Our first train ride was on a high speed (almost 300km/hr), non stop route from Madrid to Valencia. Security baggage screening is now mandatory, a big change since our visit in 2015. Definitely necessary but sure sent us scrambling. Our Eurail pass is now electronic – very simplified!
Valencia: February 6 – 9
Valencia is the third-most populated municipality in Spain, with a population of around 800,000; including the wider urban area, the population is 1.6 million. The Port of Valencia is the 5th-busiest container port in Europe and the second busiest container port on the Mediterranean Sea.
Along side the port, is a gorgeous, white sand beach on the Balearic /Iberian Sea; a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea. Our beach day in Valencia was amazing! The weather was starting to warm up here. Lots of gorgeous hotels for the beach lovers!
The City of Arts and Sciences, an architectural complex within the city, is the most important and modern tourist destination. The project began in July 1996 & completed in 2009. The original budget for the 3 structures was €300 million but it expanded about three times the initial expected cost.
We walked to this area on our second day, not knowing what to expect. We decided to follow the former riverbed of the river Turia, which was drained and rerouted after a catastrophic flood in 1957. The old riverbed was turned into a picturesque sunken park and made for an enjoyable but long walk.
We were astounded at every corner as The City of Arts and Sciences grew before our eyes. It was spectacular – and enormous!
The Central Market of Valencia is one of the largest in Europe; it covers more than 8,000 square metres. The Valencian Art Nouveau style is enhanced by the light that enters through the roof and coloured window panels. Those peppers, green onions and tomatoes were huge!
We walked through a plaza to tour some buildings and on the way out a woman tried to give us a piece of paper. ‘It’s for you’ she said and when she wouldn’t take no for an answer, I took it. We glanced at the Spanish text and almost turfed it, then looked at the picture. We were so surprised and now love our unique Valencia memory! Definitely a tourist ploy but pretty cool.
Murcia: February 9 – 12
Murcia is a charming, vibrant city with a relaxed pace and a population of less than 500k. The city is called “Europe’s orchard” because of its abundance of fruit, vegetable, and flowers. Fresh seafood is readily available off Murcia’s coastline which provided a rich and unique gastronomic culture for us to explore. We found their regional tapas, dishes and local wine to be the best we have had so far. The bars and restaurants closed and opened several times a day here and we never figured it out lol.
The Tapa – the busiest restaurant in Murcia – definitely a favourite!
We love it when we stumble upon something while lost’ish, and The Gastro-Market of Correos was it. This gorgeous place had thirteen unique restaurants and three bars. The menu includes offerings from each restaurant and bar. A server takes your order and then the smooth cast of servers cruise around the restaurants and pickup and deliver your various selections. It was like an elaborate food court with adult beverages and service – amazing concept!
We visited the Real Casino, one of the most unique historic attractions in the region. It was built and designed during different periods from 1847 to the early 20th century. Each room is a delightful dedication to various architectural and design styles.
Murcia Cathedral has many Renaissance and Baroque elements, although its’ interior is fundamentally Gothic. Currently under repair and restoration, a tarp with a cartoonish representation of the cathedral covers the scaffolding and work happening behind the cathedral’s façade.
The Romea Theatre has gone through many refurbishments. We tried to visit it one evening during a special performance but were rejected lol
The Plaza de Toros de Murcia was built in 1887 is an active (seasonal) bullring in Murcia that holds 15,000 people.
Murcia had everything we love about Spain without the crowds. Murcia wined and dined us and showed us good things come in small packages. We loved it here!
We are currently exploring Almeria where it is warm and sunny and are heading to Malaga tomorrow! Thanks for following along!