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Valencia, Spain / April 11-14, 2019

Château de Saumur

SUMMARY

A week before I started my new job, we realized I had a long weekend where we could travel. Tired of the cold weather, we wanted to go somewhere warm and not too far from Paris, so we decided on Valencia!

 

A charming old town and a picture-perfect beach (just a bus ride away), this was the perfect long weekend getaway. Make sure to try the paella, as this is the town that invented it! 

We recommend 3-4 days here. We saw almost everything in that amount of time, and that was with sleeping in and taking our sweet time.

LIST OF RESTAURANTS AND SIGHTS

Restaurants and Bars :

  • Pico Fino, Plaça de la Reina, 18 (lunch, Iberian Potato Salad - fried potatoes, jamone, and a fried egg + teryaki ribs + beer). Decent tapas, although a bit touristy. But it had a great view of the Placa de la Reina where you could see the church. We also had a guitarist playing on the grass next to us. 

  • Horchateria de Santa Catalina, Plaça de Santa Caterina, 6 (glass of horchata). Still full from lunch, we were only able to try the famous horchata. Claiming to be the best in Valencia, we believe them. We tried several other horchatas in the town, and this was definitely the best. The interior was so adorable with hand painted tiles and a beautiful counter at the back. 

  • Apotheke, Carrer de Ciscar, 18 (dinner tapas - guacamole, baked goat cheese in a pepper sauce, and duck risotto) This was the highlight of our food experience in Valencia. Great service, beautiful interior, perfect cocktails, and all around good food. More details to be written in the blog. 

  • La Pepica, Passeig de Neptú, nº 6 (lunch, Paella Pepica). I am not going to include the website here as I was thoroughly disappointed in the entire experience. The reservation system was strange and apparently I was not 'fully registered' for the reservation. They almost turned me away even though there were almost no people in the restaurant when we arrived. The wait staff was unfriendly and annoyed when we didn't decide what we wanted immediately. The paella was not good at all - all of the seafood in it was overcooked and rubbery. Also, totally over salted. Lastly, they were the only restaurant on the entire beach that did not have tables on their terrace. 

  • Café de la Horas, Carrer del Comte d'Almodóvar, 1 (drinks) I had read about this place in one of the blogs I read and was impressed by the slightly over the top interior as well as the reviews. We tried a drink our Airbnb host told us about called Agua de Valencia. I was skeptical as I thought it might be like moonshine or eau de vie. But when we tried it here, I had gone to cocktail heaven. It was the most refreshing drink ever. Also, I had a banana cocktail that was also quite nice. It's just a strone's throw from the Plaza de la Virgen, so the location can't be much better. 

  • Mercado Central, Plaça de la Ciutat de Bruges (appetizer) Do not miss going to this market. Bustling with people, there is so much to discover under this beautiful structure. It's also where I dicovered that I prefer jamone to prosciutto, which I didn't think was possible. That, paired with a wedge of manchego cheese and a split of red wine, made for a perfect beginning to the day. Instead of eating that in the busy market, we walked a block over to Plaza de Don Juan de Villarrasa and enjoyed the peace and quiet. 

  • La Salvaora, Carrer de Calatrava, 19 (lunch, Guijuelo Iberic pork with sweet potato cream and violet onion chutney. My husband had bull's tail which was quite good) A restaurant recommended by the chef from Apotheke, it was another favorite during our stay. The pork was unlike any pork I've ever tasted. Very refined cuisine, small portions (which in my book is a good thing), and very good wine. 

  • Restaurante Borja Azcutia, Carrer de l'Almirall Cadarso, 16 (dinner - traditional Valencian paella) This restaurant was almost empty on a Saturday night but it was good, and they will serve you the true paella which is with chicken, rabbit, and escargot. I was a fan, but the earthiness is a bit of an acquired taste! A guy I sat next to on the plane was from Valencia and said that this, to him, was the best paella in town. I'm glad we tried it.

  • Brunch Corner - La Virgen, Carrer del Comte d'Almodóvar, 1 Bajo Izq (brunch, as if it were not obvious - and we ordered the item labeled 'brunch') This meal was one of are other favorite moments, and also a recommendation of the chef from Apotheke. With brunch you get : a pancake, bacon, the best scrambled eggs you've ever tasted, and home fried potatoes. After, you get a piece of cake or yogurt. I went with the yogurt, and was not disappointed. I'm pretty sure they make their own yogurt and granola...dear God it was amazing. The crowning glory was the mimosa we ordered. The orange juice was literally to die for - Valencia oranges anyone? Lastly, the coffee was smooth, strong, and quite heavenly.

Sights :

  • Cathedral de Santa Maria - one of the famous churches here

  • Valencia Town Hall

  • Parque de la Cultura - ancient ruins integrated into a modern park

  • Porta de Quart - one of the old gates to the city that you can climb up and get a great view

  • Placa de la Virgen

  • Jardi de les Resperides - a garden located right next to and outside of the Botanical Gardens. It's small, but leaves quite the impression. 

  • Street art in El Carmen area

  • Platja del Cabanyal - the main beach that goes on forever and is lined with many restaurants and icecream shops (the bus to get there is about 30 minutes from the city center and is only 1,50 euros per person)

  • Cuidad de la Artes y las Ciencas - if you are into architecture, especially of the modern variety, you need to come here. We spent three hours exploring the interior and exteriors of these buildings. 

  • La Lonja de Valencia (silk trade building)​ In the past, this building served as a place for merchants to sell silk. Delicate, twisted columns support the structure and the floors are covered in black marble. 

  • Palacio del la Marqués de Dos Aguas an ornate palace that was free to enter

  • Jardin Botanico if you want to find an oasis in the city, this is the place. Full of lush plant life and flowers, it is a perfect spot to relax and be present in the moment. 

  • Palau de la Generalitat

  • Mercat Colon - the other big market in town, we went there for drinks after dinner. The bar at the front is very whimsical and fun!

  • Jardines del Real - another great garden in the city

  • La Glorieta - majestic tree park

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