September 22, 2018
We packed a beach bag and hopped onto bus #32 for our trip to Valencia’s beaches. Turns out it was a transportation holiday and so we saved our ready €3 to spend on our café instead! The bus conveniently dropped us at Mercat Municipal del Cabanyal, a local, non touristy food mercado – another fabulous market to love and to select our daily dose of salami, cheese, arugula, olives and today, a nectarine! The barrio of El Cabanyal is traditionally where fishing families lived & still has a working class vibe.
We hopped back onto the 32 bus and a few minutes later we were driving along a 3 kilometer stretch of beaches, Paseo Marítimo and a string of restaurants and cafes. The port area south of here was refurbished for the 2007 for America’s Cup. We found a couple of lounge chairs with a palapa and supported the beach neighborhood with our rental euros to relax, people watch, picnic and leisurely stroll. Initially Playa de la Malvarrosa was lightly populated, however, within the three hours that we were “beaching it” the entire waterfront became packed! Lots of babies and babes, everything in between and old timers as well!
Another 88+ degree day – we would have been wise to stay at the Mediterranean shore, but instead we walked about two of our day’s nine mile total to the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. What a visual treat of aesthetically stunning architecture!!! Plus it had an immense wading pool which we took advantage of and thoroughly enjoyed after our sweaty journey!! The City of Arts and Sciences structure occupies 350,000 square meters of old Turia riverbed. It’s mostly the work of world-famous, locally born architect, Santiago Calatrava.
When town planners diverted the Turia River away from its City Center to avoid flooding, they created a 9 kilometer strollable park.
Adjacent is the Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia. From the Lonely Planet pocket Valencia guidebook, “Brooding over the riverbed like a giant beetle, its shell shimmering with translucent mosaic tiles – the cause of quite a few problems – this ultramodern arts complex has four auditoria and enticing levels of plants poking out from under the ceramic exoskeleton.
The unblinking heavy-lidded eye of the Hemisfèric is all at once planetarium, IMAX cinema and laser show.”
“This 320m -long portal to the complex unifies the various buildings and also contains the car park and administrative offices. Atop it, under a feathery ribbed roof, is an area of garden that becomes a glitzy bar on summer evenings, while downstairs a fancy discoteca (nightclub).
Poking out of the ground like a giant purple mussel, Ágora was inaugurated in 2011 but in 2016 still wasn’t finished: more money is needed. An exhibition space, its a versatile venue that has hosted art showings and tennis tournaments, but has a whiff of white elephant about it even before completion.” (Lonely Planet pocket Valencia guidebook). We saw a construction crane so perhaps it’s still unfinished…? I took a couple of pictures but didn’t feel they captured the “cool factor”.
Also from our guidebook, “Oceanogràfic – Spain’s most famous aquarium is the southernmost building of the City of Arts and Sciences. It’s an impressive display; the complex is divided into a series of climate zones, reached underground from the central hub building. The sharks, complete with tunnel, are an obvious favourite, while a series of beautiful tanks present species from temperate, Mediterranean, Red Sea and tropical waters.”
We added to our afternoon trek yet another aesthetically pleasing market in the L’Eixample neighborhood. Well actually, it was built in 1916 as a mercado yet now houses cafes, boutique stores and bars. We partook of the latter and I finally had the only good martini that I’ve ever had in Spain, crafted by general manager and master bartender, Daniel, at the funky, dark and antique filled Monkey Business Down. In fact I had two!!
“L’Example, or El Ensanche, means the ‘expansion‘, And was developed once Valencia got too big for its old walled town. Laid out in the 19th century, it’s a zone of elegant streets and wide avenues, replete with upmarket shopping and eating options.” Lonely Planet)
Regarding one of the several places we did NOT get to that was on our list, “Synonymous with rice, agriculture and the goodness of Valencian soil, La Albufera Lagoon and it’s surrounding flatlands sits just south of Valencia City. Long used for rice cultivation, its the spiritual home of paella and similar rice dishes. It has important dune and wetland ecosystems and its rural ambiance, beaches, birdwatching and rustic restaurants make it a great escape.” (Lonely Planet Pocket Valencia)
I am delighted, overwhelmed and worn out with our visit to Valencia and thrilled that Happening Hubby surprised me by including it in our plans! I am also thankful we had three days, but one could easily spend a week. Everywhere the eye rests is beauty in architecture – new and old, and history abounding! I will add Valencia to my growing list of cities I hope to visit again!!