Oh, Valencia. You set a standard of enjoyment the rest of Europe will scramble to meet. On our first night we stumbled upon a festival in the city where all the Valencians had come out to play, upbeat 40’s jazz sounded throughout the streets to which couples were swing dancing in the square. The buildings were an intricate art nouveau while a warm breeze rustled in the palm fronds and the setting sun gave the last of its warm rays. It was magic. I breathed deeply, cherishing it. For the first time I truly felt like I was on vacation. Invigorated by the energy of the city and warmed by a night time glass of rosé, Bev and I went to bed that night dreaming of the beach we would visit come the morning, two weeks spent in landlocked cities had these Vancouverites absolutely aching for the sea.
Sadly, the best laid plans…We didn’t make it to the beach that day. We mean’t to.. but we started out hunting down the perfect coffee spot.So far, Spain had absolutely nailed coffee. (Oh look, a starbucks!) Though we really did mean to go to the beach, we naively thought just take a quick peek at what is on this street and this and this…At the edge of the old city we found the Torres de Serranos, a gothic style 14th century gate that once served as the main entry to the city. Fully restored and open to the public for a modest €2.00, and free on Sundays, for those wanting to climb up and experience not just history and pant wetting heights, but stunning views of the city as well.
I got my calf work out on with the hundred or so steep stairs connecting the different levels of the tower but was well rewarded with an unparalleled view of the city that got better and better with every staircase I ascended. Now, I don’t consider myself acrophobic, I can peer over the battlements no problem. I feel safe with the strong wall holding me back, but I must admit I get a little wobbly when I come across a glass floor in a tall building. Why yes, that ground is very far below and this is exactly what it would look like if I fell through your questionably safe glass floor to the ground below.
We were so caught up in the city that it was already 3:00 before we even took notice and a quick bite of paella was necessary to restore our strength. Yes, real Valencian Paella! After all the hype from Madrid it became priority number 2 (after priority number 1 AKA the beach didn’t pan out) we sought it out as quick as possible. Turns out, it’s really, really good. Just about every restaurant offers a version of it so we picked the first place we could find and tucked in. Side note: I was so hungry that I gobbled it down before I remembered to take a photo of it.
We did 26,000 steps that day and 18 flights of stairs! A personal record that I think doctors would be proud of. As the first day drew to a close, we made a vow: tomorrow we will resist the siren song of the beautiful city, rent bicycles and go to the beach. Or so we thought…the bike and beach just weren’t in our stars! That morning we awoke to find Bev was covered in angry red bumps. Alarm bells singing the awful tune of bed bugs had our focus turned from the beach to sanitizing and expelling the dreaded vampires from our clothes and bags. There’s a whole post on it if you’re immune to heebie jeebies here.
But, it’s nothing a hand crafted gelato rose can’t cure!
Valencia really touched my heart, the traditional and the modern met here with a harmony not often achieved. I could walk the historic city and feel lost in time then turn a corner and indulge in a very 21st century shopping experience. We accomplished so much in our short time in Valencia, we found coffee shops and patisseries to while away the hours, gyms to work off the bread and cheese feasts which were becoming de reigueur, and settled into a little lifestyle routine that also included two days spent nursing metaphoric travel wounds and binge watching TV in our room. Hey, sometimes you need netflix. But the count was on, we had three days left in Valencia before we would jet off to Ibiza to celebrate birthdays island style and if this pale Canadian body didn’t see some sun before we got there, I would spend the whole time a miserable little lobster. Valencia was so busy I had to make three posts just to cover it all! Find out if our heroes made it to the beach in the next thrilling chapter in the Valencia tales!