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Published: September 30th 2021
When we got off the train in Valencia, Spain we received a very warm and familiar hug from the humidity. It felt great as one of our days in Segovia was a bit cool. Even though we know fall is knocking on the door we are not ready for these temps just yet. Our first train ride in Spain went off without a hitch, due to the fact that we've learned over the years to arrive early to avoid any missteps.
We don't have well developed public transportation in the U.S. so when many of us escape to travel we are excited to learn trains, subways, buses or how to drive on the other side of the road. Since we lived in Washington D.C. for a while and have visited NYC we have some past experience before we started traveling the world. We remember on our first trip to Italy we had our train tickets and were standing on the proper platform when someone noticed we were Americans and asked if we had activated our tickets. It was a mad scramble for Dave to run down the staircase across two tracks to validate and get back as I was getting
The City of Arts and Sciences
Amazing architecture… great view from the rooftop bar across the street.
the backpacks lined up to sling on the train. Our hearts were pounding but we made it. We haven't traveled to Europe in a few years and never in Spain so we were uncertain how different the train system would be. All around the world they are basically the same but one or two nuisances can really mess things up.
We decided to get to the Segovia train station an hour before our departure to Valencia so we had time to watch the process and ask questions. We were glad we did because as soon as we arrived there was a torrential downpour and this allowed us to stay dry. Dave and the nice lady at the counter had a conversation in international sign language until she called over one of her co-workers who spoke some English. Dave was ready to use our Google translator. We were worried because the destination on the reader board did not match what we thought it should say. After a careful explanation and her calm demeanor we understood what she was talking about so we sat down and trusted the process. Fortunately, we were able to watch a couple of trains come and
go which helped with our confidence. It is a tiny bit stressful as the adrenaline pumps while we figure out all the logistics. We like the feeling of uncertainty as long as it does not last too long. It makes you feel worldly when you can conquer a new rail system without incident. We had a lovely ride to Valencia.
We found that Valencia is a lovely mix of modern architecture and the old. Historically this city has survived the Roman, Muslin and Christian dominated periods. During the Chrisitan era many of the older styles were torn down, covered or remodeled. We are told other cities in Spain have a wider variety but we found enough here to hold our interest for a few days. When walking in Valencia don't look at your phone or GPS as the streets are uneven and it is easy to do a face plant due to major construction! We found things sticking up out of the ground on what were the sidewalks that were not roped off and ramps in unexpected locations.... hazards abound. Many of the roads have lots of construction going on which leads one to believe they are in good
financial shape. In a year or two, depending on progress, this will look absolutely lovely. You are likely to see a bit of this in our photos although we did our best to crop the barriers out. Our AirBnb is in an excellent location in Valencia with easy walking to most areas of the city.
We've read that Valencia is a foodie town and birthplace of paella. We were gravely disappointed that the paella cooking class that we signed up for was cancelled due to lack of interest. The tapas and wine tasting tour we signed up for was still a go and what a treat. It was a small intimate group with seven of us. 3 from the UK, 2 from Belgium and us. Our group had great chemistry. As a matter of a fact at the end of the 4 hours we were still enjoying each other's company so we jumped in a cab and headed to the Barcelo Valencia for a rooftop drink overlooking the City of Arts and Sciences. What an amazing piece of architecture. Bogi was our guide for the tapas and wine tasting did a marvelous job. The first hour or more we
The market in Valencia, Spain
were touring the old town where we learned more about Gothic architecture. We went into a few amazing churches, heard the history of the city over the ages and had time to take many photos as we listened intently to her stories. We arrived at a private patio venue where we were seated in the garden. A series of wines came our way. One champagne type,followed by 3 white wines. As each wine arrived, so did tapas. Slowly over the afternoon we consumed 10 different tapas, 7 in the garden and 3 at the dining table.. On arrival of each wine and tapas Bogi served as a sommelier and described each wine in detail. In addition, we learned the ingredients of these delicious tapas that kept appearing. Our photography skills may have faltered with the addition of wines. LOL. At some point in the afternoon we were moved to a dining table where we enjoyed the remaining tapas with red wine.Yum. The red wine was a big hit. We asked for the chef to come out and take a bow. She did as she served us some port. All in all a fantastic experience.
Anthony Bourdain said, a seduction
We are told it is the largest in Europe.
of the senses is to taste and with that in mind we are truly enjoying Valencia.
We enjoyed wandering aimlessly one day, taking photos, sitting in cafes enjoying a beverage and watching people. We had two goals for the day. The first was to head to Cafe de la Horas and have the Aqua de la Valencia that had been recommended to us and secondly we wanted to enjoy the paellla that Valencia is famous for. The traditional paella is made with chicken, rabbit and snails. Being near the ocean Valencia offers a lot of seafood paella but we were in search of the original. What we've learned since our arrival here is that many restaurants would like 24 hour notice if you are having paella. No it doesn't take that long to make it but it is a slow cooked meal and they need planning. The travel gods were watching over us once again. While we were enjoying (really enjoying) our Aqua de la Valencia we befriended an English speaking waitress. We were so impressed with her English that we asked her if she was from the United States. She was so pleased that we had mistaken her
La Riua Restaurant, Valencia.
for American.... that she beamed. We explained we wanted to go that afternoon and enjoy a traditional paella on short notice. We'd been given the names of two places to go from multiple people but these locations were about 20 minutes from town. We thought.... certainly we can find a good one in the old city.... plus we had the feeling that the other locations were places everyone sent the tourists. Fortunately, one of her friends lives in the old town and speaks very highly of La Ruia so off we went. What a find! Not an American to be found. This was a place all the locals were going after church. The meal was indescribable. Just what we had hoped for! We enjoyed every morsale. We had the baby squid for appetizer and the chicken and rabbit paella for our meal with a lovely Spanish wine. Life is pretty darn good. The photos don't do this food justice but this meal was worth a trip to Valencia.
Most places around the world are proud of their market places and Valencia is no different. We are told this one is the largest in Europe and we cannot argue with
it. This place is grand. The Pike's Place market in Seattle cannot begin to compete.
One neighborhood in Valencia is well known for its street art. We find these artists are often creative and very good at their craft. There were two pieces of art I had hoped to see but in all our wandering we never found them. We have included a couple of photos of the ones we did enjoy.
Valencia has an amazing array of architecture and you'll find yourself enjoying the cathedral, the basilica, the City of Arts and Sciences, the Palace of Marquis Dos Quas and Lonja de la Seda which is an Unesco site.
Where we stayed: air bnb
Restaurants to recommend: La Riua
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