“All journeys have secret destinations that the traveler is unaware.”
~ Martin Bulber
Wow, our time in Barcelona was wonderful. Such a beautiful vibrant city with so much to offer. But our tour needed to continue to Valencia. We needed to continue exploring the sights and culture of Valencia. It was about a 4 hour and 30-minute drive since we opted to take the scenic route, but, it took us a little over 5 hours to reach Valencia. One must stop to enjoy the surroundings.
We stayed at the Hotel Europa in Calle Ribera 4. It was a small hotel with an old and squeaky elevator. The room decor was outdated (like the 70’s probably). However, I liked that it was very clean. The service was good, and the price was unbeatable – about 28€. Its location was in a pedestrian-only street, great location. As of now, the hotel is permanently closed.
Driving through San Subirats, we caught a glimpse of what looked like a grape vineyard which seemed abandoned. The view was so relaxing, and it was such a beautiful day that we couldn’t help but stop to take a self-image using the grape vines as our background before continuing to Tarragona.
We took a small detour when we spotted a castle tower from afar. We wanted to make our way towards it but didn’t know how to get there. So, like the three Kings followed a star to Bethlehem, we followed the castle’s tower and lo and behold, we got there. The castle turned out to be an old Romanesque style church. The Parroquia Sant Juliá de l’Arboc, on Carrer Mayor 9, L’Arboc in Tarragona. Its construction began in 1630 and was finalized in 1650.
Another structure that caught our attention was La Giralda de l’Arboc, which looks more like a church than the Sant Julia Parroquia. La Giralda was a summer home for a newlywed couple that used as inspiration the Arab architecture present in Andalusia to build it. Located on Avenida Jacint Verdaguer 35 de l’Arboc, it is now a tourist attraction privately owned exclusive to concerted visits for groups of 20 or more. It is a guided tour at a cost of 10€ for about an hour. We are not concerted visitors, therefore, couldn’t go on the tour, bummer.
Continuing our drive towards Valencia, we caught a glimpse of a Roman statue. It is the Romana Roda de Bará statue. It is in a roundabout in Tarragona.
As quoted by Santiago de Ignacio,
“This is Roda de Bará in Tarragona. Formerly Tarraco and port of access of the Roman ships to Hispania. These are modern works by the sculptor Bei Pérez, who died in 2017. With these sculptures, he tried to unite the present town with the Roman culture that settled there. In Spanish, the town is called Roda de Barà. It has important sites from Roman times such as the famous Arco de Barà. But these Roman heads are from later and are placed in roundabouts in the National 340 Road.”
We continued our trip close to the coast of Torredembarra where we saw a sculpture of the Alpha & Omega in the Torredembarra Beach, about 262 feet offshore. The structure was made by the sculptor Rafael Bartolozzi and inaugurated in 1999 to commemorate the 20 years of democratic city councils. It was also part of UNESCO’s Art Route which entails a journey of sculptures in the Andes and various Latin American countries. These mark the beginning and the end with different reproductions. I just learned that the sculpture was taken down on, Thursday, June 14, 2018, due to the corrosion and deterioration of the sea. Will it be replaced? I don’t know.
We arrived in Valencia precisely on the Day of the Valencian Community parade which is held every year on October 9th and is a local public holiday. It marks the anniversary of King James I of Aragon’s capture of the city of Valencia from Moorish forces in 1238. It was hard to get around as most of the town streets were closed and our hotel was located right in the center of the town. After circling the area for the third time, we spoke with an officer to see if he would allow us to park in one of the blocked streets. He was very polite and moved the barricade allowing us to park and gave us some pointers on what to do and not do in Valencia.
Once parked, we had to haul our luggage to the hotel. By this time, the parade was about to begin and the main route where they would go through was completely blocked, even for pedestrians. So, we had to wait until the parade went through for us to continue toward the hotel. But it was nice to experience Valencia’s culture and traditions. There were bands playing and people dressed as camels and in Medieval costumes. After the parade, the festivities began.
It was getting late and we didn’t want to leave Valencia without visiting its top landmark, City of Arts and Sciences, on Av. del Professor López Piñero, 7, in Valencia. It is composed of five modern architectural buildings – an Opera house and performing arts center; Imax Cinema; Planetarium and Laserium; science museum and an open-air aquarium. The surroundings are beautifully landscaped and had restaurants and a bar. The architecture is very impressive and spectacular.
One of our meals was at the Restaurant Cal Min on Avenida Barcelona. It is family owned and operated, and the staff was very polite. We stopped here for breakfast and were not disappointed. It was a large breakfast for about 10€. If you’re ever in the area I suggest you stop here.
We could not leave Valencia without eating a paella Valenciana of course! We had dinner at a restaurant across from the hotel – well we had dinner on the pedestrian walkway which was lined up with tables, chairs, and umbrellas from different restaurants. The paella came from Baldo on Calle Ribera 10. Since our lunch was basically snacks which we had picked out at the gas stations, we had a full dinner with appetizer, wine, and desserts at a cost of about 50€. Apparently, we chose the wrong restaurant because the paella was not that great, but the atmosphere was wonderful!
Our time in Valencia was short. We took in as much as we could in such a short time. Valencia is a beautiful city so full of life. I enjoyed every step we took there – even hauling our luggage through a parade and crowds of people. Valencia is a place I could see myself living in.
Do you have any Valencia stories to share?