Recently, I spent some time outside of Barcelona again to travel around in Spain for a bit. My destinations were Valencia, Madrid and Sevilla, which are all amazing, beautiful cities. My first stop was Valencia, where I travelled to with my boyfriend. The other cities I visited on my own. But, first things first. First, let´s take a look at Valencia.
Streets of Valencia
We just stayed there for 2 days, but we had the best time ever. We were staying in an Airbnb directly in the center – the perfect location to discover the city. When we arrived in the morning we still had a bit of time to check into the Airbnb. During this time, we started to walk through the city a bit. Valencia welcomed us with sunshine, warmth and a lot of colors. Walking through the narrow streets of the city a lot of paintings and graffiti struck my eyes. I could spot a lot of shops and little boutiques lining up in the city center. A lot of handcrafted items like jewelry and fans where produced in these little boutiques. Unique and not replaceable as all of them are produced in a slightly different way. The small streets were strangely empty, not a lot of people walking around. It was only then when we discovered we came to the city on a Sunday, where not much is going on in any city.
For me, Valencia is such a colorful, lively city. Yet still calm when you walk away from the most touristic areas. It´s a smaller city than Barcelona, but there is enough to see and do for sure. It´s also less international, which is good if you are trying to learn Spanish. My first impression of this city was right away “Wow, I really like this place”. I felt comfortable there instantly.
We went on to discover a bit more of the city, went by the big, but on this day closed market hall and made our way to the Valencia Church. This church is a very impressive building. Built in the 13th century, big and majestic, located on the main square of Valencia. It´s so big it will take you a while to go all around it. We admired the church for a bit, went inside and then went on our way to the Torres de Serranos.
Torres de Serranos
Then we went to see the Torres de Serranos of Valencia which is a huge former defense tower of the city. It was part of an ancient wall surrounding the city. Now, there are only two defense towers left in whole Valencia, the wall and all the other towers have been destroyed.
Parc de Turia
The most beautiful part of the city we got to see a glimpse of on our first day crossing the bridge from the old town to the newer part of the city. The parc de Turia. The parc of Valencia. Shaped like a river reminding of a green snake curling her way through the city. The parc came to his shape due to being a river in earlier times. This river was flowing through the whole city. However, as the city was floated heavily by the river, the government of Valencia decided to transform this river into a parc. Today, this parc is a beautiful green spot in the city to relax, go jogging or just enjoy the sun.
Food in Valencia
We didn´t go inside of the parc this day though, we just saw it from a bridge above. We wanted to save the parc for the next day. When it was already getting late, we decided to look for something to eat – which had to be vegan in my case. Food is another thing I love about discover cities. I´m always fascinated by the vegan options I can find in another city. In Valencia there was definitely no shortage. I opted for one called Vurger and got one of their delicious vegan burgers. Valencia was now officially vegan approved. Then we went home it was already late, the city already lightning up, so we could admire it during the dark as well. The streets emptying slowly, temperature dropping and the cathedral lighting up in dim, warm light. It´s definitely another vibe during the dark, which I always love to see and experience as well.
Free walking tour
The next day, we opted for a free walking tour to get to know the city a bit better. The day before we had already seen the most important sights and walked through the city quickly, but this day we wanted to know a bit more about the history of the city. We went to the main square, the starting point of our tour, and chose one in Spanish – also for me to listen closely and improve my Spanish skills a bit.
Tribual de los Aguas
We started our tour at the Valencia Church where our guide told us about the Tribual de los Aguas – a reunion that is weekly taking place every Thursday in front of the cathedral. Translated it means the water court of the plain of Valencia. This court consists of eight judges who come together weekly to sort out issues about the distribution of water between the farmers in the surrounding areas. This court is a very old tradition of Valencia which was brought to Spain from the Arabs and remained until this day. The court is taking place in the open, the judges are sitting in front of the church, open for everyone to see. Always taking place at the same time and the same spot, always attracting a lot of people. This court was founded when water was a luxury and had to be distributed carefully. That way, the city ensured their water was not being wasted and equally given to everyone. Today, people value this tradition with the same respect they did years ago. It remains a unique ritual of the city as to this day, Valencia is the only city where a court like this still exists.
Then we went on to see the city, basically followed the track we did the day before and saw the Torres de Serranos again. Then we went into a small street and heard about the Valencian Paella. This dish is made out of rice, vegetables and usually sea food (which you can leave out and it still tastes awesome). We learned more about the big Paellas in Valencia, which are being prepared in a huge pan in which you can cook about 5000 meals. A lot of chefs preparing it together, cooking it while standing on a rotating bridge. This event always attracts a lot of people who come together to eat the Paella later as well!
The tour took about two hours, afterwards we quickly went home to grab our bikes which were also included in the Airbnb apartment. Then we went on a little bike tour through the city. Valencia is perfect for bikes, you will see a lot of people biking around and as it is quite small you can go around with them very quickly. We were now mostly interested in the parc of Turia as I wanted to see this beautiful place from closer. Biking through the parc with trees lining up in the middle and the side of our way was truly amazing. A great spot in the middle of a city. As this was a river once, the parc is laying a bit lower than the actual city and we were riding on the river bed. The streets above our heads, cars rushing over us on top, but seemed distant and almost unable to hear.
Museo de Ciencias de Prince Felipe
Once you ride through the whole parc you will eventually reach the Museo de Ciencias de Prince Felipe. The museum of sciences. This building is just breathtaking. Modern, new and white, seeming to float on the water surrounding it. This building is probably one of the first things you can see once you search the city of Valencia on google. It is a very known building which was just built in 2000, futuristic looking and beautiful. I was so amazed seeing it I wish we would have had time to go inside. But as we were just visiting the city shorty, we couldn´t take the time to enter it.
Beach of Valencia
The last spot to see was the beach of Valencia. We rode on hour bike for about 40 minutes to reach it. Along the port with all the boats laying and some metal statues posing in front of the sea. The way to the beach was a very nice ride, the beach itself rather ordinary. A normal beach of a city. Surely nice in summer, but as we weren´t there to swim we soon made our way back into the city center.
Time to leave
Then we went back and already had to pack our things to leave. Me to Madrid, my boyfriend home to Barcelona. It felt a bit strange to separate like this, one going home, one staying on the road for a bit. But I still wanted to see more of Spain and had gotten more days off than he had. So I decided to go to discover more cities of Spain.
Now I finally can compare my solo travel experience to travelling with your partner. Travelling with your partner is comfortable, it deepens your bond, your connection even more as you are sharing all these new moments and impressions with the person you love the most. Travelling alone is a whole other experience as you don´t have anyone you know to rely on. You have to rely on others and on yourself. You surely make more connections than travelling with someone you know.
I would say like both ways of travelling a lot – it is just a different experience. Some people might find even the thought of travelling alone horrific and could not imagine being all by themselves in a city they don´t know. Other would love nothing more than seeing and exploring a new place alone, taking everything in for themselves.
I, as I already said, like both ways. I genuinely like to see and discover new places as it never leaves me back the same. Even though I just travelled shortly I still feel I made some very valuable experiences on my way. I always learn some new things I could benefit from, meet people I can learn from. This is what makes travelling such an enriching, unique experience. More is about to come in next weeks post!