About two weeks ago, a friend and I went to Valencia, Spain, to practise our Spanish skills. We both study Spanish and what better way to get to know the language than fully immersing yourself in it, right?!
Monday the 19th of June we hopped on a plane to Valencia airport. The flight was only about two hours, so before we knew it we had already landed in Spain. Eeeek! Outside we arranged a taxi to take us to our AirBnb. Thank god we speak a little Spanish, because our taxi driver did try English, but we could actually understand him better when he was speaking Spanish. We got there in the end though.
The little studio we rented was the cutest thing ever. We rented it through AirBnB, but if you’re not too sure about that, they also have their own website. Our host was so kind and helpful, she was basically our mama on the road. She made sure we had enough water (’cause boy, it was hot!), sunblock, a map and she even went to get me Band-Aids when I needed them. Our studio is called Ruzafa Perfecto, flat B, in case you wanted to know ;-).
Apparently, not many restaurants are open on Mondays, so we went to a local supermarket nearby and bought our own food. Travelling makes hungy, you guys! We also made a plan for the next couple of days, writing down which sites we definitely needed to visit and which we could skip. We were so glad we did this by the time the trip was over, because otherwise we might have just wandered aimlessly for three days only to discover later we had missed the best parts.
On our first full day in Valencia, we decided we wanted to check out the old city center. Since we are Dutch, we rented two bikes to get around the city a bit quicker. Or so we thought. Valencia is known as the most bike-friendly city of Spain. Now we might be spoiled with our perfectly structured bike paths here in Holland, but we found them in Valencia to be a bit tricky. Some bicycle paths just literally stopped out of nowhere. Other times you could only go straight ahead, and if you wanted to turn right, you were just out of luck and had to use the sidewalk, leaving locals as well as yourselves annoyed.
Anyway, the city center definitely made up for all the struggles to get there. It was a maze, but a beautiful one. The narrow streets with characteristic buildings gave me this real mediterranean vacation feeling. What surprised me was how many locals we saw, compared to the tourists. Of course it wasn’t yet the season, but I still loved this.
To cool down a bit, we went to see the Cathedral of Valencia. We did have to pay entry, only a few euros, but when we got inside we were pleasantly surprised. It was huge! There were multiple small chapels and one big, beautiful one. This was also the most modern church I’ve seen. For every chapel, you could use VR glasses, getting a 360 degrees view. Eh, yeah I guess they have to involve the youngsters. But, besides this all, there was also a museum.
Then, for some reason, we thought it was a great idea to climb the Miguelete, a tower with 200 steps, while outside it was a bloody 34 degrees. Yeah, I don’t know what we were thinking. We basically died when we finally reached the top. But the view was verrrry spectacular so it was all good (you can see it at the top of this post).
After leaving one church, we went on a hunt for the next one. I had read that the church of San Nicolas was something else, so we were determined to find it. Hidden in the neighborhood of El Carmen, we finally found it. First you have to walk through this alley you can see on the right. After this, you will enter the most gorgeous church I have ever seen in my life. It was literally jaw-dropping, breathtakingly beautiful. I had seriously never seen a church this beautifully decorated. And the best part was, there was barely a person there. We had the church all to ourselves! We decided to do an audio-tour to learn more about this amazing building.
I loved it so so much, if you’re in Valencia and you love pretty churches, you can’t miss this one!
After this, we were quite tired and hot so we went into the botanical gardens of the university of Valencia. Here we spent a few hours in the shadow, which was just lovely. We also became friends with a whole lot of cats that found their homes in these gardens. That night we had the world famous paella for dinner. Paella was born in Valencia so you cannot return from Valencia without having had it at least once.
The next day, we had planned a bit of a more relaxed day as the day before had been pretty exhausting with temperatures that high. In the morning, we visited the Mercado Central, a big indoor market-hall with every food product you can imagine. Here we bought some delicious (and cheap) goodies for our planned picnic in the park later.
After our picnic in the Turia park, we biked all the way through the park, which is immensely huge and very pretty. At the end of the park, we found our destination: La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. This is a basically a city on its own, only without inhabitants. The buildings are super modern and a real contrast to the old city center. Every building is a sight, with a cinema, a club, a garden, an operahouse, a museum, a gallery and an aquarium as main themes. We went to the aquarium, which was rather expensive but definitely worth our money. There was so much to see and something I especially appreciated was the fact that it was very focused on education and protecting the actual oceans.
That night we had dinner in a very local restaurant in Ruzafa, which was soooo good.
The next, and our final, day, we went to the beach. I didn’t bring my big camera though, so unfortunately there are no pictures to proof it. But we had a lovely day, the sea was actually already warm! Not a great way to cool down, haha. That night unfortunately, it was time to pick up our suitcases and head back to Holland. Booo :-(.
We had a superb time in Valencia, and got to practise our Spanish. Win-win! I know I will be back for sure, maybe even to study there in a year. Who knows…
Let me know if you have any recommendations for the next time I visit!