Falling in the unknown: a spontaneous trip

I know I promised my next story for this week about the Azores Islands, but as I travelled through Spain very recent I decided to share my stories about Spain. Yes, of course the Azores Islands are on hold now and will be discussed later, as my Spain experiences are more fresh in my memories so I can tell you more personal stories and recommendations.

Now you’re wondering, what’s so special about Spain? Everybody in Europe, especially Dutchies, is going to Spain. And yes, that’s correct, when I ask people about Spanish cities I hear destinations like Barcelona, Madrid, Benidorm and all those party-hardy cities at the Costa Brava. But Spain has so much more to offer!

View of Valencia out of the airplane

Let me start with writing this blog about my most recent trip: Valencia. How did I come up with the idea to visit this upcoming city? My friend and I were talking about going somewhere sunny, because let’s be honest: the weather in the Netherlands is really depressing right now. After a three-day discussion about the accommodation, we decided to just go for it and so we booked the trip. Two weeks after making the reservation, it was time to go! After a drop-off by my dad at the airport, it was time to board the airplane. The excitement was building up, and after a two-hour flight we finally arrived in Valencia. I saw something I didn’t see in a while: THE SUN!

Now you know what my motivation behind going to this great destination is, I am going to share some recommendations from my perspective for a visit to Valencia. I can talk for hours and hours about the story-line of my visit and a step-for-step walk through guide, but instead I will just talk about what I liked most about the cities and give you some advice. Because after all: this blog is not about me, but about getting you (as a travel-lover and adventurous person) motivated to new destinations, with a personal touch of own experiences.

Me in ‘la ciudad de las Artes y de Las ciencias’

Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias
 This is one of the places you must visit when you are in Valencia. It’s located 20 minutes outside of the city center, and is easily reached by metro by a direct line from the city center.
 The architecture of these buildings is impressive and there is so much to see that you will spend a couple of hours here. My friend and I originally planned to be there for 2–3 hours, but as it was so big we ended up spending the whole day here. We went to the ‘Oceanografic’, which is a zoo with only water animals. They have dolphins, rare fishes, crocodiles, penguins and many more animals that are worth visiting. Besides the oceanographic, you can also go to the ‘Museo de las Cièncias Príncipe Felipe’ or to the ‘Palau de les Arts Reina Sofia’. I didn’t have time to visit these buildings, but if you plan the day strategically and practical I recommend you to do so.

The way to the castle

 This is a beautiful village not far from Valencia. You can go there by train, directly from the Valencia-norte station. The 50-minutes train ride is an attraction itself: once you leave Valencia you will see mountains, nature and a glimpse of the local farmers. Once you arrive in Xativa, there are multiple options to spend your time. You can go to the castle of Xativa, which I highly recommend! If you are not that great with walking long distances or climbing, I suggest you take a cab to the top of the mountain. There is a small tourist train that brings people to the top, but when I was there the train only went 2 times in total spread over the whole day. If you are adventurous and really want to make the climb, bring enough water with you because you will need it, especially when the temperatures are above 18 degrees. 
 Along the way to the top you will see that there are multiple routes to walk, and my friend and I chose the longest route (by accident, of course). We chose the route that is also being used by traffic, but as it’s a small mountain road it is safe to walk on. Not many cars are driving here, as most of the visitors are tourists without their own vehicle. The route was quite interesting: you are getting higher and higher with more views of what the city of Xativa looks like from above. We even spotted some squirrels! I’m not sure on what height the castle is, but as you can see on the picture it was quite high.

Me, at the look-out spot at the castillo de Xativa

You have to pay an entrance-fee for the castle and its museum, but if you’re a student you will get a discount and you only have to pay €1,20 per person. After paying, the guide of the castle will give you a map with descriptions about the environment. Even in the castle there is a lot of climbing involved: the highest look-out point of Xativa requires climbing a lot of stairs. So if you are minus-valid or invalid, I wouldn’t recommend a visit here, unless you like to have good food with a lookout: there is a small restaurant at the beginning of the castle which offers its guests a nice view during their meal. 
 So if you are ready to make a climb and being adventurous: visit the Castillo de Xativa for an unforgettable day.

Wandering around
 Valencia is a great city to explore, as it’s not too big of a city. You can easily walk around the whole center in a couple of hours and actually enjoy it. I had so much more planned to visit before I went there, but a lot of attractions can be seen without actually going in there. For example the cathedral: it’s beautiful on the outside, but is only open at specific times a day. Or the towers of Serrano, which offers a beautiful view over Valencia itself. But again, also not opened when you expect them to. Therefore I suggest to not plan too many activities, because there’s a high chance it will turn out different anyway. Wandering around is the best way to get to know a city, by getting lost and not quite sure knowing where you are. I did the same thing, and I found the most interesting places that are not in the ‘top 10 highlights’ of Valencia. As mentioned before, the locals don’t speak English that well. Therefore, if you like to learn Spanish or get an insight in the culture, just wander around in Valencia and meet some locals!

Valencia is the city for everyone: it’s worth a visit and an addition to your bucket-travel-list.