Before doing the research for this trip, I had never heard of Valencia. Adam had found out about it online and suggested we check it out in between visiting Madrid and Barcelona, and I am certainly glad that we did. Valencia is gorgeous and our first day there was spent exploring the old city, marveling at the churches, castles, and beautiful buildings that decorated the streets.
We ate lunch al fresco at a restaurant that was tucked away on a small side street. The large number of locals enjoying their late afternoon lunch assured us that it was going to be a good spot. We ordered Aqua de Valencia (a traditional Valencian drink of orange juice, cava gin and vodka), Paella Valenciana and Ajoarriero (a salted cod dip). I really love the Spanish dining culture of taking your time and enjoying your food, company and the moment, and Adam and I followed this way of life during our meal. After dinner we found a bakery called Granier where we picked up some fartones (a traditional Valencian dessert). We devoured them and were practically giddy from how delicious (and cheap!) they were.
The next morning Adam and I had breakfast in the gorgeous Plaza de la Virgen. We each had pan con tomate, a café con leche and the most delicious fresh squeezed orange juice I have ever had (that says a lot coming from a Florida girl). If you are in Valencia, do not leave without having a glass of their life changing orange juice! Afterwards, we explored the Mercado Central. The market was huge and we walked up and down the aisles marveling at the meats, cheeses, nuts, olives, fruits, and vegetables before buying some salted pistachios and fried almonds to snack on later. We loved the market because it was distinctly non-touristy and you could tell that real Valencians shopped there every day; it really gave us an idea of the Valencian lifestyle.