Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Valencia: First Impressions

I have arrived and survived my first few days in Valencia. As my family predicted, I did bumble around confusedly, I have got lost many times already and I have already spilt ketchup and nail varnish on my bed. However, I have not been trafficked yet (told you, familia). I have managed to survive, mainly thanks to the lovely people I met on the street who helped me out.
As soon as my taxi pulled out of the airport, I noticed a cute bunch of orange trees, that turned into a veritable forest. During my chat with the lovely taxista Adrián Orrego, I learnt that pretty much as soon as you leave the city of Valencia there are just orange trees everywhere, that Valencia is the best city in Spain for festivals (and apparently everything), especially Las Fallas and that he is saving up to join his half-Valencian, half-Uruguayan family in Uruguay, reflecting the trend of descendants of Latin American immigrants going back to the countries of their heritage, due to the dire economic situation in Spain.
Valencia is particularly bad, with the worst regional debt in the country after Catalonia. I was struck by how a good eighty percent of the city centre seems to be made of marble, as well as by the Jardines del Turia, a former riverbed that is now an architect's dream of modern innovation and facilities for the yoots. By standing on the bridge above and spinning around I could immediately see a playground, a football pitch, benches, a cathedral and a lot of happy people in the sun. However, the Angela Merkel in me says some of this money could have been diverted to feed struggling families...
Speaking of food, here's what I had for lunch! No, that's not American cheese-in-a-can, it is an actual tortilla bocadillo. Aka one of the best things ever, especially when it has been properly salted. It was so massive I had to save some for dinner, which was a real shame because I do hate to have an excess of food...
Since I've been here I've also managed to eat cod and cauliflower paella - don't knock it till you've tried it-, patatas bravas and calamares. All were delicious and very cheap, but the recipe I have for bravas is much nicer (just saying).
I found myself in the Plaza de la Virgen, around the corner from my hostel which would make any Europhile tending towards emigration NEVER LEAVE. Apparently everything happens here, including protests, so I assume I'll be stalking the square with my camera for a good part of my time here.

Meanwhile, it's set to be 21-25 degrees on Wednesday. Guess who's going to the beach?

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