By ALEIX GWILLIAM
It’s inevitable for people who travel to Spain to look at the cities of Barcelona and Madrid as their main destinations, especially if it’s the first time in the country for them. However, a city a few hours south of Barcelona is becoming one of the most vibrant destinations for people who want to enjoy the beauty of Spain and the warmth of the Mediterranean Sea without the hassle of huge cities. Valencia is the perfect place to go if you want to mix the past and the present with a gastronomy that words don’t do justice.
The city has begun to host more and more international events every year, such as the Formula 1 Grand Prix or the America’s Cup. The fast modernization of Valencia, though, has not influenced the charm of its old town one single bit. The neighbourhood of El Carme is where the old town comes to life. The barrio combines historical monuments and museums with a vibrant nightlife, making it the place to be if you want to party in the city. And here, there are plenty of Valencia apartments to stay in.
However, before night falls, you’ll have plenty of time to visit some of the city’s most famous monuments in this part of town. Here, you can find the famous Torres de Quart, a medieval gate with two high towers that used to protect the city back in the 15th century. A short distance away, in the old northern entrance to the city, are the Torres de Serrans, a similar construction of the 14th century of equal impressiveness. Also in the neighbourhood there’s the famous IVAM, the Valencian Institute of Modern Arts, which hosts permanent and temporary exhibitions of local, national and international artists. It only deals with 20th and 21st century art and it’s a must for all fans of this cultural field.
If you fancy some shopping, El Carme has plenty of small trendy shops where you can buy vintage clothes and accessories as well as original gifts to take back home with you.
Once the cultural aspect of the tour is done, it’s time to sit down and enjoy some of Valencia’s excellent food. Of course, the paella is the star of the show, but don’t be fooled by tourist traps that sell it because it will most likely be pre-heated. Any place that advertises paella is to be avoided. However, any rice dish is good.
For dessert or an afternoon snack, try orxata amb fartons. Orxata is a milky drink and the fartons are spongy sweets with glazed sugar, which are to be dipped in the orxata. If you fancy a drink, head to the popular Bar Negrito, on Plaça del Negret, where you can enjoy a drink on its famous and popular terrace watching life go by. Then head back to your accommodation in Valencia and get ready for Valencia’s vibrant nightlife. El Carme has many options of bars and clubs but the best place to go will of course be found out by hearsay, the best possible traveller’s guide.
Consider renting apartments in Valencia, visit El Carme, and be thrilled by everything the place has to offer.
Aleix Gwilliam is a 24-year-old from Barcelona who looks English but thinks like a Catalan. He enjoys travelling, especially on old Czech trains, and trying to start conversations in Hungarian with people at Pecs station, even though his Hungarian is as good as his Bulgarian, in other words, not very good. He’s a trier.