València, Spain’s third largest city seems ‘grownup’. Mature and self assured. It can party like its siblings in the north and south however it’s families who seem to be partying in this place. It’s proud of its old town and equally proud to show you all its modern architecture.

València is the home of paella. It originated here in the rice fields when farmers were feeding themselves and their workers in the fields. The rice, available water and the available carne and vegetables became the key ingredients. Those being rabbits, snails, water rats and beans. So glad that chicken has replaced those rats in the traditional recipe.

Ms X has been making her own paella for many years after first eating the Spanish dish in Barcelona years ago. She was keen to learn from the best and refine her skills. So a Valencian Paella course would provide that secret info a la the Colonel’s secret herbs and spices! After 3 hrs of instruction from Chef Pepe, Mr and Ms X graduated! Their training involved chopping, stirring, drinking white wine, laughing, dancing around a table, drinking red wine and closely watching the pan, until the Paella was done.

Was it good? The completed paella is pictured at the top of this post. For an authentic Valèncian dish, these two home chefs were pretty proud of their efforts however Mr X did say that the one served in Maribynong is better and Ms X had to agree. Plus, she doesn’t add snails to hers!

In 1957 València suffered the last of their floods that covered the city. What were they to do? Drain and divert the river and convert the vacant river bed into a 9km park which wraps itself around the city. Mr and Ms X covered 8 km and were more than impressed with the ever changing landscape within. It’s not NYC’s Central Park however it has its own identity and ticks a lot of boxes. With sporting fields contained within it also has cafes, tranquil spots, skateboarding areas and cycling/walking tracks. There’s a huge Gulliver’s playground also. There were people enjoying their time throughout the space although you never felt on top of each other. At the end of the park there is quite a surprise waiting: a futuristic Arts and Sciences precinct complete with Opera House, aquarium, museum and 3D theatre.

València is no different to other Spanish cities visited in that there are a lot of churches. One claims to have the Holy Grail and we all know that can’t be true as Indiana Jones never found it! With €7 entry to see a fake Holy Grail, these two declined opting for a free entry to another with quite an elaborate Mary.

València boasts a huge market that they claim to be Europe’s biggest. Not quite sure if that is fact but it was quite lovely. They sure do make a lot of claims! Walk around the corner from the market and you find dancing in one of the many town squares. Just wonderful to watch.

So go to València but make sure you brush up on that tango before you get there.