Experiencing Valencia (Day 72 to 74)

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Day 72 – Valencia, A long run, the Aquarium, A Friend’s House for dinner

One of the coolest features of Valencia is the Jardin del Turia which was a riverbed that was dried out in 1957 after it flooded the city. The original plans were to turn the riverbed into a highway, but after many protests they turned it into a 4.3 mile long park.  I knew that is where I wanted to run, so at first light I took off for the park. 

I ran to one end, by the zoo, and then I ran to the other end that has some of the most amazing architecture I have ever seen. There’s an opera house, a science museum, an aquarium, and other super cool buildings and larger pools of water with art installations. As I arrived I reached the 6 mile mark and took a pause to appreciate it. From there I headed the 3 miles or so back to the hotel. 

View of one of the old city wall gates from my morning run.
I love discovering cool places when running in new cities.

Our plan for the day was to head to the Oceanografic (the aquarium), as we heard it was amazing for the kids. In some ways it was very cool and the kids loved it, and in other ways it felt like we could have been in SeaWorld in Florida. Either way, it was a good activity for the family. 

Pretty sick photo a a shark above swimming above us.

As we headed back, Kel had a surprise for the kids. One of the water areas that I saw earlier in the day had these big clear bubbles that floated on the water, and the kids were able to run and play inside of them.  The kids jumped in and loved it for the most part, except when Josh thought he had CO2 poisoning since there were no holes.

Kids in their clear bubbles.

That night, we were lucky enough to be invited to dinner to someone’s home who I went to high school with, who was in my sister’s grade. Wendy moved to Valencia almost 20 years ago and did a great job entertaining and cooking an amazing dinner for 7 people! 

Day 73 – A run, the beach and best paella, and a late night out

Saturday morning I decided I wanted to check out the beach area in Valencia. So I went on MapMyRun and determined it would be about 8 miles there and back. I planned to stop at the beach and walk for a bit and then run back. When I got to the beach, the first thing I noticed was that it was the longest distance I have ever seen from the sand to the ocean. Looked like 1/4 of a mile or so. Running back was tougher than the day before as my legs were a bit sore, but I made it back in time for breakfast. 

Found this on the beach. Look how far away the water is as well.

Our plan for the day was to walk around the old city near the Cathedral and then drive down to the beach as we had a 2:30pm reservation at La Pepica, which was famous for serving the Queen vegetarian paella. So we figured if it was good enough for the Queen of Spain, it would work for us.  

Josh having fun in the old city.
Leila and Jonah not too far behind.
Watching an amazing street performance by the cathedral.

We got a table outside, right off the beach (thanks to my Mom), and the kids went to play in the sand while we waited to order, then waited for food, and then waited to wait. Get the idea? The restaurant was huge and packed and it is Spain. You have to learn to be patient or not show up to lunch hungry.  Bottom line, it was worth it! The Paella was the best I ever had by far, and it was my dad’s first time eating it and he was ecstatic. My mom, Joshua, and Kelli shared a seafood one as well. 

Action shot throwing sand!

Afterward, we stayed on the beach for a while longer while the kids played and we walked around. 

Enjoying the beach after lunch.

That night, the kids stayed home with my parents and Kel and I left the apartment at 11pm to grab a late dinner and drinks. It was so packed outside you would have thought it was 8pm. In fact, most places we could not even get a table. We opted to stick with drinks. We ended up talking to these 3 Americans in their early 20’s who were working in Madrid teaching English. What a great experience they are getting. 

We wound up eating at 1am or so and got some pita and falafel that hit the spot. This is a young party town and we were glad we could somewhat keep up, even though it was still primetime when we called it a night. 

Day 74 – The looong windy drive back to Barcelona

We decided to head out right after breakfast (which was 12pm for us) so we could stop somewhere on the drive back to Barcelona for lunch. I got up earlier to go for my last run and this time I decided to keep it to 5 miles, as my legs were feeling it from the past two days. My dad happened to be on a walk when I finished, so I met him and we walked back about a mile together. 

We both agreed – while at first we were not as impressed with Valencia because it seemed like a lesser version of Barcelona, it had a lot of its own character, great architecture and parks throughout. As we were leaving, we both discussed our appreciation of our 3 day trip. 

We hit the road just after 12:30pm and as it turns out, there was a very strong wind storm happening all the way from Valencia to Barcelona. To make matters worse, there was a 50 mile stretch of road that we were on that was already known for high winds, and had warning signs everywhere. As a result, the van I was driving kept getting pushed to the right, and each time I could hear one of my parents gasp. 

In fact, we saw two trucks that had flipped over, and another severe accident on the side of the road. This driving was no joke. At one point, we saw the ocean to the right and did not realize it was the ocean because it was so white from crests of all the waves the wind was creating. 

Around 3:30pm we found a small beach town to stop for lunch. There is only so far chips and nuts from the gas station will take you. Unfortunately half of the restaurants were already closed, and the other half had at least an hour wait.  So after about 45 minutes of driving around narrow streets and walking to different restaurants, we hopped back in the car and decided to head to Tarragona, familiar territory. 

Being blown back by the wind in the small beach town where we could not find lunch.

Our only saving grace was the phones. The kids were on them, and to be honest did not realize how hungry they were. I knew we were going to pay for it later, but at this point we just went for it. We made it to the restaurant at 4:21 and they stopped serving at 4:30. All of a sudden it seemed like all 3 kids were screaming at once and the poor waiter was desperately trying to get our order in before the kitchen closed.  Kelli used her Spanish skills to order for everyone. 

On the upside, they got us our food super quick and all was forgiven. Plus, my parents got to see the amazing view and the ancient amphitheater we saw a month or so ago, back when we were previously there (see post). 

Back on the road and we still had an hour to go…Finally, we arrived home at 7pm and I was exhausted from all the driving.  Dropped off kids, then parents, then the car, and walked home from the car rental place to pass out in my bed.