I’m a year and a half late on this one… but before I lose all memory of Valencia, Spain, I wanted to consolidate my photos and document some standout spots. If you happen to be heading to Valencia for next weekend’s marathon, let me know if you make it anywhere on my list or discover other gems worth adding!
My trip was prompted by the 2018 IAAF World Half Marathon Championships, which was my first senior USA team to make. Within a few days of my selection, it also became a little Rice reunion when Will (easily) convinced two of his former roommates/teammates to join us. (Reed and Wyatt, y’all are champs!) While I focused on the race for a few days, those three explored Valencia by foot, and by the time I’d finished competing, I had exactly one day to cram in as much as I could before flying home.
While not my best half marathon ever, I had a decent race (41st in the world, 2nd for Team USA)–especially considering that I’d been sick and curled up in bed the whole week prior. Fortunately, I turned the corner right before I flew out and was able to enjoy both the race and the city a ton. Here are some highlights from our quick but jam-packed visit:
- La Finestra // We didn’t come to Spain for the pizza, but we certainly found it! The guys and I stumbled upon La Finestra one night, answered two questions (how many pizzas? any allergies?), and buckled in for the ride. A few at a time, blistered little pies started showing up at our table, each one topped with whatever the chef was feeling at the moment. Most combinations elude me now, but I do recall the potato blue cheese being a fan favorite.
- Picnicity // In a city full of empanadas restaurants, Picnicity is one worth a detour, recommended to us by Olympic marathoner and my Team USA mate Jared Ward. Picnicity serves a wide variety of flavor combos–some classic, some innovative–so naturally, I tried one of each: chicken + vegetables, and pumpkin, goat cheese + honey. Both were delicious, fresh, and sneakily filling!
- Horchatería Panach // We couldn’t go to the birthplace of horchata (tiger nut milk, served chilled, sweetened, and cinnamon spiced) and not do the Spanish specialty justice. A few locals pointed us towards Horchatería Panach, just a short bus ride from central Valencia in Alboraya (a.k.a. horchata central). A tall drink each and a shared order of fartons (sweet breadsticks) was just what we needed to finish off our sightseeing strong.
- Bluebell Coffee // Whenever I have a few days in a city, I try to establish a homebase for coffee: somewhere walkable from my base with an atmosphere that speaks to me and a coffee game that’s serious. (Then I supplement with other coffee shops as we wander.) In Valencia, Bluebell Coffee was our spot. It’s one of the only shops I’ve visited that specializes in AeroPress, so we ordered that every time.
- Olhöps // Our AirBnb was conveniently located next door to a cool craft beer house, with hours I never quite figured out but a vibe and tap selection perfect for kicking off an evening (and killing time until restaurants open for dinner).
- Paella // I feel a little silly writing about food in Valencia and not calling attention to a must-try paella place. The truth is that I had so much good paella in the five days I was there–once or twice daily–that I have a hard time crowning a champion. My hot take: Valencians invented paella. Trust them on it, and try as much as you can.