A warm summer day coming to an end, a cool breeze lifting off the Mediterranean, a glass of cava sparkling in your hand, the water skidding by underneath, the wind rustling the sails up above… and on the horizon, past the beach, the sun sinking behind a set of colored clouds. There aren’t many experiences more enjoyable than a sunset tour on a catamaran.
If the low-lying fields which surround Valencia are known for rice and horchata-producing chufas, then the mountainous areas farther inland are known for wine, particularly the endemic Valencian variety called Bobal. We made a trip to the province’s most important wine-producing region, Utiel-Requena, to visit the popular Hoya de Cadenas vineyards.
The sun was beating hard upon our necks, and our shirts were soaked with sweat. It was Sunday afternoon in the middle of the oppressive Valencian summer, and we were walking through the horta nord of Alboraya, learning about chufa: the tiny tuber which is the principal ingredient in horchata.
A humble meal originally from the rice fields of Valencia, paella has become the most emblematic dish of Spanish cuisine, and is now served in restaurants across the world. But for our money, the best is still made in the Comunidad Valenciana. We visited La Matandeta, a popular restaurant near the Albufera, to learn how the perfect paella is made.
Valencia has a couple of great city beaches in Malvarossa and Las Arenas, easily reached by bus or tram. But sometimes, Jürgen and I want to get away from the crowds and enjoy a more low-key day on the sand. So, we hop on bikes and head south to the series of beaches that stretch out along the coast between the city and the Albufera natural park.
Valencia is a relatively flat city, but it’s surrounded by mountain ranges. The closest is the Sierra Calderona, an hour’s drive northwest. We spent a day hiking in the hills and ended up at the Mirador de Garbi, a natural rocky outcrop with astounding views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Having seen the castle and most of the other principal sights on our first day in Xàtiva, we awoke early on our second day for an excellent 14-kilometer hike. We’d be following PRV-78, a circular path that leads along the Albaida River, past an ancient aqueduct and caves, and through groves of orange trees, before heading back into town.
Sometimes, we need to remind ourselves that Valencia is more than just a big city. The province is also home to quiet forests, deep ravines and rugged mountain chains, all waiting to be explored. We spent one April morning walking along the Regajo River, near the western border with Cuenca, in an effort to satisfy our intermittent desire to connect with nature.