Valencia Vistas

Instantly you know you’re somewhere different when you wake up. The air feels different and the noises outside the windows are different.

We are staying in the centre of Valencia in the 3rd storey flat of a grand old building. The decorative iron gates at the entrance give flashbacks to the days when buildings were built to show off to their neighbours, not just “provide economic housing for the masses” as is so often the case these days. I’ve grown up in London but it was a quiet suburb, not a main street. The faint smell of industry and car fumes permeates the room, not unpleasantly, enticingly. Urging me to get up and go exploring this new city. But first, we fixed a typically non-english breakfast of bread, tomatoes, jamon (cured ham), mozzarella and watermelon. I love the Mediterranean food, it is just the best, but I still had a hot cup of tea… I’m not a savage.

Venturing out, the sun was shining but the high apartment buildings create artificial canyons. It’s cool down here until midday as sun won’t reach the bottom. We lazily walked to what has become my favourite part of the city. Valencia was built, like most major cities, around the natural resources of a great river that leads to the sea, the Turia. In Spain, these rivers are seasonal and dry up completely over summer leaving Rambla’s. These dried up river beds are used throughout the Spanish countryside as additional roads because they mainly go direct between towns. In the winter when the rains comes (I resisted  the obvious Game of Thrones quote), water thunders down them carrying tons of rocks and silt. In Valencia, the Turia burst its banks in 1957 and destroyed around 5800 homes. As a response, the government diverted the river south of the city to avoid this disaster reoccurring.

The original river bed that ran through Valencia has now been turned into a long snaking park through the city centre. The Turia Gardens still have the original bridges across it. Its now a place for all of Valencia to enjoy with gardens stretching the length of the city. Playing fields and sports clubs, and a hyper-modern set of buildings housing the Science Museum and an Opera House. We walked for hours around this park. We found a cool spanish dude chilling out under the shade of some trees on his slackline. I couldn’t resist the chance to join in and show off a bit. It’s a dream to be here, slacklining in the sun. We carried on meandering down the park’s paths chatting lots and enjoying the relaxed day. I was really relishing the sun after coming from the perpetual grey of the UK.

When we reached the Opera House and Science Museum I was just blown away. I have never seen architecture like it! Its surprising that such incredible structures have been built. The Opera house has a soaring, sail like, roof that ends in a point. It doesn’t seem to have any method of support and looks like it’s made of concrete, completely defying your understanding of how its standing! It was like walking into a 1980’s James Bond villain’s lair; all white curvy platforms and stairs and pools of cartoon blue water. It was made all the more surreal by an open air function going on at the Opera House that supplied beautiful piano music.

Here we got a glass, from a street vendor, of a cool drink made from almonds (I think). It tasted sweet, nutty, powdery and milky. Apparently it’s a traditional drink in this area and it was nice for a few slurps in the sun but we couldn’t decide if we liked it. Walking on, we found a photo opportunity and, me being me, climbed up on top of some floating steps. This ripped my shorts in a very obvious position, the crotch. Luckily I was wearing bright coloured pants…

We headed back to the apartment so I could change and then out for some food. It was later than the Spaniards eat so it was a bit tough finding somewhere. I had been looking forward to Tapas for weeks leading up to this holiday and it did not disappoint! After food we lounged around the bar chatting till dusk. Nice and relaxed. We then headed to the strangest bar I’ve been to for a long time. It had loads of manikins and old paintings and unfashionable furniture all piled high around the place. It was a pile of junk in bar format and was really interesting. We had some wine in antique looking glasses and enjoyed the view, people watching, the way the spanish do.