At first blush, our time in Valencia paled in comparison to our other stops. We had elected not to take a shore excursion here, because it seemed the primary attractions, in the Old Quarter, were easily reached. And we were right.
We jumped on a cruise port bus that took us to the Old Town for $16 each – probably a bit of a rip-off, but we like knowing how we’re getting where we’re going, and, most importantly, getting back to the ship afterwards. It’s worth a little extra (well, sometimes a lot extra) to know we’ll make sail away at every port!
The bus passed the interesting-looking City of Arts and Sciences – arborateum (L’Umbracle), museum (El Museu de les Ciencies Principe Felipe) and aquarium (L’Oceanografic). The architecture was amazing! We looked our fill through the windows of the bus, dreaming of a later trip that might also include a visit to one, or all of them (there are six distinct structures). We were also very interested to see the park that has been made of the dry Turia riverbed … it’s very neat to see football pitches, playgrounds and greenery where there was once water.
When we got to the Old Town, we walked across the Puente de Serranos bridge to the unmistakable entrance … the Torres de Serranos, two imposing medieval towers connected to make an arched walkway into the ancient area.
Sadly, it was a Sunday, so many of the cafes and shops in the area were closed, but we ambled along, eventually ending up (with many others) in the Plaza de la Virgen where there was a dancing exhibition … wonderful! We watched as, first, children and then adults cavorted on the stage. It was really a fun and unexpected experience.
We walked around more and found the Plaza de la Reina (beautiful!), the Mercado Central and lots of churches (the Valencia Cathedral supposedly houses the Holy Grail!). Some of the shops were actually open so we had a little fun looking around those, as well. One of my highlights was stopping in a Costa Coffee for some cappuccino and wi-fi!
We tried to find the Fallas Museum, but seemed to be directionally challenged, so we just gave it up and strolled around the lovely old streets. On our way back to the bus, we climbed the Torres de Serranos – very scary steps and (almost) ladders, but an amazing view of the Old Town.
It was a nibble of a place that could certainly be a full-course meal. Hopefully we’ll have the chance to go back another time and explore further. I would like to make it to the Albufera natural park sometime, too, and the beach there. It would be easy to spend a few days there wandering, snacking, and drinking coffee!
Next up: Cartagena!