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Valencia Travel Blog› entry 15 of 27 › view all entries
Several months ago, we joined a group called CouchSurfing. It connects travellers internationally. We've hosted a few people at our house and Valencia was where we were finally going to get to do some couchsurfing ourselves.
The train from Sevilla to Valencia was a long one. There is a direct train up the coast but it was full so we had to go north to Madrid and change trains to one going east to Valencia. Took the better part of the day.
When we got to Valencia, we called our couchsurfing host, Julia. She told us which metro stop to go to and then we were to call her again and she'd come pick us up. The metro was mildly confusing but a young woman helped us figure the tickets out. The confusing part was that you leave the underground part and get on a tram. We haven't used those in Spain before but they're pretty cool and very comfortable.
The neighborhood we're staying in is very immigrant and working class (our host is a grad student) and only about a 10-minute tram ride from the town center. Julia met us and walked us over to her boyfriend's apartment (which is where we were actually sleeping). 3-bedroom bachelor pad (young men and bathrooms.....sigh). We had a room to ourselves with a good double bed.
Carlos, the boyfriend, was actually in Amsterdam with his dad and wasn't coming home till Tuesday. Julia was camped out in his apartment studying for a final exam on Tuesday (she's an undergrad studying sociology). Her English is pretty good (waaaaay better than our Spanish!). She showed us the apartment, gave us some info on the tram and transportation and we left her to her studying (which it did not look like she was enjoying!) and headed into town.
This trip has reminded us of one of the advantages of being city people -- public transportation is comfortable for us. Metro, bus, tram -- we can figure it out. We understand the basics, we can decipher a metro map (OK, Tokyo's notwithstanding) and we can generally get where we need to go.
Though it still helps, a lot, to have two sets of eyes and two brains working on figuring it out. Jeff's been the metro-master on this trip.
We got to the center of town and headed towards a restaurant recommended by our guidebook. The bridge we crossed to get there actually crossed a former river. Many many (hundreds?) of years ago, Valencia diverted their river. I don't know why. But they did something cool after that -- they turned the old riverbed into a park. 9 km of green space full of soccer fields, playgrounds, dog parks, and walking trails.
At the end near the river they've recently built a City of Science and Industry (I think that's the name). It includes a science museum, a performance space, and an aquarium. It's really pretty nice.
We wandered a bit in the old city center and found our restaurant -- the Caves. We were, of course, the first ones there. We still eat earlier than Spaniards, even if we wait till 8:30 or 9.
The place is about half underground. The front room looks so small but then you wander to the back and discover....another small room. And at the back of that? Another small room. There were 5 or 6 small rooms like that. Snug and cozy.
We had another good meal. Another "meat in sauce" that was excellent. Another good pitcher of sangria. The place started to fill up about 30 minutes after we got there, so I guess we weren´t too early. :)
Wandered our way home and hit the hay. A good introduction to Valencia. A good introduction to CouchSurfing.