters little if you get lost and if you need a bus, there’s no problem with the much cheaper service buses.
There’s so much worth seeing. The Museum de Bellas Artes is second to Madrid’s Prado. Other than the building, it’s not my scene but see Marie-Ange’s report for a more favourable view. The National Ceramics Museum contains a fabulous collection in a fabulous building. I much regret having seen the Rice Museum because I doubt there’s another in Europe but I did get to the other specifically Valencian one, the Museu Faller [to use its name in Valenciano]. See below for this, the Lonja, the Central Market and the City of Arts and Sciences.

Favourite spots:
to the Wetlands area
to the Wetlands area
The City of Arts and Sciences is hard to explain in few words – certainly the ‘Leisure Centre’ used in some of the brochures gives no idea. There are a series of utterly amazing architectural extravaganza. I think they’re marvellous but not everyone agrees. I haven’t been to any part except the Oceanografico but I stayed there for three and a half hours! See the website at www.cac.es - and get some of those photos blown up. It’s not just an aquarium – the birds, which seem to be largely voluntary residents, are superb. There are pelicans, scarlet ibises, avocets, spoonbills and flamingos – to name those that come instantly to mind. I thought I knew what a dolphin show was but this was way out better than anything I had seen with a massive viewing gallery. The dolphinarium alone has 5 pools containing 26 million litres of water. In all there are claimed to be 45,000 creatures of 500 different species. I could go many times without becoming bored!

What's really great:
The Market
The Market
The Lonja and the Central Market face each other. The things they have in common is that they’re terrific and, while I was there, not very photogenic. In the case of the Lonja [silk exchange] it’s simply too big to capture properly, enormously tall with vast pillars and a stupendous arched ceiling. It’s possibly the best Gothic non-religious building I have seen. The Market is of a colossal area, bigger than the one in Barcelona. It’s a modernist [art nouveau] building but sadly its magnificent ceiling and dome were undergoing restoration. Now for the Fallas Museum. The fallas comprise the greatest festival of the year in Valencia, held in March. HUGE amounts of time and money go into the creation of preposterously brilliant floats, all of which are burnt on vast bonfires, except those chosen [how?] as the very best - which go into this museum – photography banned! Some good pics can be seen on http://community.web-shots.com/a lbum/11062116KeUHYoC-MSF 13 bus from the Ayuntamiento.

Sights:
Kitchen utensils in the Ceramics Museum
Kitchen utensils in the Ceramics Museum
The Albufera is a lagoon south of Valencia, highly esteemed for its bird life. The village of El Palmar is reckoned to be the very best place for sampling paella. The times of local buses are not great if you are trying to do too much in too short a time and you might, like me, find it worth paying to go on the tourist bus [€12] where the fare includes a boat trip. I’m assured by those who know that birds of the types seen in the Oceanografico are often seen here but I only saw innumerable herons and egrets. Even so it was hugely enjoyable.
On the other side of Valencia it’s a short trip by train – frequent and cheap – to the town of Sagunto, dating from Roman times. The Roman theatre has been modernised and would be a good place for a show in good weather, though I found the modernisation disappointingly unsympathetic.
The walk up to the castle would have exhausted me but I’m told it’s great. I just enthused in the really big street market – and actually did some buying.

Accommodations:
The Lonja - part view
The Lonja - part view
I stayed at the Hotel Florida at Padillas, 3 near the Ayuntamiento and the airport bus. Very convenient position, comfortable en-suite rooms with TV and telephone. No food but several places in the road for breakfast and an excellent tapas bar nearby.
I should have preferred it if the stopcock on the toilet had not broken but they did provide me with another room!

Nightlife:
Miguelete tower and Cathedral
Miguelete tower and Cathedral
I’m past the age where i should expect a warm welcome in a club – to put it mildly – but it is well known that Valencia prides itself on its night life and the best area is said to be around the Barrio de Carmen.

Hangouts:
Bellas Artes Museum
Bellas Artes Museum
I’m not sure of the difference between pubs and restaurants in this context but I should find it hard to classify the Horchatería at the edge of Plaza Reina as anything other than a pub. A horchata is a non-alcoholic drink as it happens, made from tiger nuts [whatever they may be] and milk, immensely refreshing and quite delicious.
I am aware that this statement contradicts another account on this site but it’s what I expected and what I got.

Restaurants:
Torres Serranos
Torres Serranos
The Amoros in the little road called En Llop off the Plaza del Ayuntamiento was recommended to me by the receptionist at my hotel when I asked where to get really good tapas. He did warn me that it was not very cheap! Both things were true – they were very good tapas [excellent in fact] and they weren’t very cheap [pricey in fact!]

Other recommendations:
City of Arts and Sciences - part.
City of Arts and Sciences - part.
The dried-up bed of the River Turia doesn’t appeal to me. I accept that the safety of the city from flooding is more important that appeal to visitors – but was the removal of the river the only solution. Imagine a riverless Prague, a Thamesless London or a Seineless Paris! Even so I have to admire the use they’ve made of the land area created for gardens – and for the C of Arts and Sciences itself.
I admired the Torres Serranos, one of the old gates to the city, and the walk from there towards the Barrio de Carmen is a great strolling area – but don’t expect the Museum of the 19th century to be open unless there’s an exhibition.
I missed the highly praised Botanical gardens, where the trees have had long enough to mature and the other surviving gate, the Quart.


Published on Monday April 25th, 2005


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Mon, Oct 03 2005 - 07:19 PM rating by miguelmarchi

Bravo David! Muy bien escrito

Sat, Oct 01 2005 - 10:29 AM rating by jesusferro

I have been in Valencia and I can say that your description is very accurate and beautiful. 5 points at least you deserve.

Wed, Jun 15 2005 - 02:34 PM rating by deriek-2

It's amazing! I would like to go there.
Mary

Thu, Jun 09 2005 - 06:04 PM rating by braidedsoul

It brought back wonderful memories. Thank you for such a well-written report. I was very impressed by the City of Arts and Sciences as well, and did visit the lovely Botanical Garden, although it took me quite a bit to find. Another memorable thing for me was: my "wallet" was stolen from my backpack in Valencia, while I was strolling happily on the street... it's okay, I only had a photo and a lipstick inside. I can imagine how disappointed the thief was, but they're the most skillful!

Fri, Apr 29 2005 - 09:43 AM rating by gloriajames

well written!

Tue, Apr 26 2005 - 03:59 PM rating by magsalex

Great report

Tue, Apr 26 2005 - 10:28 AM rating by britman

Great report with some amusing asides- decent pictures too! Glad that you enjoyed this City which is part of the "real" Spain. You didn't try the paella?

Tue, Apr 26 2005 - 12:45 AM rating by ravinderkumarsi

excellent

Mon, Apr 25 2005 - 05:27 PM rating by rangutan

...a fantastic detailed report with great pictures!

Mon, Apr 25 2005 - 03:36 PM rating by bear495

Another fine writing, David. Bring on more!

Russ

Mon, Apr 25 2005 - 03:17 PM rating by bootlegga

Great report and even better pictures! Torres Serranos looks amazing.

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