Valencia, the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Besides being known as the city that hosts the world-class sporting events, such as football and Formula One Grand Prix, the city also saves the allure that may not often revealed. Split the River Turia, a city located in the east of the Iberian Peninsula, overlooking the Mediterranean bay is also known as a summer destination, cruise, and the city transit to get to the island is famous for its wild party, Ibiza.
Upbeat rhythmic dance music in Spanish, fulfilling a taxi which took me from the hotel to the city center. Holding the steering wheel, the driver hummed a song she turn on the video format of its smartphones. The taxi driver is handsome, the typical average Spanish man I have met. In contrast to most men of other European cities, Valencia men tend to be dark-skinned rather white, with curly hair and beard. Face of Mediterranean specialties.
My introduction to the Valencia starting from Plaza del Ayuntamiento, the largest city square, which is located right in front of city hall. “Valencia is a city that is awarded to the retired fighter, who has fought against the rebels Iberian, as a resting place. This town has been around since 138 BC, “said Alejandro, a guide who accompanied me explore the old town area of 169 hectares stretching it.
Ayuntamiento corner in this very busy. Fro locals mixed group of tourists cornucopia filled the pedestrian. Even so, I do not see the rush when walking, as is commonly seen in big cities during rush hour, the pursuit of time to get to the office. According to Alejandro, in addition to regional tourist center, this place is also a meeting point of the Valenciana.
Buildings on both sides of the road an average of medieval origin, with renaissance and gothic architecture, making the eyes do not stop admiring every detail is magnificent. Starting from the post office, an old cinema that plays classic films, up to the hotel.
Alejandro invited us to stop in traditional markets, Mercado Central, with its symbol doves. The building of the 8th century it became a trading center of fresh vegetables, fish, meats, various cheeses, olive oil, and wine. Mostly from local products. Valencia is one of the producers of fresh vegetables, namely from Albufera region. Seeing the diverse types of vegetables, among other things, the new shape I see here.
Alejandro treated me drink horchata, a kind of milk from chufa nuts. Plants that grow in Egypt is one of assimilation culinary tradition introduced by the Arabs. Usually eaten with fartons polo (a kind of large-sized éclair but) that tastes sweet, and then dipped in horchata.
One of the important relics that illustrate the ‘property’ of history of this city is building the Cathedral of Valencia. From the outside, the building looks like a terracotta-colored castle. Built in the 13th century, this place was once a temple in the Roman period, then became a cathedral.
Decorated with diverse architecture gothic, renaissance, baroque, neoclassic– illustrates how rich the history of Valencia. High pillars are Roman relics. It is said that the original trophy holy grail (the cup that Jesus used during the last supper) are stored here.
In the 8th century, as Medina bu-Tarab (City of Joy) or also called Balansiyya. The legacy that can still be found today include irrigation systems, culinary, to architecture greatly affects every city buildings, including decorating the pillars and geometric dome in the cathedral.
In medieval times, Valencia is a city of rich and highly developed trade. This is evident from the building dedicated as a meeting place for merchants, La Lotja de la Seda. I am amazed at the complexity of the spiral-shaped pillars, as high as 17 meters. Formerly, the traders who come from other cities, invited and hosted here. To impress them, rulers built this place as beautiful and expensive as possible with the dominant element of gold so that they are willing to invest in Valencia.
That period was touted as the city’s golden age. Its strategic location makes the Port of Valencia is quite advanced by the trade paper, silk, leather, ceramics, glass, silver up. In this same building, there is a courtroom for traders in arrears or act fraudulently.
Just behind the cathedral, the Plaza de la Virgen, Ale took me to watch the ceremony Water Court. Leaders across the Valencia region gathered to discuss about watering and irrigation. This discussion takes place every Thursday. It is a tradition that is still practiced today. Perhaps now the discussion is no longer done, just seremoninya still preserved. The irrigation system used in this city is also the traditional heritage of civilization.
In the square, hundreds of people had gathered await the seconds water court, since half an hour earlier. They are willing to stand long in the sun, while seremoninya only lasts for a few minutes. Me who gets to stand right behind the discussion, out of curiosity, that capture the moment on video. The ceremony was declared as an intangible cultural heritage of humanity (Patrimonio Cultural de la Humanidad Inmaterial).
One of the unique Valencia is a garden that unfolds divides the city in the former Turia River. The river is now no longer exists. This is because, in 1950, was once a great flood in the city. The government took the decision to divert the river to the southern outskirts of the city, and conjure former wide stream into the park.
Imagine, a former river stretches over 280 km. An area that has now become the park and city forest called Jardín del Turia. Modern buildings with a design that is futuristic yet constructed occupy this park, among others Bioparc, Oceanografic, museum of arts and sciences (Ciudad de les Artes Y Las Ciencias), opera and theater (Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia), Science Museum Principe Felipe , imax movie theater, exhibition hall (Hemisferic), garden gallery (Umbracle), and others. The building with the dominant element of this glass became the new icon of the modern Valencia.
The place is also home to the Valencian sports activities. Starting from jogging, running, biking, or simply walking enjoying the green city. Not surprisingly, many who call this city as a city with many bridges without water. When I walk through this park at night, in between the buildings of glass fluorescent lights, I felt carried to the middle of nowhere.
Another uniqueness is the city of Valencia oranges smelled fragrant and fresh. If normally in Indonesia I just see the orange tree plantation, here dotted around the city lined with orange trees when I’m here in the middle of the fruitful November–. –or Orange tree in Spanish naranjas– like ornaments of junk, either in public places, along roads, in gardens heritage building complexes, as well as in the private grounds of local residents. That said, the orange trees was popularized by the Arabs in the 1300s. Although some say, the era before the orange trees are mostly found in cities in Spain. No wonder if Valencia is one of the largest citrus-producing city in Spain.
