Soooo today's post is my somewhat long overdue post... (a 2015 mistake, don't judge!) about my trip to Valencia back in November. My younger sister was kind enough to ask me to go on a mini break with her to celebrate her 21st birthday and who am I to deprive her of my top-class company? So off we went for four nights in pretty Valencia.
This is kind of a photo dump of the coolest things I saw on the trip and, as usual, I got a little snap happy so I'm gonna split this trip over a few posts so it doesn't take 1000 years to load / make your eyeballs hurt. Read on for Part One!
I loooove Spain, in fact I want to live there in the future (at least for a year if not to settle) but I'd never been to Valencia so when this was added to the suggestion pile of places to visit (along with Budapest and Vienna - beautiful but brrr!) I knew we were onto a winner with the promise of some winter sun.
We flew with easyJet, cheap and cheerful, perfect for the short two and a half hour flight. Easy enough you would think right? Wrong. I literally cannot remember the last time I went on holiday without some kind of drama ensuing. From mad airport dashes to horrible delays and misinterpreted layovers (my dad and I once thought we'd booked a non-stop flight to Oman - we had not. We arrived five and a half hours and one loooong layover in the world's most boring and tiny airport later than we planned...) I've experienced it all.
This time's catastrophe? Luggage. It was bound to happen really considering my incapability to pack less than thrice the amount of outfit options I'll ever need, ya know, just in case. Yup, my sister and I thought that excess baggage was included in our ticket price - it wasn't. The price to add it at the gate? £90. Per person. Each way. Onto a £50 plane ticket? Eff that. Cue a panicked frenzy of opening cases and backpacks, underwear and all on display for the entire lounge to see as we shoved handfuls of, well, anything anywhere to try to get two bags worth of luggage each into one. Lord praise the check-in lady who turned a blind eye while I stuffed books, a sunglasses case and god knows what else into my laptop sleeve (laptops can stay outside of the luggage) just to make it all fit. We were literally, literally, holding out breath as we walked through the gate and onto the plane just praying that the zips of our bags wouldn't burst and ping open spraying a shower of underwear and far more shoes that we needed onto the other unsuspecting people in the queue. We made it. Just.
|Sheer elation at having made it onto the plane without our bags exploding.|
When we arrived it was straight onto the metro towards our apartment. I love getting the metro in other countries, it's always fun to make comparison between theirs and the London Underground - is it cheaper? Cleaner? Quicker? How many incredibly beautiful locals will I spot looking artsy and cool as they go about their daily lives? Is that what I look like to tourists when I'm on the London tube - paha, yeah right! To conclude, the metro is considerably cheaper than the tube which is, frankly, a rip off. It's also really easy to navigate so there's no worries there.
When we emerged from the subway the sun was shining and I was immediately struck by the pretty, pastel colours of Valencia's architecture. Stranded without internet on our phones, we stood perplexedly studying a street map until a friendly, elderly gentleman wandered over and asked, in Spanish, if we needed any help. I replied, in my broken Spanish, that we very much did and he kindly pointed us in the direction of the street we needed. Ten minutes and a few more helpful locals later were home sweet home (well, for the weekend anyway!)
|At home in our Air BnB Apartment|
Now, I've always been a bit sceptical about Air BnB - I mean what sane human would let random strangers stay in their gaff while they were away? - but after this trip I couldn't have better things to say about it. The apartment we stayed in was this one in case you're ever going to Valencia and it was every bit as lovely as it looks in the photos and great value for money. When we arrived a friend of the owner, Jose, was there to meet and greet us, show us around the place and even gave us a handy print-out of things to do and see in the area. We had a nice little chat with him, in a mix of broken Spanish and English, about what the area was like and then he left us to it. Seriously, I really recommend this apartment. It feels secure, has mini marts just around the corner (it came pretty well stocked with food anyway tbh) the pretty Turia Gardens are a short walk away nearby and it has great transport links.
I used to think I loved hotel pampering (a full breakfast buffet, swimming pool and cleans sheets every day? Yes please!) but I've realised now that it's actually much more fun to really experience what it's like to live somewhere new and exciting, even if only for a few days. It was really nice to do a food shop of the local produce, cook and eat whatever and whenever we wanted and to curl up on the sofa with unlimited hot chocolates at night and watch Netflix without a dodgy hotel wifi signal. There was one reeeally awkward moment / panicked half hour when the key got stuck in the front door and we genuinely thought we may have broken it but we managed to fix the situation with some frozen fruit and olive oil and... well let's just move on shall we?
