Well after 3 fabulously relaxed, cosmopolitan days in Madrid, we reluctantly hauled ourselves over to the central train station for what was to be (apparently) a 6 hour journey for our long anticipated Valencia break.
It really wasnt too bad: the landscape changing spectacularly from graffitied concrete barriers to parched, barren scrub and slowly becomg less urban and more mustard yellow, with rows of dried grapevines and dead sunflowers. To be fair, parts were spectacular, as varied crops quilted the dry earth with varying colours, dried river beds nurtured winding paths of trees and shrubs, leading into rocky outcrops interspersed with high industy (ugly rigs, chimneys and factory buildings).6 hours crawled into 7 hours as the train seemed to stop at every 1-horse-town and wait for ages before marching slowly onto the next empty station. For the first 5 hours, we seemed to be the only people on the train.Note to self: There is more than 1 Valencia train station. One is Soud and the other is Nord. Make sure you realise that there is about 10 minute difference……We finally arrived at Valencia Nord (the wrong station) after 8pm and too tired to find our own way, opted for a taxi – the rank is just outside – with a rather disgruntled driver. Clearly our Airbnb accommodation was very close and he was just about to lose his precious place in the rank for a cheap spin around the block.He dropped us in a generic looking street and pointed up to the road sign. Our accommodation was inaccessible to traffic, courtesy of extensive roadworks being carried out directly outside the building….Our host had given up waiting for us and sent a message informing us that he has gone and left the key with flat 3. There was no lift access as we heaved ourselves up the 3 flights of stairs, suitcases in hand. Flat 3 gentleman was middle aged, smiley and non-english speaking. He handed us the keys and abruptly shut the door in our face.It is with no little relief that we finally got into the apartment and collapsed onto the black, faux leather sofa in the minimally furnished space. First impressions were mixed; this was clearly a testerone directed design scheme. The 48″ wall mounted television screen dominated the living/kitchen area and dubious artwork adorned available wall space. I bagsied the double bed on the mezzaine, whilst my travel partner had to settle for a single bed in a corner room cordened off via a flimsy stud wall. All in all, I would give it a Meh/10. Take a look at the roof terrace. Enough said!
Not a great start to our Valencia adventure. We decided to venture out and get a meal and some alcohol. It was Sunday around 10pm. I was surprised how quiet it was around the city centre, after all we were supposed to be slap bang in the Old Centre. It took about 15 minutes to get to Roger De Lauria, a developed shopping mecca area opposite Plaza del Untamiento, where there were multiple opportunities for outdoor dining. We went to an outside Thai restaurant which looked a bit like a ‘fast food’ joint, however our meals were large and just bursting with authentic flavours. Unfortunately they did not provide wine by the bottle, but even 6 glasses of white and 2 main meals later, the bill still only came to just over 25 euros.
We decided we’d find somewhere else to finish the night, so ended up in Casa Blanca – a nearby wine bar, where the staff are friendly, smiley and patient. We decided on Pina Coladas. They arrived in large glasses, garnished with a dehydrated pineapple flower in which was cradled a cherry brandy infused cherry, strong enough to blow your head off! My tastebuds almost burst out of my mouth! Without a doubt, that was one of the best Pina Colada’s I have ever had. Absolutely gorgeous.
The evening ended on a high note. Beautiful climate, historic buidlings, lovely vibe.
We spent the next 2 days drinking in all that Valencia has to offer. It is an absolutely beautiful city with so much variety. I’d definitely go back.