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Published: August 27th 2009
Pulling into Valencia I was at first slightly nervous about the city given that my surroundings were, well…ghetto. I suppose that is just what is to be expected around a train station/train tracks. The Valencia-Nord station was awesome - very old school European with a huge awning and perhaps 10 tracks for both regional and long- distance trains. In a matter of seconds I spotted Chris in his wifebeater - after all it was about 700 degrees and humid - and all things were once again well. My first impression of the city was that it reminded me of the Plaza de Cibeles in Madrid - huge ornate white-washed buildings, but there was a definitely hint of the South with the abundance of various types of palms. It was only a few blocks up to the Plaça del Ajuntament, where our hotel was.
The location of the hotel was glorious -right in the center of one of Valencia’s main plazas and with a balcony looking out directly over it. The room was a bit warm - since in order for the aire acondicionat to work you needed to have your room key inserted - but I was very pleased with
the set-up. I was pretty rank at this point so I opted for an immediate shower before deciding on where the rest of the day would take us. My trip almost came to an early end when I almost fell and killed myself in the slippery shower and then mistakenly grabbed onto the swinging glass door that of course only worsened the situation.
Our first plan of action was to return Christopher’s bike he had rented to cruise around the city before my arrival. This of course turned into an hour ordeal due to the obstacles of his clouded memory and the fact that street names change every 10 feet. It did, however, give us an opportunity to explore the tiny streets of the ciutat vella, the city’s oldest part. This was very reminiscent of Sevilla, I just wish this gorgeous southern architecture appeared in places that weren’t quite so hot. Once the bike was disposed of, we decided it was time to kick back, enjoy a drink, and catch up on one another’s travel so far. I of course also had to buy a pack of Lucky Strike to fit in and truly embrace relaxation and indulgence. His
trip so far luckily was nowhere near as traumatic was mine, and he had enjoyed biking around the city. He complained I wasn’t paying attention to him, but really it was just too hard to resist listening to this older Portuguese man trying to converse in Spanish but inadvertently slipping in and out of his native tongue. Vivan Iberian Romance Tongues!
Once through with our cañas, and Chris also a tinto, we headed out for some exploration. Like most of Spain in the summer, everything is in obras (under construction), but a few torn up streets and scaffolding couldn’t take away much from the incredible scenery. One of the most impressive squares was the Plaça de la Virgen, where cafés and restaurants were surrounded by the Basilica Virgen dels Desamparats and the Santa Iglesia Catedral de Valencia. Again I’ve atttemped a video attachment of this plaza for your viewing enjoyment. Eventually we headed out of the older section and into the more modern shopping distict, where I popped into old favorites like El Corte Inglés. I considered buying the Spanish version of one of the best Spanish cookbooks, 1080 Recetas, but at €45 it was more than double the
price of the American version - no, gracias. In the supermarket section we picked up a bottle of sherry and a a napolitana de jamón y queso to enjoy back on our wonderful porch while we watched the day turn into night and regroup before dinner.
We didn’t end up leaving for dinner until maybe 10:30 - how Spanish of us, I know - and took quite a bit of time trying to figure out where to eat before finally settling on a restaurant near the Palacio del Templo, this 14th century structure that…actually I have no idea what it is other than that. For our meal we ordered a few tapas and a montadito to share - croquetas de jamón (ham croquettes - I’m not a big fan of these but Chris enjoys them), patatas all i oli (boiled potatoes in a garlic mayonnaise), sepia encebollada or something like that (squid in its ink with onions), and then the montadito de sobrasada y queso (an open-faced sandwich with a spicy pork paté and cheese. We finished the meal with agua de Valencia, the region’s traditional alcoholic beverage made with a number of liquors, sugar, orange, and really whatever
the bar wants to put in it. This was very tasty and also quite potent. One done with our meal we strolled back to the hotel and were on our way back for my first night’s rest in 36 hours.
I´m a couple days behind update-wise but expect another asap!
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