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Visiting Valencia

deli-rantAfter a month's detox I thought my husband deserved a weekend of culinary indulgence washed down with a good quantity of spanish vino. And I deserved it too.  Having to live with a slightly tetchy man, who daren't step outside the door (except to do extreme exercise) in case he encounters some unhealthy temptation, is no mean feat in itself. So we were both celebrating the end of his abstinance.

We took the train to Valencia, our closest city. From the exit of the impressive station building at Valencia Nord, we stared out at the fan of roads calling us into the city. We turned right onto Carrer de Colon for a bit of sales shopping! El Corte Ingles, Zara, Camper et al invited us in with discount signs displayed alongside the styled mannequins.

A couple of swift purchases later and the shopping buzz had passed. Next we needed food.  The sun was shining so we hoped for a table bathed in it. We soon stumbled across a desirable spot and were pleased to find it was attached to a stylish little restaurant with an interesting 'menu del dia' and a choice of 50 beers from around the world. The Deli-Rant (a deli/restaurant) was a discovery I'm happy to recommend, on calle Creu Nova off calle La Paz. We ate well and sampled enough beer to bring on the need for a traditional Spanish siesta. The heat of the January sun added to the pleasure of the whole experience.

Our simple hotel was a pleasant stroll on, across the delightful Plaza de la Reina, and into the tangle of alleys, squares and small streets beyond. There are old book shops, artist corners, crochet gatherings, checked table-clothed cafes, vintage clothes and jewellery shops and giant bubble blowers and other street entertainers. Despite being in the centre of the old town this area had a laid-back village atmosphere. I instantly fell in love with it.

Once rested and ready, we hit the streets at 10pm for dinner.  It's important to get into the Spanish timetable to make the most of your Valencian experience. We chose the wacky wall-papered but cosy, bohemian hangout of Tinto Fino. It is found on Calle Corregeria along with other interesting eateries. We had a very warm welcome from the Italian owner/manager - and enjoyed some tapas to soak up our wine. In the same street you can dine very well at Restaurante La Moma.

plazadelareinaNot knowing when it was time to stop, we continued on slightly wobbly legs, around the corner to La Negrita, a late night bar, where we got into various conversations with artists and eccentrics until the early hours.

Next day we didn't achieve the sight-seeing that had been planned.  A lie-in became pretty important! Then a leisurely breakfast in the Plaza de la Reina in the seriously hot sun (it reached 28 degrees!), where we swallowed paracetamol with our freshly squeezed orange juice. The bikes that can be hired from reception at Ding Dong Telas remained padlocked. We promised ourselves that next time we visited Valencia it would be different. We would bike to the beach and through the Jardin de Turia which runs along the dry river bed of the diverted Rio Turia. We would make it into the Mercado Central and the Palacio del Marques de Dos Aguas... But not this time.

Instead we wandered the streets, contemplated buying a flat from a bill-board carrying man. A reminder of the troubles people face in the recession here. It would be a great biorestaurantplace to live wouldn't it? It's such a bargain, and he looks so desperate. But of course we didn't, but carried on ambling towards our next meal. Back on our health tip, we were delighted to find Tarta de Zanahoria, a petit, organic, vegetarian restaurant which had a set meal of soup, interesting salads, stew or falafel and chocolate pudding for around £10. The capable chef - who cooked in the shop window - also managed to part-serve, and entertain her child, throughout the steady stream of customers with apparent ease. You can find this gem in Pintor Salvador Abril, not far from the station, and in the evening do try the restaurant next door, Appetite, which comes highly recommended too.

Once back on the train, we snoozed between stops with smiles on our faces; happy with our mini adventure to Valencia. An escape from routine. We live a short distance from the city so our trip didn't involve searching out bargain airfares - but I did a little research for the sake of this article. From under £200 you can fly from the UK to Valencia on Easyjet to enjoy a winter weekend jaunt. They have been known to throw in the Ding Dong Telas as part of the package too. 

Just a 2 minute walk from Plaza de la Reina you will find the wonderfully quirky Valencia Mindfulness Retreat. A place of calm with yoga and guided meditation - plus champagne breakfast! It is a sociable place where breakfast is eaten on a large table with other guests and pre-dinner drinks can be taken from the honesty bar. Within a short stroll you can reach many main sites and quaint corners of the historic part of the city, or hire a bike to explore further.