Leaving Barcelona Sants station we hopped on Renfe’s Alvia train using our handy Eurail Passes with seat reservations, destined for Valencia. This route runs along the coast so on this gorgeous sunny day the views were incredibly scenic with beaches and coastline rolling by, dotted with palm trees.
In Preferente class we enjoyed spacious seats and complimentary earphones for the movie playing, welcome drink, light lunch, newspaper and tea or coffee. After arriving in Valencia’s Joaquin Sorolla station we took the free 1-minute transfer to nearby Valencia Nord to track down our hotel facing this notoriously beautiful train station.
After a whirlwind touring 6 cities so far, it was perfect timing to put our feet up and spend an afternoon at the beach. Now we’re not talking about any old beach; we’re talking about a beach in Europe, a beach in Spain, a beach by the Mediterranean Sea! So without further ado we jumped on the bus and headed for la playa – where the sand is hot and the water is refreshing.
The nice thing about traveling in Spain is that as the afternoon comes and goes, you never feel rushed to get to dinner. People eat later here, with most restaurants opening for dinner at around 9pm, so our sandy feet made their leisurely way back to our hotel before setting out to enjoy some delicious Spanish tapas and wine. Passing by Valencia’s Nord station at dusk, lit up with dark blue sky in the background, is a sight in itself and a great way to end our beach day in Valencia.
Day 2 in Valencia
We began our morning by walking over to central Valencia to tour the market (and enjoy some fresh Valencian orange juice for breakfast), track down the bell tower and peek our heads in the cathedral.
From here our sights were set on getting to the Oceanografic, the largest aquarium in Europe, and one of five modern buildings that make up the City of Arts and Sciences complex. A popular family attraction, here some 500 different species are housed by ecosystem, such as arctic penguins, tropical fish, wetland birds etc. Highlights of our visit included the underwater tunnel with sharks swimming overhead, the belugas and the dolphin show.
We saved the best for our last night in Valencia…to experience paella where it was invented. It’s said that the best paella can be found in a string of restaurants along the boardwalk with views of the ocean, so that’s where we went. It’s said that the original Valencian paella is made with chicken and rabbit, so that’s what we ordered. It’s said that authentic paella is served in the pan it was cooked in so as not to miss out on the crunchy bits around the edge, so that’s how we ate it. I’m glad we held out for paella perfection as how could you have it any other way?!
By: Angela Guezen
Photos by: Jen Crane