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Hola Valencia’s Top Five: Plazas

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The one thing Valencia has more of than church bells? Plazas! Every corner of the city is the Plaza de Somethingorother. Here are our favorite five, in no particular order:

Plaza del Ayuntamiento

Bounded by the city hall building, the post office and Valencia’s emblematic fountain, the Plaza del Ayuntamiento is the de facto gathering place for the citizenry, whether it’s to celebrate a mascletà or Spain’s World Cup victory.

Plaza del Ayuntamiento – Info & Pics
2010’s Final Fallas Masletà
Rodin in the Plaza de Ayuntamiento
World Cup Celebrations at the Ayuntamiento

Plaza del Patriarca

Orange trees are the dominating feature of this lovely plaza next to the old University building, La Nau. It’s named for the adjacent Colegio de Patriarca, a church & museum. On Sundays, the plaza fills with kids and well-dressed families.

Colegio del Patriarca – Introduction & History
Colegio del Patriarca Video – Bell Tower in Action
Oko Sokolo: Modern Gymnastic Theater in the Pl. Patriarca

Plaza de la Virgen

Valencia’s most famous, historic and heavily visited spot, the Plaza de la Virgen is the heart of the city. With the fountain of Neptune as a highlight, this plaza is adjacent to the Basilica and the Cathedral, and plays host to the famous Tribunal de las Aguas.

Plaza de la Virgin and Panoramic Views of Valencia
Traditional Dancing in Plaza de la Virgen
The Flower Offering to the Virgin

Plaza Dr. Collado

This cool little plaza is found right behind La Lonja, and is a favorite meeting spot for people. During Fallas, the commission always put up an interesting monument and rocks the neighbors with noisy concerts. A great place to grab a beer in the evening.

Plaza Dr. Collado – In the Heart of the City
Dr. Collado’s Café Lisboa – Meeting Spot Central

Plaza de l’Almoina

The central feature of this plaza is its large, glass-bottomed pool that shows off ruins from the beginning of Valencia’s history. From the ancient Iberians, through the Romans, Visigoths, Moors and Christians, the Almoina has always been at the center of Valencian civilization.

Museum of l’Almoina – Centuries of Ruins
Valencia’s Roman Origins

Top 5 Day Trips from Valencia

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July 24, 2010 at 11:43 am Comments (8)

Plaza Dr. Collado – In the Heart of the City

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If you’re meeting a group of friends in Valencia, there’s about a 73% chance you’ll be meeting in Plaza Dr. Collado (location). The reasons are many: the plaza is central, everyone knows it, there are plenty of places to sit for a drink, it’s relaxed and without major traffic.

On any length visit to Valencia, Dr. Collado (named after, I think, this guy) will be one of the plazas you find yourself in over and over again. Directly behind La Lonja, and within spitting distance of the Mercado Central and Plaza Redonda, it’s perfectly situated for a post-sightseeing caña.

Tourists mix with locals here, and the atmosphere is almost always festive. We enjoy watching street musicians fight for the right to play in the lucrative plaza.

One of the most striking things about this plaza is the number of abandoned buildings that surround it. Even while the plaza enjoys prominence as one of Valencia’s favorite areas to hang out, the city and landlords completely neglect its living conditions.

Back in the 70s, the Falla of Dr. Collado was one of the city’s most important — that decade’s Nou Campanar. Nowadays, it’s one of the most boisterous. During Fallas, this plaza rocks all night long, with live music and big crowds.

Location on our Valencia Map

July 24, 2010 at 10:42 am Comments (0)

Valenbisi: The City’s New Bike Rental Service

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There’s been talk of a city-wide bike rental scheme for a long time, and it’s finally here. Introducing Valenbisi.

We lived in Berlin, where the Deutsche Bahn (the railway company) operated a very popular bike rental service. You’d just type the bike’s serial number into your cell phone, hop on, then park it when done. Very practical, and we’ve been aching for Valencia for implement such a system.

So Valenbisi, run by the city government, is very welcome. Bikes are the best way to get around Valencia, bar none, and we think that the service is going to be extremely popular. The bikes look sturdy and strong. The prices are reasonable — €10 for a 7-day subscription — the first 30 minutes are always free, then it’s €0,50 for the next 30 mins and €3,00 for every additional hour.

