Your first day in Valencia will basically involve walking around in big circles. The old town is simply stunning, with cathedrals or similarly ‘spired’ buildings popping out at you with every turn. You definitely need a map for this city, as all the roads within the main circle go off in completely random directions, even trying to follow a straight path through the city is difficult.
Valencia has quite a traditional Spanish feel, it doesn’t have the super modern edge that Barcelona has, but it holds its own with a really great feature that runs alongside the old town. They have a dried out river bed that has been converted to green parks with water features used to symbolise the old river Turia. The river used to flood the city terribly, so in 1957, the Spanish Government decided to re-route the river, by-passing the city, and commissioned Catalan Architect Ricardo Bofill to develop the 120 hectares of river bed that remained.
If you follow the old river towards the sea you will reach the Opera House (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia). I’m just going to throw this out there – I think they tried to copy the one in Sydney, but changed the design slightly to call it their own.
(My disapproval is shown below)
It’s part of a set of buildings, combined with the Hemispheric IMAX, and the Science museum, they do look great all together and give the feel of a future utopian world when you walk around them.
We happened to be walking past a bicycle tour of the city, the guide had stopped outside the Oceanarium and was delivering his usual spiel to his group of tourists. I happened to overhear part of it, which led me to believe he came to be a tour guide in the same fashion as the two boys did in Slumdog Millionaire. He said, “this is a fish zoo” referring to the Oceanarium. I hope they didn’t pay very much for this tour. Although, a bicycle is a very good idea in this city, cycling along the river bed on a sunny day would be lovely.
Restaurants in Spain usually offer the menu of the day between the usual lunch hours. We’ve found this to be a really good deal. Three courses for around 10 Euros, with a coffee, bargain! We found a superb Restuarant on Carrer de Mendoza (Restaurante Caballeros21), you may not get quite what you ordered, but the waiters were really great, so you don’t mind a little mild chaos and confusion. We treated ourselves to a three course lunch with a chilled bottle of rosé, on one particularly lazy afternoon, before toodling off to do a little sight seeing, “fabulous darling”. Valencia has a nice chilled vibe, and as you meander your way through the little side alleys and squares you won’t need to spend much money, you can simply take in the scenery and architecture that’s all around you.
Campsites are a little scarce around Valencia, and anything south of the city is to be avoided. Believe me, save yourself the few hours driving around trying to find somewhere habitable. Popping into a campsite, and asking to have a look around before you commit, then having to return to reception, thinking ‘I wouldn’t let my dog sleep here’, and awkwardly saying “we’ll try somewhere else”.
We had to get on Google again, and we eventually found Valencia Camper Park near Bétera, to the north west of the city. This turned out to be a great find. 12 Euros per night and it was very clean, and quite busy. We’ve found that it’s nice to have a busy campsite, watching people scurry around you setting up their camps, and I like seeing all the converted vans and how people utilise their different vehicles.
The site is also a two minute walk from a Metro line, and it costs 1.5 Euros each way in and out of the city. You can buy a prepaid card from the campsite reception, and then your set. Just a note, this campsite has been the most informative and helpful site we’ve stayed at, I would highly recommend it, even if there were other habitable options available.