By | May 19, 2016

Our time in Granada comes to an end and it’s time to pack the car again and head to Valencia.  The route takes us through Jaen, which is surrounded by an enormous olive oil growing area which produces 20% of all olive oil produced in the world and which produces more olive oil than the whole of Italy. Entire valleys stretch into the distance studded with the grey olive trees.  We wonder about harvesting methods and find that it still must be a hugely labour intensive operation.

DSCN6464We call into a department store in Jaen to get our Orange data SIMs topped up and continue on toward Valencia, stopping in a small town along the way for another great Menu del Dia where, with a combination of the server’s lack of English and our lack of Spanish, we still manage to strike up a rapport before turning North East again toward the coast.

Along the way, we see the clear evidence of massive infrastructure spending.  Huge bridges span deep valleys to carry the dual carriageway autovia which burrows its way through the spurs of ranges where necessary.  In the distance we see a Renfre high speed train racing at over 300km per hour toward Madrid. We wonder what has happened over the years to the provision of infrastructure like this in Australia where there has been talk for years of high speed rail options but no actual outcome.

DSCN6466We arrive at our AirBnB apartment to find an absolutely magnificent apartment: the work of a Spanish interior designer who is currently living in London,  The apartment is on the eight floor of a renovated building right on one of the Gran Vias which run through the city.  It’s huge, and we’re glad that we’ve booked three nights to stay here at a fraction of the cost that a 23 square metre hotel room would have cost.



DSCN6467Valencia turns out to be an amazing city, with a mix of old and new.  There’s also a burgeoning craft beer scene here and we’re able to walk to a couple of nice bars and slake our thirst with a very nice pale ale and some Belgian style blonde beer.

We wake on the next morning to beautiful sunshine and walk a few blocks to a bike rental shop where we hire a couple of bikes for the day.

Through the narrow streets and onto the Gran Via del Ferran el Catolic for the last few hundred metres to intersect with the Jardines del Turia.

It seems that back in 1957, 80 people were killed and a huge amount of property destroyed when the Turia river, which used to loop through Valencia like the Seine through Paris, flooded for another time in a long history of devastating floods. The leaders at the time got on board with a plan to divert the river 3km to the South and, by the early 70s the work had been complete, with the former river bed now a green space with cycleways, jogging tracks, playing fields and coffee kiosks. It is truly a magnificent place to ride and we enjoy each new sight as it emerges.

DSCN6468Nothing prepares us for the wow factor of the arts precinct, and we take time to enjoy the great public spaces and pools which surround the soaring buildings with a coffee stop and a chance to take stock.

It’s then out of the river bed and onto one of the cycle paths which takes us around the other half of the circle route that we’ve found ourselves on, passing market gardens and abandoned buildings and block after block of high density living.  Eventually, we’re back the the beginning of the Jardin de Turia and we complete our circuit before another great Menu del Dia in a local restaurant not far from our apartment.

DSCN6487We top off the ride with a freestyle excursion through the maze of narrow streets and alleys in the El Carmen area of Valencia, inside the former walls of the old city.  A late afternoon storm cuts our ride short and we drop off our bikes and wander back to the apartment to relax before our evening adventure which involves us working out DSCN6498the local Metro system and riding to Colon metro station from where we can walk a number of blocks through a very nice up market shopping and dining area to another great craft beer cafe: Valencia on Tap, where we watch Sevilla beat Liverpool to the tune of 3-1 in the European Champions League before a lovely Asian fusion dinner in the repurposed DSCN6501Mercado Colon building: a former local market, now a collection of eating and drinking outlets.

Unfortunately, by now the Metro has stopped running and we’re forced to grab a cab and manage to explain the address to the driver.  All in all, a great day.

My flip camera seems to have developed a mistiness of its own, but if you’d like to get a feel for the ‘view from the saddle’ around parts of Valencia then the video below should give you a good idea.

Hooked on Valencia from Roger Pryor on Vimeo.

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