Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Valencia

Hello everyone,

Welcome to my blog about Valencia!

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain after Madrid and Barcelona. Valencia is also Spain's third largest metropolitan area, with a population ranging from 1.7 to 2.3 million.

After La Tomatina it was time to say goodbye to my fantastic travel buddy Chloe and hello to Miss Paige Milgate for the next month of travelling through Europe together. I had been in contact with Paige during the time I was overseas and we had figured out a rough plan of what we wanted to do and I quickly got onto booking accommodation for the cities we wanted to visit during our time together. We had four extra nights booked in a hostel called ´Home Backpackers´and after checking out of my hotel I went to meet Paige at our new home for the next four nights. Paige had a big night celebrating during the end of La Tomatina party so I waited for her to arrive in the hostel common room whilst soaking up the free wifi. When she arrived so looked pretty tired and smelt of alcohol which we both thought was pretty funny. I was so glad to see her and was exciting about travelling with and getting to know her better over the next four weeks.

We were staying in the cheapest room available which was the 12 bedroom mixed dorm option. Paige had come from staying in hotels during her time in Greece and I was a little worried about how she would feel about sharing rooms and getting into hostel life but she was totally fine. The 12 bedroom dorm had bunk beds, lockers, fans and that's about it, as usual we had to share the toilet and bathroom facilities which were also unisex.

During our four days together in Valencia we got to eat lots of yummy paella, enjoy siestas, cycle around whilst checking out the sites the city had to offer and party with the locals on a boozy pub crawl. We ate alot of Paella while we were in Valencia which I was excited about as I had heard that it had originated in Valencia and I was interested to see how good it actually was. To my pleasant surprise it lived up to it´s expectations and I loved eating the 'Paella Valencia' both cooked in a restaurant and by our in house chef at the hostel. We got lucky during Paige´s first time eating Paella as we enjoyed it with a bottle of Vino Blanco and a typically shared two person paella for 15 euro less then we should have paid, I guess the little waiter forgot to add the bottle of wine onto the bill but we weren´t going to say anything. We also enjoyed seeing how Paella was made which was demonstrated by our hostel chef using a huge pan to cook it in. We only paid six euro for a large portion of paella and a glass of sangria so we were very happy!

I decided to include a little information about Paella for those of you that may not have heard about it before....

Paella:
Paella is a Valencian rice dish that originated in its modern form in the mid-19th century near lake Albufera, a lagoon in Valencia, on the east coast of Spain. Many non-Spaniards view paella as Spain's national dish, but most Spaniards consider it to be a regional Valencian dish. Valencians, in turn, regard paella as one of their identifying symbols.

There are three widely known types of paella: Valencian paella (Spanish: paella valenciana), seafood paella (Spanish: paella de marisco) and mixed paella (Spanish: paella mixta), but there are many others as well. Valencian paella consists of white rice, green vegetables, meat (rabbit, chicken, duck), land snails, beans and seasoning. Seafood paella replaces meat and snails with seafood and omits beans and green vegetables. Mixed paella is a free-style combination of meat, seafood, vegetables, and sometimes beans. Most paella chefs use calasparra or bomba rices for this dish, other key ingredients include saffron and olive oil.

On our fifth day we decided to go on a free walking tour of Valencia which allowed us to see many of the cities sites with a large group of other travellers. We got to see the the old city walls, learn about Napoleon and many other interesting facts that flew right over my head as the tour guide filled our brains with all of historical knowledge about the city and it´s thousands of years old facts. We also got to sample a traditionally Spanish drink called 'Horchata' which  is the name of a beverage, made of ground almonds, sesame seeds, rice, barley, or tigernuts which was nice for the first couple of sips and then way too sweet to drink the whole cup. It was also brought to my attention that Valencia oranges that I eat back home are actually grown in this city which sparked a light bulb moment.

