Travels Throughout Spain: Valencia

The weekend after I visited San Sebastián, I went on a trip hosted by CEA to Valencia. Valencia is also located in Spain, but is in an entirely different region than San Sebastián. Valencia sits on the banks of the  Turia River, and is located on the eastern coast of the Iberian Peninsula and the western coast of the Mediterranean Sea, facing the Gulf of Valencia.  Unlike San Sebastián, which is a relatively small city, Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, after Madrid and Barcelona.

We traveled to Valencia by bus, and thankfully I was able to sleep for the entire ride.  Once we arrived in Valencia, we were greeted by the bright sun, blooming orange trees, and the delightful smell of orange blossoms.  Our first stop was to the Ayre Hotel Astoria Palace, to check in. Usually when I travel, I stay in affordable hostels or Airbnb‘s, so staying in this four-star hotel through CEA was a pleasant surprise.

Promotional video showcasing the wonderful Ayre Hotel Astoria Palace 

After checking into the hotel, my friends and I went to lunch, and we are all very excited to eat paella in the city that it originated in.  We ate at La Pepica, a restaurant that is well known  for their authentic paellas.  My friends and I shared a piping hot pan filled with seafood paella, and a pitcher of Agua de Valencia. After indulging in this amazing dish, we were all so full that we could barely move, so we decided to hit the beach and lay in the Valencian sun.

La Pepica’s famous seafood paella

My friends and I laid out on the beach for a few hours, before spotting a temptingly posh club further down the beach.  Naturally, we headed over to this outdoor hangout, the Marina Beach Club. Here, we enjoyed many refreshing drinks on lounge chairs, while surrounded by the club’s upscale clientele. We spent a majority of the day here, and by the time we decided to walk back to the hotel the sun was almost setting.

My friends and I lounging at the Marina Beach Club

On our walk we back to the hotel we passed the City of Arts and Sciences, an series of avant-garde buildings designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. My friends were all too tired to enter into the complex, since we had been sitting in direct sunlight for most of the day, so I added visiting this  monument to my mental list of “things to do” in Valencia.

The next day, I woke up early (if you consider 9 a.m. to be early), and decided that this was the perfect time to visit the City of Arts and Sciences.  This was by far my favorite sight in Valencia, and one of my favorite things I saw in all of Europe.  This complex, which is devoted to scientific and cultural dissemination, is comprised of five main elements. One of the elements, the Hemisfèric, caught my attention first.  This building resembles a giant glass eye, and is surrounded by a pool with beautiful light blue water.  Inside of the Hemisfèric there is an IMAX cinema and planetarium; I can only imagine how awe-inspiring the interior of this building is. I spent the majority of my time at the City of Arts and Sciences gazing at this building’s unusual facade.

The Hemisfèric, captured in the morning sun

Valencia is a fascinating city, with amazing paella, sunny weather, and a visually-delighting modern complex that I will never forget. It is most definitely on my laundry list of places to return to, but next time I will make sure to enter at least one of the buildings within the City of Arts and Sciences.

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