When we were planning our trip to Spain, a couple people told us that Valencia was way underrated, so we made sure to include it in our trip. And after going there, I agree completely. Even though it doesn’t have the big touristy sites that Barcelona and Granada have, it’s just a beautiful city. If there was anywhere we thought we could live, it was Valencia. It seemed like every time we turned a corner we came upon a quiet little plaza with flowers and a trickling fountain, or a gorgeous building with unique architecture. Even the train station was covered with murals and beautiful tiles. It’s right next to the bullring, both of which were close to our hotel.
This is the ceiling inside the post office. We didn’t have any letters to mail, but we went inside just to gawk.
The plaza outside was just as beautiful.
This little girl was having such a great time chasing the pigeons.
I should say, though, that the first morning in Valencia I woke up not feeling so great. So while I spent the morning in the bathroom or napping, Mike rented a bike from the city and explored a bit. We loved how easy it was in pretty much every city to grab a bike for the day. In the bigger cities it seemed like locals were using them to commute rather than having their own bikes and worrying about storing them or them getting stolen.
This photo cracks me up because it reminds me of what a poor decision it was to have a blue tote bag as our carryall for the trip.
Poor Mike ended up carrying it when I couldn’t anymore. Next time, we buy a neutral looking backpack or messenger bag!
Anyway, while he was out, Mike ended up scoring tickets to a soccer game, where Valencia’s smaller team happened to be playing one of the best in the world, Real Madrid. More on that later…
By the afternoon, I was feeling a lot better and ready to see Valencia. The main site to see, as in pretty much everywhere else we went, was the cathedral. It was closed when we first stopped by, so we walked around the outside a bit. This is just the side door.
As we got around to the other side we noticed these two statues that were missing their heads.
I wandered around taking more pictures and then I noticed that this old man in a beret had approached Mike and was talking to him. I thought he was trying to ask for directions in Spanish, but it turned out he was explaining the headless statues. It kills me that I didn’t get a photo of him, but I didn’t want to be intrusive. Anyway, Mike thinks he was trying to say that no one wants to talk about it, but some people were killed at that exact spot. Either the statue heads were removed because of that or they were shot off in the process. He wasn’t quite clear on what he meant. But it was chilling nonetheless.
When we finally got inside, the church was having a service. The people looked so tiny compared to the massive altarpiece.
We paid a couple of euros to climb up to the top of the bell tower and get a better view of the city. I wouldn’t say I’m terrified of heights, but every time we did one of these climbs we got squeezed into a crazy tall spiral staircase with a bunch of other people and a rickety railing to hold onto. It freaked me out a little bit. The view from the top was amazing, though.
After that we explored some more. I’m not even sure what this building was, but it was beautiful inside.
It had a courtyard inside, filled with what we first thought were lime trees. But then we realized, duh, they were orange trees and the fruit just wasn’t ripe yet.
If you pay attention, you notice orange-themed details all over town, like these door knockers holding oranges.
I thought this sign summed up Spain better than any other photo I have.
For lunch, we decided to revisit a restaurant we had passed the night before. It was right in one of those little plazas I was talking about with the trickling fountains.
It even came complete with a musician.
There was some version of this guy pretty much every time we ate out. It was cheesy, but I loved it.
In the evening we took a cab to the soccer game. We felt like we were finally out of the tourist realm. It was a little uncomfortable at first (especially since the ratio of men to women was like 80/20). But after a while it felt like any other sporting event. We were right behind a group of superfans who had the most coordinated cheers I’ve ever seen.
The funny thing was that this little Valencia team ended up tying Real Madrid 0-0, which we considered to be a victory. There were all the usual faux injuries and arguments. If you look closely you can see #7, the rockstar Rinaldo.
Valencia at night is just as beautiful as it is during the day.
We were sad to leave, but excited to see Granada, so we took a train there the next day. As I was looking out the window I noticed that there were fields and fields of orange and olive tree groves.
Just like you see corn in Iowa, you see olive trees everywhere in Spain. Honestly, I was a little disappointed by the sameness of it, like I expected European agriculture to be vastly different than ours or something. But it was funny when you did see a random cornfield here and there. It seemed like something special in comparison.
Next stop, Granada. And it’s a good one!