TRAVEL DIARY: VALENCIA WITH PORCELANOSA, DAY 1
I was so, so lucky and grateful to be invited along by Porcelanosa to go and view their new range of surfaces, tiles, kitchens and bathrooms and to see their factory. Not only was I well up for this idea in general, but then I was informed that this would be taking place at their headquarters in the gorgeous surroundings of Valencia, Spain. SAYYY WHAAAT! This was my first press trip away so I was well excited to see the ins and outs of this luxury brand but also get to hang out with some fellow bloggers and design journos who were just as excited about how ceramic wall tiles were made as me (that sounds like sarcasm, it's not). I'm a huge fan of that show 'how it's made' so a trip to a factory was a little bit heavenly for me.
Anyway, all that stuff will be revealed in Day 2 of this photo diary. but for now, let me walk you through the amazing hospitality that we were shown from Porcelanosa. From slick hotel rooms to mouthwatering food, incredible architecture and sun... yes SUN, real sun!
At Gatwick I met with Jen from Lovechicliving and a few other journos that we were travelling with. Everyone was super cool and easy to get on with, and we all had loads in common - being obsessed with interior design!
After a really easy flight (I slept the whole way) we arrived in Valencia to be greeted by Marta from Porcelanosa who showed us to an awaiting minivan to be shuttled over to our hotel. The AC colon in Valencia's town centre.
We all hurried upstairs to refresh after the flight and met back in the lobby to head out for lunch. I of course got a few snaps of the room. Really slick and contemporary, quite understated cool (which I was soon to learn is Porcelanosa's signature style). A bit Kelly Hoppen esque.
We were then driven across town to Valencia's port, where we arrived at Panorama, a beautiful light and airy restaurant located looking out into the sea with scenic views. Oh by the way, I should mention at this point that it was WARM! January and over 20 degress. No complaints here.
The restaurant's decor was really light and fresh, so complimentary to the surroundings. It also had the BEST light for photography. It almost made me want to become one of those bloggers who shoots everything looking all bright and breezy (just kidding, you know I love my dark side). I loved the subtle details in things like the terrazzo knife holder and simple, curved, leather seating.
Then the food started arriving. We didn't have to choose anything, Marta had ordered a selection of things for us to share, tapas style. except the best bloody tapas you've ever eaten. seriously. It also looked pretty frickin awesome.
We had tuna with juicy, sweet Spanish tomatoes, potatas bravas, crispy calamari, silky fois gras, creamy chicken croquettes and more. I just kept eating and eating. Plus the sangria was great - I'm not a big wine drinker so the fact that it's all juicy and sweet made it way too easy for me to drink!
Then came the traditional Valencia Paella, or pi-ay-ya as they pronounce it! The traditional Valencian paella is made with sea snails and a meat combination. It was gorgeous but I was incredibly full by this point.
Then came the desserts, I literally had no room left in my stomach by this point but I tried it all anyway! The little sponge looking thing is almost like a Spanish bread pudding. It was so light and absolutely delicious.
After ALL THAT FOOD it was time to be taken on a tour of Valencia. I loved this part, as when you're on work trips sometimes you don't get to experience a city properly. I was really impressed that Porcelanosa were keen for us to really experience traditional Valencia food and see the city to really get a feel of the company's birthplace.
The tour took us around the historical buildings of Valencia. Don't ask me what they were as I was trying to keep up and my memory of historical things is pretty pants!
You can also see in the last pic above that we got to visit the Roman ruins of the town. Who knew Valencia has such a deep history?! It was fascinating to hear about the past periods and how the town was laid out back then. I really never think about stuff like that, especially not the Romans. Seeing how they made such perfect things with such limited resources and no machinery was really interesting.
I peeked through this dark doorway to find the most beautiful church service happening inside. Churches really are wonderful places aren't they? I'm not religious at all but I really see the power and beauty in them.
After the first half of the tour, we took a quick pit stop to a very traditional Valencian cafe that served these little buns and a type of sweetened nut milk which is apparently all the rage in Valencia! I can't remember the name of it annoyingly. The cafe was super cute, with traditional mosaic style black and white tiles, turned wood banisters and tiled wall murals.
After that little pit stop, we took out into dusk for the last part of the tour. First, the old silk market, an expansive building which had intricate details everywhere you looked, whether it was floor tiles, grand doorways or carved writing.
As night fell we weaved the streets of Valencia, taking in the sights and sounds along the way.
And to our final spot on the tour, the Central market, or 'Mercado Central'. It's a bit dark in this pic but they have a big green parrot on the spike above the dome to represent the constant chatter of the stallholders. It's a vast building and was closed when we came past but is something that you could definitely check out if you're in Valencia.
After a couple of Bloody Mary's in a local cafe (sitting outside would you believe), we took a short stroll back to the hotel to rest and wind down for a busy second day, where we would be visiting the Porcelanosa HQ, showroom and factories. I had no idea what to expect, but trust me it was VAST.
Stay tuned to part two coming soon to see the reason we went along!
What do you think of Valencia? It't not somewhere I'd ever thought of visiting before but it's really beautiful. Think a quieter, cleaner Barcelona! There is so much to take in and I would really recommend going on one of the city tours if you're a design freak like me because the architecture is incredible. Plus you must visit Panorama for the food alone... wowee!