After 24 days of living in Valencia I’ve learned quite a bit about Spanish life on the Mediterranean. I’ve been having the time of my life, and I hope the good times keep rolling. Here is a quick list of what I have learned thus far about mi vida valenciana:
1. The people are very proud to be Valencian. There are valencian flags hanging out of apartments and you can hear Valencian in the streets (it is on all of the street signs and bus stops). If you ask a Valencian if they are speaking Catalan, they are quick to correct you that it is not. It’s Valencian.
2. Olive oil is used for everything! This can be very tasty in dishes, but sometimes it can be a problem if you are eating a picnic and there’s no napkin. I’ve had to wipe my hands on the nearest tree… But it tastes great! Mercedes, my host mom, always has a bottle of aceite de oliva and sea salt on the table; we put it on pasta, cucumbers (pepinos), salads, bread, you name it, we put olive oil on it.
3. Valencians are very friendly to tourists. If you are lost or trying to find out where the market in Benimaclet is (personal experience), just ask a local! They will be more than happy to help you out, or point it out on a map. If you’re on a busy street, walk into a shop and ask an employee, especially if you have your map out, they’ll be more than happy to help!
4. The ocean is a great place to people watch. Not just on the beach, but on the boardwalk where Valencians love to take their nightly strolls (dar un paseo). You can see tourists, families, groups of Valencian women all linking arms and chatting, couples, groups of teenagers, everyone!
5. The Spanish siesta is part of Valencian life. Shops close up from about 2:30pm until 5:00pm (give or take a half hour). So, if you need to buy something from a shop, or more bus passes from a kiosk/tobacco store, do it before the siesta. Then you have a couple hours to relax and take part in culture by sleeping!!
Thank for reading,