I’ve made the day trip to Valencia from Linda & George’s home in Spain a number of times. It’s a beautiful city that I don’t think I could tire of visiting. The city is the capital of the province of Valencia and the third largest municipality in Spain. There has been a city there since Roman times, then in the 15th century it thrived due its port and trading in the Mediterranean area, becoming one of the largest European cities by the end of the century. It’s still the 2nd biggest container port on the Mediterranean. In the 18th century it became a major silk manufacturing centre. There are many more wonders to Valencia, not least – for this foodie – it being the place where paella originated, and it’s such a beautiful city that merely walking through it is a delight.
Arrival at its railway station immediately introduces you to its gorgeous architecture.
Valencia is of course known for its oranges – the best in Spain – and the tiling in the railway station celebrates this. Many of the streets are lined with orange trees.
Right next to the station is the bullring.
We arrived mid morning and decided to head to the market, but stop for a coffee on the way. We took pot luck and just stopped at somewhere we liked the look of and found good coffee and a snack.
Moving on towards the market, we walked down lovely streets and passed beautiful buildings.
Mercat Central is a huge covered market built in Valencian Art Nouveau style. I’ve been there a few times and it never fails to excite me, it’s such a beautiful building inside and houses just the most brilliant stalls selling the best food and wine.
Linda and I happily wandered through the market for some time, admiring the produce and sometimes talking to stall holders.
The stall holder at Jamones el Mercat gave me some of his Iberican ham to try – which was delicious – and we talked with him for a while. I loved his 5€ little boxes of ham and cheese. What a great lunchtime snack!
From the market we took a taxi out to Bodega Casa Montana where we’d booked a table for lunch. Established in 1936, it is in the Michelin Guide and still family run. Our waitress was daughter-in-law of the owner and married to the guy behind the bar.
I’d been before with Linda and was keen to revisit it – the first visit had been in 2012! We sat in a different area this time, the main area at the front, and it was just perfect.
We chose a few tapas to share and I ordered a glass of their house white wine – a local Valencian wine specially blended for them that was dry and crisp and perfect for the warm day. Bread came too and it was fabulous.
The tapas came almost one by one and we just slowly ate them. I got so into enjoying each one I forgot to take photos in the end, but below there’s a sample: Salmorejo; Broad beans with Iberian ham; Piquillo peppers stuffed with a fish mousse; Warm leek in vegetable vinaigrette; and cod croquettes. We also had some ‘special rain-watered potatoes served with garlic and spicy sauce’ (Patatas Bravas).
We had a wonderful meal. It’s such a great place to eat with gorgeous food, a great atmosphere and very friendly service. We decided to move on for coffee though so paid the bill (58€ for the two of us) and went in search of a taxi to take us back to the centre. We were in holiday ‘treating ourselves’ mode, hence the cab, but the previous time I went there we took a tram out and there’s a metro station nearby.
The taxi dropped us in Plaza de la Reina, one of the city’s main squares and where the cathedral is located. The cathedral was built between the 13th and 15th centuries and its architecture is known as Valencian Gothic. I love all these buildings with their gorgeous pale honey-coloured stone.
We explored the little streets and came across the iconic Cafe Sant Jaume. We took a table outside and ordered cortados. The building has been a cafe for only about 30 years and was previously a pharmacy dating from the late 19th century. It was a lovely little place and one could recognise its history from its decoration and furniture as they’d retained many of the original features.
We passed more intersting shops and realised we’d wandered into an ‘artisan’ district. I’m always interested in ceramics (having studied pottery for a few years a long time ago) and so we went into a pottery shop. There were some fabulous items (Linda and I both succumbed and bought things) and enjoyed talking to the friendly potter herself about how she’d made them.
Then it was time to head back to the station and get a train home. It’s quite a long journey from Linda & George’s house – a 40-minute drive to a railway station and then nearly an hour on the train. But it was definitely worth it! Though we did talk about staying overnight another time as there’s so much to do and enjoy. And I think it has to be a top destination for a weekend break.
This article is now available on the GPSmyCity app. Why not download it on to your phone or tablet and take it with you? You can read it offline and if you upgrade you can get GPS navigation to take you to all the sights mentioned. Click here for the link.