And a beautiful 2 weeks-holiday
Summery, «of, like, or appropriate for summer».
That’s the story: my brother is going to move to Valencia for the Erasmus; he doesn’t speak Spanish and asks me to help him with the language test. He passes the test and decides to “reward” me with a flight ticket to Valencia.
We would fly on August 25th.
European borders are now open but it still is “covid time” and Spain is quite bad – the worst country in Europe for number of cases right few days before my flight. As if it was not enough, Italy imposes quarantine to those coming back from Spain and few other countries…
What should I do… Should I stay or should I go?
(Song quote if you didn’t get it)
August 24th: for many reasons I was in a terrible mood since few days, I almost decided to stay home while my brother was pushing me to go anyway and “change air” a little bit… «I will decide tomorrow».
Tomorrow: luggage is ready… «who cares! I go; positive side is that I will have free covid test at the airport when I’ll come back…. wait, when will I come back?».
I went to Valencia with only 4 nights booked in a hostel and no return ticket; I ended up spending 2 amazing weeks with many people from different parts of the world: Argentina, Chile, India, Netherlands, England, Germany, other Italians…
My brother signed the scholarship contract (till that moment uncertain because of the virus) only on the 31st , so we stayed in the hostel 3 nights more than planned, then moved into the apartment he found.
But before that…
On a Tuesday evening we arrived to the Red Nest Hostel (highly recommended for position and friendly staff), we checked in and went out because lil’ bro’ wanted to see the University. On our way out we asked at the reception what about the mask: «you have to wear it 24 hours a day, even outdoor»…
Shoop! It was super humid, feels like 80°C even at night so, being that the rule, I put my makeup case at the bottom of the luggage because… what do I need it for if I cannot take off my mask and this heat makes me sweat like a pig?!
(Btw, do pigs actually sweat?! You can leave a comment if you know the answer 😛 )
First night out and the city was empty: no bars, no restaurants, no people…
Later on we understood that the reason was the last Tuesday night of the last week of holidays, in fact from the following Saturday on the city started to come back to life.
On the second day there, we found the Valenbisi (public bycicles); if you happen to stay in town some days, it could be worth to rent it to move around: once you open the website (English version available) there are two options, the 7 days ticket and the annual one (note: this last one costs around 30€ and it is convenient anyway if you plan to stay in Valencia for a month or more – you will understand why right away).
The 7 days ticket costs 13€ so since I was supposed to stay a week I bought this one; then I decided to stay a week more and I bought another 7 days ticket… If math is not an opinion, 13 + 13 = 26; now you understand why even if you stay one month it’s worth paying for the annual one…
How does this Valenbisi work?
1.Open the website and choose the ticket you want – you will pay online.
2.When paying, you will be requested to choose a password; save it because you will need it at every rental.
3.You will get an e-mail with your referral number.
4.Download the AllBikesNow app in order to check how many bikes or free spots there are at each station and where the closest station is.
5.Find a station and follow the instructions on the display. Easily speaking you will have to put the referral number you got by e-mail, insert the four numbers password and choose one bike; go to the bike you selected and “pulse” to unlock it.
You got your bike, congrats! Now remember: the ride is free only for 30 minutes, after that you will be directly charged on the card you used for the payment (costs are written on the website and if I don’t go wrong also in the mail they send you).
When you park the bike back to a station, after few seconds you’ll hear only two bips if the bike is properly locked – if you hear more than two then the bicycle is not properly locked.
For what concerns the annual card, the thing is slightly more complicated: you need to purchase a transportation card first then combine it with the Valenbisi account; after the activation at the station, you will have to swipe the card on the card reader everytime before inserting the password (all explained on the display, don’t worry); for the rest it works the same.
Since I mentioned transportation, I quickly give you an info for the metro ticket: you can buy one single ticket at the automatic machines in the stations or purchase a 10 viajes ticket in the shop (which will not sell you less than that).
If instead you are a lazy ass who is able to ride a motorbike (me, I just learned there to be honest), you have plenty of choices for e-bikes rentable by app. We chose the super good-looking Yego: download the app, open your account and in 2 hours you will get a confirmation e-mail of the activated account.
