There was just one short morning left in Valencia. After breakfast we went our separate ways. Kim went to the shopping centre (don’t ask me why) and I returned the streets of the old town to catch anything that I might have missed.
And I had missed quite a lot…
…. It is only a small old town area but I have learned from experience that there is always something new to discover. While Kim went to the modern shopping Mall I went to the old Market District.
Monday morning must be big market day in Valencia because the place was crazy with stalls and buzzing with activity – locals and visitors, stalls selling rubbish, pickpockets eyeing a wallet snatch opportunity, beggars rattling jars and tourists looking obvious and confused. I guess I was a tourist so I left the street stalls and made my way to the Market Hall and not really wanting to buy anything found a vacant stool at a tapas bar and ordered a beer.
Drinking alone you can get through a beer quite quickly so I left soon after and returned to the streets.
Nearby was the Llotja de la Seda a late Valencian Gothic-style civil building, a previous silk exchange and now included in the UNESCO World heritage List as “a site of outstanding universal value as it is a wholly exceptional example of a secular building in late Gothic style, which dramatically illustrates the power and wealth of one of the great Mediterranean mercantile cities.”
It is hardly surprising that with forty-seven listed sites Italy has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites but for those who think of Spain as nothing more than a country of over developed Costas with concrete condominiums, aluminium and fibreglass marinas and pampered golf courses it might be a shock to learn that Spain has forty-three sites and is second highest in the exclusive list of places to see and visit and I was delighted now to visit this one.
With time running out I dashed through the streets, gobbling up heritage as I went, the city hall, the post office, the nineteenth century market and The Llotja de la Seda.
I then made my way back to meet Kim after her shopping expedition and to check out of the hotel. Kim hadn’t bought a single thing but I had added to my overflowing cultural reservoir of knowledge.
There was still a couple of hours to wait until our train departure so we returned now to the city market hall, much busier today than previously and we wandered through the stalls selling meat and fish and delicacies and regretted that it wasn’t really sensible to buy anything except for two bottles of cheap wine but surprisingly good wine that we would now take to my sister’s place.
We had been in a rush but now time seemed to surprisingly slow down so we stopped for a last drink in Valencia before collecting our bags and making our way to the train station. We were reluctant to leave but we had made our plans and now we were travelling south to Alicante.
We had booked reasonably priced tickets with the Spanish State railway provider RENFE but as the engine and carriages pulled in we wondered if this was a wise decision. RENFE maintains that it has a focus on improving traveller comfort and increasing the efficiency of its fleet of trains but as we climbed aboard and found our worn out seats I wasn’t so sure.
As it happened it wasn’t so bad, it was slow, almost glacial at times, the landscape was flat and boring as the train took a looping inland route away from the coast and towards the brooding grey mountains of the interior. There were frequent length stops next to vast citrus groves as our transport made way to give way for faster trains and the buffet car was absurdly expensive but eventually we were only twenty minutes late when we arrived at Alicante Terminus and a good job too because I had given wrong instructions to my sister and she was waiting at the wrong station.
Eventually they collected us and we made our way south out of Benidorm and to their house in Quesada just south of Alicante. I had enjoyed our time in Valencia but now we could slow down and relax .