Tuesday, June 11, 2013

10 Jun 13 – Day 4 (Valencia)

Today we had to leave Barcelona to go to Valencia, hence we had to wake up early, eat breakfast early and leave the hotel early. So woke up at 5+pm and messaged little big sis while waiting for Kim to be done. Had breakfast at 7am and this time round dare not eat too much like the first day. Left Barcelona at 8am and my last message to little big sis didn't get send. The journey to Valencia took up the whole morning with one rest stop where I saw the paella pack that consist the pan, the seasoning, the rice and olive oil that cost €15.30. I was really tempted to buy but didn't, thinking that perhaps I might get a chance later in the trip. So just took a photo of it and then left to continue our journey into Valencia.

We got to Valencia and to the restaurant about 1:30pm. The staffs in the restaurant were still having their lunch and hence we were told to return at about 1:45pm instead. So all of us went separate ways to wander around the neighborhood to kill time. Kim and I popped into a toy shop to browse and on the way back we saw two very obedient dogs. They were waiting quietly outside the restaurant for their owners and they really sat very still. Kim and I were very impressed and even though we stood quite close to take photos, they still didn’t budge. Returned to our restaurant and we were served lunch.

Valencia is the place where the Spanish rice dish, paella, originated. So our lunch for the day was seafood paella. We were given hard bread and noodle soup first. Then the big pan of paella was brought out for us to take photos before the kitchen distributed them to us by individual portion. It tasted rather good and I was hoping that I could have second helping. The lunch ended with a piece of chocolate cake which tasted good too. Then we left the restaurant to go to the Towers of Serranos & Quart for photo stop as well as to meet up with the local guide who boarded the coach and gave us information such as history and culture of Valencia and buildings in Valencia as the coach cruised through the city. 

After that, we went on walking tour where the guide brought us to the Mercado Central, a public market in Valencia, 15 minutes before they closed for the day. As the market is big and has many exits, the local guide brought us to the middle where the central dome is and told us to meet back there in 15 minutes. So we went separate ways to explore but most of the stalls were either closed or closing. The market is something similar to the one we saw in Barcelona with many stalls selling different kind of stuff such as fruit cum juice stalls, seafood stalls, meat stalls, snack stalls and even stalls that sell food and people just sit at the bar counter to eat. Near the meeting point, there was a snack stall selling preserved fruits and nuts. Some of the group members actually went to that stall to try some of the snacks and then bought some. 

After the visit to the Mercado Central, we walked over to see the La Lonja de la Seda (The Silk Exchange) which was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1996. Saw gargoyles on top of the buildings and were told that they are used for draining purposes. Then we saw San Juan del Mercado which was nearby before being led through the small alleys passing through small restaurants, shops and so on. We were then given sometime at the Town Hall Square called Plaza de la Virgen to take photos. Over there we saw the Basilica of the Virgin of the Helpless, the Valencia Cathedral, the Little Michael Tower and the Turia Fountain. After that we were led through some small alleys again to reach another place where we saw the narrowest house in Europe before passing by Plaza Redonda. Saw some shops selling interesting stuff but we didn't have the time to look around.

Continued on, the local guide then brought us to the place where she recommended a shop for ice cream drinks and so on and told us that we could use the shop’s toilet if we patronize. Then for those of us who are energetic, the local guide recommended us to climb the Little Michael Tower. Nancee also encouraged us to climb because ASA had already paid for the admission fees. So Kim and I as well as a couple of others climb the Tower which has 200+ steps. We got to the top and were rewarded with view of the Valencia City and cool breeze. Took photos here and there before going back down where we took another few quick shots of the interior of the Valencia Cathedral. While walking back to the meeting place, we detoured to a nearby park for a few shots and saw many orange trees. Valencia is famous for its oranges and so orange trees were aplenty. 

The coach came and brought us to Alicante where we spent the night in Holiday Inn. While the coach was leaving Valencia, we managed to catch a glimpse of the Plaza de Toros de Valencia. Reached the hotel, got connected and realized that the message that was not sent out in the morning got sent and it then dawn on me that it was 1am in Singapore. Oops. Nancee told us that there is a supermarket near the hotel and closes at 9:15pm. Dinner was provided in the hotel but the dinner time was 8:15pm. We were served hard bread with salty scrambled egg, two pieces of pork with sauce and ended with chocolate fudge crepes. I only managed to take photos of the starter and dessert. The photo on the main course was too blurry. By the time we finished dinner, it was already the time when the supermarket closes so we didn't get to go. Fortunately, I had the sense to bring my big bottle of water to the hotel room.

Thoughts: Compared to Barcelona, can feel that Valencia is slightly smaller and I find that there are more interesting things that attracted me than those in Barcelona. I like walking in the old Quarter but I think I will get lost if I were to walk alone. Too many small alleys and they look so similar. Saw the paella pans of many different sizes and was again tempted to buy but again no time. Dinner was not fantastic because I was struggling with the two pieces of pork which were very tough.

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