Hola chicas y chicos!
Welcome to another Spanish instalment of Kaptain Kenny.
This time, I’m going to try and convince you to choose VALENCIA over Barcelona.
What!? Yes, I went there. Barcelona is big and old and grand and yadda yadda yadda but it’s also overrun with tourists, overpriced and it doesn’t warrant much time spent there if you ask me. (But hey if the Barcelona tourist board would like to invite me back for a second chance, you know where to find me 😉 )
Last year I was desperate for a new adventure. So I packed my things and moved to Valencia for one and half months and enrolled myself in Taronja Language School for an intensive beginners course in Spanish.
Before going, I began to get cold feet. “Why am I going? I don’t actually need to learn Spanish…. I already speak German and English. What if something happens when I’m alone?” Plus I had read some dodgy things about Valencia online which only added to my mistrust of the initial idea.
Let me tell you what I would have missed out on if I hadn’t gone…..
- Every single day we had blue skies. (See below.) The weather (in July/August) was brilliant and very, very hot! If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.
- The language school (Taronja) was epic. They organised daily cultural and social activities for the students. The activities ranged from salsa lessons, to paella and sangria parties and weekend trips to surrounding beaches etc.
- The food was really nice. Valencia is the birthplace of PAELLA and they also offer a damn good jug of sangria too so for those who want to experience the local food, this is a great option. My other tip is to try gazpacho soup (picture on the right) because it’s healthy and very refreshing. (Click here to see my favourite list of restaurants in Valencia – your ultimate food guide!)
- There are many nearby beaches and day trip locations which are worth the trip. One for example was a trip to a nearby hot spring buried within some mountains called Montanejos. (See below or click here to read a previous blog about it.)
- The local dialect varies between Valenciano and Catalan BUT a lot of people speak regular Spanish too. It was never a problem to try and talk to people, the main hinderance was my lack of Spanish vocabulary and inability to form sentences in the past tense. “Yesterday I buy bananas!”
- Valencia has a huge street art scene and many of the streets are laden with graffiti, spray paint and really beautiful artwork which just adds to the charm. This post is going to give you a more ‘neighbourhood street art feel’ and the next few posts will be more about the food and drinks in the best areas.
- IF you are dying to get to Barcelona, you can still do it from Valencia by train in three hours. It’s something you *could* technically do in a day if you have the energy. (You can read more about my crazy penchant for day trips by clicking here.) Or make it a long weekend trip.
- If you are going to stay for a while, book on Airbnb and stay with a local. I had a lovely time staying with Silvia, a lady from Mexico who had been living in Valencia for the past 10 years. She had a cute sausage dog called Max and walking him twice a day was the BEST way to practise my Spanish with people on the street.
So I’ll stop yapping on now – the following photos were all taken on my iPhone from the barrio (area) I lived in called El Carmen. If you’re coming to Valencia, I’d highly recommend this area. The other up and coming hipster area is Russafa and it’s filled with incredible restaurants, bars and cafes which seem to only open at 9PM…. damn you Spaniards and your late eating times!
If you have any questions about life in Valencia, please email me or leave a comment. Happy to help.
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