The cost is not exactly cheap (0,25€/minute) but you can choose to buy a package to save some money, for exemple you can purchase the cheapest one which costs 9.90€ and they gift you with 1€ something; the more you pay, the more you get for free.
(note: Yego works also in other cities such as Barcelona, so you can keep the app and use it again)
But let’s get to the city itself, because obviously you cannot miss the typical touristic highlights, so start with a walk in the Old City Center (note: behind the Cathedral there’s a square called Plaza de la Virgen where in the evening you will find many young people hanging out and drinking cervezas sold by guys riding their bikes around), from there it’s all little alleys with nice European buildings, souvenir shops, restaurants… If you want to spend a nice Spanish-style evening go to La Infanta for very tasty tapas and sangrìa!
In the area you surely have to make a pitstop in the Mercat Central where for exemple you can have a bocadillo con jamòn for a couple of euros.
The Market has two gates and at one of the two you will find some little tapas places – most probably they are tourists traps so think twice before sitting there.
Few steps far, you can visit la Lonja de la seda: the entrance was free of charge when we visited…luckily! Because even though it’s a beautiful gothic building, it’s actually a super fast visit so it wouldn’t be fair at all to eventually charge for the entrance.
Ok now google Valencia…
Do you see something like this photo (without the little smiling me between the E and the N)?
Well this is la Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias, flagship of the city of Valencia.
It’s a huge complex which puts together el Palau de les Arts Reìna Sofia, l’Hémisferic, l’Umbracle, el Museo de las Ciencias Prìncipe Felipe, l’Oceanogràfic, l’Agora and the bridge called puente de l’Assut de l’Or (that reminds a lot the Puente de la Mujer in Buenos Aires – same architect, Santiago Calatrava). The complex can take half day visit or even more if you want to get in every structure, it’s like a city in the city so try to figure out what you really want to visit before getting there (my personal advice) and maybe, before taking any decision about it, you should also know that the Oceanogràfic is the largest complex of its type in Europe and it pumps water straight from Malvarosa beach.
And again, since I mentioned the beach let’s talk about it.
Summer is a great time to visit Valencia, so much that I would say… why going to Valencia when you cannot enjoy the beach?! It goes along side the city from Cabañal to la Patacona and beyond; you can pay for a bed and umbrella or simply put your towel on the sand and sunbathe. Beach volley, beach tennis, windsurf, jet ski… spoiled for choice on what you can do in the summery Valencia!
In my opinion Malvarosa Beach is the best: it’s the cleanest part, you have enough space so you don’t need to worry about any contagious virus, you bring your own music and nobody cares.
Also true that on Sundays afternoon you can have more fun in la Patacona beach, ordering refreshing cocktails in chiringuitos which play their own music… pretty cool situation!
Talking about drinks, when in Valencia you must try Agua de Valencia, Tinto de Verano and of course, Sangrìa.
And never drink without eating, did you know that la paella valenciana is not made with seafood?
Exactly, the typical paella in Valencia is made with chicken and rabbit meat but if you prefer the seafood don’t worry, you can easily order the marisco one.
Another “must-try” is la orchata, a soft drink made from chufas (the little beans you see in the photo which in reality are not beans but very small tubers); this drink must be always cool because at the wrong temperature it can ferment.
The taste may be a little weird, but it’s very refreshing on a hot afternoon walking around the city, so give it a try!
I went to Valencia with no expectations and I came back super enthusiastic! Many people told me that Valencia was pretty cool, I even read that last year it got a top score ranking among expats for its quality of urban living and now I feel to confirm it 100%. I mean it’s a nice city to visit, but living there can be even better – above all during summer time.
It’s a fascinating city rich of contrasts: the old city center, gothic and very European on a side, and ramshackle old houses on the beach side (which sometimes even reminded me of Cuba).
Conclusion is: I would absolutely be more than happy to go back to Valencia and something tells me I really will (but, hopefully, this will be another story).
Feel free to leave a comment at the bottom of the page…
I’ll read ya!