Valencia, Spain – Here comes the Sun!

Brrrrrr. It has been a long, cold, wet………spring in London. I was beginning to wonder why I bothered to emerge from hibernation to endure such miserable weather. It was definitely time to feel the warmth of the sun again, so I seized on the chance to attend a marriage in Valencia, Spain. This is Spain’s third largest city, but is much less visited than more popular Spanish destinations. It is located on the country’s Mediterranean coast, about 350km southeast of Madrid. I arrived and found my flat – right in the centre, opposite the huge central market building.

View of the market at night from my flat

The next morning I visited the market to get some ham and cheese for later….

Inside the market on the next morning

…… and then set off to discover the city. Today, I explored the “old city” with its winding lanes and shady squares. Valencia’s golden age was in the 14th and 15th centuries, when it was a centre for trade with other Mediterranean cities. One of my first stops was a building dating from this period – the UNESCO-listed Lonja. It has two wings – a trading hall, where contracts were settled, and a maritime tribunal, for settling disputes.

The Lonja from the outside
The ornate ceiling inside the hall of the maritime tribunal…
….and the ceiling of the trading hall

I spent a pleasant morning wandering around, occasionally popping into some of the many ancient churches or stopping for a drink in one of the countless cafes. Sitting outside in the sun was a blissfully experience after the past few months in London’s rain. It was a pleasantly warm 25C; May is a good time to visit, before the summer heat becomes oppressive.

The old town hall
Typical street scene in Valencia
One the many squares in the old city, viewed from my café

The old city used to be surrounded by a wall, but all that remains of it now are two gates, of which the 14th century Torres de Serranos is the more impressive.  There, I thought I had met a fellow bear, only to discover that in reality it was a human dressed in a costume. For a reason I cannot understand, some other humans would occasionally give him money. I felt sorry for him; it must have been very hot inside his outfit and not worth the small change he was collecting from passers-by.

The Torres de Serranos
Not the fellow bear I had thought he was….

Next, I found the city’s cathedral, which has a famous relic – supposedly the cup Christ drank from at the last supper.

The chapel housing Christ’s cup from the Last Supper (in the middle)

On my way back to my flat, I bumped into what was possibility the prettiest building I had seen so far – the Palace of the Marqués de Dos Aguas. It was originally a gothic building but was converted to its current Baroque appearance in the 18th century. It now houses a ceramics museum, which I decided to visit first thing next day.

One of the most elegant palaces of the old city

Back in my flat, I enjoyed bread, cheese, ham and some good Spanish red wine………with my window wide open to enjoy the evening air. Not something I could do back home in London in May!

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