The Valencía Way
New country, new life, healthy living, new resolutions! Get fit, eat vegetables and salad all the time and maybe drink a little bit of red wine.
That’s the plan and it was going very well until we arrived. This place has just tooo many distractions. Valencia, famed for its night life just sucks you in and then spits you out 3 months later with a hang-over, a faint tan and a guilty feeling about those enticing bars with bottles of beer for 1 euro. Fresh of the plane and clothes still damp form the English rain, we hopped in a hire car and headed for Valencia. 3 hours later, exhausted, grumpy and hungry we eventually found our apartment. Only to find no parking spaces within a half an hour walk. There was only one thing for it, we bumper parked our car in the true Spanish style, dumped our stuff in the apartment and headed to the pub. Now they say start as you mean to go on etc. But something bigger than me got in the way of my plan, Valencia, or Baa-len-thee-a as I have now learnt to call this place. Without exception, I have found the people here helpful and friendly. I can think of many examples of this; from a waiter advising us on the best areas to live and the rental agencies to avoid, bar staff ringing up numbers to try and find an apartment for us and one of my favourites, women in supermarkets advising me on what fruit and veg not to buy (usually the ones in my basket). Unfortunately as we kept arranging to meet people in cafes we usually ended up having a long lunch and getting very little achieved. It was about then that I first heard the expression poco, poco. Slowly but surely we found an apartment to live in for a year and by responding to an ad in this very magazine, jobs! -And of course, the website www.24-7valencia.com. All the places we had failed to discover on our first ‘‘inspection trip’’ were revealed. The reviews of restaurants, pubs and clubs (and a map from Valencia tourist board) became our bible as we set about exploring our new home.
This place seems to get bigger every day. Around every corner and up every side street there is something new, waiting to be discovered. Beautiful apartment buildings, little Plaza’s, superb restaurants and cafes. So after 3 months I have the legs of a marathon walker, the beer belly of a darts player and a stiff neck from looking up at all the trees and the balconies full of plants and people. (My favorite balcony is on a little street just off Plaza del Mercado).
One of the resolutions I made, that I have managed to keep was to see some of the tourist sites. I lived in Cambridge for 6 years and never once managed to visit a museum or any of the Colleges that make it famous. (Well that’s a slight lie I did work, briefly, in one of these colleges but all I ever saw was the computer room so it doesn’t really count). So I have been to the Basilica (mind you people were at mass so I didn’t stay very long, but I spent hours in Valencia Cathedral. I’ve visited the Museo de las Ciencias Principe Felipe and L’Hemisferic. This took a whole day and I had to be dragged out of the sports section. They really have got the interactive stuff right. The grounds are stunning, I mean where else but Spain can they make a car park look like a work of Art. So I came here looking for the healthy option. Somewhere where I could actually get to see daylight between November and February. I decided that instead of buying all my fruit and veg from Supermarkets in England two weeks after it had been picked in Spain that I would go straight to the source.
Slowly but surely, I mean ‘‘poco, poco’’, I am coming to terms with this. If I want to spend my money in a shop, I wait until the assistant is good a ready to serve me. I am getting used to buying in food for Sundays (cause the supermarket’s closed). Maybe one day I will no longer have to urge to lean over my balcony on weekday mornings and shout all my newly learned Spanish expletives at that double parked person beeping their car horn at the person who has triple parked blocking them in. I think about that one the more I can see the funny side.