Valencia – dream city on the Mediterranean

The names of Spanish coasts usually go hand in hand with great promises: Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca are enough to make you dream. There are 17 named coasts around Spain. We sailed past four of them: Costa Calida, Costa Blanca, Costa de Valencia and Costa Azahar.

All the coasts on our way are in very hot and dry regions. 35 degrees C (95 F) daytime temperature is normal, it is much hotter than in the Caribbean. And the air is drier, as we feel on our skin and hair.

Water – a valuable commodity

Water is scarce in the south of Spain. Nevertheless, the marinas supply the yachties with water for a very fair price. In Denia and Valencia we payed 5 € flat a day, in Cartagena 800 l cost just under 9 €. In the Bahamas, that would have been 84 USD, at 0.40 USD per gallon. Water is valuable. But that’s not the only reason why we are happy that we can produce our own water at sea from the seawater.

Back home in Valencia

When we had our home port here 7 years ago with our “Osterbar”, a Hanse 505, the marina was still sonorously called “Marina Real Juan Carlos I”. Today it is simply called “Marina de Valencia”. As we learned, the socialist government didn’t think the homage to the royal family was cool, and that was even before the monarch’s affairs and elephant hunting became known.

We booked in for a fortnight here and also got a place for our cat, which is not a given in Spain. Many municipal harbours do not allow catamarans to dock. But we were now moored with the muddy mooring lines attached to the bow, with the stern on the stone jetty. We had also forgotten that in the Mediterranean you often have to wash the boat off completely when you attach the muddy mooring lines from the harbour bottom to the deck.

A few things have changed. For one thing, the harbour is now completely full and there are many pubs and clubs competing for the worst music deep into the night. The beach that used to invite us to swim in the morning is now completely crowded, with people and their rubbish. We are no longer drawn to it and I think that is not only because we have spent the last few months at the most beautiful seas.

Rivercafe in Valencia, Marcado Cabanyal, beach next to the marina

Fantastic Valencia

But the city is still wonderful. Valencia is the city of culture, festivals and pyromaniacs. Hardly a day goes by without fireworks and the Valencians don’t even need the night to fire off firecrackers. We were able to enjoy a spectacular fireworks display right in our harbour.

You can go directly from the marina to the old town of Valencia by metro, taxi or bicycle. And it’s a really beautiful city centre. Historic buildings, wonderful markets, shops and lots of gastronomy make it an enjoyable visit even for men.

In the city there is the sophisticated “Mercado Central”, a historic market hall and a must-visit for all tourists. There you can enjoy a glass of “horchata”. This is a cold, sweet and non-alcoholic drink made from tiger nuts. Refreshing in the heat. But there are also countless fresh juices of all kinds. Serano or pata negra hams are special delicacies of the city. I don’t even dare to estimate the quantity of hams on display.

The same selection, only less glamorous, but half as expensive and twice as Spanish, is also available at the Mercado “Cabanyal”, near the harbour. Delicious oranges for 2 €/kg or sensational Serano ham for 19 €/kg, fish, fruit, vegetables – everything is fresh and delicious.

Mercado Central, Porcelan Museum, Silk exchange, city impressions

Culinary capital

Valencia was named the culinary capital of Europe a few years ago. And rightly so, in our opinion. In keeping with the heat, the Valencians eat late in the evening. Most of the time it’s tapas. Various small dishes are placed on the table and you help yourself. This can be a plate with queso jamon (cheese and ham), sepia, calamari or croquettas. A very creative and tasty cuisine. Valencia is the origin of paella, which Spaniards enjoy only for lunch. South of the city, lies the huge rice-growing area of Albufeira. The unanimous opinion is that the best paella rice is grown here. The paella from Valencia is prepared without fish and seafood, but with rabbit and snails.

Historically, Valencia is not a seaside city. The actual city centre is 5 km from the water. Only the fishermen and the poor lived by the sea and this is still visible today. While in the city centre there are magnificent town houses in richly planted avenues, on the beach you find the small former fishermen’s houses and no ostentation. One looks in vain for beautiful houses on the beach. Instead, a road leads along the beach, and where there would otherwise be a prime residential location, you find the car park of a DIY store.

Historically, the sons on the mainland and also on the Balearic Islands inherited the “valuable” land in the interior. For the daughters, the “useless” land by the sea remained. How the world changes, justice sometimes just takes a little time.

Incredible architecture

Valencia discovered access to the sea late. The 2007 Americas Cup was a boost, because the entire harbour area was rebuilt for it. When the Americas Cup moved out again and the 13 team bases were empty, Formula 1 followed from 2008 to 2012 around the harbour area, including a bridge over the harbour basin.

In addition to the harbour renovation, the spectacular “Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències” with an aquarium was built. A breath taking  ensemble by the architect Santiago Calatrava, built in an old riverbed, the Turia. By the way, there is a delicious local beer with the same name. The Turia leads almost from the harbour to the city centre and is a lively park with many events and concerts. We have spent some wonderful summer evenings there.

Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències

Unfortunately, the abundant investments then led to Valencia being broke. There is even said to be a Luxembourg bank that was not quite happy with the repayment of the municipal financing. But today you find a very special city. Unfortunately, more and more tourists are discovering the former hidden gem. For our taste, there are a few too many bachelor parties. A few nice clubs do the rest to attract summer party-goers.

For us, Valencia remains one of our favourite places and we are glad that we unexpectedly had some time to linger. In the two weeks we had four couples of friends visit us, almost as many as in three years in the Caribbean. On Monday morning we set sail again for Ibiza. Hasta pronto / Holger Binz

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