Valencia, Spain

As mentioned in a previous post, I spent some time in Valencia on holiday. I’m not the typical tourist that wants to see every museum, monument, or tourist attraction where I visit. I’m actually the opposite: I pick a few places that I must see and the rest of the time it’s about walking around and relaxing. My holidays are usually planned around food and drink (it must be my Western European roots) and everything else we fit in between the meals, snacks, and impromptu stuff your face sessions that we excel at.

I think Valencia is a great weekend getaway especially if you’re from Madrid because you can get there in an hour and a half on the AVE (the Spanish high velocity train). Here’s what I enjoyed while in Valencia:

Paella cooking course: If you haven’t already noticed, I’m into cooking so I definitely needed to figure out how to make a paella valenciana. I’ve been in Spain forever and I’ve never made a paella so I thought there was no better place to learn than the birthplace of Spain’s most international dish. I found the Escuela de Arroces y Paella online and it was the easiest thing ever.  I just made a reservation online and the next thing I know I was getting a masterclass in paella making! The Escuela de Arroces y Paella is a little restaurant (called La Valenciana) that also gives courses and it allows for people to do the class on their own, in pairs or a group, whatever works for the client. I was the only one that day so needless to say I got the inside scoop on paellas and it was awesome! I did the class in Spanish but they told me they get lots of English speaking visitors so there’s no problem in doing the course in English. I had an amazing time! We went to the Mercat Central (the central market), made the paella, laughed a load, and ate too much! I definitely recommend this experience for cooks and non-cooks alike.

My paella!

My paella!

La Lonja de la Seda: This is the Silk Exchange and it’s an beautiful monument worth visiting. I got one of those auto-guides (you know those telephone/earphone thingies that make you like a total tourist/idiot) that tells you all about the Lonja and it was totally worth looking ridiculous cause I learned a ton and enjoyed every second of this visit. This is a definite must see and it’s right across the street from the Mercat Central. So you can see the Lonja and then get something to eat/drink at the Mercat. 

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Mercat Central: This Central Market is a pretty building in itself and there’s a great variety of businesses. This is a great place to do your souvenir shopping cause you’ll find a little bit of everything. You can also get something to eat at Central Bar by Ricard Camarena (I didn’t get a chance to try this place but it looked great).

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Oceanográfic: The aquarium is part of Valencia’s star attraction, la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. I’m going to be honest, this a nice site however it was heartbreaking to see the belugas, walrus’, penguins, and co. living in such small quarters. I left with a heavy heart. I know these places are a great education tool but I just couldn’t shake the sadness of having these great creatures closed up in a glass tank when they’re meant to be swimming endlessly. However on another note it was great to see all the kids around and appreciate how in awe they were of everything. 

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Food and other fun stuff: Now we’ve come to my favorite part!!! I already raved about an amazing restaurant that serves authentic wood burning paellas here but we also enjoyed lots of other stuff. Valencia is famous for it’s agriculture and I ate some of the best tomatoes ever! I got my dose of lycopene for life during our stay in Valencia because I had fresh raw tomatoes every chance I got! Here are some of the other places we enjoyed:

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Arrocería Duna: The food was good but the surroundings were spectacular. If you want to eat traditional Valencian fare but in a modern setting than this is the place to be. Make sure you try the Tomate Valenciano and their take on the brownie (perfect for the peanut butter lover). 

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De Calle: We had dinner with friends here and it was fab. The décor is outstanding and the food was delicious as well, so all in all a win win!

Sushi & Tapas: M and I have a serious sushi fetish wherever we go and it wasn’t going to be any different in Valencia. We enjoyed the food here a lot and the service was great. They mostly do nouveau type sushi so if you’re a purist this probably won’t float your boat but we thought it was great.

Valencia blog 13Sushi Cru: This was the first sushi place we tried in Valencia and we were lucky to even get a table (they only have 4 or 5 tables so reservations are a must). The service was outstanding and the sushi was good too. This restaurant is in the El Carmen neighborhood, which I’ve gathered is Valencia’s hipster destination, their very own little Soho.

L’Umbracle: This is an open-air nightclub located in the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. It’s definitely worth checking out especially if you want to have a drink at a cool place but that isn’t overrun by typical night clubbers.

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Mercado Colon: This is another market that was overhauled and is now filled with restaurants and a gourmet food shop. We didn’t get a chance to eat here because the restaurant we wanted to go to was closed while we were there but it’s worth a glimpse. The gourmet food shop (Manglano) in the basement had an amazing selection of items and I could have done some serious damage on my credit card at this place! This market is near Colon Street, which is the premium shopping area in Valencia, especially if you covet the high-end stuff.

Valencia photo dump

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I was pleasantly surprised by Valencia so be sure to check it out if you’re in the neighborhood.

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