Over the last few years, Valencia has become one of my favourite cities. Indeed, I have even been considering settling down there, although I confess that I am not yet quite ready for that big step. For me, it is not easy to blow the full-time whistle on more than 50 years of my nomadic life-style. That day will come, but not just yet.
Valencia has much of what I enjoy.
First and foremost, it has a wonderful subtropical climate, with a summer season lasting from April to November, mild winters, and an annual average of seven hours of sunshine per day. That is almost double the average for northern Europe. And only a precipitation average of 44 days in the year.
Then there is the glorious heart to the city, with its cathedral and its buildings, its history and the maze of narrow streets and alleyways. And the multitude of inexpensive restaurants and bars. The city throbs with life, day and night. The typical Valenciano lives in the street.
And the beach is a short bus ride away.
But for me, the jewel of Valencia is El Jardín del Turia.
In October, 1957, the river Turia overflowed yet again, causing a lot of devastation and many deaths. The authorities finally decided to divert the river, avoiding the heart of Valencia. In subsequent years, the bed of the river was converted to a sunken park, which was inaugurated in 1986.
Today, the park extends over 9 km of former riverbed, from Cabecera Park to the City of Arts and Sciences, and includes 18 bridges.
It is a relative paradise for a runner, with a marker every 100 m.
At the down-river end of the park, there is the group of futuristic buildings that comprise the City of Arts and Sciences.
Throughout the length of the park there several bars and restaurants.
One of the unique features of the park is the Gulliver Park for children and the not-so-young. Only from the air can one appreciate the size of the sculpture and the ant-like people.
The Palau de la Música, that houses the Valencia orchestra. In the foreground, the spectacular fountains are undergoing a complete restauration.
And if one forgets that one is on the bed of a river, there is the Puente del Mar to remind one that it was first built on the site in 1425.
For the sports minded, there are facilities for football, rugby, tennis, baseball, hockey, athletics than others that I have forgotten.
Yup, Valencia is my kind of place… 🙂