We departed Barcelona on August 29th on the way to a wedding of a dear friend in Ubeda on September 3rd. Having never been to Valencia, we decided to take the opportunity to see Spain’s 3rd largest city. After an easy train ride, we arrived at our flat in the old town. Karen and Cassius headed to the beach to enjoy the coast while Jackson and I went to El Corte Ingles to find a suit for the upcoming wedding. Let me just say that my first selection was deemed “Americano” with a degree of disappointment by the man helping me. The people at the store reminded me that I was attending a wedding in Spain, and not just Spain…but Andalusia. A “very special special place” they said. I needed something more colorful, contoured, and modern. I must admit that the suit was more form fitting than I am used to, almost as if it was painted on, but the employees were confident this was unquestionably the right call. So I inhaled and followed their lead.
With only 3 days in Valencia, we wanted to make good use of our time and found there was plenty to do. The old town is lovely, with gracious squares and fountains and a wonderful cathedral. But the real highlight for all of us was the Central Market. It sits inside a beautiful, cavernous building that pours with light and is filled with vendors selling everything imaginable. Karen couldn’t get enough of all the fresh fruits and vegetables, while Cassius and Jackson were won over by the array of delicious breads that line the aisles. It was the kind of place where you could spend hours and we enjoyed strolling and sampling what the market had to offer. Valencia is also particularly famous for their Paella, and it was spectacular. To be fair, we were quite taken with Valencia. It is full of charm and vivacity, and we were happy to take it in along their most ancient alleyways and streets.
At the same time, Valencia is a monstrously modern city. Almost futuristic in some parts of town. No part of their footprint illustrates this quite like the incredible Aquarium, Science Center, and the Hemispheric, which make up the City of Arts and Sciences. And it almost is like a city unto itself. The fingerprints of great, modern architects like Calatrava are ever present, and the museums are spectacular in both visual splendor and quality of experience. We spent an entire day with mouths agape, and we left shaking our heads wondering if we had ever seen anything comparable in the US. We didn’t think we had. It’s pretty remarkable.