16.02.2013 - 18.02.2013 14 °C
We rented a car from Granada to drive to Valencia. It took us about 5 hours. The train would have taken us 8 hours and unfortunately the train doesn't run on a saturday; And flying was just ridiculous expensive, so driving was pretty much the only option we had. We stopped at a petrol station for a pizza which was from the freezer, but they had a microwave and oven to cook them- so cool. We returned the car at the Valencia airport without too much hassle and caught a taxi to the apartment. The drive wasn't too bad once we got out of the city. We decided not to get the GPS and google maps got us to a dead end. We just drove on big looking roads in sort of the right direction and found our way onto the main roads. Driving in Spain was far easier than France and Italy (Italy is just mad) so don't stress if you need to drive somewhere...
We dropped off the car at the airport and got a taxi to the apartment but unfortunately the driver couldn't find the street our apartment is on. He pulled out an ancient map book but didn't have his glasses so I (Blake) had to point out where we were and where we were going! We went round and round in circles and we still got dropped off on the wrong street. It wasn't a long walk though so it was no big deal. This was followed by a good 30 minutes wait for the apartment lady to check us in.. and when she got there, we were told the apartment they put us in is on another street 5 minutes away. Lucky the apartment turned out much newer than the one we thought we were staying in and it looks like they didn't charge us the full price (fingers crossed).
We noticed that the streets of Valencia were a lot dirtier than the other cities in Andalusia (south of Spain) and there was lots of dogs around leaving smells and deposits around the outer part of the old town. Our walking tour guide told us that it only rains 18days a year in Valencia so I guess that'd wash it all away.
After we checked in we walked around looking for food for nearly 2 hours but it was between lunch and dinner service so we didn't have much luck.. We went home and chilled out for a bit then headed back into the centre of the old town. We were starving and ended up settling on some mega touristy spanish food cooked by Chinese, right by the main square. At least it was cheap! We had swordfish and roast chicken and some other less than memorable dishes. Michelle tried the Valencian paella (with chicken & snails) which was probably the best dish of the night. That night we headed back to the apartment and polished off a bottle of red and had a good old chat.
We started our morning with a walking tour around the old town. They had a Valentines Day special price of €5 per person, which would have been how much we would normally pay for a free walking tour so we jumped on that. There was no one else but us on the tour so it was like a private tour. The tour guide was excellent and showed that Valencia has a lot of interesting history.
Tour guide recommended we try Palace Fesol for the best traditional Paella (Paella started in Valencia and was with rabbit, beans & snails). We were really lucky to get into this place as it was a sunday afternoon and it was right in the middle of lunch time. The Paella tasted very different to the seafood one, but it was delicious. We were served enough for 8people and took the rest home for later . The waitress that served us had lived in Australia for 5 years and married a kiwi and it was great for us (and probably her) to hear some familiar accents and for someone to finally be able to understand Aussie accent. She didn't quite have an Aussie accent but at least we could all talk naturally without slowing down or pronouncing our words correctly (Europeans can understand Michelle but have no chance with my slurring Aussie drawl).
We had a siesta after lunch while Blake's parents went out exploring and got lost but somehow managed to find their way back to the apartment.
We were still full from our lunch paella, so instead of having a proper dinner we just stroll the streets and had the most expensive cake & coffee for dinner in Plaza la Reina (Which was all buildings until they pulled them all down so there was space for a royal wedding, according to our local guide) .
We started the morning with a stroll to the central market just down the road from our apartment. We had a lot planned for the day but got off to a bit of a slow start. The markets were huge, lots of jamon, fruit/veg; dried fruit and nuts; meats.. any kind of food you want you can find it there. They also had a flea market outside selling clothes, bags, household goods. Mum and Michelle bought a handbag each, whilst Dad and I bought a couple of leather belts each. We got the guy at the stall to swap some buckles over and shorten them... Custom fit!
After dropping off the shopping at the apartment, we went to the Cathedral to see Holy Grail- the only one recognised by the Vatican. I couldn't decide whether to sing Hunters & Collectors or whether I should hire somebody to bang coconuts behind me whilst hoping I don't run into the dreaded Knights of Ni.
Once we left the church.. we made our way to the Valencia Arts & Science Park. It was designed for Valencia by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrva, as a present to his home city. Calatrava's vision is that of the space age, inspired by animal skeletons, hence the futuristic architectures. This place consists of the opera house, IMAX theatre, Marine Park (Oceanarium), the greenhouse and the science museum. The entrance fee is ridiculously expensive. We chose the science museum and oceanarium package which still cost a bomb. There was lots to see in the science museum but it was kinda boring.. At least we made our moneys worth, spending a good 2 and a half hours in there. I think we spent more time in there than we should have considering how boring it was.
We followed this up with a quick dash to the Oceanarium before it shut for the day. It is apparently the largest one in Europe. We saw giant crabs humping; made it just in time for the dolphin show; saw some crazy looking fish, beluga whales, sea lions- check out that huge bull... We also saw sharks and lots more. Michelle said this place wasn't that good, she was comparing it to the Seaworld in San Diego (where she saw the real free willy) and the one in gold coast. A place can be the largest but not necessarily the best..
Our tour guide from the walking tour asked us to tried Algua de Valencia- a local drink. So we bought a bottle home to try- one word to describe it= DISGUSTING!! But.. Michelle was game enough to try it again at a tapas bar when we went out for dinner- it was made from scratch and it taste sooo much better. From memory it was vodka, cava, gin and orange juice.
We had the left over paella from yesterday for dinner then decided to head out for a drink and some tapas for the last time in Valencia before we head off to Barcelona. It turned out to be quite a enjoyable night. We had one of the best tasting green olives, some patata braves, chorizos and anchovies in vinegarette which Dave absolutely loves.