Hello Going Expat people,
A bit behind schedule, but finally we talk about my trip to Valencia.
Actually the Spanish week involved more cities, so I should say, my trip to the Comunidad Valenciana.
Valencia, what a surprise!
I really liked it a lot! I knew little about the city, I had some comments from people who had been there, but not a clear expectation.
Let’s say that when I booked, accompanied by my dear friend, I was driven by “desire for Spain” and Valencia was the place, among those not seen in Spain by both, where I could fly without spending a fortune (unlike Andalusia, which was the first choice).
I discovered a city rich in history, (street) art, culture. A city very green and clean and extremely alive.
If you follow me on IG you’ve seen some recent stories where I talk about the trip and a video about street art. Going around Valencia you can not miss it.
Doing various searches online, we found that the two main neighborhoods of murales are Benimcalet and Barrio del Carmen.
Benimaclet is definitely off the tourist circuits, a neighborhood probably under revaluation with a few bars/ restaurants and nothing more. Looking through the streets, however, there is a lot of art. Murals of various kinds and all extremelly realistic.
At the Barrio del Carmen, which is an absolutely central area of Valencia, the style changes and the walk looking for murals, is enriched with breaks to eat some tapas or a paella or drink a beer. What you know, on vacation the food/drink breaks are never enough.
Valencia from above
There are many towers from which to enjoy the view of Valencia which is not bad. I got to appreciate it from the tower of the Micalet, or the tower of the Cathedral of Valencia. You can get on the tower by buying a €2.50 ticket.
The history of the Cathedral, and of the chapel inside, is very interesting, in fact it is a very ancient building, which has undergone structural changes also according to the religion for which it was used. In fact it was built on an ancient Roman temple that was later converted into a mosque.
One of the most famous viewpoints is the Portal dels Serrans for a matter of time we could not live this experience but we crossed the area around, which refers to the Barrio del Carmne, mentioned above.
Mercat and Lonja de la seda
Located opposite each other, the first is a covered market, where you can shop or consume on the spot. Open in the morning and until the early afternoon, it will welcome you inside a giant building. This is the largest fresh produce market in Europe.
The Stock market of the silk, in Spanish Lonja de la Seda , is a UNESCO site. An elegant Gothic palace that struck me a lot. It is open until 19 and if you arrive before 18 you can also take advantage of the audio-guide, but do no worries if you get there late, on the walls, in both floors, videos are projected where they tell the story and architecture of the place (in Spanish with English subtitles).
We are in front of a structure of the fifteenth century, defined one of the most beautiful among European Gothic architecture. It almost resembles a castle or a fortress. It is divided into only 4 parts but will leave you speechless: the tower, the hall of the Consulate of the Sea, the courtyard of the orange trees and the hall of the columns.
Ciutat de les arts i les ciències
If you like architecture, you will surely connect Valencia with Calatrava.
It is all his work of the Ciudad de las artes y de las ciencias, and the good news is that you can walk in the external and internal corridors of the structure for free. Of course, to access the museums you will need to pay the ticket.
They are museums particularly suitable for families, children/ kids, in fact they have a lot of fun doing experiments and understand what and how it happens.
You will be bathed in so much light in this place. Thanks to the water, the white buildings and, probably, the shapes chosen by the famous architect, for the various buildings that compose it.
Inside the citadel, there is also a theater, which you can visit and where there are often live music performances.
Valencia gave me the impression of being a very lively, civil, clean and green city. He welcomed me on a warm summer evening, the green lights of the town hall fascinated me just outside the subway and, by the way, the public transport service, I thought it was great.
Valencia Tourist card
It is a card that can be purchased (also online) and collected at one of the info points or automatic machines, even at the airport. It is really easy, in fact you just need to have the confirmation code and/ or the QR code to collect it and it is activated at the first check in on a public transport or at the entrance of a museum included, for 24/48/72h or you will also have the opportunity to choose the weekly one.
The price changes depending on the validity of the card. The 48h one is available for €20 (in our case €18 because a discount was available on the site.
Murcia & Cartagena
Having a few more days of availability, we decided to take a tour in other cities. Affitatta the car tamite booking.com for about €80, we headed towards Murcia.
First of all I must say that I was struck by the calm of the Spanish (at least in this area) driving. No incessant honking or insulting from the window, even when someone was doing something stupid. They will certainly be less stressed than the Italians!
Murcia is a small town, nice but not surprising. Here we visited the city center where the gigantic cathedral stands out.
