We left the aire at Peñiscola yesterday before getting too comfortable, having spent three nights there. With a loose plan to visit Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, we programmed in the co-ordinates of an aire outside the city to the satnav. When we arrived at said co-ordinates, after a two hour drive, there was no aire to be seen. Oh joy. We pulled in to a garage to look at the guide and sort out Plan B. Oh, there was no Plan B was there. Whilst Tim perused the aires guide I went into the garage to buy some bread and a big bag of bacon crisps. Tim’s priority being to find us somewhere safe to sleep for the night and mine being food. I don’t seem to be able to make decisions if I’m hungry and the situation could have turned ugly quite rapidly!
After not finding a suitable aire in the book we decided to get out our ACSI Campsite book to see what was around Valencia. I found one 9km south of Valencia which would cost us a reasonable €17 per night. Tim’s nervous ‘tic’ returned at the thought of spending that kind of money for one night but needs must when the devil drives. The ACSI book uses a different format for the co-ordinates that we have been using with our other two books and after much faffing and fiddling the destination flag put us in the sea, just off the beach, south of Valencia. Excellento, let’s go.
After a stressful drive, having taken the wrong exit off roundabouts twice, dealing with multiple lane changes, lorries, tailgaters and roadworks we arrived an hour later, at around about the spot we were looking for. We pulled over to decide what to do when we saw directly ahead of us ‘La Marina’ aire at €11 per night. Hallelujah, perfect. It’s a large car-park but that’s fine and the chap on reception was soooo friendly he turned our day around. Tim, also, was saved with parting with €17 so all’s good.
The bus into Valencia was free that day for some sort of mobility festival so we went in for a reccy late afternoon. We got off the bus at the ‘Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias’ or the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’.
Designed by Santiago Calatrava and Félix Candela the ‘city’ stretches for over 2km and houses an IMAX cinema, science museum, aquarium, opera house, concert space and landscaped area.
It is mightily impressive but I dread to think how much it all cost, especially with Spain’s economy as it is.
Colossal spend or not we thoroughly enjoyed our stroll around the whole area in lovely 25 degree sunshine.
We returned to the aire on the free bus with a plan the next day to cycle to Valencia to explore the Jardin del Turia, an urban park, adjacent to the City of Arts and Sciences.
A purpose built cyclepath, direct from outside the entrance to the aire, took us into Valencia today in thirty minutes. In October 1957 Valencia was flooded when the Rio Turia (river Turia) burst its banks damaging much of the city.
A decision was made to divert the entire river around the south and west of the city therefore averting any further disaster. What Valencia has now created is the Turia Riverbed Park.
The Park covers around 9km of the former river bed and is Spain’s largest urban park.
Over twenty bridges span its width with many of them original. It’s all beautifully landscaped with cyclepaths, footpaths, trim trails, picnic areas, skate parks, sports facilities and the like.
We cycled the entire length of it and back, which took a good hour, before heading towards the marina and beaches.
Valencia is really very cycle friendly as there are dedicated cycle paths all the way down to the seafront and cycling isn’t banned along the promenade either. The beach is very nice as the hotels have been built quite a distance from the main promenade so weren’t imposing at all.
We enjoyed a drink at one of the beach bars, people watching, before cycling back to the aire.
All in all, an excellent day covering 38 miles, all of which was on dedicated cyclepaths. From our very shaky start yesterday Valencia has more than redeemed itself. Tomorrow the plan is to take the bus into the old town for a look see.