The Spanish Language Blog

Upon arrival early in the morning at Valencia airport, I can't wait to start my day with a freshly pressed zumo de naranja á la Valencia.

First we dropped our suitcases at our hostal Venecia, which is located in the city center, and then we quickly went into town. From the airport you can easily take the subway to the center of Valencia. So we do the same. The subway takes us straight to our hostal. This hostal is located at Plaza Ayuntamiento from where you can easily walk to the other two squares of Valencia (Plaza de la Reina and Plaza de la Virgen). In the square, the pole with the temperature gauge indicates 34 degrees Celsius. Fortunately, there is a constant wind blowing through Valencia, so it is perfectly bearable. Valencia is the 3rd largest city in Spain, but this doesn't feel like it at all. It is a quiet center with not too much traffic, where you can enjoy wandering through the many narrow streets.

With such a vitamin C bomb comes a nice breakfast. As we walk towards the first square we see that you can sit on the terrace of Horchatería El Siglo in the sun. This is definitely the place where we want to have breakfast and catch the first rays of the Spanish sun. On the menu is horchata de chufa (almond drink). According to the camarero, this is something typically Valencian you must have tried. You drink this local thirst quencher ice cold and eat fartons (stems of croissant dough) with it. The waiter manages to seduce me anyway so, in addition to the zumo de naranja, I order the horchata with fartons. The horchata tastes like a slightly sweet milky drink and is wonderfully refreshing. The combination with the fartons completes it! In short, the first step to a good and especially healthy day has been taken.

To get a good idea of Valencia, we are going to explore the city “all Dutch” by bike. You can rent bikes everywhere, but we rent them at Solution bike rental at a competitive price on the recommendation of our hostal. Very nice is to cycle through the 10 kilometer(!) long city park Jardines del Turia in the old river bed of the Turia. This park runs right through the city like a green strip. I have never seen such a versatile park with various playgrounds, work-out machines, playing fields and beautiful picnic areas! If only we had such a park in the Netherlands. After an active bike ride through the city and the park, our stomachs start to growling again and we look for a restaurant where locals enjoy the almuerzo. We plop down at restaurant Taberna Española Pasodoble. Like the Valencianos do, we order the daily menu.

This is a complete 3-course menu for about 10.00 euros. Very tasty and a cheap solution that can fill you up well. What you must have tasted when you are in Valencia is the paella! This cocina tipica de Valencia, you can eat it everywhere in Valencia. Just outside Valencia, in Albufera, you can visit the rice fields. We decide to eat paella on the beach of Valencia in the evening. It is also easy to reach by metro from the center. We were told that restaurant La Pepica is the most famous paella restaurant, but that L´estimat serves the most delicious paella and where you sit among the Valencianos. So that is the very best tip: eat where the locals are sitting. We end the evening at the Café de las Horas with Valencia's most famous cocktail “Agua de Valencia”. The alcoholic version of Valencian oranges;) mixed with cava (Spanish champagne) and cointreau.

Before we return home, I quickly buy something for the home front at Mercado Central in the morning. This market with its food stalls of fresh vegetables, fruit, fish and meat makes your mouth water. This is also where all the restaurants in Valencia get their fresh produce. On the side of the Mercado Central I quickly buy paella rice and a paella pan so I can try to make the real paella a la Valencia at home.

Valencia, with some 1,500 restaurants, is a delight for culinary lovers. It is a versatile city where you can fully enjoy Spanish life in all its facets. I will definitely come back here!

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