In February 2015, I just got a glimpse of Valencia, during a one day trip from Pedreguer. This time, on my way back to the Netherlands, I get the opportunity to stay for two whole nights in this very interesting town. Also, I get to witness the celebration of Los Reyes Magos on the 5th of January. This is the arrival of the three Kings, one of the most important festivities in Spain, especially for the children. The 6th is mainly celebrated at home, where the children will open their presents, received from the Kings. On the 5th, it is celebrated with a Cabalgata or a float parade through the town, where sweets are thrown to the children. Later, the children will fill their shoes at home, with straw for the camels to eat.
I arrive on the 4th by train from Xeraco, a small station, with good connection to Valencia. The final station is Valencia North and very convenient right in the centre and close to Ayre Hotel Astoria Palace, a very reasonable priced hotel and situated on a quiet Plaza, right in the centre of town. From here, I can follow the procession on the main street on the 5th.
In the evening I discover an ice skating rink in front of the municipality building and many people are enjoying this possibility to have some holiday fun, with or without their children. The decorations are beautiful, so many lights on the impressive buildings and with so many people out on the streets and the stores and restaurants all open until late, it is a pleasure to walk around. With lots of tapas restaurants in the vicinity, it is fun to go from one place to another and try out where they serve the best chorizo and cheeses. Oh, and wine of course!
The first thing I visit, on the morning of the 5th, is the covered Market Place, where so many different products are for sale and the smell of all the herbs and sausages are such a treat. Surprisingly, there is also a gorgeous display of Bethlehem village, demonstrated at the entrance of the Market and it is full of tiny beautiful figures and animals and endless sceneries. After taking pictures from all different corners, it is time to buy spices for meat and fish and azafran for the paella. If I would live in downtown Valencia, I would be a regular client of this market! Like this lady out on the terrace, in front of the market building……
This time, I also discover a total different Valencia and so worth it!!! The “Jardines del Turia”, which are situated in an old riverbed, which runs 9 km’s through the city! It is one of the largest Urban Parks of Spain. Here, you’ll find footpaths and sport area’s, cycle and runner’s paths, 18 bridges from the 15th, 16th and 17th century, full of history.
The former riverbed passes the main monuments and museums, among them the Opera Auditorium, the Oceanografic, the Palau de les Arts, Palau de la Musica, Museo de las Ciencias and more. While walking through the Park, you’ll see all kind of Palm trees, Orange trees, Pines and aromatic plants, ponds and fountains and even a Gulliver Park for the children!
I am so pleased to be able to walk here for hours, on this gorgeous sunny day! Valencia is worth a visit…….
I thought about going to the harbour, which is nearby the end of the Jardines, but my legs are giving in. Supposingly, the three Kings are arriving in the harbour, but Valencians told me it is not worth to go there. I better have a break and try to recover from hours of walking, as tonight I would like to watch the Parade.
The Float Parade turns out to be endless, first of waiting and then even the procession is never ending. Also, although the whole parade is passing the spot where I am standing, the final embarking of the Kings is right in front of the Municipality building, which is on the other end. The Kings are lifted in an “carretilla elevadora” or a fork-lift truck and after pushing myself through the crowd, I just can get a glimpse with my 50 times zoom camera!
It seems the whole of Valencia town is crowded together on this evening and the faces of the children are hopeful, excited and tired at the same time.
After a short speech from the Mayor and each of the Kings, the show is over and there is an invasion of restaurants and tapas bars and I end up in a small Cuban restaurant of all places……it is called Babalu and it is cozy and warm. The food is so so and the Cuban owner is drinking heavily with some guests, but at least there is wine and ambiente!
On the 6th, Valencia is empty and quiet. Most stores are closed and a good time to wander around a bit more and visit some churches. My plane is leaving in the evening and with the luggage stored in the hotel, I still have time to discover more of the city.
Again, I visit the Botanical Garden and I am surprised it is open today. There is a very interesting tree with grapefruits, as well as oranges……
Later on, some stores for the tourists and more and more restaurants open their doors again. There are always tourists in Valencia and also the locals like to go out for lunch or dinner on their leisure days.
On the Plaza de Reina, where the Cathedral is situated, it is a must to have a coffee or a wine and watch all the movement.
Coincidentally, I encounter this lovely authentic restaurant, called Tasca Embrujo del Carmen or the Tavern of the Spell of Carmen on calle Juristas 5. The food is good and the house wine great and often, there seems to be life music in the evening. I would go there again a next time for sure, also thanks to the great couple, who are running the restaurant and kitchen.
I leave Valencia and Spain with the promise to come back…….