When Catherine told me that she and Camille were planning a quick weekend escape to Valencia our last weekend in Barcelona, I quickly jumped on board. The August crowds in Barcelona are almost unbearable – you can’t avoid the huge groups of tourists and since most Spaniards take vacation in August, finding those “local gems” is all but impossible. So the thought of escaping the throngs of people and intense August heat was very enticing. I managed to escape one of them – guess which followed us to the seaside town of Valencia?
Yep, another vacation heat wave. Our two days in Valencia may have actually been the hottest of the summer. And that’s saying something since we battled through oppressive heat in Dubrovnik, no air conditioning in Turin, 100+ degree-days in Florence and the intense sun of Portugal.
But by this point, we’re all pros at maneuvering through European streets to find the shadiest parts, ignoring sweaty forearms and shins (yep, both of those are a thing) and carting around 1.5 liter bottles of water to replenish all of the liquids we sweat out.
We caught the first train out of Barcelona Saturday morning and were very pleasantly surprised by the Spanish trains: tons of legroom, right on time, quiet and they had TVs in each car playing the Hunger Games. We arrived in Valencia a few hours later, checked into our AirBnB and realized it had glorious central air. Oh how we’d forgotten what that felt like. It says a lot about our desire to explore the city that we were willing to leave that cool haven for the hot, humid Spanish sun.
But explore we did! We wandered over to the Mercado Central and admired the huge building and all of the fruit, veggie, meat and cheese stalls.
We stumbled on Torres de Quart, part of the medieval wall that surrounded the old town of Valencia to protect the city. It was built in the 15th century and is still very impressive to come across, I can’t imagine what it was like 700 years ago.
A bit later, we stopped for a pick-me up. This is what “brunch” looks like when you have a 4:30am wake-up call and you’re on vacation.
Breakfast of champions: espresso, beer, French fries and olives
While not quite as artistic as Lisbon, Valencia also provided some wonderful finds:
We spent the rest of the afternoon getting lost in the (shady) alleys of Valencia, loving the quiet streets…
…and enjoying a wonderful charcuterie board lunch, complete with local cocktails (Agua de Valencia and Clara con Lemón) while getting to know the bartenders from Cuba and Mexico who both call Valencia home now.
Sunday, we headed out to the beach for breakfast on a beautiful back patio and people watching on the boardwalk.
On our way back to the apartment, before catching our train back to Barcelona, we stopped at this hidden garden gem.
We wandered through the shrubbery mazes almost by ourselves and savored the wonderful shade the trees provided. We’re not sure what the gardens were or why they were built, but it was a great last taste of Valencia.
Although our quick trip south wasn’t as busy as my typical weekends away, it felt rejuvenating after a month of busy Barcelona.