Barcelona, a vibrant, thriving, treasurous spot meant for delighting the mind. This pandora’s box carefully, creatively-crafted, by Catalan hand has perfectly aged. The city vibe shines like your grandmother vintage glittering gown so fair, mixed with a modern flair, stealing the show at the grand masquerade ball of life. An aficionado of alliteration I am, literary techniques (aside.) mark my words, Barcelona I will be back. This was la puerta a mi camino Español, now, like (an) Oasis in my mind, I will never look back in anger.
With a cross country runner’s foot path, I’ve dashed across Spain and decided Valencia was the second port I’d park my name. I hopped a bus facing south, four hours past, and at last Jouquín Sorollo station filled the view from the dash. With a wave a palm and electric kiss, I was greeted by a surge of soul-charging sol. Katrina and waves swelled in my mind, the background track while I walked on sun-shined pavements to my hostel. My center in these crazed days I spend easing with the breeze.
Take Madrid’ 3.2 mil, divide by half and there’s Barcelona’s fill, split again in two, and a quick fact check will tell, Valencia is the third latest city Spain can claim. I am in utter disbelief, this subdued seaside town hides it so well, although I am keen to remember May-September is the busy spell.
Locals will think you’re loco for wearing shorts in November, but by the sweat of my back I will testify against this claim. As I sat in the sun writing about **Brighton, a refuge for the relics society’s deemed insane, creativity flew from finger tips while salty sweat dripped. I have not yet put blood in this blog, but sweat yes, and thanks to my stark lack of technological skills I’ve been damn well near tears. I made the mistake of deleting my entire Liverpool post after completing it down to the last punctuation mark. That is why I gave thanks this giving to a recovery file.
My initial note about this post stares back, stoking flames of confusion, “Old city very small yet good things come in small packages.”
Wheels whirling, through Valencia mind-cruising, I realized Valencia felt home and cozy because it was not a town, but a person. Moving in token, slow-rolling, synchronicity she will humbly welcome you and offer a tray of Agua de Valencia* straight up with a twist of ‘lectric energy.
The city center containing buildings of old, is the heart slowly thumping to a two century old beat. A walking tour of this aortic portal will tell, Romans first fought for the keys to the doors, toppled by Moors it was they who held on for 500 years. The latter’s influence is still most clear. I guess though all their unrest, our tired troubadours were wrong, the second cut is actually the deepest. The Valencia orange: introduced by the Moors, in rows these trees line the streets making them smell citrusy-sweet, it also goes in the *town drink, and mascotted Spain in the World Cup of late.
Preceding California by 400 years, Valencia’s golden age was her 15th century. Live long and prosper. Home to America’s sugar dad and mama, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, fore Christopher Columbus’ maiden voyage they did foster.
If walls could talk, Valencia would sing straight from the heart, a colorful ballad of whim and wit, thanks to the encore of street art.
Everyone has a tradition of quirk that illicits a smirk from others when they hear. For my family, the first spoonful of peanut butter from the jar grants the holder of the handle a wish. Where this tradition began I haven’t a clue, and no, no other food will bring luck to you. Twenty-two and I still brim with excitement when I come across an unbridled jar. Valencia is no different. The turn of the sundial begins with March. Way back before celestial knowledge came to light, it was believed that after a year of being run, the sun needed a recharge. La fallas festival became the power source. http://www.spanish-fiestas.com/festivals/las-fallas/ Each year paper-mâché monuments are crafted.
All satirical marks of the strife and blunder that occurred the past year. Beginning on March first they stand tall, but when the calendar screams nineteen the fallas are set ablaze. I’m not sure who foot the bill, but I was crazed to learn the most expensive one ever built cost 900,000 euros, not wanting to step on any toes, every country and city has a right to cultural traditional all their own, but after learning the colossal price tag I couldn’t help picturing…
Outside the cage of stone walls, the streets become a vibrant life line. Cars surly move faster than a somersaults pace, but I’m happy to report, biking here got on with no honks or close calls. I find it ironic, I rode my beach cruiser at school where the landscape of Chapel Hill makes good on the name, so much that after two years calf definition I certainly gained. Now that I’m here, along flat foreign sands I was introduced to a 3 speed. The concept the same, peddle to start, and let the wheels carry you along, but no foot breaks to slow your motion. To me this a truly foreign notion. I’d like to attribute part of the cause of my “near” death in Barcelona to this, rather than the lack of notice green turned to red.
Where a royal blue sea meets cyan blue sky, making a two-toned iris. By night and by day the waves never cease to wink, always revealing less and more of the shore. Lined with lashes of palms, as you look on, you’re greeted with a feelings of warm-invitation and calm understanding, making it easy to get lost in Valencias expansive eye. Like blueberry and cafe helado dripping from from surgery cone, from a distance the mountains seem to melt into the sand. With the sincerity of kids flying to the moon in backyard rocket ships, we placated the tired old jestings of depth perception and discussed peddling strait to the mountains. The not too distance dream held Valencia’s gaze.
She sells seashells down by the sea short, but it being the off season, this blond bebí beers down by the beach bar. A simple sailor’s warning, hold a conch too close to your ear, and the Sirens call you will hear, convincing you to stay one lunar rotation more. I found my extending my stay another 72 hours along the sandy shores.
The soul is to the kitchen as doors to music, original to Valencia’s kitchen is paella. Prepared and served piping hot in a pan one thumb deep, the original recipe of chicken, snail, & rabbit, sleep on a bed of rice along with vegetables, beans, and spice.
Like a shimmering scarf, a river used to curl and flow around the bend of Valencia’s walls. But the great flood of 1957 brought a roaring wave of change. Long since drained, The Jardines del Turia have grown in the wake. Mother Nature has 4.543 billion years to her name, yet us kids who only began to walk 200,000 ago always want to show her who’s boss. In 2009 Dave Matthews declared, “it’s funny the way it is…” I’ll admit I did enjoy laying in the park on a beautiful day. This pristine park was littered only with jungle gyms, practice fields, tennis courts, benches, and bike paths galore.
On one hand, you’ll find a zoo, the 9 kilometer walk to the other will bring you to the science center. A precarious balance between nature and man. The City of Arts and Sciences (science center) is a cultural and leisure site with architecture for the eye’s delight. In London, I saw shirt that said, “keep calm I’m an architect.” To the traveler who shared my momentary path I remarked, I’ve never been in a situation that would only be calmed by an architect. Well, I’m not frantic, but the A-word continues to slip from my lips, so I figure for my next dinner I’ll save a dollar and eat my words, because I’m quite consumed with architecture.
A stroll through the science center would make Walt feel right at home. The oxymoronic curved angular white steel mixed with the calming hues of tiles of blue gave the area an Epcot feel.
I must admit more and more I enjoy life in Spanish fashion. Siesta from 2-5, curfew? None. After the sun sets is all the more time to come alive. Well past nine or ten the park was filled with runners and practicing future football stars. No one turns into a calabaza at midnight in this Mediterranean fairytale, in fact that’s still prime dinner time. No matter how many minutes past 00:00 had clicked, I always felt safe walking through town, even my hour long shuffle to the bus stop beginning at five (am.)
I stranger at first, now Valencia feels like an old friend.
*Agua de Valencia: Fresh orange juice, cava (Spanish champagne,) gin and vodka… I’ll leave the proportions up to view discretion
**If you dare to read about the mad rad city that is Brighton, England feel free to click (your life) away: https://thatblondevagabond.wordpress.com/2016/11/10/live-from-brighton-its-stop-number-4/
^^totally kidding you won’t lose your life… Just your mind at the fact a place so epic actually exists.