Valencia, Spain - High Scores All Round for a Potential New Home
In our current life-hopping activities we have been exploring cities around the globe that we might consider for a longer stay. Perhaps even as a new location for our future travels. We are not ready to put down roots just yet but we are always looking for a potential home base from where to explore more in 2018. The bottom line is we are weighing up all of our options.
Last year, during our 6 month stay in Asia, no particular place hit the spot. The cities we experienced had lots of good points but nowhere really felt like a place we would want to spend considerably more time. This year we are giving Europe a try. Our first stop is Valencia, Spain and I have to tell you right now the bar has been set high.
We chose Valencia as a place to check out because, on paper, it ticks a lot of the boxes on our list. It has a great year round climate, it's by the sea, it offers affordable accommodation, has a good food culture and a population of around a million which means there's always something going on. It is the kind of small city we have been drawn to in the past. But the big question after all our research was how would we feel in person once we got here?
Well, after a month I have to say we are feeling extremely positive about Valencia and it has shot up to the top of the list for potential places to spend more time in 2018. We still have other locations to explore but if we don't find anywhere we prefer over Valencia, then we won't be disappointed with this being our spot.
Why the positive feelings? There are things that are harder to find out from all the web research like the friendliness of the people. With our tourist-level Spanish we have found everyone to be patient, kind and helpful. Unlike a tourist-oriented city we don't find people indulge us with English, instead they encourage and help us with Spanish, which we much prefer.
The dining culture takes some adjustment with no-one having lunch before 2pm and the dinner hour starting at around 9pm. However with the long and unhurried lunches, the GinTonics in the early evening sun and did I mention a growing craft beer culture, I really think we could get used to it.
The availability of fresh food at extremely reasonable prices is something we always look for and once again we ticked that box here. With a fresh market a few minutes walk from our temporary home offering all the meats, cheeses, seafood and vegetables we could ever need, we know that we would soon have our favorite vendors and get to know the local ingredients.
The city itself is very walkable, another must-have on our wish-list. There is great public transport and a bike share system for longer trips. And one of the biggest selling points for the city are the open spaces. As well as the beaches, the most incredible feature of downtown is the park that runs through the city. Created from the Turia river the city developed an amazing nine kilometre park when they diverted the river after one city flood too many in the 1957. What they created is an incredible open space that feels like the main artery providing life to the city.
Most of all we like the city because it feels real. So many places we visit feel like a series of tourist attractions strung together. While a small part of Valencia has the regular tourist feel, most of the neighborhoods we have been in just feel like charming places where people live their lives. It is easy for us to imagine spending more time here and developing a rhythm for our day.
At the moment we are planning to come back to Valencia for several months later in the year because, after just a month here, we still wanted more. We also felt that we need to experience the summer heat and vacation crowds of July and August to truly know the city. But next stop is 5 weeks in Lisbon, so we'll need to see how it compares and whether it can knock Valencia off the top of the list for potential new homes.