“After One Month…” is a series in which we normally share first impressions of our new homes. But in Valencia’s case, our rose-tinted first impressions have long since matured into gnarled old certainties. Still, after years of calling this city home, we love it more than ever. And that should speak volumes.
Mike: No doubt in my mind. La Cremà, the fiery culmination of Fallas, is the most unforgettable experience Valencia has to offer.
Just after moving here, we were shaken out of bed at 7:30 am by explosions and smoke. We thought it was World War III! It seems funny now, but back then we hadn’t yet heard of La Despertà
Mike: It has to be paella, right? And… it is! No surprises here. Paella is Valencia’s crowning culinary achievement, and one I’ll never tire of. We’ve been making it ourselves, too, and although ours might not be perfect, it’s not bad. There’s no better way to spend a sunny Sunday than on the terrace with a bottle of wine and paella simmering in the pan.
Paella Valenciana, of course! This is the only version of paella I care for (not a fan of seafood). I also love the other rice specialties like Arroz al Horno
and Arroz Meloso
. And… did I hear someone say Bravas?! I’ll be right over!
Mike: It’s possible to see all of Valencia’s main sights within a short period of time. But the lesser-known sights can be amazing, too. Even after years of living here, we’re still shocked by how many great new experiences we’re discovering in the city… to say nothing of the beaches, towns, and diverse nature in the rest of the province.
How fast I fell in love with this city. Even after the first month of living here, I knew this was the place I wanted to call home. I’m also surprised by the sheer number of festivals and celebrations!
Mike: The so-called “America’s Cup Port” is the most disappointing area in Valencia. Overly eager to host “elite” events like the Formula One and America’s Cup, Valencia disfigured one of its most historic sections. Today, the America’s Cup buildings stand empty, the Vels i Vents building is a rotting corpse, and the abandoned F1 track looks weird with its lines looping into nowhere. This area is a mess, and I hate it.
I have to say politics and the corruption. It’s so visible, but the same people get voted into power over and over again.
Mike: For me, it gets no weirder than the ultra-short procession of La Virgen de los Desamparados, held in May. People will go to any extreme to touch the Virgin… these might be rational, reasonable people on other days, but today they’re passing their newborn infants to complete strangers, in the hopes that someone will clonk baby’s head against the icon. It’s outrageous.
The amount of swearing here is insane. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind swearing, generally. But when a 5-year-old screams “¡Coño!
” in front of her parents, it still takes me off guard.
How Expensive? From 1 (cheap) to 10 (expensive)
Mike: 6. Valencia is a big Western European city, so it’s not super-cheap… but it’s about as cheap as a city in Western Europe gets! Especially compared to Madrid or Barcelona, living costs are reasonable, and it’s easy to find nice rentals for good rates.
6. For its size and what it has to offer, Valencia is affordable. Museums are often free on Sundays, and otherwise rarely cost more than a couple euros. You can eat well for €9 (usually including a drink and dessert). And the sun and beaches are free!
People from Valencia Are…
Mike: … some of the most laid-back and tolerant people I’ve ever met. It’s a real “live and let live” environment, here, and as long as you’re not bugging anyone, people leave you alone.
… fast speakers, proud of their culture, and usually helpful and welcoming.
Valencia in Three Words
Mike: Siestas, Citrus, Sun
Paella, Fallas, Fun