September 20, 2018
Today we enjoyed a café in the inviting atrium of Estación Atocha and left sunny Madrid on a two hour “fast train” ride into even sunnier Valencia, Spain’s third largest city.
“The incredibly rich architectural legacy that is so characteristic of Mediterranean cities is very much the story in Valencia. Periods of occupation and influence combined with flourishing overseas trade to create a dynamic city prone to the innovation. From Roman urbanism to Calatrava’s caprices via Moorish elegance, Gothic majesty and Modernista swirls.” (Lonely Planet Pocket Valencia)
Arriving in Valencia was at once breathtaking! Estación del Norte is adorned in eye catching, beautiful mosaic tiles on the walls and ceilings.
And then stepping outside – Wow, Wow, WOW!!! This city’s architecture is mind blowing and jaw dropping!!!!! Massive buildings with circular columns, ornate grillwork, extensive balconies and swirls of decorative embellishments – My Oh My Oh MY!!!
And while awaiting our room to be available, what do you know, just a couple of blocks away in Plaza del Ayuntamiento (the city center, flanked by noble civic buildings, including town hall) was a paella cook off featuring ten respected chefs!! Come to find out, today is World Paella Day!!!! After all, Valencia is THE birthplace of this delicious rice dish!
After we checked into our hotel in the heart of Old Town and sidewalk restaurant Mecca, we ventured out for a self guided walk derived from our Lonely Planet guidebook. The 88 degree temperatures combined with no lunch took much from my energy level and so though we went by some top recommended, not to be missed sights, we only went by and around them rather than into them. They are quite nearby though, so we will create another opportunity for sure!!
We walked by Mercado Central – a gorgeous, Modernista building and no doubt a vibrant farmers, vendors and artisan market on the inside. We also saw La Lonja, one of the great civil Gothic buildings of the Iberian Peninsula. It was once a mercantile exchange and is noted as having a stunning columned main hall and very interesting carvings. Next we came upon the imposing Torres de Serranos which was once a major gateway in the city walls, now freestanding. Impressive!! And then we encountered La Catedral, Gothic to the extreme and it houses the Holy Grail!!! She is truly striking and amazing! Though we did not go inside today, we did enter into the solitude and sanctuary of Santa Catalina church.
And, we did a considerable amount of enjoyable “people watching” and ultimately settled in at a little bistro for a bite to eat.
I am happy that we have three nights in this city because there is So Much To See!!!