We had watched a holiday program about Valencia and were keen to experience the city. On arriving at the San Lorenzo Boutique hotel, we picked our rooms. Our daughter chose a nice one with a balcony, whilst ours was on the side of the building. It was equally as nice but without the balcony. The only problem was that it was situated next to a church bell tower which rang at 8am every morning! Still, the hotel was ideally placed and we couldn't fault it.
Leaving the hotel, and a five minute walk led us to the nearby central square, which had a fountain and the main cathedral. As we explored the city over the next few days, we were impressed with how well preserved and clean it was. The town council seemed to appreciate their heritage, preserving it and not destroying it like some of our councils. Considering we are supposed to be a wealthy country, many of our buildings are left to fall apart. In our local park there is an example of this; the Buile Hill mansion, which was once a museum and has over the past twenty years been left to deteriorate. Also, within the city, we saw a police presence in a lot of areas and even security guards had truncheons and handcuffs. We certainly felt safe and even though there were a few people begging, there was no evidence of homeless people sleeping everywhere like in the centre of Manchester.
Valencia at one time had a river running through the centre of the town, unfortunately this flooded at times, so they decided to divert the river out of town. They were then left with a long stretch of riverbed. In this country they would probably have just built houses on this but here they turned it into a park acting as a green lung for the city.
At one end of this were a group of modern buildings in an area known as the City of Arts and Sciences. These futuristic building were impressive and show what can be done with a little imagination. Walking around these you couldn't help but admire the architecture. Our daughter had bought tickets to return the next day to see the exhibitions but we were content to just enjoy the sights.
I was even inspired to sketch two views of one of them.
Walking back through the park to the hotel,there was a wide range of sports facilities and recreational areas for the locals to use. We saw people running and the area was perfect for exploring by bike. We only managed to walk half of it and further on there were other areas to explore. There was even a large sculpture of Gulliver that had numerous slides on it for people to try, although it was a little hot on the way down.
An enjoyable experience of the city's highlights, showing how the old and new can be incorporated when planned properly.