Tuesday 4 June 2013
We started the day with a visit to El Mercado Central, which is a vast array of food stalls located in a vast and beautiful tiled building a few blocks away in the old city. The variety of goods on offer was bewildering. The seafood and the smallgoods were particularly impressive. How many varieties of jamon are there in Spain? Now there’s a mystery.
We returned to our apartment afterwards where we had brunch on the sunny patio. It would have been too sunny to sit outside without any cover, but the apartment came with retractable, automatic awnings that covered the picnic table. We skyped Ruby from this little piece of heaven, and caught up on her gossip.
In the early afternoon we ascended the Torres Serranos, a pair of austere and monumental towers that stand sentinel at the original gates to the old city. The entry fee was waived because we are teachers. We spent an hour or so there taking in the views. Valencia used to have a river running through the middle of it but, in order to obviate the problem of flooding, the good burgers have been ingenious enough to divert it and turn the river bed into excellent parklands, thereby establishing that they are both ingenious an enlightened (if it were Sydney, the RTA would have put an eight-lane freeway down the middle of it). And so the city is transsected by a lovely strip of green that features playgrounds, parks and excellent bicycle paths. We decided that this was far too good to ignore, and so on our way home we placed an advance booking on two bicycles for the following day.
In the evening, we went out to dinner at restaurant recommended by our host, Carol. Here we had our very first tapas for an entrée: one was a smoked sardine dish and the other was croquettes. For mains, Susie ordered the fish of the day and I had pork. For dessert we had apricots and cream that lightly spiced with cinnamon and nutmeg. This was said to be inspired by Arabic cuisine.
The nightlife in Valencia was very lively around our apartment, especially around midnight. One side effect of being in the old part of the city was that the sounds of the revellers reverberated off the cobblestones and walls of the narrow streets, and were seemingly amplified as they travelled five stories skyward. Our sleep was from time to time interrupted by another very odd sound. We never determined is exact source, but I thought it was geese. They were occasionally disturbed by something, and would break the silence of the early morning darkness with a sudden chorus of comical gaggling. It was very odd and more than a little mysterious.