On our second day we ventured into the town centre to check out the local markets. I vlogged this bit and, all being well, that video will be going up on my YouTube channel on Saturday so I won't go on here but it was cool. Bustling and full of delicious looking foods from baked goods and freshly blended smoothies to meat (including rabbit heads, mmm...) and colourful fruit and veg.
Before we left for the trip I googled 'things to see and do in Valencia' and one of the first things that came up was horchata. Horchata is a, traditionally Mexican I believe, drink made from sweetened nut milk that's also really popular in Valencia. It's thick like a milkshake with a slightly fruity flavour and to me tastes really similar to the popular Caribbean beverage, Sour Sap Juice, which my dad makes - yum! It's commonly served with fartons which are a sweet pastry, kind of like a long donut, with a crusty outer. These fartons at the market, despite looking pretty, were nothing special to be honest (my sister likened them to stale donuts, I wouldn't go that far...) but I saw a few bakeries with some that looked deeeelicious. I will definitely have to sample more next time to form a fair opinion - strictly research of course.
On my sister's actual birthday we headed to the L'Oceanogràfic oceanarium (seawater aquarium) for the day. This was unexpectedly by far one of the coolest day trips I've ever had on any holiday. I haven't been to an aquarium in at least ten years and, as this one is the largest of its type in Europe, we ended up spending a few hours here going between all of the enclosures. I took soooo many pictures that I'm gonna put the bulk of them in a beautiful, blue hued post all of its own but here is a sneak peek.
|Valencian Architecture is so impressive. The city had a great mix of rustic beauties and impressive modern structures like this one.|
I'm not wild about the idea of animals being kept in captivity in general to be honest but I understand that it helps to educate us about the environment and for preservation research purposes and at least these birds seemed happy enough! I got some great footage from the day for the vlog, including a dolphin display, so keep your eyes on my YouTube channel this weekend for that!
On the Friday the weather was hot, hot, hot despite being late November, so we headed for the beach! We definitely went to the wrong beach because it took us three bus journeys through the back of beyond and a whole lot of asking directions to find it but we made it eventually.
Oh my gaaaaaad haha!!! I just wrote this whole paragraph about how there was this creepy naked perv on the beach trying to nonchalantly flash us and then I googled the name of the beach to write in here only for Google to come up with 'La Devesa Beach - Nudist Beach Near Valencia' hahaha!!!! That makes soooo much more sense now because the guy really did seem nonchalant haha. In our defence there was noone else on the beach (probably because it wasn't high season and that beach is so damn far off the beaten track) so we didn't get that usual 'oh shit everyone is naked - this must be a nudist beach!' type realisation that one usually gets... (FYI also avoid Nova Mar Bella Beach in Barcelona if you'd rather not see strangers' bits - done that one before...).
So it turns out that we were in the wrong place, not him...oops! I'm sending cosmic apologies for all of the dirty looks and terrible things we were thinking of him at the time. Apologies my man. Only we could accidentally end up on a nudist beach!! It's midnight now but I can't wait' to Whatsapp my sister tomorrow to tell her! Anyway, yeah, if you fancy a bit of naked tanning then La Devesa Beach in Albufera, Valencia is your place.
|What happens when you ask your sister to take too many photos for your blog...|
I did have good reason to ask her to keep retaking them. In this one (sadly the best of the bunch) my flyaway clumps of hair were sticking up so badly that I've had to do an awkward iPhoto edit which is where there are two black blobs by my head. Someone buy me Photoshop pleeeeease?!
Anyway, after an afternoon of lounging (and mislead 'perv' bashing) we were hungry so we stopped off to get some food in Albufera town on the way home.
I used to love calamari but every time I have it anywhere now, abroad or not it, just tastes like rubbery, deep fried blandness... My sister's croquettes, on the other hand, were first class.
Paellaaaaaa! You can't go to Valencia and not try paella. We reeeally nearly tried traditional Valencian paella which has rabbit and snails in it but my sister chickened out at the last second (and you have to share paella because the portions are so big) so we went with good old seafood. I was a bit apprehensive after catching some sort of food poisoning from seafood paella back in Barcelona but I had nothing to fear this, was simply delicious!
Right, I think that's enough for tonight but Part Two will be up early next week with the Valencia vlog and lots of other exciting posts going up in between so check back for that! In the meantime I have outfit photos and a couple of tasty dessert recipes coming up (one a tad naughty, one nice) so don't be a stranger!
P.S. I know I said on Tuesday night that this post would be up on Wednesday and it's technically now Thursday but as it's only 00:53 but I've been writing it since Wednesday so I think it still counts as the next day? I blame Making a Murderer which has been on in the background all evening, it's far too distracting!! Damn you Netflix autoplay, I just can't ever bring myself to stop the next episode!