I rolled into Valencia about 7pm. Now, I was feeling rather confident this time because my computer-acquired directions showed that my hostel was on a main road smack in the middle of town, unlike before when it was in some back alley with no name. In addition, the directions show that I just need to stay on some large, main thoroughfares and go through a couple roundabouts to get there. Easy! This time I won’t get lost.
When will I learn?
So, I’ve mentioned before that Spain loves their one-way roads. Well, Valencia embraces this with a passion, and in addition won’t hesitate to throw six lanes of traffic into a roundabout. When your directions tell you “take the 7th exit off the roundabout” you know you are in for a good time.
Thus, in pretty short order, I found myself far off from where I needed to be, and as I tried to find streets that would return me back the way I came, I got more and more lost. After about 2 hours of this kind of tomfoolery, I finally parked the car (again an exercise in frustration due to how people here just seem to make up parking spots), and walked on foot to the hostel. Turns out I was 45 minutes away on foot. So by this time it is dark, almost 10pm, and from being on the road all day, I’m very tired. I just want my bed.
Another interesting note: buildings in Spain start at floor zero, not floor one. Floor one is when you go up the first set of stairs. To my computer engineering compatriots, this is the logical and correct way to do things. However, when one is a tired American looking for one’s room, you might forget this, and you might try your room card on a door, find it doesn’t work, knock on the door to get in as you just want your bed, and discover you are on the “girls only” floor. Sorry to make you get out of bed, girls, my bad.
Now, I’ve discovered that a great way to see a new city is to go for a run in the morning. Advantages: you cover a lot of ground quickly, you are getting a good workout in while sight-seeing, and you will invariably get good and lost and thus put in much more of a run than you initially intended. Valencia proved to be a great example of this.
To start with, my hostel was right next to a massive park that runs the length of the downtown, so that’s a fine place to start. On the 2 blocks it took to go from the hostel to the park, I ran across yet another lovely Spanish arch:
The park is in the center of town, so it has many overpasses. These are not just simple bridges, but beautiful works in their own right.
As I ran through the park, the views of the city were pretty stellar. The weather was perfect.
In short order I came to a place called (translated) “The Arts and Sciences City”. And it was awesome:
I ran to the end of the park, and found a stream that I think leads to the ocean.
Also in the park is a climbing / play structure called Gulliver, for obvious reasons. If you have kids, you MUST bring them here. You can’t get a good view of this from the ground, so if you want to see what this really looks like, try a satellite view.
The city itself is fabulous, but I didn’t take nearly enough pictures to accurately show it.
More Picasso. The dude is following me.
The hostel turns out to be similarly fantastic. At night they made a huge Paella, served beer and sangria, and basically just provided a great way for all the travelers to come together and meet.
This led to a late night out on the town, from which I can attest that the nightlife in Valencia is pretty top notch as well. I need to come back to this city and spend a week or so. There are museums to see, beaches to explore, events and aquariums and F1 races and oh my too much to possibly take in for the short time I was here. Valencia might be my favorite so far. Maybe. Dunno. Tough to say with so much competition.