España, what up, what up!? Fairly quiet first week in Valencia, but I’m excited to be here. The weather is great, the people don’t speak any English but are great, and the food is mmmmmm. This is the first month where I’m not planning a lot of side trips. I’m excited just to live in Valencia for the month, do normal things, stay in and watch a movie if I want to…and this is the perfect city for it. Valencia is really flat, bike lanes and parks everywhere, not super touristy, I have a great apartment, and there’s just enough to see to keep me busy (so I think, so far).
- The most fascinating part of Valencia to me is that until the 1970s, the Turia River ran through it. However, do to major
flooding over the years and a really bad one in 1957, the city redirected the river and created a 5 mile greenway on the old river bed. Aptly named the Turia Gardens, it’s an amazing community space for exercise, picnics, playgrounds, and the ‘City of Arts and Sciences’.
- Valencia has over 300 days of sun a year, the weather so far has been steadily 70 degrees and only a few clouds. I could get used to this.
- Schedules in Spain are weiirrddd. We arrived in Spain on Saturday night and things were shutting down minus the bars and restaurants that stay open virtually all night. Sundays are sort of accepted as being a day when everything is closed and no one works. Then Monday was a regional holiday so everything was closed and no one was working. Tuesday was a normal day BUT most things close for siesta 2:30-5. Then Wednesday was a national holiday (Labor Day) and everything was closed again. I swear this is a functioning country…
- It’s seeming really common to follow up lunch with some sort of hard alcohol shot, included. In one place, we were served rum and coffee (called a carajillo) and in another place, a cream liqueur.
- Foods local to Valencia: oranges, rice, olives, grapes (for wine), and some seafood. Most common dish, of course, is paella, made with that local rice. And the most common drink is definitely sangria, made with cut up fresh oranges. I mean hey, not complaining. Also, tapas are a thing. Very typical to have dinner of a bunch of small finger foods.
- The symbol of the city is a bat. You can see it in the logo of the Valencia FC, soccer team, and marking all the possible Uber cars on the Uber app…among other things. There are many stories regarding why, but something having to do with a Christian king being awoken, flapped at, or friends with a bat during a time when the city was being liberated from Muslim rule.
- Spanish is obviously the most common language. Valencia has its own dialect as well (Valencian), that is taught in schools and on street signs, but not nearly as prevalent.
Week in Review
- Late and slow start but then a walk in the Turia Gardens with Simone and Tim, some of my closest friends here. Beautiful day, nice getting to see Valencia in the light.
- La Mostra de Proava 2019- wine and food festival in the gardens. Entry was 5 euros, and we ended up adding 5 more euros to that. Each tasting of wine/beers (generous pours) was 1 euro. You can do the math on that one #wheninspain
- Spend way too long trying to find any open place with food
- City Welcome at the workspace to get to know the city team (the two people here are seriously amazing!) and Valencia
- Work from my couch in the apartment, got a three bedroom apartment this month and my two roommates didn’t arrive until the end of the week soooo work from home it was!
- Try out the new gym for the month, stop at the local market, Mercat de Russafa on the way back
- Work from home and get caught up on personal writing and planning. And hey, it was officially my last day of my job in Boston. An emotional day. I’ve been describing it as the training wheels now being off. I was in all these foreign places but returned every day to something familiar. Now, I’m really on my own. But hey, surviving!
- Walk to Plaza de la Virgen, the place you see pictures of when you Google Valencia, honestly a bit touristy for my taste,
but a cool look at the old Spanish architecture
- Climb to the top of Santa Catalina tower. It’s become a thing in every new city to get a view from above early on. I think I’ll stick to that tradition.
- Walk across the gardens from the old city to the street art neighborhood. Not nearly as nice as Lisbon, in fact kind of sketchy, lots of abandoned torn down buildings and areas where you’re like “hmmm, safe to enter?” but cool anyway
- Walk to the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, a huge area in the Turia gardens with unique, modern buildings and gardens and pools. Hard to describe but a must see.
- Visit the Umbracle (that I really had a hard time not calling the Umbilical), the Museum of Science (just the outside) and the Palau de Les Artes (a building partly owned by Berklee College of Music in Boston)
- The funniest part was this man-made pool that they offered little rowboats for. It was like they were trying to be Venice but actually, you’re in the middle of a cement pool that’s 3 ft deep and everyone is watching
- Walk from there to Gulliver Park- a sculpture of sorts of a man laying on the ground, with slides all over. So you can climb up and around him, then slide down.
- Group trip to the old fisherman’s quarter, where we were treated to a local Almuerzo with the city team at Bodega la Aldeana 1927 (I put the name because soo worth returning)
- Almuerzo is a mid-morning ‘snack’ intended to tide you over until lunch around 2pm. In typical European fashion, this was the largest snack I’ve ever eaten.
- We all ordered our choice of a bocadillo- a baguette sandwich (they were kind enough to get GF bread, my heroes) I got the traditional omelet sandwich which was essentially egg and potatoes on a sandwich, a little bizarre, but very yummy. This was the meal followed up by the rum and coffee shot.
- I’m telling you this Valencia city team is great, this restaurant was filled with locals and off the beaten path. Authentic almuerzo. Neighborhood was really cool too.
- Night out- had a great dinner with another remote at La Casa Viva (amazing vegetarian place) and drinks at a bar called Red Cup (yes, like the red solo cup that all they’re drinks were served in #america)
- Late morning which doesn’t bode well when everything closes at 2 and you get up at 12.
- Quick stop at a costume store and a long walk with my new roommate through the city. Some of my favorite days are spent just turning down whatever road you feel.
- Stopped by the Mercado Central- a famous open air market with lots of fresh produce and meat
- Anddd in true Remote Year fashion, meet up with a whole group of other Remotes in the city center
- Grab paella (my first one!) with that group
- Quick nap before back out for RY Superhero themed party, hosted at the home of one of the city team leaders. A beautiful home, with a nice rooftop terrace. Spent the night chatting and laughing, more my speed than the clubs.
- Grab lunch with Michelle, someone who’s really been my rock this trip, and the two of us set out on a scooter adventure
- Rent electric scooters and zoom through the Turia gardens, to the Mediterranean Sea. Can’t believe it was my first time seeing it! The water is a beautiful blue here.
- Valencia’s waterfront has a bustling boardwalk, much like San Diego
- Also scootering is definitely the way to go
Lol…I called this a quiet week.
So I gotta be honest: I did a lot of fun things this week and had a great time but mental health was not the best. After three months of constant go, go, go, it is definitely catching up to me. I am now making time for self-care and learning to embrace slowing down. It’s not a yearlong vacation. I also really have to invest in my new job, whereas before I was more comfortable and complacent in my work. So, a learning curve and I’m here for it!