Our second Spanish city – Valencia.
I enjoyed our short stay in Valencia. I actually wish we could have had an extra day there. One of the highlights of my entire travel experience I had here in this beautiful city.
Cathedral of Saint Maria of Valencia
No trip to Valencia is complete without trying the famous Horchata and Fartons. Horchateria El Siglo has been around since 1836. I tried the Horchata in Barcelona, and it doesn’t come close to the one I had here. However, you either love it or you don’t. I happen to love it. Horchata is made of tigernuts, which like peanuts, are not nuts! Horchata made with tigernuts is called Horchata de chufa. The youtiao looking pastry is called a Farton. Also similarly to youtiao, you dip them into Horchata. We just had it on its on, and oh my god, this is probably one of the best things I’ve eaten ever! So soft, so sweet. The perfect pastry.
Horchata El Siglo – Address: Plaza de Santa Catalina, 11, 46001 Valencia, Spain
Valencia’s narrowest house
The back streets of Valencia
One of the nicest markets I’ve visited so far. Mercat Central (or Mercado Central). It is one of the oldest in all of Europe. Stalls sell everything from fresh produce, meat, cooked food and souvenirs too.
Wasn’t expecting to see this.
Fruit lovers’ heaven! Yummy, fresh and plump figs and a wide variety of fruits.
Tigernuts that are used to make Horchata
We had cheap and relatively good paella and my favourite Bocadillo with Spanish tortilla just outside the market.
The aquarium in Valencia is famous, more so for its architecture than for its marine wildlife (in my opinion). It is, however, huge! We visited Oceanogràfic and the City of Arts & Science. However, we only had the time to go into Oceanogràfic. I don’t recall it being cheap, but I quite enjoyed myself because we watched the dolphin show! Amazing dolphin show, except that it was all in Spanish. Ich spreche kein Spanisch!
After Oceanogràfic, we headed to the beach, where, apparently, there is excellent Valencian paella. Paella originates from Valencia, so make sure you don’t leave Valencia without having your fill of the authentic stuff.
Honestly though, I still find the paella which my friend from Valencia cooked for me back in Singapore the best I’ve ever had. This didn’t even come close, although I must say, it sure beats the ones we had in Barcelona.
As luck would have it, we were in Valencia when they hold the famous, annual tomato-throwing festival – La Tomatina. We didn’t have tickets and we heard that they recently passed a regulation on the maximum number of participants that could attend the festival. However, we decided to take our chances and took the train at about 6am to Buñol, the small town where it is held every last Wednesday of August. I had already known when we were planning our trip that we would be there, but I never expected that we would attend it! But I’m glad we took that train down to Buñol! It was an amazing experience. Yes, it rained in the first time in 8 years during the festival, I used the most filthy, disgusting public toilet ever, we were soaked in acidic tomato juice, sometimes hit hard with uncrushed tomatoes (hey, please crush before throwing), and we were freezing our asses off. But it was sooooooo worth it! I would go for again, this time armed with a Go Pro.
As we were busy throwing tomatoes at random strangers, we met Bing Chia, DJ’s friend and if not for him, we would not have this amazing photo! Proof we were at La Tomatina 2013!
Credits to Bing Chia. Thank you 🙂
When the festival ends, there’s lots of partying going on. Kind locals hose you down from their balconies, but trust me, you WILL find some tomato stuck in your ears for days. And the sour smell of tomato gets stuck in your hair too, even after multiple washes. It was pretty unhygienic actually. Some people scoop the squashed tomatoes and its juices from the ground and just pour them over your heads. But, it’s all for the name of fun, so don’t get pissed off. Also, goggles may seem like a good idea, until someone throws a tomato so hard at you, it hits your goggles and it cuts you on the nose. True story. Ear plugs, however, are a better option.
Safe to say, I didn’t have tomatoes for a long time after.
Absolutely exhausted after the whole event, we headed back on a train packed like sardines in tomato paste We took a shower and napped for a bit before heading out for dinner and to meet with Bing Chia again for some paella, the best churros I had in Spain and also for my last horchata.
Churros with hot chocolate at Valor Chocolates. They have amazing hot chocolate! I prefer the churros here because I don’t like them too hard and crunchy, but I know people who do. These are made fresh for you when you order, and the chocolate is served steaming hot. So damn good in that rainy weather. Valor is in all major cities in Spain. Find them! You won’t regret it! Website here.
As I said, I wished we had an extra day there. We were so tired after La Tomatina, we didn’t go to the cathedral to see the Holy Grail. I really did like Valencia, more so than I enjoyed my time in Barcelona! I guess I prefer the less crowded, less touristy cities. They have their charm.
Next stop, Madrid.