We had a wonderful long weekend in Valencia, Spain's 3rd city which is around 200 miles south of here. Often touted as the new Barcelona (especially in the property business) it is nothing of the sort. They are completely different cities and you worry that the hype surrounding Valencia - much of it based on the upcoming America's Cup - will go as quickly as it came.
But it has tonnes of charm - a fabulous old quarter that has a much more colonial feel than Barcelona. And the aquarium at the stunning city of arts and sciences lived up to its much hyped reputation, even if the queues were gigantic and Spanishly inefficient.
the squares are the best feature - we were very close to the cathedral where Ben and I witnessed a newly married couple exiting to a deluge of rice and a deafening blast of firecrackers. It seemed everyone was getting married in Valencia that Saturday - come nightfall we counted nine formally dressed newlywed couples being posed for pix by the fountains in the gorgeous Plaza de la Virgen or sitting at outdoor tables having a fag. The next day there was formal dancing in the square. It's a fun town and we will definitely go back soon.
Eating highlight was seuxerea, one of the few modern restaurants in town, run by Stephen Anderson who used to work for Alastair Little.
Sarah and I had the lovely cod with creamed porcini, and crunchy vegetables while Ben declared his entrecote steak to be 'the best ever' and Rebecca was equally keen on her duck with stir fried artichokes and blackberry sauce. Stephen has run the place for 10 years and like any good restaurateur, says it is hellish.
ps click here for pix