After a night of gale force winds we packed up and headed down the coast again, mostly taking the motorways and main roads. This part of the coast is very unimpressive: the beaches may be nice but the development and the high rise is less than sympathetic.
Our campsite in Valencia was only a little way out of town, a bit run-down and quite small. We are often the only car with GB plates - everyone else in this place was either Dutch or French though there was a single Swedish and single Italian van.
The local bus delivered us to the main train station in town. Train stations are not generally noted for their style but the main building there was another example of Modernista style. The interior is a riot of mosaics all over the walls and ceilings. Beside the station is Valencia's bullring and huge posters advertised a show that evening. Several touts approached us with tickets for sale but they were all rather pricey and we declined. We did however manage to have a wander around inside so we could imagine the action that night.
Perhaps we have seen too many beautiful old towns behind walls but Valencia didn't stand out from the crowd. Pleasant enough and with some beautiful old buildings, but not outstanding. However the Modernista Mercado Central was a marvellous hive of activity. The fresh food market sold just about everything imaginable - the fish section had us marvelling over the varieties of prawns, some of which were bright red even though uncooked! Some of the ugliest fish in existence were displayed but were anything but enticing for a meal. Molluscs we would never consider eating were bundled up in nets or tied together: spiny murex, razor shells, tiny pipis, odd whelks and so on. Outside the market was a crowd vying for spare spaces at tables at street cafes while being entertained by some great clarinet playing from a busker. We fought for, and won, a table and had the best paella we have had so far - considering that paella was born in Valencia, this is as it should be!
But by this time, siesta had set in. We find this ritual quite frustrating. Some places are worse than others, but once 1.30pm rolls around, just about everything shuts and does not open again till about 4.30. So finding the major places of interest closed for the afternoon we headed to the only thing open, the Museo de Bellas Artes in a large blue domed building across the river. Not only open, but free, so two good things going for it! The main collection it has of note is its 15th century altarpieces, huge painted panels dripping in gold leaf. Worth the detour.
And so back to the old town to check out La Lonja a 15th Century building which was once the commodity and silk exchange in the city. The huge colonnaded hall downstairs is lined with twisted Gothic pillars rising to a very high ceiling and upstairs a stunning coffered ceiling, carved and enhanced with gold. Every row, every beam, every edge was carved with pictures of animals, plants and people and no two were the same.
Valencia's modern buildings seem to be her new direction. Soaring curves of white steel make up the Museo de las Ciencias (the Sciences Museum), the Palau de les Artes Reina Sofia (the auditorium and concert hall), the Aquarium and other buildings build in close proximity in an old riverbed in the city. They are a stark contrast to the old Valencia.