Studying in Valencia
Below is a guest blog from Renée about her time studying in Valencia.
Valencia is an enchanting city with lots to do, but also has a safe small-town feeling. It was one of the reasons why I decided to study there! Another reason is that they speak with the ‘real’ Spanish accent, which is great when you are practicing the language. Valencia has two universities and is very near to a beautiful sandy beach.
Compared to Barcelona, almost everything in Valencia is within walking distance. The city centre is made up of the most important historical buildings and attractions, like the Mercado Central, the La Lonja, the three main squares and the cathedral. A definite must is also the neighborhood called del Carmen, the place to be for going out. On Saturday evenings the main street, Calle de Caballeros, is perfect to take a stroll and absorb the Spanish culture all around you. It is not just a place for going out but you will also find plenty of lovely restaurants and cafés to enjoy sangria and delicious Spanish tapas and traditional dishes.
An area that is less known, but certainly worth a visit, Ruzafa, is filled with fantastic cafés and restaurants, and it has a relaxed and very authentic Spanish atmosphere. Ruzafa hosts a lot of galleries and second-hand shops where craftsmen sell their own creations. Next to that you will find a lovely daily indoor food market and on every Monday a street market where they mainly sell clothes, accessories and household items. This area really stands out for its tranquility and Spanish authenticity.
Walking from el parque Túria, also known as el río, towards the beach, you will come across La Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias. This is a city within a city. Architects go wild seeing the modern tours de force (the futuristic buildings by Santiago Calatrava and Felix Candela) whilst tourists take the opportunity to take dozens of pictures. It is a controversial complex, mainly due to the financial cost of it all, but it is an undeniably impressive and unique place! Coming back to el Túria, the gardens of Valencia attract Valencians the whole year round, but also the tourists. During the weekends especially, the gardens are a popular place to relax and spend time with friends and family.
Each country and region has its own special dish: French crêpes, Austrian Kaiserschmarrn, German Sauerkraut and Italian pasta. All of these are world known national dishes. If you didn’t already know, for Valencia the famous dish is paella. ‘Paella’ is actually named after the typical flat frying pan that is used to make the dish, which in the most authentic cases is filled with rabbit and chicken meat. You will find different answers depending on who you ask, but the paella restaurants near the beach are particularly well known for the ‘best’ paella.
The people of Valencia, Valencianos, quickly fall into conversation with everybody, even with people they do not know. When out strangers have no trouble asking for a light, and even a cigarette as well. It is very common when you enter a store to ask who the last person was to enter the store before you. ‘¿Quién es el último?’ is a typical Valencian question, to avoid queue jumpers. Although, this can also be seen as an excuse to start a conversation with the other people who are queuing! I think this custom might be really nice to start in other countries as well. Will it work in yours?
Renée (The Netherlands)