We got back on the road and headed towards Valencia. Happy to be heading back into civilisation, we started the day early as we were told it would take about six hours to drive in. The trip was slightly delayed due to an AFL game being played in Melbourne and an eager Demons supporter wanting to listen to it. We managed to find a café on the side of the highway that had free wifi and we streamed the game live via the Tune In Radio app. A couple of goals (in the Dee’s favour), one joyous supporter later and we were back on the road again. A much easier drive than the one we took to Orgiva, so we took the drive in turns and managed to get to the car rental place just six minutes shy from our return time.
We stayed at a hotel called Rooms Hotel Deluxe – which was fun! Every room was themed differently, so you don’t know what to expect when you open the door. There was the Moroccan room, the Mozart room and our’s was called the Enchanted Forest. Our room was covered from floor to ceiling in plants, leaves and trees, which made it very interesting to wake up to. Other than that the location was great, really close to the Art and Science district, which looked like two giant space domes designed on a giant swimming pool! I’m not sure if they are designed for people to jump into, but on a hot day in Valencia you can imagine a vast amount of people surrounding the pool.
Our first day, we headed into the centre of town where we saw much of the city’s cathedrals and markets. The market in this square we found was primarily aimed at tourists and sold a lot of overpriced bags, cooking utensils and leather goods. We’d heard about another market at Plaza 6, which was called the Mercado centrale just around the corner. Renowned for their cheap and fresh food, we had to add it to our stops. Unfortunately, by the time we got there the Market was starting to close down, but I managed to pick up some happy pants (which are all the rave here in Spain) for 10 euro and we got a meal at a ‘hole in the wall’ for 15 euro. It was amazing!
Paella is considered the traditional dish of Spain, but many believe it originated in Valencia. We were searching for a type of paella called Fideua, which we got a taste for at Melbourne’s own Spanish Festival last year. The ingredients are the same as a normal paella, with it’s main ingredient rice substituted for noodles. We managed to find this dish at this place and it was delicious! We also found the best place for churros back at the centre, so we ordered some churros to finish up our Spanish cuisine experience!
One of the key things we’d heard about Valencia, was about how it’s river Turia – that used to flow through the city centre, had been re-routed to now flow into the outskirts of the town. In it’s place, the empty banks of this river has now been converted to hold nine kilometers worth of gardens, playgrounds and fountains. One of it’s main attractions is a giant statue of Gulliver that has been designed as playground for kids to jump and slide all over his body. They must have really hated Gulliver, as they have him tied down to the ground. The park is amazing and you can stroll for hours on end – lucky for us we only did it once!
Valencia was a very cool, modern, yet laid back town. It’s unique in that they are trying to separate themselves from the old Spain by designing new and original architecture – something it has recently become famous for. It is very different to Madrid in that it is not so fast paced and was a welcome change from Orgiva. It was a great stop along the way and we would recommend to anyone who is travelling in Spain.