The First thing I fell in love with in Valencia was the effective system of transport. (Maybe some of you won’t agree, but before my arrival I had spent one week in London during the Olympics in 2012). With population around 900,000, Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain; but five metro lines are enough to cut the travelling short. One station is located right at the end of the airport terminal. I bough the tickets in the machine – 10,90 EUR for ten journeys.
Twenty-five minutes later I got off in the city centre, just walking distance the arena and museum of bullfighting. From the nearby square Plaza de Colon you can take side streets to the Plaza Ayunatamiento Square, which boasts the town hall building. To get to the Plaza de la Reina Square with the Cathedral and the Miguelete Tower takes another 5 minute. Some of the city’s top-sights can be visited in one hour.
Swimming in the sea
Apart from the proximity of all sight, many people would fancy the hot climate. The temperature is between 30 – 35 degrees C° for the most of the day. In winter, it won’t descend below 10. It is really worth going to the beach. The journey takes approximately 25 minutes with metro, but you have to change trains. Local resident therefore use bicycles, operating on similar scheme than the Boris bikes in London.
The beach is free as well, unlike all the over-priced swimming pools and aqua parks in Slovakia. The sea is hemmed by typical palm alee, nice hotels – one of them resembles the Greek Pantheon – and shops. Just thirty minutes away from the rush of the city, you can have a swim in the sea and reinforce the connection with nature.
As a football fan, I could not leave out the visit at Mestalla Stadium, the home ground of the local FC. The guide showed us around the whole stadium. We started in the VIP lodge, enjoyed the view from the tribune, touched the pitch. With our feet, of course. After that, we went to the dressing rooms. I was surprised by the rather modest furniture, practice introduced by Rafael Benitez. According to him, the players should not feel too much comfortable prior to the match as it might interfere with their performance. Therefore the home team would sit on wooden benches, whereas the guests can enjoy comfortable armchairs.
In press centre one can be pictured sitting behind the microphone, as if he has just signed a contract. Finally, we stopped in front of a wall covered by the names of all players that have ever played for Valencia. The most important ones were highlighted. Now I know what does it mean to „to be written in the team‘s history in capital letters.”
Another favourite sport in Valencia is bullfighting. Due to the protests, the rules changed and the match does not end in stabbing the bull with a dagger. Both the animal and the matador walk away, accompanied by the cheering crowd. I expected that a bull fight would be something like a dirty, sweat man hanging on to the raging bull. However, it is an elegant performance in three acts, topped by the matador dancing around the bull, waving the red cape – mulleta. The best bullfighters are as popular as the top footballers and make good money. Before, though, they have to undergo special training at the academy.
Tapas and siesta
Apart from the touristic attractions, I saw a typical Spanish Union strike. I watched them from my balcony – a crowd followed by two policemen. Many people are unemployed, but sometimes it seems that they actually don’t care. They would hang around the bars carelessly. I have tried the typical tapas. Before, I thought it is a proper meal. But tapas are just different appetizers, usually served on a piece of bread. It can be fish, sea food, ham, vegetables, or tortilla. The very sense of tapas is to share, enjoy your food with friends.
For breakfast, we used to go to panaderia – a bakery shop. The choice of bread is much wider than in a supermarket – supermercado. From the retail chains known in Slovakia, they have only Carrefour. On the other hand, the shops boast of wide variety of fresh fish and fruit. I liked appricots. Actually, I am not sure, because I do no to know whether the word melocoton refers to apricot, or yellow breed of peach.
Those are my impressions. Spain is an ideal country for holiday, but I probably would not be able to work here, distracted by all the relaxing atmosphere and warmth. No wonder that Spanish take siesta in the afternoon.