One of the surprising things about going abroad is the cool Americans you meet. I expected to come back changed from my encounters with Spaniards, with a widened mind from my time spent with a Spanish family and my hair very much blonder from my days in the sun. But I didn’t expect to find myself making friends with Americans I would normally have mis-labeled and passed over. Every time our group goes on an excursion we all get closer, and last weekend in Valencia was no exception.
Valencia is the third biggest city in Spain, and like most Spanish city’s, it’s gorgeous. Divided down the middle by a dry river bed that has been turned into a 8 mile long park in the center of the city the architecture is starkly divided between the old city and new city.
We started Friday morning on the edge of the the city at the city for arts and sciences. Valencia’s ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias. We spent our time in the aquarium, where we saw an awesome dolphin show, and the Musea de las Ciencias, an interactive science museum. The enormous complex was designed by famous architect and Valencia native, Santiago Calatrava. His architecture is renown for it’s life-like form, at the Ciudad there is are buildings that resemble and eye, and a whale skeleton.
After we went to our hotel in the heart of Valencia and wandered around. Old Valencia is a beautiful city. It’s streets still have that too-narrow-to-be-real feeling, with cobblestone that transports you back to the mid-evil ages. We went to the cathedral where the holy grail is and the central market. All Spanish providences have a cathedral and all cities have a central market.
The cathedral is pretty much your basic overwhelming and gorgeous cathedral, perhaps slightly bigger. There are also slightly more pregnant women than in most due to a tradition that women in their ninth month of pregnancy come to the cathedral and walk around it nine times for a healthy baby.
The Mercado Central was beautiful. A bigger city than Alicante deserves a bigger Mercado Central, and Valencia stepped up to the test. A Mercado Central is like a year-round, week-long, farmers market. Merchants rent out space to sell their fresh food and crafts and the city swarms into it for the cheap prices and excellent food. The Mercado it’s self is located in the center of the city, in a beautiful old building decorated with arched windows and a central dome that lets in natural lighting.
I bought my first fresh mango juice for one euro, and it was even more delicious than the mango juice from Whole Food’s.
Valencia also boasts the thinnest house in the world, who wouldn’t want to live there?