Feb 282013

Walking in ValenciaWalking in Valencia

Yesterday we decided to take a trip to the beautiful city of Valencia to have a walk around the streets and of course to pick up some useful literature from the tourist information office for our guests to use in the coming season. Also on the agenda was to have a look at the famous indoor food and produce market – known as the Central Market or Mercado Central – to see where many of the hotels and restaurants in the city obtain their produce.

Valencia is so easy to visit from our area, and the best option is to drive to Xeraco station – one stop up the line, where there is plenty of free parking – and go by train. A leisurely journey through orange groves and rice fields brings you right into the heart of the city to the central station (confusingly called Valencia Nord!), which is perfectly located for exploring the historic centre of the town – all directly ahead of you as you leave the station. It was not the warmest of days to go walking in Valencia (but it is February after all!), so our first mission was to make our way towards the cathedral and find a nearby coffee shop. Next stop was the tourist information office in Plaza de la Reina, where the helpful staff were happy to supply us with street maps, pamphlets and lots of general literature about the city that would prove useful to any of our guests planning a visit there.

After that we made our way back towards the indoor market in time to have a good look round – not only at the wonderful array of beautifully displayed fresh produce, but also at the exterior of a building that would be an attraction to visit in its own right. The stalls are laid out in wide aisles with plenty of space so there is no crowding, and the range of fresh food that is available is truly amazing – not only for the choice on offer, but also because of the many unusual varieties of fruit and vegetables only rarely seen in conventional shops. There are extensive meat and fish areas too, and the different sections of produce are allocated different areas of the building. It is not a fair comparison to think of this in the same way as a small town market, as the prices here are certainly not as cheap – but the quality and range of what is on offer is in a different league altogether. This is a gourmet market aimed at the truly discerning individual customer, and of course at the hotel and restaurant industry to be found in the city.

Seeing all that food had given us an appetite, so we then set off in search of a local restaurant for a typical lunch – a Menu del Dia. This nearly always represents excellent value for money, and the concept is that you have a three course lunch, with bread and a drink included, at an all inclusive – and usually very reasonable – price. Restaurants normally display the menu outside on a pavement board or similar, which shows the choices available for each course and the price you are charged for the whole thing – no unexpected extras are ever added on to the bill … what you see is what you pay! And even in the more commercialised areas of Valencia you can easily eat like this for anything upwards of €8 per person – not something you will find in many other European countries!

Since our restaurant was located conveniently close to the station it was only a short walk to catch our train home again, after what had been a very pleasant and impromptu visit to this beautiful city. The train departed on time as always, and soon we were back home after a thoroughly enjoyable and worthwhile day out. And now we can tell our visitors with first-hand knowledge about yet another attraction they should visit in an altogether lovely city!