Jodi and I arrived at Valencia train station and were greeted by a friend of ours from high school, Giulio. It was so lovely to see him after such a long time and we were never short of conversation topics, all trying to catch up on the eventful past months. Giulio has been living in Valencia since the beginning of the year and when we’d told him we were keen to meet up in while we were there he kindly offered that we stay with him in his apartment. It was perfectly located in the beautiful El Carmen district and so stunningly done. A perfect little bachelor pad. We spent that evening sharing travel stories and clutching our stomachs in the lounge, hysterical with laughter. We went for a little walk around the town, trying to take it all in but still very exhausted after only three hours sleep the night before. We shared a meal of Sangria and patatas bravas before catching up on our much-needed sleep.
The next day Giulio had a driving lesson he needed to go to so Jodi and I spent the morning in the Mercato Centrale. The building is a world heritage site and honestly just so gorgeous; covered with ornately designed tiles and colourful glass windows. The massive hall is lined with stalls boasting fresh produce, pastries, legs of ham, tapas bars, paella and horchata. We had a brunch of traditional jamon and cheese, figs and pastries.
We walked back to Giulio’s apartment through Plaça della Reyna and Plaça de Virgan, passing the beautiful cathedral. We were only out for about an hour and a half but within that time Jodi and I had both already decided we were going to make it our mission to learn Spanish and return to Spain to live here, even if it is just for a small period of our lives. We had fallen in love with the vibrant colours, the tiled undersides of the balconies and the expressive, fun Spanish nature.
We were joined by Giulio and went out together for a lunch of paella and sangria. Paella originally comes from Valencia and that sangria was probably the best I’ve had in Spain. I had such a moment sitting there with friends from school, realising how crazy it was that we were in Spain, eating paella and drinking sangria while being serenaded by a Spanish guitarist. I was just filled with such joy and overcome by happiness.
Giulio was then our private tour guide for the day, showing us around Plaça del Ayutamiento, a street called Colon which was filled with all sorts of high end fashion stores, including Zara (which is actually Spanish-didn’t know that!) and then into the riverbed of a diverted river which now serves as a tranquil park filled with luscious grass and palm trees. We continued down to the Arts and Science centre which was a lovely area surrounded by manmade pools, interesting buildings and domes of mosaic. Jodi and I decided to try some horchata, a traditional Valencian drink of almonds, tiger nuts, sesame seeds and a root which is sweet and almost coconutty. It was delicious and refreshing! Giulio wasn’t convinced. On the way home we bought ingredients to make the traditional Agua de Valencia, a sort of orange juice based cocktail. We then met Giulio’s grandparents and dad who live in Valencia. We came home, made a supper of pasta and then enjoyed our Agua de Valencia before heading out to Giulio’s local bar and meeting some of his friends. We danced and danced and had a really great night.
The next day we had breakfast at the market before catching our train to Madrid. We were only in Valencia for a short while but we had such a memorable time there and I think that it will always hold a special place in our hearts. It was such a joy being hosted by Giulio and spending time with him. For anyone planning on visiting spain anytime soon, I highly recommend Valencia! It really is a special little spot. Next stop: MADRID.