We caught an early start after a night at Pension Universal. To maximise funds for paella, museums and sangria J and I stayed in hostels all over Spain. With a little research and a good sense of humour, they can be perfect for the explorer looking to save on funds. Don't rule them out.
Pension Universal was great. Located just off the main square in Valencia it was equipped with private rooms, clean shared bathrooms, a kitchen, common room and friendly and helpful staff. Each room comes with a fan and has its own balcony.
The view from ours was gorgeous, and only made us all the more eager to explore. So let's get down to it, shall we?
I'm a big fan of walking around a city to get my bearings, so we began our day by venturing into the city and ending up in Plaza de la Virgen.
It really is a beautiful place. The floor is tiled in marble giving the whole city a sense of old grandeur.
After a quick map check we headed over to Valencia's main market, Mercat Central. There are no supermarkets within the city centre, so all the locals head to Mercat Central to do their shopping.
The atmosphere is incredible. Locals haggle whilst tourists browse and sample produce. Money and goods exchange hands and there is a constant bustle within the place.
The building itself is amazing. It is almost church-like, and is quite beautiful.
And oh my GOD! The goods on offer are insane! Fresh, local and amazing. How I wish there were more places like this in the UK.
We bought a few pastries for breakfast along with loaves of fresh bread.
And armfuls of fruit!
The fruit was huge! I tucked into a peach on my wander round the market, and I felt like I'd fallen into James and the Giant Peach!
But my favourite stall was one full of dried herbs hanging in bunches, loose teas and spices.
The whole place smelled phenomenal!
It inspired me to bunch, tie and hang my own herbs.
I know I have rambled on, but the market had everything you could hope for and if you're ever in Valencia you have to visit! It's open Monday - Saturday 7am-3pm.
After spending a good couple of hours exploring Mercat Central we thought we should see a little more of the city.
Valencia Cathedral claims to have the Holy Grail, and eagerly we went along to get a peep. However upon arrival we found that the church charged to see the Holy Grail and roped off the main portion of the church, too. Hmph.
Ever the frugal tourists, we stopped for a photo and moved onto a church just next door that was free of charge to visit!
The Basílica Virgen de los Desamparados was beautiful. Small, ornate and spiritual. We sat listening to the murmur of voices and studied the painted ceiling. A few moments of calm during the heat of the day.
We spent the late afternoon lounging in Valencia's dry riverbed. Now the Gardens of Turia, this 9km stretch used to be the river Turia. However in 1957 the river flooded badly, many lost their lives and the city was devastated. The city decided to divert course of the river and left the riverbed dry.
The leafy trees and old bridges offer shade from Valencia's sun.
The perfect place to kick off your shoes and enjoy some chapters of your book under a canopy of leaves.
After breathing in the fresh, green air of the riverbed we made our way back into the heart of the city, spotting warm Valencian colours around every corner.
The ivory buildings of Valencia change with the light, becoming warmer as the sun starts to sink.
After a little siesta we made our way out to dinner. However, being a pair of eager beaver Brits we rocked up to our desired restaurant around 7pm. For Spaniards, this is silly early! We compromised and whiled away our time with dessert before dinner.
We queued up for gelato from Gelateria llinares, about a two minute walk from Plaza de la Virgen. The place is popular but the service is quick. We were out with our gelato within five minutes. J went for glazed donut and white chocolate whilst I went for dulce de leche and twix. OH MY WERRRD were they good. If you have a hankering for gelato whilst in Valencia, hit this place up!
Then as the sun started to sink below the buildings, we made our way to Bodego de la Sarieta (want directions, click here!). Apparently this is the place to get paella in Valencia, so as you can imagine I was hopping with excitement to sit down and try Valencia's signature dish.
You'll know you've got the right place when you see Le Chat Noir sitting outside.
We settled down outside in the still, warm air and enjoyed cold beers poured into frosty glasses.
OH MY whoever invented frosted glasses deserves a medal of some sort.
Bodego de la Sarieta is tucked away from the main hustle and bustle of Valencia, so you really feel like you're sitting in a local find.
I took pictures of strangers dining as per usual. I do wonder if they ever notice.
The service is pretty chilled. Not slow, but it gave me some time to snap up some photos of Bodego de la Sarieta's beautiful setting.
After about a 25 minute wait a huge Valencian paella made its way towards us in a classic paella dish. I was practically dribbling in anticipation!
Traditional Valencian paella is made with rabbit and chicken and the stock is made with saffron. Mixing seafood and meat is sacrilege, as is adding red pepper! A far cry from the Anglicized version we have back in the UK.
J squeezed over lemon juice and I dribbled a little more.
We tucked in, dishing out generous spoonfuls each. I'd love a squeeze more lemon but the flavour was just phenomenal. Our waiter popped back over as we were finishing up and told us to scrape the bottom of the pan, assuring us it was the best part. To me, it tasted a little like popcorn!
The whole experience was a delight and it felt as if we had dived into Valencia head first.
Until next time!