A city that had been on my radar for quite a while.
Valencia, actually, has it all...it truly ticks so many boxes!
The city has been gently and beautifully crafted further after a disastrous flood in 1957. This is due to the original river, the Turia being rerouted to the south of the city due to the flood. As a result, the old river bed meanders through the city environs as the Jardin de Turia (Green river) with cycle paths, walkways, football pitches, event spaces, trees, lakes and fountains. It is several miles long, 600 feet wide on average and encompasses over 450 acres of parkland in all ...and at the Eastern end is Santiago Calatrava’s extraordinary biomorphic City of Arts and Sciences, completed in 1998. All of this is next to the city centre, it is simply marvellous..
Our first afternoon reconnaissance involved a fair bit of walking through this park and then dropping into the city for an early dinner(or late lunch). We were here at the same time as the build up to Las Fallas, a festival commemorating St Joseph, the carpenter, which involves the construction of stunning statues (ninots) and themed constructions from paper mache, wood and polystyrene up to 5 stories high in local districts all around the city. These are then burnt down on the final night of the 19th March.
We had a city walking tour on the following day, visiting the cathedral and central market amongst many other areas. As part of Las Fallas, there is a backdrop of firecrackers being set off by children in particular, all around the place...and at 14.00 every day, the Mascletà, an explosive barrage of co-ordinated firecracker and fireworks displays, takes place in the Plaça de l'Ajuntament. It does sound like major explosions going off, even from several streets away!
The city is quite compact and full of stunning architecture. My favourite building, as so far seen, is the Banco de Valencia building, situated at the end of the Carrer de les Barques (wide street which starts out from the Plaça de l'Ajuntament).This building is a representative of the Beaux-Arts style and resembles a cream cake at its summit... We also saw the quirky and 2nd narrowest building in Europe, La Estrecha, just 107 cm wide..it has one room on each floor. It has bar next door...which is bit wider!
We took a day out for a bus trip south to El Parmar adjacent to La Albufera, a large wetland area and inland lagoon, 10 miles south of Valencia city. El Parmar is an unusual, simple town...with a population of 800 and 30 restaurants! They grow rice here...and this is the home of the renowned and much loved, paella. We indulged in Arroz negro (squid and rice) and paella three times overall whilst on our citybreak...two of our favourite dishes!
The final day was on two wheels, cycling along the old river from east to west and back again and then beyond to cycle up the coast. All very straightforward , only one gear on the bike required, no hills in 23 miles of gentle cycling! All on cycle paths...we only crossed the road on cycle paths just a handful of times...just fabulous.
Of all the citybreaks I have been on...Valencia rides very high indeed...I will definitely return.