Valencia Spain, the city, culture, food and beaches

I’m recently back from Valencia Spain and I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by what I found there.

I stayed at a budget hotel located next to what is probably the biggest mall and factory outlet, Bonaire, in the entire state of Valencia. I drove to Valencia from Madrid and I have to say that the hotel where I stayed is not a good place if you don’t have a car. The hotel itself was cheap, clean and very well maintained. It had a small bar, cafeteria, free WIFI and 24 hour room service so at 33 Euros a night I couldn’t complain.

Valencia Spain itself is a mixture of old and new. The old city is stunning, the building are covered with highly ornate carvings a sculptures.

Ornate carvings Valencia Spain

Ornate carvings Valencia Spain

I was amazed at the detail of the carvings and astounded at the time and patience the stone masons must have had to create these things of true beauty.

A walk around the old town revealed wide avenues lined with palm trees, small plazas with lively cafés and restaurants.

Central Valencia Spain

Central Valencia Spain

I stopped off in one and had a paella Valenciana (well you have to really). I’d never had one before and always thought that the Valencian paella was mainly chicken and seafood. To my surprise it was rice, chicken, broad beans and liver. Sounds like an odd mix but it was very good.

Close by was a family run ice-cream shop. As a confessed ice-cream addict I had to try my favourite, pistachio. Not only did it had real pistachio chunks in it it also had candied fruit (orange, lemon and ginger) in it. Never in my life have I tasted such good ice-cream.

Clock tower Valencia Spain

Clock tower Valencia Spain

Valencia old town is  a must see.

After a day exploring old Valencia it was time to explore further afield.

I drove down to Oliva, about 90 KM south of Valencia on the coast. It’s a fairly quick drive as it’s 2 and 3 lane motor-way all the way down until you hit the Oliva exit. After exiting you have to pass through the town of Oliva (very slow on Friday afternoons) and head for the beach.

I headed out to the beach near the Oliva Nova resort. The beach did not disappoint. It was several miles long, extremely clean, not crowded and had a “chiringuito” (beach bar). The water was warm and clean, so I spent around an hour swimming and paddling around. What a great day. I also like golf so I booked a round at the Oliva Nova Resort that’s right next to the beach. It’s a beautiful course. The 19th hole was no disappointment either. There’s an all you can eat buffet in the club house restaurant for 18 Euros. The food was excellent and the price included drinks.

As mentioned before, Valencia Spain = paella, so I tried a couple of more places. One was in a seaside town called Canet d’en Berenguer. A pretty place with a long board walk and an excellent beach front restaurant called El Galeon. Aside from the paella de mariscos (seafood paella) they also had a local dish called “clochinas“. Clochinas, similar to mussels but smaller and more tender, are unique to Valencia. They are prepared by steaming them in a lemon and garlic sauce. If you’re ever in Valencia, order them because they are very good indeed.

The final port of call on the ongoing paella tasting tour brought me to El Timonel in down-town Valencia. I went there twice so you know I liked the food. The paella in this place was the best of all.

To keep the fat from building up too much I also managed to get a couple of rounds of golf in a El Bosque golf about 20 KM west of Valencia.

Beach Valencia Spain

Beach Valencia Spain

Just before leaving I went down to see an old EBC graduate, Carol Jefferies, who lives with her husband in Almoradi, Alicante. Carol graduated a couple of years ago and is now teaching locally, in Elche and via Skype to students in Russia. I spent a very lively and fun evening with Carol and her husband. The following day we went for a trip to the beach (what else!) and then, as I sometimes get homesick, we went for fish and chips in Ciudad Quesada. The place is run by an English family and the food and service are excellent. For 6.95 Euros you get seriously full plate of fish, chips and mushy (or regular) peas.

After returning from Alicante came the obligatory shopping trip to the mega-mall and factory outlet next to the hotel. The prices were very good. I managed to pick up a couple of Pierre Cardin shirts (shows his age :-)) for just under 19 Euros each.

After 10 days of sun, culture, food, beach, golf, fish and chips and refitting my wardrobe it was time to head home. Three hours later I was back in Madrid. The amazing thing was that despite all the eating, golfing, travelling, shopping, etc. my 10 day holiday cost just a bit over 600 Euros and that included the hotel.

Valencia Spain is a great place to visit and I suppose I ought to mention that they also have a need for English teachers. Outside of Madrid, Valencia Spain is a good choice for teaching English in Spain. If you like the look of Valencia Spain, take your TEFL course with us in Madrid and then we’ll help you get a job in Valencia.

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