April 21st, Valencia - Old Town
On April 21st Sueann and I rode the train from Barcelona to Valencia, a
town of 810,000 people situated about 200 miles down the
from Barcelona. The town was founded in 137 BC by Roman
soldiers who settled there after fighting Iberian rebels.
were so happy to feel the warm air and
sunshine as we emerged from the train station. We took a cab
to our hotel, the Reina Victoria which we highly recommend, quickly
checked in and went out into the street. A few steps down the
block we entered the majestic Plaza del Ayuntamiento. "Ayuntamiento"
means "Town Hall". Buildings surrounding the plaza include the town
hall, the main post office, the Bank of Valencia and other lovely
1900s buildings. Also around the square were several cafes
each of which had tables on the broad sidewalk. This is my
kind of town.
The photo to the left below shows the town hall and the one
the right shows the Correos (post office) building.
We walked through the plaza and out the narrow end onto a busy street
off of which came several small streets, some of them pedestrian, where
we saw people relaxing at outdoor cafe tables. In a
nutshell, this is old town Valencia: elegant buildings, beautiful
plazas lined with outdoor cafes and lovely small streets. Of
course there are some Roman ruins and remnants of the Moorish
(709AD) and various Christian retakings of the town. Old town
Valencia is a wonderful town to walk around. It is more or
less circular in shape and you can easily walk from one side to the
other in 15 or 20 minutes. But who would want to do that?
Those cafes are tempting, the people are happy so you will
want to somehow meet them and the streets and buildings just make you
Here are some photos of small streets we liked and a photo of the Plaza
del la Reina, a lovely place to sit in a cafe and enjoy life.
One of the things that struck me about Valencia (this is Sueann now) is
the way the streets and sidewalks are used for more than
just getting from one place to another. People congregate
outside of a work place or cafe (and not just to smoke) and
hold extended conversations. They meet on the sidewalks, talk, laugh
and then go about their business. It's not all rush, rush, rush.
we walked from one plaza to the next we came
upon one with a crowd of people in the middle. We
crossed over to join the crowd and saw that a film was being made.
We eventually came across a tarp covered area where the
extras were waiting to be called. Everyone was in good humor
and we stopped and talked with a dark skinned man who told us he was
from Nigeria and the film was to be a wireless telephone commercial.
As you can see from the photo, everyone was having a
good time and we were too.
Whenever we visit a town we always seek out the town marketplace.
We love the color and life of the markets and we like to find
a bar or restaurant in the market where we can enjoy a modest meal.
The market in old town Valencia is particularly lovely in and
out. Here are some photos of the market where we spent an
hour or two. Like Barcelona markets, the seafood here looks
incredibly fresh and varied. All of the seafood we ate in
Spain was excellent and I don't think I have ever had as good seafood
meals in the States as in Caldes, Barcelona, Valencia and
Blanes (a small town near Caldes that we visited one day).
Ok, so after the market we have seafood on our minds. As we
ride the bus out of the old town toward Calatrava's incredible
Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (next story) we notice a restaurant
called the "3 Mares" that for some reason looks particularly
us. On the bus trip back we pass the restaurant, jump off the
bus and walk back to the restaurant. It's early,
about 7PM, so the restaurant has few customers (Valencia dinner time
begins at 9PM). We sit down at a table open the menu and
believe or not all four of our eyes jump to caracoles. We had
enjoyed caracoles several times on a vacation to Cozumel. We
our Cozumel caracoles as delicous pieces of conch sauted in oil and
garlic. Yumm! So without skipping a beat we call
the waiter over and order two dinners of salad followed by caracoles.
We feel very smart and imagine that us gringos have probably
impressed our good humored waiter. Our salads come and they
are very good. Then the waiter places in front of us plates
of spiny seashells accompanied by 3 inch long chrome finshed
nails which we are supposed to use to extract the conch from their
shells. Well the shells are small and neither of us
is able to coax a conch out so we have to call our waiter over to show
us how to do it. Now we are not quite so smug. The waiter
brings a pair of long slim forks that we successfully use to get at our
caracoles. While these caracoles are tasty they were nothing like what
Valencia is a wonderful town and I don't want you to miss anything so
here are a few random photos.
Back of Cathedral
entrance of Ceramic Museum
Lovely metal balconies
here to return to the list of stories