For our last full day in Valencia, the weather had cooled off a few degrees to be just “pleasantly warm”, so we decided it would be a good day to go check out the beach and go swimming (I had been to the beach twice before, but at night). After a few hours of swimming and relaxing on the sand, we needed a light lunch, so we decided to go walking. The southern end of Malvarossa beach is actually several blocks of restaurants all packed together (including the very nice La Pepica that I had eaten at two nights before), but we ended up instead walking out on the breakwater of the Port of Valencia, where we came across 39º27N, and decided to have a light lunch there.
For our second dinner in Valencia, we wanted to find something a little bit outside the tourist belt, but still Spanish and convenient to downtown. After a little bit of research, we settled on Labarra, a small Tapas bar located a few blocks south of Carre Colon, and thus a few blocks outside of both the old city and the main tourist beat in a fairly quiet neighborhood, with several outdoor tables nicely arranged on a little square. Our goal this night was to do some tapas, since the previous night we’d done the obiglatory paella and morcillas, so wanted to try something a little brooders from Spain. Ordering was a little difficult, since, like the US, Monday is the slow night of the week for restaurants, and they didn’t have several items on the menu. That, combined with our Spanish and the waiter’s English having very little intersection (although the waiter was outstandingly patient in dealing with us and our bad pronunciation and pantomiming), we managed to order up a rather nice range of dishes for the evening.
Our first proper dining experience in Valencia: dinner at El Rall (“Especialitat en Arossos” or “Specialists in Rice Dishes”), located on a small plaza behind La Lonja, with the outdoor dining patio that most Valencian places seem to have (an ongoing mystery that I will have to return to Valencia to answer: what do they do when it’s cold or rainy? 90% of Valencia’s restaurant seating appears to be on outdoor plazas and patios), completely taking over a small plaza between four buildings.
Right after getting into Valencia, we had to go strait to our hotel in the outskirts of Valencia in a quiet little suburb known as Alboraya. Alboraya’s claim to fame is being the birthplace to the Horchata (also spelled Orchata, or Orxata in Valencian), the drink common to several Hispanic nations. The proper Valencian version has exactly three ingredients, water, chufa (tigernuts), and sugar. (The related Mexican horchata is generally made from rice or almonds and is spiced). One legend links the origins of the name to James I of Aragon, who after being given the drink for the first time by a local in Alboraya, was said to have exclaimed “Això és or, xata!” (“That’s gold, darling!”). In any case, the town of Alboraya is almost a shrine to the Horchata. The main street is Avenida de Horchata, and there are about a dozen horchaterias nearby, with Horchata Daniel being one of the most revered.
As any of us that travel frequently can attest, the average quality of airport food is particularly lousy. Usually it’s either fast food (served up by HMS Host catering, or some other similar foreign equivalent), captive-audience priced, or served by people that don’t seem to understand that airports are frequented by people that are often in a hurry. So usually the result is quickly wolfing down some overpriced crappy food, hoping that your next flight won’t be plagued by food poisoning.