Our second stop in Spain was the city of Valencia – home to the last two America’s Cups, Moto GP and Formula 1 racing. The city has some odd dichotomies – in the very new, grand areas around the port and science park, which contrasted with some very depressed and fairly squalid areas adjacent to these shiny new areas.
None-the-less, Valencia has a lot to offer. There are several grand churches and cathedrals to be visited in the historic centre of town. The plazas here also offer a relaxed environment to sit, eat and enjoy the culture. We found some wonderful tapas cafes that provided a good and varied meal without huge expense.
In the historic area there is a large central market, which is interesting both for the variety of food on display as for the building the markets are housed in. Nearby is the old silk exchange, which has some interesting gargoyles and the very ornate ceramics museum that can be visited by prior arrangement.
In the centre of the city is the river park, which runs for 9 kilometres and provides the focus of many community activities in the city. The park sits in the bed of the old river, which was diverted many years ago because of its high pollution. The city council wanted to turn the bed into a roadway but the residents objected and insisted the strip be turned into a community park and sporting facilities – how right they were.
The river park brings the two sides of the city together rather than dividing it as a road would have done. The park (and the city itself) is a very pleasant and interesting place to walk despite the obvious neglect in some areas.