My sister, Stephanie, is my life-long best friend. "We're sisters, so we've known each other since .. well .. forever", she told Dutch border patrol while they were unnecessarily grilling us. Indeed, we are an eclectic duo, for many reasons, but mainly because we laugh so hard and loud when we are together.
It was Stephanie's last week of classes during her time studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. I was so excited to reunite with her as we hadn't seen each other in months. We spent our time together catching up, exploring the city, listening to her classmate's concerts, sipping on Sangria, having her try to convince me to stay up past midnight, and of course eating famous Valencian paella. It was the beginning of our Euro Trip together, and we would later continue on to Berlin and Amsterdam.
Our Thoughts on Valencia
Walking or biking through the different neighborhoods of Valencia is like hopping into a time machine as you experience its contrasting forms of architecture. The colorful buildings of The Old City are a stark contrast to La Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, which is a futuristic looking promenade with massive buildings surrounding it. It is home to a planetarium, IMAX theater, science museum, sculpture garden, indigenous plant walk, and restaurants. La Turia, formerly a river that continuously flooded the city, was turned into a park that snakes through it for miles. To the east lies Playa Malvarosa, the city’s main beach, which has a wide board walk and views of the surrounding mountains. However if you’re looking for a little more privacy while pulling out those tatas, Albufera National Park has an abundance of secluded beaches, as well as a large lake and forrest.
A small and romantic setting to sit and think in is the Monforte Garden. It is hidden in the middle of an industrial landscape and is a true escape filled with a rose covered tunnel, tall whimsical trees, and greek goddess statues.
And then, there is the famous nightlife of Spain. Whether you are looking for clubs, bars or music venues, there is never a shortage of things to do. La Vitti is a small, cute bar in la Plaza Sueca that has great sangria and a very cool and local atmosphere. A more underrated neighborhood is Benimaclet. It has a number of bars, tapas restaurants and a great artistic community. If you really want to get a sense of the artistry there, hit up Kaf Café and listen to some spoken poetry or live Spanish music. Another hip neighborhood is Russafa (Ruzafa). Its colorful and quaint streets have the coziest cafe’s, restaurants, bars and thrift stores, one of my favorites being Cien i Cientas.
The Old City definitely has a bit of everything. Parts of it resemble the white majestic looking architecture of Madrid, and other parts have narrower streets with pink and yellow buildings. The oldest part of this section is the Carmen district. Its great to visit at any hour, although during the day, you can see the street art which adds pops of color all over the neighborhood. At night, Jimmy Glass where you can listen to funky jazz and drink Agua de Valencia (a common cocktail that’s as sweet as Valencian oranges). Also in The Old City is one of Europe’s biggest food markets, Mercado Central. You can walk around for hours tasting and gazing at all the different kinds of fruit, meats, sweets and local beers. Try Horchata, a Valencian tiger nut drink and a local favorite.
If you’re into the club scene, La 3 is Stephanie's favorite with the most dancing, friendly people, and great music of all genres and decades.
And of course, maybe the most exciting time to visit Valencia is at the end of March during Las Fallas, a celebration of fire and noise, where different neighborhoods build massive sculptures and then ignite them into flames while creating the most insane ruckus. Que loco.
Elizabeth & Stephanie
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