We also had a boozy night on a 12 euro a pop hostel pub crawl which included entry to five different clubs and a free drink at each included. Paige and were excited about going out together for the first time and after our daily siesta went and purchased ourselves some ´Limon´ (meaning Lemon in Spanish) Fanta, Sprite and a bottle of raspberry Absolute vodka which was extremely cheap at a grand total of 14 Euro. We did our make up and hair in the hostel bathroom whilst other backpackers tried to wash their hands around our sprawled out make up and hair utensils. After we were ready we thought we would go upstairs to the common room/kitchen to have pre-drinks and hopefully meet some new people who were also going on the pub crawl. We made friends with a girl called Bailey who was really easy to talk to and two funny guys from the Gold Coast, one being our roomate. We sat on the hostel terrace and drank away almost a whole bottle of vodka before beginning the pub crawl which was a good effort for us. After heading to a seedy 60´s bar which played songs I had never heard before, dancing crazily at a reggae club, being harassed by black guys who wanted to grind up on us all night, eating cheeseburgers from a vending machine, not making it to the last club because we were too messy and having a fun first night out together, we thought it was time to call it a night at around 4am.

I woke up with half of the cheese burger I had purchased from a vending machine on the floor next to Paige´s bed and a huge headache from the night before. Needless to say the next day was a right off and Paige and I spent all day hungover in our hostel room whilst trying to block out the noise coming from three extremely loud Dutch travellers who we were also sharing the room with. That day Paige and I used our lazy hangover day to book our flights to Menorca and Prague on ´Skyscanner´which is kind of like Europe's version of ´Webjet´. I also uploaded my photos from La Tomatina on Josh´s Apple laptop as he had the SD card reader I needed after losing my camera cord early along on my travels.  I was so sick and didn´t have anything to eat that night until Sean our roomie from the Gold Coast who was a chef working in London cooked us up a feed of chicken and vegetable stir fry. I called Dad fairly early this night as it was Father´s Day as I wanted to wish him a happy day and tell him I loved him. He said he was spending the day running the water for the Cowboys our local footy team and having lunch with our little family at Hogs Breath in Dubbo which was nice and that night I wished I could have been there to spend the day with him.

On our last day in Valencia Paige and I thought we would get up early and go and have breakfast at a restaurant near a pretty fountain in one of the main plazas. We enjoyed a full English breakfast (not typically Spanish we know) and went on a mission to find bikes to ride see the beach. We ended up finding a place called Valencia bikes which hired them out for 15 euro per day. We rode along the streets a little wobbly to begin with through the swarms of people and into a beautiful park along the river. We both weren´t too crash hot on reading maps but had been told that it would take around 40minutes to an hour to reach the beach if we followed the river. The park had lots of bike lanes which showed us the way along the river as we passed lots of cool playgrounds for kids and little fountains along the way. We rode through some beautiful pools and admired one of the famous landmarks of Valencia as we passed through the L'Oceanogr├áfic aquarium which was stunning. We ended up getting to Port Olympic after a little confusion about which way to go and walked along the beach. The sand was brown and the water looked a little dirty for me but we enjoyed 'people watching' as we walked along the sand.

After we checked out the beach and bought a much needed bottle of water we got back on our bikes and rode miles in the direction we thought we had come from. In true Griswald fashion we ended up out on a main highway near the University and thought we had better consult our map. As we suspected we were totally in the wrong area and a long way from getting back to where we were headed lol Tired, sun burnt and with sore bums we eventually made it back to the centre of Valencia, returned the bikes and grabbed a well earned delicious salad from a gourmet salad bar.

That afternoon we checked in on line and printed off our boarding passes for the following days flight and headed back to our room for a little rest. I relaxed and continued to read the third book (Mockingjay) in the Hunger Games trilogy on my top bunk and Paige replied to many facebook messages. That night we ventured upstairs to the hostel kitchen where a cheeky little Spanish chef was cooking up hamburgers which came with chips and a glass of Sangria all for the price of 4 euro!!After blogging a little to avoid to annoying, disrespectful and rude Dutch travellers in our room I headed to bed and quickly turned the light off as they left to go out so that we could have an early night for our flight to Menorca the following day.

Love The Valencia Orange Eating Backpacker
x
Paige and I eating Paella
 
The old city walls in Valencia


Old Roman ruins in Valencia

Cheeseburgers in a vending machine???WTF

Valencia Beach

Paige and I sipping on the delicious free cocktails our bar tender shouted us

Bus riding around Valencia

Paige in front of the modern architecture (aquarium) in Valencia

Our hostel which used to be an old church

Paige and I sight seeing in Valencia

Serving up our 'Horchata'

Paige's first Paella

Paige and I sipping on our first ever 'Horchata'

Paige looking pretty before our pub crawl

Paige and I bike riding around Valencia

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