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Valencia La Albufera

The most immediate excursion to be made from Valencia is to the nature reserve of La Albufera, a vast, freshwater lagoon only a stone's throw from the sea.

The lagoon has suffered greatly from all kinds of pollution and the eels traditionally caught there have been severely depleted, but it is still one of the most important wetlands in Europe and a great birdwatching centre - it reminds English people of the Norfolk Broads. You can see it from a tourist bus, in which case you will be taken to the lagoon and to the adjacent Devesa, or do it yourself. If you have a car, this is simplicity itself, otherwise you are dependent on buses (not very frequent, ask for a timetable at a tourist office). One good plan is to catch the bus to the village of El Palmar in the morning.

There, you can stroll down to the edge of the lagoon, where you should be able to find a boat to take you on a short, twenty-minute ride around it (the water heaves with fish and herons glide around you). Have lunch in the village (there is plenty of choice, though it gets busy at weekends) where you may be torn between the best paella in the region or the more exotic all i pebre, eels with garlic. In the afternoon, catch the bus to the Playa la Devesa, also a protected area, for an hour or two on the beach before returning to Valencia.

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