¡A Valencia y más!

September 2019 —

This was my first overnight solo trip, and the trip that really started my inspiration to create my own blog!!! I had considered going off on my own and exploring many times prior, but this time I put aside all the little doubts that I had inside me, and I just went! All I had was a backpack and about 50 euros in my pocket. It was only an overnight, but it felt like so much more!

Just days after securing my room in a shared flat in Madrid, I decided to send it and I booked a two day trip to Valencia, Spain in late September. I knew that the beaches in Valencia would still be spectacular with the Mediterranean having been warmed all summer long. I also found myself with a week until I had to start teaching, so I figured why not?

Arriving by train to the Joaquin Sorolla Station in Valencia was very quick and easy coming from Madrid being that it was only about a 2 hour ride, and all the way there are scenic views to take in! Luckily I had my directions and itinerary all planned out for when I arrived, so it was just a hop and a skip to my bus stop from the station. From there the bus took me to my stop at the Mercat Central, or Central Market, of Valencia. The hostel I was staying at, Hôme Youth Hostel Valencia, was only a few hundred yards from this market and ideally located in the historic district of Valencia. I would absolutely recommend this hostel if you are looking for a place to stay! They had some of the cleanest bathrooms I have ever seen at a hostel, there are lots of different room sizes available, they have lovely street views, they serve nightly dinners for FREE, they have a great little kitchen, and they are super friendly!! All around a perfect hostel stay!

 

My Itinerary

I arrived to my hostel about lunchtime, immediately checked in, and walked around the block to scope out one of the great landmarks in the historic district La Lonja de la Seda. This Gothic medieval building was the center of the silk trade in its day, and a key part of the commerce movement in Valencia. It features beautifully handcrafted woodworkings and stonework that are both accented by the lovely central gardens. Since I had my International Youth Discount Card handy, I was able to get in for a mere 2.50 euros! What a deal!

Next I headed over to the Plaça de la Reina, the Queens Square, to climb the belltower of El Micalet Gothic Cathedral. This is a really good sight to see because you can access and climb the belltower which yields super awesome views of the whole city of Valencia including the ocean. The entrance ticket is not very expensive either, only about 7 euros from what I recall, but the views are so worth it! This section of the city hosts some wonderful restaurants, cafes, and the other magnificent church, the Valencia Cathedral. I wandered around the bustling oblong streets and enjoyed taking in all of the cute little shops.

After, I decided to head over to the other side of the historic district which is really quite spread out if you ask me. The 20 minute walk over to the Torres de Serranos, or Serranos Towers, one of the well known architectural landmarks of the old city, is filled with diversified Arabic building fragments. This was a super rad structure to explore and is much taller when you are on top looking down through a little glass floor hole! It is a unique Gothic era double tower that used to have a draw bridge and guards surveilling the river below and distance for possible intruders. The Plaça dels Furs that surrounds the towers has delightful cafes with outdoor seating and mini shade trees to keep you cool in the Valencian sun.

From there I stopped into one of the cafes for an ice cream cone, and walked over towards the expansive Jardí botànic de València and Jardín de las Hespérides, better known as the combined Valencian Botanical Gardens. I love gardens, plants, flowers, and anything in between, so this was a real treat to explore the 4,500 various types of exotic plants, flowers, trees, and mix of Greek artwork on display! Inside it was more thrilling than I could’ve imagined! It felt like I was back in Nicaragua strolling through a swath of undisturbed tropical rainforest. There were even little birds fluttering in and out of the tall canopy leaves, and sweet smelling citrus trees.

As I walked back towards my hostel the sun was setting, and I decided to grab some dinner at a grocery store I saw along the way. For 9 euros I bought dinner, and breakfast! In the morning, I woke up bright eyed and ready to hit the golden beaches of Valencia! But before then, I decided I’d hit up the the huge Mercat Central right next door for a coffee and croissant to boost my beach adventure. This is a massive market with literally anything culinary that you can imagine on display. There were perfectly set up fruit arrays, butcher shops, cheese stands, canned goods aisles, and even a homemade soap stand, or La Jabonería. I decided to purchase a couple of bars, one made with cinnamon and the one with lemon as my souvenirs. Just recently I used them up and they were super good my skin and are made with all natural ingredients!

Then upon throwing on my swimsuit, checking out, and storing my bag, I embarked on the nearly hour long combined walk and metro ride to the beach from my hostel. You see Valencia is a rather large sprawling city, and just to get to the correct metro one station I had to walk about 15 minutes. I had to take two metro lines to get to the beach after that, but when I finally had the beach in view I was soo thrilled!! This was one of the widest beaches I had ever seen, with a sandy coast stretching around as far as the eye could see! After finding a nice beach chair with a sun umbrella to sit under, I began the serious sunscreen application process. On this day it was probably 90 degrees Fahrenheit but with a slight breeze to alleviate the almost baking feeling from the sand. I spent the duration of the afternoon there socking in rays, waves, and collecting seashells.

At around 4 p.m. I packed up my things, and took a bus back to my hostel to collect my bag and freshen up. Let me tell you, even though I was not laying in the sand, there was sand legitimately all over me! With my train leaving around 7 p.m. to return to Madrid, I ate dinner and took a bus back to the train station. My evening ended on a high note as at one of the bus stops I noticed what seemed like the division of the heavens. On one end of the horizon was the tip of the last sun ray, and not the opposite there was a crescent moon rising up. In that instant it looked gorgeous!

 

Tips For a Great Experience

Beware that the central squares are tourist hot spots, and thus also crime hotspots! There were lots of people wandering about that were not paying attention to their purses, cameras, and packs. Just as I was exiting El Micalet Cathedral there was a commotion at the other end of the square, and I believe that someones bag was snatched and the thief pursued. So you never know, and as I state in my post Be Smart, Vigilant & Observant, it is better to be safe than sorry!

When I went to the beach it was super duper hot, and I wish that I had brought an extra bottle of water and something cold to each for lunch. I ended up buying food at the beach stand which was much more expensive than I wanted, so I’d suggest bringing some with you instead! Also, I didn’t realize that you have to pay for the beach chair and sun umbrellas as day use rentals. It was very deceiving because there were all these people using them and there were a few empty ones. So I thought that I just got lucky, but apparently every so often there is a worker who patrols the beach and charges new people for the chair and sun umbrella use. I think it was like 18 euros for one chair and one sun umbrella, which I think is outrageous, but there are no other options if you don’t have your own. Plus it is hard to sit on the sand given how hot it was!! I definitely would’ve fried my body if there wasn’t an umbrella over me because I got a solid tan just by being under the umbrella and walking around every hour haha. Just be forewarned of similar beach scenarios.

Be sure to check out my other posts for more amazing tips! Click below : )  Budgeting: Where to Stay & How to Get There                                           Plan Ahead: Do More & Worry Less                                                                       Minimize: Pack Lighter & Smarter                                                                     Be Smart, Vigilant & Observant 

 

I would say that if you love a good tropical paradise with walkable streets and sun rays, then Valencia should be on your list of destinations! I didn’t have a single hiccup while in Valencia, and it is safe to say that if you plan ahead your stay and are smart when walking around, that you wont either!!

The entrance to El Micalet Cathedral.
On top of the Torres de Serranos.
The rad architectural design on the rear side of the Torres de Serranos.

~ The Valencian Botanical Gardens ~

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