C’mon, it was bound to happen sooner or later – did you really think I could go a whole semester without solo-travelling?! After a stressful week in Madrid, my mind was all over the place and I desperately needed an escape. I know it’s never good to run away from your problems but I think that a little headspace from time to time can be really beneficial, so I booked some last-minute bus tickets (deliberately not telling anyone else, of course) and boy, was it a good weekend! Read all about it here…
Valencia is home to Madrid’s nearest beach (it’s still 4 hours away though!) and it’s also a city that I’ve wanted to visit for a very long time. Now I’ve actually had the chance to experience it I can say that it’s one of my favourites so far! The centre has that busy, upbeat vibe of a major city but there’s also some incredible green areas, a beach and tons of cultural stuff to do… I can’t think of one single thing that this city is missing. In fact, I couldn’t help but think how awesome it would have been to do a semester abroad in Valencia and I wished that I could somehow merge it with Madrid to make one amazing city… If only!
In terms of what to see and do in Valencia I’d say that it completely depends on your taste. Are you a beach person? Hop on the metro and you’ll be on the seafront in a matter of minutes. Do you enjoy looking at old buildings? Head to the Plaza de la Reina. Do you want to see views from a height? Climb up the cathedral. Do you want to go skating/do yoga/hang out outdoors? Head to the green areas of the Turin. Obviously, I can’t cover everything in one blog so my recommendation would just be to explore the city on foot and find out what appeals to you most!
There is one stand out attraction, for me, though: Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias – home of Valencias most famous art/science museums, aquarium and even a nightclub. It’s quite far from the centre but definitely worth the visit. Even if you’re not keen on the museums, I would still recommend walking over there purely because the architecture and design of the complex is incredible – I spent 2 hours just lying on the grass and admiring it/people watching. Please, go check it out for yourselves!
I stayed in a hostel near the centre called Red Nest. I opted for the 12 person room because it was just 8 euros per night and I got lucky because there was only 5 of us in there! It was great to be so centrally located because I could walk pretty much everywhere and it’s always nice to be in the heart of the action when exploring somewhere new. I made some great friends while I was there including some inspiring solo-travellers. I was just visiting from Madrid but there were people from Australia and Asia who had come all of this way alone. Impressive.
I also met a Shaman who told me two things. 1) that I am probably not going to live very long but the life that I do live will be a great one and 2) that a meteor is going to hit Mexico this year. Now, although the first statement may seem a bit daunting, I’m not reading too much into it unless a meteor does hit Mexico, in which case…. Haha, no seriously, being back on the solo-travel scene made me realise how much I love putting myself out there and talking to new people (regardless of the strange theories they may want to share with me). ‘Everyone knows something you don’t‘, remember? Travelling alone puts you in the best position for this because you’re 10x more approachable and you don’t really have any plans or time commitments so you can just go with the flow depending on who you click with.
I’ll admit though, I only managed 2 full days alone before I bumped into a classmate from 5 years ago who’s also studying in Spain. We caught up over drinks and she even showed me around the botanical gardens – Thank you, Carrie, for the best spontaneous few hours! Isn’t it strange how things work out sometimes?
I constantly say that travelling makes you realise how small the world is but the following story is pretty extreme even by my standards. Back in the day, when I took my first solo journey to Costa Rica, I made some awesome friends whilst living in the jungle – one of these was called Emma. Turns out she was also from Birmingham, UK (we even had a few mutual friends and went to school down the road from each other). Now, that’s weird in itself, right? Two English school girls from the same hometown meeting in a wooden hut in the middle of Central America. The story doesn’t stop there though…. We never managed to reunite in the UK when we returned, even though we insisted that we would. Years passed by and the friendship faded until one day, I was on the metro in Madrid and I see Emma’s face in a crowd of people pushing and shoving their way onto the train.
Let me tell you; I very rarely catch the metro (only about 5 times a month – I walk everywhere) and secondly, there’s a dozen trains every hour with at least 6 carriages per train – the chances of us being in the same place at the same time were seriously slim! After screaming her name to a volume that human ears shouldn’t really be exposed to, we hugged and laughed at the impossibility of our situation. She’s also studying in Spain at the University of Zaragoza and just happened to be visiting Madrid for a weekend. So how is this relevant to a blog post about Valencia, I hear you ask? Well, Emma has to commute to Valencia regularly as part of her course and luckily I managed to catch her while I was there – a chance meeting in Madrid led to us meeting in Valencia. Coincidence or fate? I guess we’ll never know!
We didn’t have a lot of time together but the time we did have was spent perfectly…. at the beach! We ate delicious food on the boardwalk, topped up our tans and made the most of the salty, sea breeze. It was a pleasure to reunite with an old friend in a new place – plus, it made for the best end to a great weekend.
Cheers Valencia, thanks for being so good to me!
I suppose I should probably do some studying seeing as I am an ERASMUS student after all, or should I start planning my next adventure? The latter is so much more appealing….