DAY 1 Saturday 1 September 2018
The Central Market is one of the glories of Valencia.
After a slice of tortilla at a local cafe and coffee in the Central Market with friends James and Blanca, I take the Metro to Sant Isidre (patron saint of farmers and peasants) in search of the Turia.
An unpicturesque part of town; its skyline dominated by high rise flats and the overhead wires of several intersecting railway lines.
On the map it looks like a short walk to the diverted Turia, but when I enquiry at the station the girl looks mystified. “No es posible”; shaking her head when I show her the map. “It’s under the motorways” she says.
Well and truly banished.
Photo of a street map at the Metro station showing the diverted River Turia bounded by the Autovia V-30.
At 6.30pm I board the bus to Chelva, after a onerous journey wheeling my too-big suitcase in and out of lifts and several Metro interchanges.
On the bus, I hear a broad Yorkshire accent; I’m sitting in front of a woman from Hull who’s been working as a hairdresser in the region for over 10 years.
As the bus nears Chelva I can see the usual ugly concrete flats on the outskirts, but then a very grand Baroque church tower on a hill nestled amongst terracotta tiled roofs and stuccoed walls.
Ben meets me off the bus and we visit a supermarket and then an old man who sells me 8 free-range eggs for the price of six.
From my kitchen window
The sound of water is everywhere; it roars up from iron gratings and trickles from spouts in the walls and fountains.
The house and garden are charming and the town a delight of narrow winding streets; an old Arab town, a Jewish Quarter and a grand town plaza overlooked by the cathedral, a large town hall and importantly cafes and bars.
But I discover that above all this is a place famous for its waters!
Over 100 springs rise under the town and the sound of flowing water is an integral part of its soundscape.
Typical alley in the old Arab area; many of the houses and alleys are painted powder blue.
Ben and Helma invite me to baked salmon accompanied with a very nice red wine.
This is my kind of place.