The fruits are large and brightly colored tempt me to pick them. However, I failed to do because of its height unattainable. According to local residents, although anyone is free picking, residents were interested in harvesting. Usually, only the tourists who are tempted to pluck and taste.
Once a year, the local government hired private firms to harvest the oranges are to be processed into orange marmalade jam and other processed foods. In the local culinary, oranges (and also lemon) indeed occupies an important position, as well as tomatoes and olive oil.
In one cafe that I frequent for example, I got a treat typical drink Agua de Valencia. Although the name agua, this drink is actually a cocktail made of a mixture of orange juice, sparkling wine, and mixed liquor. It feels … sweet, fresh, and bite! Unfortunately, should not drink too much.
Owner Café de Las Horas one place Agua de Valencia presenting the best in town this– welcomed me graciously. “The cafe is designed as a classic cafe, a blend of French-style cafes, tearooms typical British and American style cocktail drinking places,” said Marc, who designed the café with neo-baroque style, with red dominant color.
Valencia is a city beach. In summer, the beaches are only 15 minutes from the city center crowded by humans. Playa de la Malvarrosa and Playa de Las Arenas are two of the most popular beaches, as it has a very wide promenade and a row of eating places that pamper.
Valencia is to boost tourism through beach, with one of them to host the America’s Cup, the international sailing race. The government poured funds to build the club and dressing port. Cruise and yachts were coming to this city.
From the Port of Valencia there is a ferry that can take you to Ibiza, a small island known as the center of world celebrities’ nightclub destination. It took 3-5 hours to cross by ferry. Or, just 50 minutes flying. Unfortunately, Ibiza is only busy during the summer.
Paella is a Spanish food pride, coming from Valencia. This culinary introduced by the Arabs, who began rice farming in Valencia, in the 8th century. The name comes from the name paella special griddle used for cooking paella. Formerly, traditional paella cooked using wood-burning stoves.
One interesting experience was when I had the opportunity to learn to cook authentic paella in a restaurant which gives packages paella cooking courses, Escuela de Arroces Y Paella Valenciana in Calle Juristas. Under the direction of chef Benito, the group, consisting of three people, get a complete cooking equipment with the ingredients.
These materials include chicken, rabbit meat, shellfish, tomatoes, beans (garrofo-nut whose skin is white, tavella-sort beans, ferradurra-a sort of pea), saffron, rosemarry, paprika powder, and salt. Each material is inserted one by one into the pan. Once cooked fried chicken, and set aside. Besides laid in cooking, also placed in the ear rosemarry skillet so that smelled strong.
Before the rice is inserted, a frying pan that has been given 1 liter of water left out for 30 minutes so that the flavors to infuse into the broth. While waiting, we sat at the table, enjoying a drink, appetizer, while chatting with friends at the table.
After 30 minutes, we were called back to the kitchen. Seasoning split into two, turn the rice that is inserted into the middle. After that, the chef does not allow us to touch the rice in the slightest. While waiting, Nacho translators our cooking courses, playing music. He said that every year the citizens of Valencia hold a festival to cook paella, and they play the music. Then he demonstrated how the locals cook while partying. He invites us hand in hand, while humming a tare governance tat … to the music, and shook his foot, as if it was the custom when cooking paella Valencian. Obviously, when we cook with joy.
Meal time (either lunch or dinner) is a very pleasant moment here. In addition to the school paella, I enjoyed lunch at a casino the only one in the city. If normally in Jakarta and I had lunch at the latest at 12.00, then here’s a new lunch habits started at 14.00. Spot cannot be for a while, because the dishes came out one by one. The dish usually consists of three kinds of appetizers, among them the Valencian tomato with dried tuna, Russian salad, and fried calamari with sauce alioli (a kind of typical Spanish mayonnaise made from a mixture of eggs, garlic, and olive oil). His main course, arroz del Senoret (sort of paella with seafood ingredients), and dessert pudding flavored coffee. As a result, it took over 2 hours to finish all the food. From the very hungry, the stomach was immediately stuffed.
At that hour, also known as siesta time. At the weekend, the siesta is nap time. On weekdays, of course not possible to take a nap. Siesta interpreted as a break. Starting from 14.00, the workers returned to the office after 16:00 until the average working hours ended at 18:00 or 19:00. Another for the employees of a government office or a bank. They do not get siesta time, but they can leave the office at 15:00.
Because the afternoon had just finished lunch, it’s no wonder hour dinner was fairly late, which began at 21:00. Forced, eat my biological clock was adjusting hours of eating here. Again, with the first appetizer order, until dessert, plus a cocktail or a glass of sangria, a new dinner after midnight. Indeed, the day lasted too long in Valencia.
Tip Vacationing at Valencia:
- City Tour Valencia could use the bikes rented on a few dedicated bike parking. Rent 1 hour only 1 euro for each multiple of the next hour pays 3 euros.
- There are dozens of restaurants in the city center that provides cooking course paella. Paella cooking course fee of about 60 euros per person.
- The time for the festive partying in Valencia is during the summer. Or, come in mid-March, when the holding Fallas Festival, the festival lasted five days, when all the locals out of the house, making hundreds of giant statue of paper and burn it. This festival marks the arrival of spring.
- Do not miss a visit to Albufera Park, the largest national park in Europe. Beautiful lake, rice paddies and subtropical forest into the right destination for a romantic getaway. The distance is only 15 minutes by bus or car from downtown.