Valencia

9 Oct

Leaving Barcelona en route to Valencia, we made an interesting stop at the Pont del Diable (Devil’s Bridge), also known as the Les Ferreres Aqueduct. The arching bridge is part of an old Roman aqueduct built in 20-ish A.D. to supply water to the city of Tarragona. Today you can stroll along the top where water once ran, and if you’re skittish about heights like yours truly, make yourself delightfully nervous. The designers of the Spanish highway system have thoughtfully placed a rest area at the beginning of the path leading to the aqueduct, so a historical pit stop is within easy reach. Orestes and I wandered about for an hour or so, taking pics, and enjoying the quiet of the little valley the aqueduct spans.

Valencia itself is fabulous. When we decided on a Spanish road trip for part of the summer, my sole requirement was that we visit at least one location that was new for me as well as Orestes. Sean and Shorna have raved about Valencia, plus its coastal location made for a tidy driving triangle with Madrid and Barcelona. Let me just state up front that the rave reviews were well-earned. Its cobble-stone streets and abundant palm trees make it completely charming, and its smaller size makes it easy to stroll and explore. We spent several relaxed days ambling about the narrow streets, and sampling tasty things (something new and different for us).

img_6623On one of the days in Valencia, we took a short bus ride out to the Mediterranean coast. The beach boasts a lovely stretch of boardwalk lined with restaurants and palm trees. Although the beach itself was a bit crowded for my liking, we thoroughly enjoyed walking around and admiring the view. The water was a bit chilly (compared to Thailand temps anyway); I made it in the sea up to my knees, and wasn’t remotely tempted to fully submerge! Additional fun activities we got up were:

  • Exploring the Mercado Central with its many, many stalls of interesting food items: legs of ham, craft beers, more cheese than imaginable, fruit, olives, knick knacks, you name it. On top of all that, the market as a building is an architectural delight, with a high, domed ceiling and snazzy tiled decor.
  • Large amounts of strolling ~ the city is filled with narrow lanes, gorgeous churches, and pretty little plazas: in Orestes’ words “palm trees plus old stuff, stunningly beautiful”. We spent a good deal of time just wandering about, taking beverage breaks and enjoying the scenery.
  • Eating! Yes I know, we’re both food obsessed. Sampling new foods is a img_5781great way to get to know a culture. The culinary highlight of Valencia for me was the traditional paella we tried. Paella valenciana is not seafood based as many people are used to; instead, it consists of rice, green beans, large white beans, chicken, rabbit, and a ton of saffron and rosemary. This was my first time eating rabbit, and I’m still not sure how I feel about it. The gigantic white beans with the rosemary were my favorite part of the dish. Also interesting was aqua de Valencia; we saw so many signs for this beverage that eventually we had to taste test some. It turned out to be a rather potent, mimosa-like drink: gin, vodka, cava, and orange juice ~ ¡salud!
  • Admiring street art ~ Valencia has a large quantity of interesting graffiti, and it is, for the most part, strategically placed on walls and the corrugated metal doors of shops rather than on buildings with historic value. The vast majority of it is artistic and/or political, not your average tagging. Some of the works of art are quite witty!
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