Going on holiday is a mere fantasy at this point. A month deep into lockdown and we’re all worrying about what time is best to visit the supermarket without queues, and if we should be wearing a mask or not. It’s good to keep hope though, and there’s no reason to write off a holiday abroad just yet.
When the dust settles, herd immunity approaches and lockdowns ease up, going on holiday will feel like the most liberation exercise of freedom that we have always taken for granted. So, why Valencia of all places to fantasise about? Well, there’s no short answer to that.
Valencia, like much of Spain, is steeped in culture and history. The central squares of Valencia encapsulates this, with a gorgeous Old Town that’s littered with monuments. One example of this is the whimsical yet powerful 15th century building La Lonja de la Seda — Spanish for “Silk Exchange”. The building is a UNESCO site; rooted in gothic architecture. This was created in Valencia’s Golden Age, a time where Valencia was one of Europe’s key trading centres. The Silk Exchange was where traders from around the Mediterranean would meet and trade.
Just opposite the Silk Exchange is the Central Market, a place popular among both locals and tourists for its huge selection of goods. The building itself is gorgeous, woven with metal and glass. This is where you come if you want to pick up some local Spanish delicacy, such as cured meat or manchego cheese. There’s also a fish market that’s extremely fresh — something for the food lovers.
Being a food lover in Valencia, you’re spoilt for choice. La Pépica is a great place to start. It has some of the best paella around, and it has the validation of being a favourite for Hemingway. Casa Montaña is another great option if you want tapas (because, well, you can’t visit Spain and not have Tapas). It’s widely perceived to be the best (traditional) tapas bar around, and it serves local delicacies. It’s romantic too, being situated in the fisherman’s district that’s steeped in history.
Whilst there are some upmarket, a la carte restaurants, you’re better off sticking within the Old Towns for some Authentic cafe food. One of the most stunning marketplaces in valencia where you can find great food is the Colón market. As shown on the VisitValencia page, the circular, emblematic building has 14 restaurants, and lies in an easy location to get to (on the L3 or L5 metro line).
Of course, there’s the beach lovers also. Valencia for sure doesn’t miss them out. Valencia is actually inundated with different types of beaches. Quiet, relaxing undisturbed beaches, louder, more vibrant ones, and even nudist ones. Some unspoilt ones are La Malvarrosa beach, El Saler, Port Saplaya and Sagunto beach. La Malvarrosa however has different sections, and some parts of it are actually the most popular areas in Valencia — so pick wisely. Though, the most popular areas are popular for a reason — the sand is gorgeous, and you’re never far from refreshments.
If you’re a fan of modern architecture, then The City of Arts and Sciences is a must-see. It’s usually first on the list for tourists, due to its overwhelming modern designs. The place is actually split into 6 different zones. The first, L’Hemisferic, is a 3D cinema and it’s built to resemble a huge human eye. Among the other areas, you will find a huge fish tank, sharks, dolphins, a sports arena (unrelated to the dolphins…), a landscape walk of local plants and the Prince Philip Science Museum. It certainly paints the picture of being the perfect place for a family holiday, with lots to do.
The silver lining, if you grant one in such a terrifying time, is that we will all be more appreciative of travel after this pandemic. One way to really up your travel-game is to start journaling. A travel journal is essentially a diary of your travels — a way to plan your trip, record your memories and experiences while travelling, and then use it to look back and reflect in the future. You can do this when you wind down at night, or when you’re travelling on the bus or train.
You’ll notice that you’ll remember more, and when visiting so many places in a short period of time (which is easy to do in Valencia), compared to your holidays without journaling. You get more out of the holiday, because it lives on for longer in your memory. This allows you to reflect more too, which is great when determining your next holiday. Being reminded of the reasons why you loved a destination can help direct your next one, or it could give you a record of a hotel, bar or museum that you loved and will want to revisit one day.