So, here I am in sunny Valencia. Well, actually not too sunny but perfect sightseeing weather. I knew it was going to be a busy few days so I tried to plan it carefully in advance which is frankly not my style! I remember why I prefer to be more spontaneous when a couple of glitches occurred to my plans. Firstly, the wheels of my brand new case broke (Steve, buy cheap buy twicem as the Swedes say!) but secondly I broke my glasses and I could not find my spare pair. So whilst I had great plans for tourist buses and a tour to the City of Arts and Sciences, I ended up combing the shopping streets for opticians and sitting in internet cafes because I just could not see the text on my smartphone! No worries, I’ll probably add an extra day to my stay here in Valencia.
The real “challenge” was that my host had decided it was going to be a leisurely breakfast and a walking tour of the Ciutat Vella (Old Town). My thoughts were on the Paterna versus CD Torrevieja football game but I did not want to upset my host so did not mention it until the evening. Anyway, it was the right decision because we had a fantastic day …..and CD Torrevieja could only draw!
I am not a great one for describing exhibitions, museums etc in minute details. You will find your favourite. I enjoyed, of course, the outdoor stamp and coin market which is held outside La Lonja on Sundays. An old vendor had a good collection of Scandinavian stamps and covers. We had an interesting conversation despite his best attempt to get me to understand his valenciano! I also went into La Lonja for the first time in years and was impressed – it’s got an audio-visual presentation and there is a good overview of the Golden Age of Valencia.
To me the absolute highlight of the tour was coming across the Corpus Museum – “Casa de les roques – The House of the Rocks”. It’s got nothing to do with rocks and stones but rather the history of the Corpus Christi celebrations which went on for over 600 years until 2005. I had never heard of this museum and it was an absolute joy to discover. I am not “religious” but rather an agnostic in the true sense of the word but I have long had a fascination with the Semana Santa in Spain and I can see me getting very interested in these celebrations too.
I also caught up with Graham Hunt, a long-time friend and a professional estate agent in Valencia. We walked to a couple of conversions near the Plaza de la Reina and it’s clear that great things are being done in the city centre. In fact, much of the Old Town reminds me of the centre of Málaga in the way it is being refurbished and reformed. Quite charming! In fact EL Carmen could be Málaga’s Soho very easily. I’ll be meeting up with Graham again before I go as he has a couple of investment opportunities that sound very interesting. (Read “potentially lucrative”)
….and then, in the spirit of serendipity loved by travellers and hated by tourists another friend Riki Wigley advised me that La Mostra de Vins i Aliments finishes today. So, not only a coffee with Riki but also a chance to eat the finest foods that the Valencian Community can offer and their finest wines. Only one teeeeeeeeny problem. I am TT and have a staple diet of pizza. Hope they have water and 4 Cheeses. Seriously, a great piece of fortune and he has offered to get me a couple of interviews with his suppliers. More tomorrow.
My accommodation has been great – as good as I have had in the whole tour. I am staying at Valencia Flats just next to the City of Arts and Sciences. It’s a fantastic location and I strolled back there via the Jardín del Túria. (More of the gardens anon). The room is large (could sleep 4) and absolutely spotless. The bed linen is also remarkable for somewhere at this price point. It’s 5* hotel quality! The staff were quite charming and helped with the poorly suitcase! Everybody seemed to speak English fluently so I slipped into my native tongue a few times!