It is worth getting up early if you are staying at Balneario Las Arenas on the coast in the Cabanyal district of Valencia.
Stand under the hotel’s giant weeping fig tree just before sunrise and you’ll be there when the sun rises over the Mediterranean and hundreds of perching birds wake up and chatter in the warm air.
In fact, it seems that everyone wants to speak in Valencia. On the coast, Barcelona questions its future and the Catalans rage against mass tourism, but Valencians, who speak their own version of Catalan, think that the world should know their remarkable city.
Strong and proud: the Art Nouveau Mercat de Colon in the city center is a showcase for Valencian gastronomy
Often times that means food, and you’ll be pointed out to the twin wonders of the Mercat de Colon’s Art Nouveau, the city center market that is a showcase for Valencian gastronomy, and the bustling Mercat Central, where the stalls are packed with a Amazing variety of produce and fantastically fresh fish.
Paella was invented in Valencia and its main ingredient is the star attraction of the Museo del Arroz, one of the many museums in a city that also celebrates lead soldiers and, in the beautiful Baroque palace of the Marqués de dos Aguas, silk and ceramics.
Do you want art? There are over 1,000 works by Picasso at the Fundacio Bancaja, and there’s the world-class Valencia Institute of Modern Art, as well as the Museum of Fine Arts, filled with Renaissance wonders and a room dedicated to the city’s greatest artist, Joaquin Sorolla.
Created luminescent paintings of late 19th century beach life in Cabanyal, a former fishing village on one of Europe’s best city beaches, more than a rival to Marseille or Barcelona, and behind the beach Much of the district is how Sorolla left it.
With its fine golden sand, La Malvarrosa is one of the most popular beaches in Valencia.
Iconic: paella is the star dish of Valencia
In the perfectly named Plaza de los Hombres del Mar, the sundial painted on the wall of the stables, which housed the oxen that pulled the fishing boats out of the sea, dates from 1895. Time has also stopped. at the Casa Montana bar on Josep Benlliure street. Local brandy, vermouth, and Valencian anise called cazalla have been served here since 1836. Drinks come with free tapas, but upgrade to servings (full-size meals) and will escort you to the restaurant in the back. Book in advance.
Here the best is simple, such as tomatoes, olive oil, crusty bread, stewed beans or the catch of the day, washed down with a white wine made with Valencian Merseguera grape.
Afterward, head north past the brightly colored tile facades of vacation homes built by wealthy Valencians in the early 1900s. Each house is its own ceramic masterpiece.
At the end of the street, Cabanyal gives way to Malvarrosa, the street that leads to the beach. In April it will be shining with an average of eight hours of sunshine a day. So if you need some shade, visit the eccentric museum dedicated to the 20th century writer Vicente Blasco Ibáñez. He was the author of dozens of books and seemed to accumulate more enemies than his share. He was shot by one of them once, but was saved when the bullet lodged in his belt buckle. He ended up in Hollywood in the 1920s, where he launched the careers of Rudolph Valentino and Greta Garbo.
If that detour makes you hungry again, one of the great gastronomic institutions of Valencia is next door. Casa Carmela serves the best paella in town, cooked over a wood fire. You can have the seafood or rabbit and snail versions, but either way, start with sardines straight from the sea, dipped in flour and fried.
Futuristic: the City of Arts and Sciences has a science museum and an opera theater designed by Valencia’s star architect, Santiago Calatrava
In the photo, Barrio Carmen, where you will find bakeries that sell sweet potato cake, Valencian sweet potato cake and cinnamon.
If Valencia is wreaking havoc on your waistline, fight back by walking through the Jardin del Turia, a huge park in the old bed of a river that connects the sea with the city center.
It is also home to the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, which has a science museum and an opera house designed by Valencia’s star architect Santiago Calatrava.
Construction of the Valencia Cathedral began in the 13th century and contains the only Holy Grail, a cup said to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper, which the Vatican will venerate.
Just around the corner, Horchatería Santa Catalina serves Valencia’s traditional drink, horchata, a milk made from ground tigernuts. The unsweetened version is popular, but possibly useless as the locals pair it with sugary muffins called farton, which taste better than they appear.
Then glide through the narrow streets of the medieval Barrio Carmen, where you will find bakeries selling sweet potato cake, the Valencian sweet potato cake and cinnamon dressed with a pinch of cazalla.
On Calle Cajeros, stop at Simple, a boutique specialized in Valencian crafts; This is where you will get your summer espadrilles.
Now allow yourself to get lost a bit until you exit through the Central Market, where a parrot model means the song of the Valencians talking about food. And once again, you are under the birds.