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Clare
Clare

Day 1: Home to Valencia

We had a 07.10 flight from Stansted to Valencia this morning as the start to our two weeks away in Spain and France. It sounded okay until I started counting backwards on Saturday afternoon and realised that if the airport parking was booked for 04.30, we'd need to leave home at 02.30. Oh dear!

The only good thing about leaving home so early is that there was hardly any other traffic on the roads and we got to Stansted in record time. And the good thing about flying on a Sunday was that the airport itself wasn't quite so crazily busy as it sometimes is on Saturdays. The Ryanair check-in went smoothly, and we were sitting in Wetherspoons having breakfast by 5am!

I had a much-needed Wetherspoons coffee, which kept me awake long enough to board the plane (but not much beyond that!). My aim was to stay awake until we had at least taken off, but somehow the coffee didn't seem to be quite strong enough and I nodded off during the Spanish version of the safety demonstration. Next thing I knew it was 8am and we were flying over what looked like a very sunny France. I haven't had the winning combination of a window seat and a clear sky for quite some time and I remember thinking to myself that I really ought to stay awake and look at the view... but next thing I remember was over an hour later when the captain announced that we were starting our descent to Valencia!

The view as we came in to land was really beautiful as we flew over some rather dusty-looking mountains and then along the Spanish coast. The sea was a brilliant shade of blue and for a while it looked like we were in danger of landing in it, but Valencia appeared just at the right moment and we were down.

Valencia airport itself seemed rather peculiar. Everyone got off the plane and then stood in a queue, as one of the Ryanair air hostesses held us back and periodically allowed small groups of people to cross the road to the terminal building. When it was eventually our turn, we realised that the passport control desks were situated almost immediately after you walked through the door to the building, so that the queue of people was actually outside and the air hostess was trying to make sure it didn't get so long it spilled out onto the road part of the runway. Luckily it seemed like a wonderfully sunny day in Valencia, and so queueing outside didn't seem like a great hardship. I don't think it would work so well at Stansted!

We couldn't check into our accommodation until 4pm so stopped for a drink at the airport before heading into the main town. The airport isn't situated very far from the centre of Valencia itself and is connected to the main town via an underground metro. The journey probably took about twenty minutes, and then we emerged into the sunlight just outside this impressive building.

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Believe it or not, this elaborate building is the main railway station in Valenica.

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Inside the building is just as unusual as outside. This is the ticket hall.

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The station is located right next to Valencia's bullring, which looks a bit like a Roman amphitheatre, though is obviously a lot more modern.

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We were fairly hungry by this stage so decided to investigate somewhere to eat. Ignoring the ubiquitous signs for paella, we eventually found a small Italian restaurant where we were able to order pizza. I was very excited upon reading the drinks menu to find something called "tinto de verano" which was translated on the English menu as being "wine with lemon fanta". I definitely needed to try this to see how it compared to Croatian miš-maš

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It turned out to be very similar, albeit not stripy as the wine was already mixed through the Fanta :) It wasn't quite as sweet as miš-maš, probably because it was lemon fanta rather than orange, and it wasn't quite as alcoholic as miš-maš either; I think there was only a small amount of wine in it. It was very refreshing though.

The restaurant was very relaxed and didn't object to me sipping my drink very slowly as we tried to kill some time until we could check in. Eventually we decided to try our luck checking in a bit earlier than we were supposed to, and set off through Valencia in the direction of the hotel. I was surpised by how grand many of the buildings in the town centre seemed to be.

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We soon found ourselves in what we think must be the city's main square, Plaza del Ayuntamiento.

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There were some enormous palm trees...

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... and a beautiful fountain as well.

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We could see from the map that our hotel was near the cathedral, so we walked in that general direction.

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The cathedral looks stunning, but difficult to capture in a photo close up. We will have to try again tomorrow.

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We arrived at the hotel at some point after three and the receptionists didn't blink an eyelid when we asked to check in. Seems like we could have got away with arriving even earlier after all! We're staying in an aparthotel, so we have a nice suite with a kitchenette. It seems incredibly roomy after the tiny boat cabin we stayed in when we visited Stockholm :)

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We were fairly tired again by this point so had a nap before heading out for an evening stroll around Valencia. It looks like a really interesting city and I'm looking forward to seeing more of it tomorrow :)

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