There’s at least one major problem: the dispersal of the “rental stations”. They’re all in the same area of town! I’d like to say that this was just a roll-out problem, but … check out this map. The red arrows are the current rental stations, and the white ones are the “future” ones:

Not a single station anywhere in the historic center? Ruzafa? The train station? There must be a reason, but tourist friendly, it’s not. Great for students of the U of Valencia, and perhaps that’s the true target market. (Though if you’re targeting hip college students, this might not be the best image to put on your website).

Update: The consensus in the comments is that the bikes will be better distributed throughout the city in the future, and there’s a link for future locations can be found there. Valenbisi should put this information on its website.

Anyway — the addition of 2750 bikes to Valencia’s streets is extremely welcome. We need more bikers on the streets, which will lead to better bike paths and more respect from drivers.

We’d love some comments from anyone who’s used the service, in regards to the quality of the bikes and the ease of rental.

Valenbisi’s Web Site (with really bad English! Seriously, guys, hire a translator! There are a few native English speakers in the city)

Holiday Rentals / Hostels / Hotels

Cheap Car Hire

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June 22, 2010 at 5:04 pm Comments (7)

Card Trading on San Vicente Mártir

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The World Cup is coming up fast, which means approximately 89% of Europe’s children (and 78% of adults) are busy collecting and trading Panini stickers to complete their Official Panini World Cup albums.

Panini Stickers

I got hooked during the 2006 World Cup, when I lived in Berlin. With a mix of dogged determination, slight insanity and keen bartering sensibility, I managed to complete my album a couple days before the final between France & Italy. The sense of satisfaction and glee one feels while placing the last sticker is indescribable.

Chromos copa el mundo

On Sunday mornings, in an alley off San Vicente Mártir near the Iglesia de San Martín, there is a mini-market for trading card fans. I found that the hectic, disorganized and generous way the Spanish trade is quite unlike the coldly equitable method employed in Germany. After 20 minutes, I left with a huge stack of new cards, having gotten rid of nearly all my doubles. Jürgen was waiting for me at a nearby café, and I ran over ecstatically to show him my new acquisitions. My wild-eyed enthusiasm was answered with a bewildered look, bordering on disgust. But I did not care.

Even if you’re not into trading stickers, the bustle and excitement of the impromptu Sunday morning markets is an interesting slice of Valencian life. And if you are… send me a note! Maybe we can make a deal.

Panini World Cup Stickers



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May 24, 2010 at 8:44 am Comment (1)

Bike Trip to Saler and the Albufera

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Juergen and I are stupid, drooling idiots; a sad fact confirmed by the length of time it’s taken us to finally purchase bicycles. 2 years! We’re so dumb… there’s no excuse. Valencia is an excellent city for biking. No hills to be found, and the big Turia park serving as a “bike highway”, complete with “exits” into various parts of the city. The weather here is great and the motorists aren’t too frightening (at least within the city, where they’re forced to go reasonably slow).

church-bike

One of the best reasons to have a bike in Valencia is the massively improved accessibility to the beaches. Not just Malvarossa, but to the less crowded and more serene southern beaches — Pinedo, Dehesa, Saler. There’s an awesome bike route which leads to them, starting near the new Agora building (precisely here).

The long, popular path avoids traffic the entire way, reaching the Pinedo beach in about 20 minutes. The further south you travel, the more deserted (and nekkid!) the beaches.

Not only can you enjoy the sand and the sound of the waves, unencumbered by the massive crowds of Malvarossa, but you’re right on top of the Albufera national park. We took a little tour after sunning on the beach. Beautiful dune and swamp landscapes define the park, along with unfortunately ugly high-rise apartment complexes built before the Albufera was put under environmental protection.

But it’s best to ignore those buildings and focus on the natural beauty. I have a feeling that we’ll be back quite often this summer. If you’re in Valencia for an extended time, we strongly recommend getting a bike. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can get around.

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We happened upon a Triathlon during our trip.
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Vacation Rental Valencia

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May 3, 2010 at 2:23 pm Comments (6)

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