A group of us escaped grey London for Valencia over new year and to celebrate Hamish’s 30th.

We stayed in La Pobla de Farnals at a great (and huge!) AirBnB hosted by Juan, who came over to make traditional Valencian paella for us on the first night! Created among the orchards, gardens, and groves around Valencia, the original paella draws on ingredients from the fields rather than the sea: rabbit, chicken, artichoke and beans. 

We went on a full day wine tour out to the Requena-Utiel province, where we visited historic wine caves, sampled many varieties and had a three course traditional lunch.

We also did a great bike tour which took us around the city and gave us a bit of a history lesson! We rode through the beautiful old quarter, visited some great food markets for tapas and then into the park that winds through the city, which was once a flood-prone river before it was diverted to the city outskirts. At one end sits the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences), a huge outdoor complex of futuristic buildings and museums.

We kicked off New Years eve at the AirBnb, lazing around in the sun before heading into the city for a 9pm dinner. In true Spanish style, we were served four courses before being ‘locked in’ to party and drink with the staff for the countdown to midnight. To welcome the new year, Spanish style, we were each handed cellophane bags containing twelve green grapes and were told to put all the grapes in our mouths at once, and ‘pop’ each one at the twelve strokes to midnight to bring good luck for the year ahead.

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