Thursday, October 10, 2013

Best Paella near Valencia in El Palmar

On October 5th having the apartment totally clean and all of our belongings packed for our departure the following day, we decided to venture to a city where we had been told you could find the best paella.  El Palmar is the village where the paella rice is grown – even the native Valencians come here to eat delicious paella!  This village is located about 30 minutes by bus outside of Valencia.  Although the city bus does travel to El Palmar, it does not travel frequently throughout the day and especially infrequently on the weekends (which we found out).  We ran about a quarter of a mile to the bus stop where the city bus departing to El Palmar was supposed to be leaving from to find out that it didn't leave for another hour.  Luckily, the bus stop was right by a large mall so we hung out in the H&M to pass the time.  As we waited we also talked to an elderly couple also traveling to El Palmar, and laughed as we tried to communicate across a language barrier.  The grandmother was so tickled by our conversation (and lack of understanding) that at one point she just giggled and giggled hysterically.  It was so cute that we all ended up giggling with her. 

Once we arrived to El Palmar, we walked through the quiet, sleepy village to find a restaurant to serve us delicious paella.  There were a lot of choices, but we finally hunkered down near a canal at Restaurant El Sequer de Tonica.  Because of the way paella is prepared, you have to buy the dishes in at least quantities of 2's.  So, I allowed Bobby to choose what we would be eating (yes, I know that is very brave of me!)  He chose "arroz negro" which is a cooked fish-based broth containing cuttlefish, rice and squid with its natural ink that makes a special taste to the rice.  We also enjoyed appetizers of shredded local fish cooked in orange juice and calamari.  The kids were not as adventuresome and enjoyed eggs, fries, and chicken.  Liam did try the paella and seemed to like it okay.  He had a ring of ink dyed around his lips which made the waiter happy.  He said this is the way children are intended to look when eating paella.  While Bobby and I were finishing our meal, Liam played with a little girl his age around the tables.  The lunch was delicious and the scenery couldn't be beat.  

Albufera park borders El Palmar and is home to the largest lake in Spain.  It is one of the most important wetland areas in the Iberian Peninsula. It is a place of great ecological interest with rare species of wading birds and a rich variety of wildlife. Its waters have been traditionally worked by fishermen and rice growers, supplying ingredients and inspiration for many of the regions most succulent dishes.  After our meal we searched for an opportunity to ride a boat on the lake.  By inquiring around, we found a very cheap teenager who took us on a ride through the canals into the lake and back again.  Because I was taking pictures of the wildlife, he decided to help out by hitting on the metal engine which caused all nearby birds to fly in all directions.   It scared me every time he did this which he probably got a kick of as well.  Amelie and Liam loved the boat ride.

There is an option to travel on a tourist bus to El Palmar which includes a boat ride in the cost.  We did not choose this option and ended up paying less and having a private boat tour.  We passed a boat packed with people taking a tour of the lake.  I was glad we decided to do a little more research and winging it to have the experience that we did.

Liam playing with the shrimp from the paella dish.  He is saying "grrrrr!"

After we finished our boat ride we headed back to the bus stop.  We were slightly alarmed to find out the last city bus for the day had already come and gone.  Bobby inquired of a nearby tourist bus driver about a ride back to Valencia.  He was happy to oblige and gave us a fair rate back into the city.  We had to wait around 30 minutes for the tourists to finish their boat ride, but we were so happy to have a way back home that we didn't mind in the least.  The kids played on a playground, driving their cars down a huge slide while we waited.  The bus driver pocketed our money, but I didn't mind.  I was happy he took on a family of 4 with a huge stroller.  The ride back was a lot faster as we did not stop frequently like the city bus did, and he dropped us off fairly close to our house.

I am glad we made it to Albufera National Park and the village of El Palmar before leaving Valencia.  It was a fun day for the whole family!

No comments: