Three relaxing days in Valencia

Wednesday 20 July 2016 – Valencia, Spain.

Arriving home from my trip to Orford Ness early on Saturday evening it was a quick hello to El and then I was upstairs packing and organising myself for a three day trip to Valencia. I had to be at Gatwick Airport at 7:00 am on Sunday, and it is almost an hour long drive. I was not looking forward to getting up at 5:00 after the very late night and even earlier rise at Orford Ness. It was worth it all though.

Our Valencian house owning friends had invited us over to stay with them and some others for a few days, but El has work and as I am currently not working I decided to pop over for three nights – better than moping around the house during the day! El and I have a week booked in Devon this coming Friday so something for both of us to look forward to.

I arrived at Valencia Airport at mid-day after a pretty good flight on EasyJet. The sky in Valencia was a heck of a lot bluer than the sky in London was. One of the reasons for going was to see some nice blue sky!


I was picked up by Paul and Andy and driven back to the house in Lliria. Paul and Paula, have another couple staying along with various kids and their friends, though the ‘kids’ are all 16 and above, there was seven young ‘uns. Luckily it is a big place!

My plan for the three days was to do not much, fit in with everyone else’s plans and very little else, eat some food and drink some cold Spanish lager in the sun. Unwind now I am not working and, hopefully, before I start another job. For the first two days I very much achieved that – it was very enjoyable, I took no photos and did not write one word in my notebook. I did read a lot.

On Tuesday we went into Valencia for a few hours. I left the group once we got off the metro and just went wandering on my own for a while. I have seen the main sites and was quite keen to get lost in the back streets of the old town again and just lose myself for a while. I surprised myself by not really enjoying it, not Valencia’s fault, I was just not feeling it today. Maybe I have gotten too used to spending time on my own in more remote places than the back alleys of small cities. Not that there were a lot of people off the main Valencian thoroughfares. I did see one piece of street art I liked, that I am not sure I saw last time we were here.


I did take a few photos, just not anywhere near as as many as I expected. Valencia is very photogenic, even feeling off and unenthused about taking photos the city compelled me to get the camera out. Maybe after the fun of Orford Ness and using the big old DSLR having the pocket camera was not inspiring enough ?




Eventually I found myself at Torres de Serranos, one of two remaining 14th century gates into the town of Valencia. Originally there were 12 gates. It was the main entrance into the town so was designed to be more ornamental than the other gates, along with its main purpose of being part of a solid defensive wall. The city walls were pulled down in 1865, though this and the Cuart Towers were left behind as they were being used as prisons after the town prison burnt down.


When we were here back in March the front of the gates was covered in scaffolding so we didn’t have a really good look around. Now it was all clear I decided to head to the top and have a look. There is a 2 Euro fee to get in. Worth it! Just before I went inside I ran into some of the young ‘uns who I am staying with and was informed that this was a meeting point for the rest of the group in a few minutes. Good timing !

There are a lot of steps in the building, they made for some interesting shapes and I started taking a few more photos. I like the cleanliness and symmetry of the lines inside the building, with very little ornamentation left inside the structure itself is allowed to show off.




I made my way up to the roof, and the view was worth the effort of the walk, there were some other folk really struggling to get up to the top, it was fairly warm and fairly humid inside the walls and well there are some unfit people about! The view north east and out of the old centre of Valencia.


I have been developing a ‘thing’ for roofs and sky line images, I quite like the mix of line and shape and colour, a counter to the clean and tidy lines inside the gate towers.



Coming down from the towers I met the rest of the group and we split up again  after agreeing to meet later on at a horchateria for a horchata. I was quite keen to go and see inside the cathedral after talking to those who had been earlier in the day.

I set off on a roundabout walk back towards the cathedral, passing this cool little bike shop on the way.


The back of the cathedral had some interesting things, some of the detail on the building was really good, even after seeing so much of this ancient carving on the outside of forts and religious buildings all over the world I am still struck by the level of skill that was required to get that detail. I also like how it has faded over the centuries.



The front of the cathedral is interesting, not a traditional tower with massive doors, but definitely expressing its wealth and power. I liked it a lot.


The interior of the cathedral was OK, it was not the most amazing one I have visited, and it certainly had its highlights. I particularly liked the 14th century Holy Chalice Chapel and spent a bit of time relaxing in the coolness and semi dark. I also left my hat here 😦


I wandered around the interior until it was almost time to meet everybody else and walked out just as they were passing – great timing!



After a bit of misplacement we eventually found the horchateria and settled inside for a cool drink. The building is lovely inside, tiled and cool and relaxing. Horchata is a milk made from tiger nuts and is a speciality of Valencia. It was quite nice too!


After the sit down and drink we all headed back to the train and on to Lliria, for a cold cold lager and another pleasant evening of chatting in the garden.

The following morning (Wednesday) it was back to Valencia Airport for the flight home to Gatwick.

I really enjoyed my little break in Valencia, it was good to hang out with friends, chat, eat and drink sitting in the sun – with the occasional dip in the pool. Thanks Paul, Paula, Andy and Caroline for having me.

