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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Explore Old Traditions Amid New Architecture in Valencia

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5. Oddball Day


Getting ready to board in La Albufera.  

For the best paella in the area, zip seven miles south to La Albufera, a sun-dappled, freshwater lagoon ringed by rice fields still irrigated by a Moorish canal system (acequias). Public bus Autocares Herca (from $3) departs several times daily from near the train station (at Gran Via Germanías and Calle Sueca); a taxi starts at $15. Fisherman brothers Vicente and Manuel run Mateu (Calle Vicente Baldoví 17, El Palmar, 34-96-162-0270) and serve arroz a banda—paella layered with local Albufera fish—and anguilas, young eels pulled from the surrounding waters. Vicente’s daughter Irene will rent you a rowboat after lunch ($40 an hour). If you’re out at sunset, the colors are reflected on still waters, and white great egrets are balancing in the marshy reeds. Back in Valencia, stop at Bar Pilar (on Plaza del Esparto, in Barrio del Carmen) and order the only thing on the menu: mussels. Slurp them at the bar, toss the shells into buckets on the floor, and take your Estrella beer out to the sidewalk for prime people watching.


Published on Dec 18, 2008 as a web exclusive.

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