I’ve always loved Spain. I’ve been lucky enough to visit Madrid several times (thanks to friends living there), have been to Barcelona and of course one or two girls holidays on the Costa del Sol. In early May I headed over to Valencia with my lovely friend Victoria in search of the sunshine, oranges and an adventure in a new Spanish destination.
I don’t know if anyone has used Air BNB before but we found a gorgeous apartment just outside of the old town which was really reasonably priced. Staying in someone’s home meant we could relax and really experience the real Valencia. With a roof terrace and lots of local fruit and veg shops, we soon made ourselves feel at home. We squeezed our own orange juice every day and sat out drinking beer and eating tomato salad before heading out to explore in the afternoons.
Our favourite foodie experiences of the trip:
Mercat Central de Valencia
Almost every city has a central covered market and I always love a trip to them. This one was particularly wonderful not just because of the impressive architecture but because it was a real working market. Full of oaps stocking up on vegetables and people bartering over legs of chorizo. The place was bustling and we whiled away a good couple of hours.
Eating tapas in the old town:
We ate out every night and had a couple of stand out experiences. Of course there are the tourist traps – ‘eat here and get a free drink’ etc.. but if you just walk around and really get a feel, you can pick out some gorgeous family run tapas restaurants. The style of eating tapas was different to what I’ve experienced in Madrid – rather than a drink and small dish (more like pinchos), you sit and order dishes over an evening. Perfect when you’ve got a bottle of wine and a good gossip going with friends.
You’ll need to book in high season. We were lucky to get a seat right at the front of the terrace because we arrived bang on 12pm. There is a whole stretch of beachfront restaurants to choose from but La Pepica is the one which makes the guide books due to it’s history and links to Ernest Hemingway. It’s a timewarp there, well worth dawdling to and from the toilet to get a good look around the inside! We just opted for their classic paella – served in the pan straight onto your table and so simple – rich saffron flavoured rice and juicy white fish.
So, that’s it – 5 days in Valencia. Plenty of time to get to know the real city. My advice would be to avoid the new end of the city – stick to the old town. Don’t bother with the open top bus tours, they are expensive. Drink lots of gin, wine and aqua de Valencia (local cocktail). Take the bus, take the tram and soak up the atmosphere. Spend a day at the beach. Go with someone you love or the best friend you can find and you’ll have a great time. This is a city full of great food, wine and laughs.