10. May 21st. Friday
When we arrived in Valencia it was dark and it took us several attempts through narrow alleys and crowded streets to find a parking space. One of the downfalls to driving in European cities. After securing a place for the car to stay, we mapped out the route to the hostel and started walking. A few blocks into the walk we looked up and in front of us stood a towering stone structure that looked like a piece of a castle. The tower looked like every drawing I have ever seen of castles in fairytales. In the moonlight I was transported to a different time and stood mesmerized for several minutes. After walking through the castle gate we entered the old town of Valencia, an area I found to be the most similar to my aesthetic out of any other city we had visited. It was clean, quaint, and embodied the old world charm that I dreamed of capturing in my photographs. The hostel we were staying at proved to be quite amazing as well, situated on the second floor of an old Valencian building with floor to ceiling windows that opened to the street. We spent the rest of the evening together writing, reading, editing photos, and enjoying the time and place where we were.
In the morning, we set out to explore the city of Valencia. I was immediately captivated by the vibe of this city. We stopped at a small café for brunch that had the feeling of an artist’s space. There was handmade jewelry for sale on the counter, a few locals discussing fashion and sipping espresso, and a large white dog lounging in the middle of the floor. We ordered our usual café con leche and baguette with proscuito and queso. From there we wandered the streets some more, stopped at a wine store where we were enthusiatically greeted by the owner and given several samples of wine. We bought a bottle for our walk through the city and continued to explore.
Valencia has definitely been one of our favorite moments of this trip. Not only did it feel smaller, older, simpler, cleaner, and quainter, but it presented us with the first definitive vehicular challenge of the trip. Renting a car, we didn’t hesitate to acquire a gps as well which easily took us through the city center. Not only is driving through the narrow streets a novel and stressful experience (following where the gps demands we go) but finding a parking space among all this was nearly impossible. This challenge seemed to provide us with some triumph, and the rest of the single day we spent there was among pleasant weather and a easy scenic walk through the old district of town.
Valencia is such an old city that its maps have concentric circles drawn where former city boundaries and walls once stood, or now partially stand. In the morning I wandered up the foyer stairs in the building who’s second floor was occupied by our hostel. The banisters and tiling remind me of those European cities you somehow imagine exist in some form of style but feel completely surreal in actually seeing them. The same feeling exists in walking through the thin streets over cobblestones below and shuttered windows above with laundry hung out to dry.
In the Plaza Mayor we came upon a somewhat touristy street market but still enjoyed the styles and the bits and pieces of authentic Spain that we found.