Valencia is a huge city in Spain and a welcome mix of modernity and tradition. Its churches, city gates, bull arenas and towers are reminiscent of its rich cultural past. On the other hand, its lively beaches, buzzing nightlife and modern museums like City of Arts and Science make it a perfectly modern city. I learnt it when I travelled across length and breadth of Spain, including this wonderful city.
We boarded a green bus from airport that took us to Estación Del Norte, where our hotel was. The bullfight arena Plaza de Toros was nearby, but no bull fight was to be organized in near future. The centuries old tradition of bull fighting in Spain is facing furious protests from animal rights activists and is getting banned across states. In case you are interested in watching it, check local listings before setting off for Spain or you may be left disappointed.
We were greeted by neatly lined palm trees and flower stalls. Since we were staying in old city, we had a chance to have a look at several age-old buildings that were decorated in Baroque style. Some of the finest buildings that we watched on our way were El Ayuntamiento (city hall) and La Oficina de Correos (post office).
We spotted a horse carriage and immediately knew that this was going to be our transportation medium for having a tour of the city. And we set for touring Valencia in a horse carriage! Our first stop was Cathedral de Santa María de Valencia. Having been built in 13th century, this cathedral had an imposing structure. We were told that it was built in three different styles: Renaissance, Gothic and Roman.
After touring this majestic church, we reached Plaza de la Virgen, an important square in the city and frequented by locals and tourists alike. A massive fountain stood in its center, with a sculpture of Greek god Poseidon resting and surrounded by a couple of goddesses. The square is dotted with restaurants and cafes. We quickly munched on local delicacies including Local paella (rice dish with meat), Bunyols (Fried doughnuts), Fideuà, (a paella-like dish) with Agua de Valencia, a sort of famous mixed drink.
Plaza Redonda is another famous square near old district El Carmen. One can buy traditional products from here at pretty reasonable rates. We bought some Spanish embroidery, rings and other stuff as souvenirs from here.
Next day, we were eager to discover the City of Art and Science, a futuristic museum in Avda. Autopista Del Saler. It was a mind-blasting place with a planetarium, a science museum, IMAX Theater and an aquarium. While returning from there, we visited other prominent places like bridge La Peineta, El Jardín del Turía, the Turia Garden and the “music palace” Palau de la Música.
Next day was our last in Valencia, so we decided to relax on beaches. Two main beaches, Playa de Malvarrosa and Playa e Levante o de la arenas, are located near city center. After spending some time here, we set for El Saler, which is arguably the best among these three beaches. The crowd was nice and there were plenty of water sports to enjoy.
We had to leave early next morning, but that did not deter us from having a blast at night. We visited a nightclub nearby, had some beer and danced till late night to mark end of our memorable tour to this historic city.