Copenhagen and Malmo – day three.

Monday 28 July 2014 – Copenhagen, Denmark / Malmo, Sweden.

It was a much cooler night last night, so some sleep was had, though we were up quite early as a group of Aussies decided that outside our open ground floor window was a good place to smoke, drink coffee and chat – loudly. I spent the next thirty minutes hovering by the window waiting for a courtyard table to come free so I could nip down and grab it, breakfast outside was so much nicer than inside. I am happy to report that today’s bacon was as good as yesterdays. Though I did eat some fruit today so that completely balanced out the body weight in bacon that was consumed.

Today we are off to Malmo in Sweden, it is the 58th country I will have visited, and most of those have been in the past two years of travelling as well, I had visited Denmark in 1987, though not Copenhagen, so it this is my first new country since Sri Lanka last year. After checking out we headed over to the station to find tickets to Malmo on the train that heads over the famous Oresund Bridge. We were dead keen to cross ‘The Bridge” and it was one of the reasons we came to this part of the world, the bridge is the bridge in “The Bridge” 🙂 and one of the longest bridges in the world. As we found out on the internet before we took the ride, you don’t actually see the bridge at all on the journey as it is a straight line ! Oh well, it was worth it anyway.

Though we crossed into a new country and had passports handy, they are not required. Malmo in Sweden is not much more than thirty minutes by train from Copenhagen in Denmark and it was a quick and painless journey.

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We enjoyed our couple of hours in town, there was a good map available at the train station and though we didn’t really have much of a plan of what to see I was quite keen to visit St Peter’s Cathedral. The modern art museum was sadly closed on Mondays – as were quite a few things in Copenhagen as well.

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St Peters is the oldest church in Malmo and construction was started in 1391 with the tower being added in the 1500s’. It had some incredible frescoes painted on the walls, but these were largely destroyed when most of the interior was white washed in the 1800s. I think I read it is the only white washed cathedral in the world and visually it is quite stunning.

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I really liked the metal tombs in the floor, and wonder how many thousands of feet have walked across them since they were laid down.

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The one small chapel with frescoes was beautiful to look at, the frescoes were painted in the 1520’s and are pretty much in original condition, slowly fading away. Just lovely, and the reason I wanted to visit the cathedral.

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We took a walk around the main old part of Malmo, which is within a small canal system, Malmo was a lot more how I expected Scandinavia to be, clean and tidy and the buildings here were nicely presented and charming.

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The main square was a bit touristy with most of the old buildings turned into restaurants with big ugly awnings outside, so no photos. We wandered back alongside the canal to the station, and back on the train to Copenhagen.

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Apparently balloons are banned on the platform!

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Back in Copenhagen we walked up from the station to the botanical gardens, it was another lovely, though hot day and a welcome wine under a tiny bit of shade outside the hot house was most welcome.

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We had another couple of hours to kill before we needed to head to the airport so we wandered back into the city centre, passed the round tower, looking for some lunch.

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We found a nice little square off a much larger square at Grabrodestraede and had a really nice lunch at Cafe Flottenheimer. The food and homemade lemonade were excellent and the location was great for people watching and grabbing an ever so slight breeze under the shade of a tree. Another eating recommendation!

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The larger square looked nice for lunch as well.

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We took a final walk back down to the Christiansborg Palace area to find this damn fountain from the TV series Borgen. We had been looking everywhere for it, we did find a fountain, but it was not the right one – again. Maybe it just does not exist!

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And that was that ! Our next trip was back to the station and on to the airport for our flight back to London. We arrived nice and on time, two hours before the flight, just to find that there was at least a two hour delay… We tried to swap to an earlier Easy Jet flight into Gatwick, but were not willing to pay full fare for it. So after checking in we mooched, me rather grumpily, around the airport for a while before heading up to the main departure lounge. It was bit disappointing up there, there was little or no aircon, and I was still hot and sweaty from the day, and a bit uncomfortable to be fair. There were not enough seats for all the people hanging about, we managed to get a seat in a bar where I drank the most expensive pint of piss poor beer that I have ever had in my life(it was soi bad I had two), plus I wasn’t willing to sign away my children’s inheritance to access the free wifi. All in all not a pleasurable experience, sorry Copenhagen Airport, nice and modern as you are, you are no fun if your flight is delayed. Though we did share a nice pizza 🙂

The gate for Easy jet is the furthest possible from the main part of the departure lounge and quite a decent five minute walk, though I actually enjoyed the walk up this long and functional corridor, it was nice to stretch my legs. The walking time to the gate painted was on the floor.
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I am not sure this sign was being ironic or not when we did arrive at the end, but I did find it amusing.

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We still had a while to wait for our delayed flight, so I took some photos of us waiting patiently.

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The flight was delayed even further at the gate, though not by much, as there was no plane, bad weather across Europe in the morning had caused the delay. But it was with relief when we did finally get going.

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We got home about 23:15, later than expected, tired. But it was a really good holiday, and we both liked Copenhagen enough that we would go back again.