Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Valencia Is Making a Splash; Water Is the Theme of This Year's Art Biennial, Which Kicks off in the Spanish City Tomorrow. Dive In

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Valencia Is Making a Splash; Water Is the Theme of This Year's Art Biennial, Which Kicks off in the Spanish City Tomorrow. Dive In

Article excerpt

Byline: LISA JOHNSON

FRIDAY

14.15 Depart from London Gatwick with GB Airways (0870 850 9850, www.ba.com), which has the best flight times, although easyJet and Ryanair can have the edge on price.

Arrive at 17.30 and take a taxi to the centre (about e15).

18.15 Check in to the Palau de la Mar (C/Navarro Reverter 14, 00 34 96 316 28 84, www.hospes.es, doubles from e160), a glamorous boutique hotel with 66 sleek, hi-tech rooms in two 19th-century townhouses.

20.30Walk or taxi it to Burdeos in Love (C/Mar 4, 00 34 96 391 43 50) for gourmet tapas and excellent wine in a chic setting that is four parts contemporary, one part modernista (elaborate ceilings, art nouveau chandelier). Set menu e36.

24.30 Wander down C/Caballeros to the heart of El Carmen, the city's vibrant mediaeval old town. Fight for an outside table at Cafe Sant Jaume (C/Caballeros 51, 00 34 96 391 28 26, a glorious old apothecary-turned-bar, and drink your way through a jug of agua de Valencia (water of Valencia, made with champagne, OJ and a drop of Cointreau).

SATURDAY

09.00 Grab a coffee outside the Hotel Ingles and admire the lavish baroque doorway of the National Ceramics Museum (C/Poeta Querol 2, 00 34 96 351 63 92) opposite.

Sculpted in alabaster by one Ignacio Vergara, its allegorical figures represent the two rivers that once circled the land of the palace's original owner, the Marques de dos Aguas.

10.00 Climb the 207 steps of the cathedral's octagonal Miguelete bell tower (on Plaza de la Virgen) to get the lay of the land. Tick off the Romanesque, gothic and baroque entrances to the cathedral and nip inside to see Goya's paintings in the chapel of St Francis Borgia.

11.00 Head to the Central Market, a modernista cathedral to fresh food with 1,000 stalls selling oranges, olives, paella and fish (including the writhing eels served with garlic in the local dish all i pebre). Stop out front for a horchata, a milky drink made from crushed tiger nuts.

12.00 Peek inside the Lonja, a masterpiece of palm-tree vaults and spiralling columns - now a Unesco World Heritage Site - that was the silk exchange during Valencia's golden age in the 15th century. Continue on to the Carmen district to check out the Biennial exhibition (24 September-30 November, www.bienaldevalencia.com) in the Convento del Carmen, and H2O, the Gaetano Pesce exhibition at the prestigious Valencian Institute of Modern Art (C/Guillem de Castro 118, www.ivam.es).

14.30 Linger over lunch at Bar Pilar (C/Moro Zeit 13, 00 34 96 391 04 97), an ancient tapas bar with creaking ceiling fans, rickety tables and wooden cabinets stuffed with brandy.

It is famous for its clchinas, mussels in tomato sauce which you duly suck out of their shells before tossing said shells into buckets lined up along the bar. …

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