Today the European adventure continues as we depart the city of Barcelona and join the Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off network for the first time, departing from the drop off/pick up point which is the Be Sound Hostel in the heart of Barcelona.
For this leg of the Busabout network the coach departs Barcelona at 8:00am and is scheduled to arrive at the optional drop off point in Valencia at 1:00pm. From here the coach continues on to the Spanish capital of Madrid for the compulsory stop arriving outside the U Hostel at 7:00pm.
Barcelona to Valencia Day – 23 August, 2015
This morning we are up nice an early so that we can check out of the Be Ramblas Hostel and make our way down to the Be Sound Hostel to meet the Busabout crew that will be looking after us for the day. Because this is the lead up to the La Tomatina festival the coach was extra busy today meaning that an extra coach was called in for this leg of the trip to Valencia.
We had the normal Busabout coach which was heading all the way to Madrid so everyone getting off there would board that coach and we also an additional Contiki coach for everyone only going as far as Valencia. We jumped on board the Contiki coach with our guide the very bubbly Pasqual and we were on our way.
When you board Busabout for the first time you should receive a Busabout Traveller’s Handbook, this handy book gives you all the information you could ever need about Busabout and more. It lists all the Busabout drop off/pick up points and where they are located as well as all the optional activities you may wish to partake in while in each location.
It is also basically a pocket version of the Busabout brochure that comes out every year so you can also book more tours while you are on the coach if you wish to extend your journey. You will also get discounts by doing this on the coach and the book also contains some useful discounts for the various places the coach stops at.
Because the Contiki coach was an extra coach and not an actual Busabout coach I missed out on getting this handbook and had to wait until I got an actual Busabout coach which wasn’t until going from Madrid to San Sebastian nearly two weeks later. Funnily enough going from Valencia to Madrid in a couple of days time I again had the Contiki coach with Pasqual again.
On arrival into Valencia we were dropped off at the Busabout pic up/drop off point which was the Purple Nest Hostel right next to one of the main attractions in Valencia, which is the old Turia River Bed park. Once we collected our bags we headed off to our accommodation for the next two nights, which was a two bedroom apartment called Total Valencia Blue.
You can read the full review about the Total Valencia Blue apartment by clicking here, but it was one of the accommodation highlights of the whole trip being located in central Valencia in a quiet alleyway and being able to take full advantage of our own kitchen, bathroom and living room was awesome.
After arriving and taking it easy for the rest of the afternoon and getting some supplies from the local supermarket, it was a quiet night while we planned what sites we would take in tomorrow. There is plenty to see and do in Valencia and the city isn’t as in your face tourist-wise compared to Barcelona so it will be nice to wonder around a more laid back city.
Valencia – 24 August, 2015
This morning we were up nice and early and keen to explore the city of Valencia. From our accommodation we started walking towards the Valencia Cathedral which is one of the most visited attractions in Valencia and home to the Holy Grail. Being so early in the morning we were able to just wonder in and take a look around not realising that later in the day you would need to pay to get in and to see the Holy Grail. So later on in the day we’ll come back and pay to look around again and to see the main attraction in the cathedral.
From the cathedral we headed in a southernly direction walking through Plaza del Ayuntamiento which translates to Town Hall Square and is of course, home to the stunning Town Hall that dwarfs all other buildings in the square. Little did we know at this point that our hotel for La Tomatina was just around the corner from here, but more on that later.
We pushed on from here and ended up at what you could describe as the bottom of the Valencia old town if you were looking at a map where the old train station is located next to an impressive old Bullring. The Bullring is still in use today with bull fighting not as frowned upon in this region than it is in neighbouring Catalonia. Within the Bullring is also a museum devoted to the sport, it wasn’t open at this time of the day so I didn’t get a chance to check it out, however our Busabout guide recommended a visit here if you’re interested in learning about how it all works.
Turning around and heading back towards the way we started the morning but using a different route, we ended up at the Valencia Central Market which was full of fresh produce and a good way to see where the locals shop. Even if you’re not interested in markets it’s still nice to go inside and check out the old building that houses the market and the surrounding area.
Heading to the top of the old town of Valencia and you will find one of the old city gates called Torres de Serranos or translated to simply Sopranos Gate. It’s a pretty impressive medieval structure and to my surprise you can enter the gate free of charge by scaling the stairs to the top for an awesome view of the entire city. You can find other gates like this around the old town city fringe but from the map I was given of the town, this one looked the most impressive of the lot.
After calling on the Sopranos Gate it was approaching lunch time and we had already covered an enormous amount of ground walking from one end of the city to the other. Valencia is a very flat and walkable city, but it certainly takes it out of you.
We started to walk along one of the main attractions of Valencia which is a park that was once the location of the River Turia. The river used to flood often and devastate the city so in the 1950s it was decided that the river would be diverted around the city and this space would be turned into a park. It’s an amazing open space that takes you from one end of the city all the way down to the City of Arts and Sciences that we will visit later in the day.
Once we finished having some lunch back at our apartment we headed out walking down along the Turia Park towards the City of Arts and Sciences. These are a series of trippy buildings that were constructed at the end of the old river course and stand out as one of the modern must visit sights of Valencia.
One of the buildings contains an IMAX theatre while another is a exhibition space and at the time it was hosting the DreamWorks exhibition which I previously saw when it was in Melbourne a year prior. Of course as the name suggest it is also a museum devoted to art and science and is one of the most visited attractions in Valencia.
The surrounding shallow ponds of the complex allow visitors to hire a row boat and make your way around the buildings, or for those looking for something different you can instead get inside a Zorb Ball and make your way around the water that way.
It’s quite interesting wondering around the buildings here even if you don’t intend on going inside and visiting any of the exhibitions. It’s great that something so modern and out of place can be built here away from the historic old town, but is still close by, you almost feel like you have arrived in another city.
Today had been quite a long day, we were up early and had covered some significant ground. We walked back up Turia Park towards our apartment before realising we still hadn’t been back to Valencia Cathedral to go and check out the Holy Grail. Entry to the cathedral is €5.00 which is a small price to pay to get in which includes an audio guide in your language of choice.
The main attraction, the Holy Grail, is located in its own separate room, which is why we didn’t see it when we got in for a sneaky free look around the cathedral earlier in the morning. It’s quite small and protected behind glass up on an alter so you cannot get too close to it, but you can get close enough for a good look.
The rest of the cathedral is quite impressive also and worth a look around. Another thing that is worth doing is paying the extra €2.00 to climb the bell tower which will give you nice views of the entire city from a closer vantage point than the Sopranos Gate.
Other than grabbing some dinner to take back to the apartment, that was it for today and exploring Valencia. Tomorrow we need to check out of our apartment which will be really sad as we were really enjoying not only having all the facilities we had but the location and the seclusion of a full apartment.
Having said that it will be quite exciting as our Busabout La Tomatina Festival adventure will begin. I’m expecting this to be one of the highlights of the entire trip so stay tuned to read all about the craziness of this massive food fight.
PICK UP/DROP OFF POINT
Purple Nest Hostel
Plaza Tetuán, 5, 46003 Valencia, Spain
+34 963 532 561
Busabout Price: €23.00 Normal Price: €25.00
NEXT (Hop On Hop Off): Valencia to Madrid: Busabout Hop-On Hop-Off Flexitrip
Check out some other travel blogs about Valencia…
Nomadic Matt – Valencia Travel Guide
Urban Travel Blog – Long Weekend in Valencia