Thursday, 24 August 2017

Travel: Valencia, Spain Part V - Oranges, Sloths and Doors...



I do like a good door...

I'm not sure where the appeal comes from, and I'm sure some discredited Freudian analysis could probably come up with some sort of reason for this attraction, but I think it's down to my appreciation of their simplicity of use versus the possibility of intricacy of design, and well thought out engineering. Therefore when I'm away I tend to snap more photos of doors than would be normally considered healthy, and I've been known to stand admiring a well made handle or ornate hinge for minutes as I marvel at the detail, finish and materials used.

And don't get me started on knockers...

Valencian Doors
There are plenty of doors to choose from in Valencia in varying states of decay or splendour - old, new and somewhere-in-between, and - humour me - it's with just a few of these images that I start a round up of some of the sights we enjoyed in the city, with a post about some of the major places such as the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, Oceanogràfic and the Central Market still to come. I'll try to keep the words to a minimum in this post and let the pictures (Click into them if need be...) do the explaining, but as you know I tend to ramble...

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Trunks, Walks and Gulliver!
One of the more interesting plant sights for me were the Ficus in small park called La Glorieta, east of the city centre. The Game of Thrones-like trunks looked like tendrils from some monster, stretching out to catch an unwary tourist as they pass. From here you can cross the busy  Plaza  Porta de la Mar with its impressive gateway and wander along Carrer del Just√≠cia to get down on to the Turia Gardens, the winding park that was created after the town diverted the river that ran through the city. It's a nice cooling walk under bridges and trees, past pretty flowers and ending up at the superb Gulliver's Park, a gigantic prone figure of the man himself that is also a playground for kids - a must see and do for kids.

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Cathedral & Views
The Gothic-styled cathedral at the heart of the city centre is well talked about in many guide books but if you don't fancy forking out a pretty penny to see the interior and the alleged Holy Grail(!) you can just climb the tower and get some fabulous views for a couple of euro. The long and winding stairs operate on a green-light/red-light system, as they are quite narrow, but don't account for little legs or tired older ones! Be quick or you'll meet someone coming the other way...


The Freshest Oranges
The square on the north side of the cathedral - Plaza de la Virgen - has a large fountain and plenty of places to sit and people-watch while enjoying a cold drink or a bite to eat. Don't miss the lovely little garden just west of the square, as it's a little oasis of calm and cool, away from the crowds and heat.

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The House of the Cats
Somewhere you just have to go if travelling with kids, or even if you're not, is the The House of the Cats on Carrer del Museu. This area is slightly off the beaten track for tourists but is full of restaurants if you get there via Carrer de Roteros. It's a tiny house built into a wall, and if your child has an imagination like my daughter they'll be talking about it for weeks afterwards ... I will say no more, just go!

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Fireworks on Plaza de la Virgen

If you are lucky you might catch a fireworks display ... we were! These type were firmly secured to the earth but the spun, crackled and sparked, and there was no risk of sprained necks, just singed hair!

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Platja Del Cabanyal
What can I say about the beach? Well it was large and well tended but extremely crowded ... not really our kind of thing but we did visit out of pure interest. There's plenty of places to eat closeby and if lying in the sun bumping extremities (Not like that!) with your neighbours is your thing then you'll probably like it. We were told that there are nicer beaches to the west of the port but didn't have time to check them out, maybe you should!?

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Porta de Serrans
Two gates of the city walls survive and given my predilection towards doors these had to be seen. So I dragged my family north of city centre first, to see Porta de Serrans with its Moorish look. You can climb all the way to the top for a small fee and it's well worth it for the views looking back towards the city centre. Check out the dragon-like door knockers on the first floor, and just be careful of the pools of saliva I drooled as I admired these doors and ironwork...

Torres de Quart
Torres de Quart is west of the centre and on the way towards the botanic gardens which sadly we missed, but this walk does bring you past much of the wall art I wrote about previously. This gate is in a more European style and again I urge you to check out the huge doors, and don't miss the channel for the portcullis cut into the entrance -excellent for squashing kids into!

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Round Squares and Sloths
Just a quick mention for all the wonderful squares that suddenly appear when you turn almost any corner in the city. Most have lovely bars or restaurants, some spray you with water and some have, er, sloths hanging from vines above your head! Regardless, they are all excellent decompression zones to get your bearings and take a breath.

Some aren't even square, such as the peaceful Plaza Redonda with its beautiful and simple fountain, and interesting design. A word of warning on the fountain, the locals wash their dogs in this one so don't drink the water!

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La Lonja de la Seda
Last but far from least is La Lonja de la Seda one of the main tourist attractions in the city, and close to the central market. This impressive piece of Gothic architecture is full of history and I'd recommend getting the audio guide and doing the tour. It really gives you all the information you need and highlights loads of interesting features ... including the downright bizarre and disturbing stone carvings, many of which must be seen to be believed and were too disturbing to show here without a NSFW tag!

The high vaulted ceiling is stunning and even the small courtyard garden is very pretty and filled with those ubiquitous orange trees, neat hedging and showy flowers like agapanthus.

Take your time here, let the history seep into you...

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Playing in Plaza de Manises
So those were a few of our favourite places, or sights to look out for, but just a final word on how child-friendly everywhere is in Valencia, you should have no hesitation in bringing them here, exploring the city and staying out a little late. We had no hassle at any of the sights, restaurants or bars - or walking back to our hotel.

It's a great city for those of any age, easily walkable and nicely proportioned. Taxis are cheap if you need them and their drivers refreshingly grumpy!

Enjoy ... more to come...

Liam

(As you can see I've swapped between Spanish, Valencian and English place names depending on which I feel is more appropriate.)

The series starts here and Part VI is here.




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