Much as I don’t “do” cities, I can usually be encouraged to visit Valencia for a day so I can drool over the bewildering array of toothsome delights on offer in the absolutely incredible Mercado Central [Central market], It is a covered market housed in a wonderfully ornate 8000 square metre building which is, itself, worth going “ooh, ah” at even without the food.
On this occasion, Francine was interested in another Valencian “market”; Francine wanted to visit La Lonja de la Seda. Using the normally quite reliable Reverso, La Lonja de la Seda translated to “The Strap of her(it) Sedates”. Oops, methinks; perhaps somewhat less than reliable this time around. Google Translate came up with something nearer the mark: “The Silk Market”. La Lonja de la Seda is usually referred to in English as “The Silk Exchange”. Francine also had the nearby Cathedral in her sights. [Sigh] Oh well, at least I’d be able to swoon at the food items on offer at the Mercado Central just across the road from the Silk Exchange.
As we have done in the past, we took the train from Xeraco. Regrettably our journey to the station was not as smooth as silk ‘cos I took a wrong turn and ended up on the N332 heading south back the way we’d come. “Bother”, said Pooh, crossly. I dropped a U-turn, as complex as only the Spanish can design, at Gandia and headed back in the correct dirección.
It’s about an hour’s ride into Valencia from Xeraco and we were soon enjoying a coffee and toast smothered in tomato and olive oil before girding the loins for Francine’s main event.
I was being a real tourist for once; we lashed out 2€ a head to gain entry to the historic Lonja de la Seda. Within the building’s outer walls lies a small quadrangle planted with orange trees, just outside the room that was the main silk trading area, a sizeable hall supported by ornately twisting columns. The floor is pretty neat, too. Photographs must be thoughtfully composed to consider the windows which can cause lighting difficulties and which do not have particularly attractive backdrops outside them.
Having taken silk, we tromped off to the Cathedral, just as a murmuration of school children was preparing to enter. We gave a collective sigh at our less than perfect timing and chose to climb the 207 steps up the tower which was a) cheaper, and b), largely child free. During the ascent, a few stops were required for lung recovery. Having caught our breath at the top, we could look at the city’s skylines and marvel at the number of church domes within spitting distance.
Descending was considerably easier. I couldn’t help but notice that this Spanish spiral staircase had been built with a thread opposite to that used in an English castle, this one favouring rather than disadvantaging a right-handed, sword-bearing attacker heading upwards. Maybe the Spanish were not as concerned about sword-bearing attackers as we were?
Thigh muscles complaining mildly from our ascent and descent of the Cathedral tower, we found a brilliant tapas bar offering a tempting array of pinchos. Pinchos are tasty morsels, generally skewered onto a small slice of bread by a cocktail stick. You help yourself from those on offer and your cocktail sticks are tallied at the end to calculate the total bill. Well, total once the drinks have been added, of course. It was a fun way to eat lunch. One cannot help but marvel at the trust and honesty needed to make a such a system work. Imagine that in England.
Now to my main event, the Mercado Central. Here’s a picture showing the decorative roof. But onto the food; let the swooning commence. You have never seen so many jamons in all your life. The Spanish LOVE their jamons. A serious amount of the humongous space is given over to jamon. Francine was immediately taken by a well matured example priced at something in excess of 130€ a kilo. She invested 5€ in three reverentially shaved slices. [I have to say it was an oral experience, nearly as soft as butter with fat that almost melts on the tongue.] For my part, I was irresistibly attracted to a cheese containing truffle and bought a modest wedge costing almost 13€. [That was sublime, too.] My purchase received an appreciative nod from the stall holder.
Oh dear, this could become an expensive habit. If it does, at least I might remember my way to Xeraco station.