Friday, 7 September 2012

Viva Valencia

Day 134 03.09.12 Valencia

Valencia post office or correos in Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Plaza del Ayuntamiento in Valencia
The drive to Valencia was a NIGHTMARE.  The Sat Nav offered a free route avoiding the toll roads but annoyingly part way along the route it decided we were suddenly on a completely different road to the one we’d been on seconds ago, with no sign of exits we’d missed or anything!  It was very bizarre and trying to get ourselves back on track in the maze of intersections proved too difficult.  Instead we plumped for the well signposted toll road which thankfully by this point we only needed to be on for about 30 kilometres.  Toll roads in Spain tend to cost roughly 1 euro per 10 kilometres so hardly break the bank.  Getting into Valencia was equally difficult and involved a number of poorly marked, very busy jumbo roundabouts otherwise known as free for alls.  Our planned spot by the shopping centre was full so we headed to plan B, a scrap of wasteland by a Lidl.  It was less than ideal and a little rough around the edges but it’ll have to do for now.  You can tell by the double parking and even parking on the pavement that spots are exactly plentiful here!

The walk into town took around half an hour.  We went via a campervan aire which cost a whopping 25 euros a night!  Services included a rather grotty looking porta-loo, a broken water tap and security provided by a frankly terrifying Rottweiler.  We’ll stay where we are cheers!

Dragon from the house of dragons in ValenciaWe arrived in the city beside the very beautiful modern train station.  Its brightly coloured panels and stunning tile work make for a great welcome to Valencia.  Walking along the main street towards the main square you have some fantastic architecture on either side.  The main square features two huge and magnificently grand buildings, the town hall and the post office.  It’s a little difficult to appreciate them properly however with the stream of traffic and huge red tourist buses filtering past between you and the sights. 

We picked up a map from the tourist office but opted to ignore it and just wander around seeing sights as we found them.  We soon came across the House of Dragons building, covered in detailed dragon sculptures.  Very cool indeed!  Onwards to the older of the two market buildings, built by a close friend of Gaudi, whose influence can be felt in the coloured egg shapes on top of the roof and the mosaic tiled curves.

Banco de Valencia, Spain
Valencia cathedralOn our walk we came across numerous churches and some very beautiful apartment buildings with spectacular Baroque facades.  Valencia really is a very grand looking city indeed.   The cathedral is a little small for a city this size, but nonetheless very attractive with wonderfully detailed pillars outside the main entrance.  We opted to avoid the entrance fee and separate fee to climb the clock tower though.  Around the back of the cathedral you find a large fountain with a somewhat ill proportioned man sat atop it.  It’s a lovely area filled with cafes and restaurants.  There’s a lot of greenery in the city which is very welcome after the dry, dust bowls in the south of Spain!

The palace of the Marques de Dos Aguas is one of our next finds and probably the most impressive so far.  Sadly however huge parts of the fabulous structure are surrounded in scaffolding so we miss the full effect but the surround of the doorway alone is just amazing.  Designed by a man who later died insane, it certainly is quirky!  It looks to be a superb building and it’s a real disappointment we can’t view the whole thing.  The surrounding area is very swanky with boutique shops including Louis Vuitton and Hugo Boss. 

Mercado colon - Gaudi influenced market building in ValenciaLater we find the other market building which is also undergoing restoration, this time internally.  You can still enjoy the brightly coloured glass frontage though and the domes on the roof decorated bizarrely with a parrot and a swordfish!  Around the corner is the old gothic silk exchange building, its closed today but we’ll certainly we returning to look around this UNESCO protected site.

There are no doubt things I’ve missed out on this already mammoth post, Valencia is just chock full of amazing sights! 

In the evening we walk to the shopping centre we’d hoped to park near.  It turns out to be an epic walk after an already tiring day.  We find an ideal spot for the van though and drive it over.  Afterwards we’re pretty exhausted so it’s time for a couple of episodes of Futurama then we’re asleep as soon as our heads hit the pillow!

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