Last week was a short week as Tuesday was El Día de Todos Los Santos (All Saints Day) so, naturally, we had the day off, and of course a ‘bridge’ day off on Monday too, because whats the point of going into work on a Monday if you’re not going in on Tuesday, right? Either way, for my small band of international pals and I, it was the perfect excuse to escape the quaint streets of our little pueblo and see another side of Spain.
We headed to Valencia, the land of paella and oranges, where the weather was still twenty odd degrees and we could cling desperately on to an illusion of summer. From our nearest station (30 minutes away) it was only 3 hours by train to Valencia’s city centre and from there a short 15min walk to our cosy little hostel. I say cosy because the six of us were cramped into a room half the size of an american closet. I hadn’t realised it was possible to fit so many bunk beds into such a tiny room!
Despite our “intimate” situation and short stay, I think it’s safe to say we fully embraced our inner tourists and experienced as much as we could of what Valencia had to offer. Day 1 was spent lounging on the beach and consuming a ridiculous amount of the most delicious seafood paella and sangria. Us Brits of course were fully kitted out in shorts and flip flops, despite the chilly water and slight breeze that had our European counterparts reaching for their jumpers. I even cracked out the bikini – I told you we went full tourist!
Then, after a predictably unrestful siesta, it was time to head out again. In the evenings we found ourselves drawn to El Barrio del Carmen in old town Valencia. This area is known for its alternative, boho style with colourful graffiti and murals round every corner. Both of the nights that we visited this barrio, there was live music playing in a small fenced-off park with fairy lights overhead and a couple of pop-up bars. It definitely had a young, student-ey feel to it, but in typically Spanish fashion everyone parties together and there is no discrimination when it comes age or style. We ended up spending far too much money and time in a disco bar filled with middle-aged Spaniards and a German hockey team. It was a good night!
The next day I found myself far more hungover than any of my friends – funny how that always happens – but like a trooper I marched on. We headed down to the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias which has to be one of the most remarkable places I have ever visited. It is described as an entertainment-based cultural and architectural complex built on the former riverbed of the River Turia which was drained and rerouted in 1957 after a catastrophic flood. The sunken park is filled with some of the most iconic and astonishing examples of modern architecture and is one of the Twelve Treasures of Spain. Hangover aside, walking through this area as the sun reflects off the polished glass windows and glossy water features of the buildings really instils a sense of otherworldliness. The pictures do not do it justice.
After a markedly quieter evening of tapas and wine in our favourite little area, it was time to head back to reality and a half week of work. Valencia is such a vibrant and beautiful city and I feel like we barely scratched the surface! I can’t wait to come back and explore further, hopefully next time with a little more money in my pocket and a slightly clearer head. But for now, my next adventure is Amsterdam!
And so, my travels continue…