Saturday, April 11, 2015

Charmed by Valencia

You've done it again, Spain.


Valencia had been on my Spain Bucket List for over a year, so once I finally booked my weekend getaway to the east coast of Spain, I had developed some pretty high expectations. 

So in this delightfully diverse country with hidden gems in every corner, do you think I was disappointed?

Of course not.


First, let's talk about the cuisine. The region of Valencia is home to Spain's most famous dish, paella. This tasty concoction of rice, vegetables, meat, seafood and saffron can be absolutely heavenly when done right. Unfortunately, bad paella can be found near tourist traps far and wide throughout Spain. (Rule of thumb: if there's a picture of paella in the restaurant's window, don't eat there.) 

However, if you do your research, Valencia can be a paella lover's dream. We indulged on the vegetable paella at La Pepica, an old haunt of Hemingway's. At this traditional, airy restaurant by the sea, I could almost picture good ol' Ernest himself declaring what a fine place it was. We enjoyed our exquisite pan of paella alongside some mussels and local white wine, rendering it the perfect meal.


And what better way to wash down some savory paella than with a pitcher of Agua de Valencia? A blend of freshly squeezed orange juice, Cava (Spain's version of champagne) vodka and gin, this upgraded mimosa just might be my new favorite cocktail.

Not to mention, there's also the Mercat Central de Valencia, which unquestionably makes my list of all-time favorite food markets in Europe.


I timed my trip to coincide with the first weekend of Valencia's Las Fallas festival, which is held every year from March 15th - 19th. Appropriately named "the fires", Las Fallas is a colorful fiesta filled with larger than life paper mâché statues that mock political and cultural issues, gunpowder shows in the middle of the day, and a lifetime's worth of pyrotechnics. On the last night of the festival, the city is set ablaze as the satirical paper mâché figures called ninots (meaning "puppets" or "dolls") are burnt to the ground. 


Despite only being in Valencia for a full day and a half, I found the city to be completely enchanting. I'm already aching to go back and spend more time exploring the city. (And drink more Agua de Valencia, obviously.) There are still so many things that I have yet to discover, like the intriguing City of Arts and Sciences and the gorgeous, vast beaches. Moreover, I'd love to witness the Nit del Foc, the last night of Las Fallas festival where all of the ninots are set on fire.

With so many excuses to spend more time in Valencia, I sincerely hope I get the chance to go back soon and get to know this picturesque city better.


My Valencia Picks:
Where to Get Your Paella Fix: La Pepica
Must-Try Dishes: Paella, buñuelos de calabaza (pumpkin fritters), horchata, Agua de Valencia
Can't Miss Sights: Mercat Central de Valencia, City of Arts and Sciences, Catedral de Valencia
When to Go: March 15th - 19th for Las Fallas festival
Best Agua de Valencia: Café de las Horas

25 comments:

  1. Those streets are truly beautiful! And what a neat festival to visit too!

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  2. One of my first cocktails was an Aqua de Valencia. It was delicious, but I had no idea it contained anything more than orange juice and cava -- that is, until I stood up to walk back to the hotel :)

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  3. Valencia looks beautiful! I love Spain too, especially the food!

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  4. Such a charming little place! I was loving all your instagram posts. It's kind of sad to think they burn those ninots. But I bet it's awesome to watch!

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  5. Valencia seems just as beautiful as ever, given your gorgeous photos that perfectly captured its essence. I really loved the delicate/flowery/feminine atmosphere that graced the city when I was there, from the pretty Gothic cathedral to the delightful fartóns & horchata to the sweet nectar of the gods…I mean agua de Valencia ;) Take me back!!!

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  6. Those bright yellow flats are so cute! This looks like such a charming city and like there is a beautiful suprise around every corner :)

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  7. He turned to Valencia. "Baby girl, give him the house number." Valencia was shocked. She could not believe her father had been charmed by Julian so quickly.
    montanita

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  8. Beautiful photographs, as always. As a paella lover from way back I'm definitely going to have to get to Valencia soon too!

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  9. Reading your blog while planning a trip to Spain is proving difficult... I only have ten days there and am now considering trying to squeeze in Valencia too! Ahhhhh! Your photos just make it look incredible!


    theadventuresofkatiee.blogspot.co.nz

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  10. Beautiful photographs! The streets look so bright and colorful...would love to visit.

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  11. I love that architecture and the colors of those buildings. So dreamy!

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  12. So gorgeous! That photo of you is so beautiful :)

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  13. The streets there were so stunning - I could have just wandered around for days!

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  14. Haha, that Agua de Valencia will sneak up on you! Such a dangerously delicious cocktail!

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  15. Gosh, this country is a foodie's mecca! I can't get enough :)

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  16. Thanks Sarah! I feel the same way about the ninots; it's hard to imagine someone's hard work being purposely destroyed like that!

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  17. Thanks Trevor! I really loved the ambiance there too - the city kind of reminded me of a mix between Sevilla, Madrid and the smaller neighborhoods of San Francisco! So naturally I loved every minute of it :)

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  18. It's ridiculously charming! I just wish I had more time to explore more! Hopefully there will be a "next time" :)

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  19. Valencia is certainly worth a day or two, depending on what else you're trying to squeeze in! But if you're short on time, I'd definitely make Sevilla, Granada and Madrid a higher priority :) Let me know if you have any questions about planning your trip!

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  20. Thanks Laura! That is a great way to describe the city. I already want to go back!

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  21. Yes! Dreamy is the perfect way to describe it :)

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  22. Thanks Jessi! If you're a fan of paella, then you definitely need to go to Valencia!! However, my Spanish coworkers told me that some of the other towns nearby (like Alicante and Torrevieja) have better beaches and even better paella... so I'll be adding those to my Spain Bucket List as well!

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  23. There are so many things about this post that I want to say! But I'll just say that I totally agree with the paella picture rule and would even extend it to include any restaurant with such pictures! Oh, and the ninots are so beautiful, too bad they burn them.

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  24. ...So much bright, orangey vibrance--this seems like a place I would TOTALLY fall in love with, :-)...


    Hopefully, I get the chance to go next year!!...

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