Spain’s third largest city was the favorite of our Spring Break trip. And not because it’s got Europe’s oldest market filled with produce, nuts, meats, cheeses, wines, beers, dried fruits and chocolates. Not because it’s the birthplace of paella, which you can get all over town (and the Valenciana is definitely the best of all paella offerings.). Not because of the fantastic orange named for this city. Not because the cathedral claims to have the holy grail. Not because it has a beautiful old city just a mile away from the slick, futuristic City of Arts and Sciences, a five-area complex including an opera house, an IMAX theatre, a garden area, a science museum, and an open-air oceanographic park.
Nope. None of that. The most spectacular thing in Valencia is its Jardin del Turia, a nine kilometer park where the Turia River used to be. After a huge flood in the 1950s, city planners re-routed the Turia and turned the old riverbed into this glorious park. We spent an entire day on bikes, exploring from one end to the other. The kids particularly loved Gulliver Park, a huge (huge!) model of Gulliver tied down by the Lilliputians. Kids can climb up the ropes that trap him and slide down his shoe, one of his knees and climb his arms. Check out the park on google earth – that’s where it’s seriously impressive.
We were afraid two nights in Valencia wouldn’t be enough and it was indeed true. The boys really miss their bikes and they wanted another day of riding around. Alas, we spent our last few hours exploring the old city again – with its beautiful cathedral and minaret-turned-belltower, the windy, cobbled streets and its pretty fountains.