The Catedral de Santa María rises where once there was a moshea, we are at the end of 1300. Only the bell tower was built much later (already in the late 1500s) and finished in the years of the 1700s, but today it is the undisputed symbol of this city.
And speaking of symbols, we discovered that the sardine is also the symbol of Murcia, to the point that looking out from the Puente viejo there is a giant in the waters of the river (a statue clearly). From this same point you will also see the white Puente nuevo and the area of the 18 mills (today not really visible, but you can make a visit to the museum dedicated to them – remember that the siesta will be closed).
Before leaving Murcia and heading to Cartagena, we tried to visit the Christ Redeemer of the city, Christ Monteagudo, but unfortunately the road was closed, we could have done it walkingon foot, but it was some km up and in the sun with 37 degrees at 3 pm… will do it next time.
Instead we arrived at the Santuario de la Fuensanta, beautiful view and we were told that Murcia was called the Huerta de España because of the many gardens in and out of town (still today). Unfortunately the sanctuary was closed (this one too) and we had the change only to see it from outside, but we enjoyed the view.
We decided to go to Cartagena because it is a Roman city with still a theater to visit and its museum and to know even less common places of Spain.
It is a port city, with a nice walk full of people at all hours. The main avenue ends with the Town Hall building and opens onto the sea. Beautiful effect.
The museum and Roman theater are worth a visit, also the pretty Domus de la fortuna, but definitely less spectacular than described.
Clearly this is a city in the process of being revalued. Many buildings under renovation, whole areas that seem not too safe, are full of work in progress and improvements, all of them very close to the center, so you cannot unsee them.
Before moving to the next town, we made a trip to the beach. We went to the beach of Carabassi, sandy beach, white and surrounded by dunes.
If Valencia is a tourist city and full of Italians, Alicante beats by many points. No less beautiful though.
It is a very cheerful town and where inspiration and imagination seem to be the master
The port, the palms, the palaces and the viewpoints really leave a beautiful memory of the days passed there.
The most beautiful place was definitely the Barrio De Santa Cruz, bring with you water, a hat and comfortable shoes and aim at this colorful neighborhood. It seems to be an idea of a resident to decorate with vases, doors, colored tiles the entire neighborhood. There are plates dedicated to this person from the neighbors, in fact
Like everything else, this also has the downside. If making it a colorful and tourist barrio brings advantages, the nightlife of an area of the same, disturbs residents. In fact, there are many signs hanging on the balconies of some houses, with protests and requests for civilization.
The district of Santa Cruz is located at the foot of the Castillo de Santa Barbara. The visit to the castle is totally free and several times a day you can take part in a guided tour (in Spanish or English). The story focuses on the use of the castle, which has never been a royal residence, and its reconstruction. Part of the castle has been razed, part is original and other areas have been rebuilt.
More suggestions on what to see: the Castillo de San Ferdín, less spectacular than the first but with a beautiful view, the Plaza de Lucernos, the Mercado and finally the Explanada and the port for a walk.
Returning to Valencia, from where we would take the flights, we diverted to one of the many lighthouses in the Velenciana Community.
Faro del Albir
It is located within a reserve, Parque natural de la Serra Gelada, and you get there with a walk of about 30 minutes on a slight slope. It is not complicated at all but there are no shady areas. Access is free and if you want you can reach other points or quarries on the sea before arriving at the lighthouse.
What to eat and drink?
This is clearly a rhetorical question. In Valencia paella is a must, remember that the Valencian paella is not fish and shellfish (although they do it anyway) but meat – exactly rabbit and chicken with green beans – moreover, the Spanish do not eat paella for dinner, but only for lunch.
You already know that Spain is home to tapas. In particular, we liked some places very much, like the Bar Los Zagales in Murcia, absolutely not touristy and especially typical. Be careful, if you don’t speak Spanish it can be difficult to order.
In Valencia we also enjoyed a gourmet dinner at the restaurant Alma del Temple
In addition to local beer, we tasted Orxada or Horchada a cold drink made from tuber with a strong and particular flavor.
Here is a recap of my food and drink.
Where did we sleep?
I have to say that I have never made last minute bookings like this time. I expected cheaper prices in Valencia, but anyway we enjoyed it.
No hotel made us the wow effect, but they were all comfortable as location, clean and with helpful staff:
Valencia – Casual Valencia Vintage
Cartagena – Sercotel Carlos III
Alicante – Hotel BH San Francisco
Have you ever been to these parts of Spain? Let me know about your experience in the comments
Who knows where I go for the next trip!