As well as sight-seeing, discovering new art, and impressive buildings, I love just walking around and getting the feel of a place, and seeing how differently it operates.
Part of the fun for me is having to adapt to a different routine. It brings new experiences, and ideas and shakes up my thinking. It also makes me appreciate things I take for granted.
a few thoughts from my 5 day visit.
Bacalhau( Portuguese dried salt cod) was nowhere to be seen. Valencia is home to Paella, and there was lots of that around, as well as loads of other fresh sea food. In fact the menus in Valencian restaurants were mostly fish , (well it is on the coast) here it is mostly pork, chicken, goat and Bacalhau of course.
Tapas bars were all over the city. I love being able to get a “real food” snack, or make a meal out of lots of different bits and pieces. For me tapas are a wonderful way to eat socially.
In Central Portugal, instead of lots of different small dishes, one plate of food here is often big enough for two, and many Portuguese share one dish.
Drinks in Valencian cafes were much more expensive. A café, known as a café solo in Spain, or an espresso in England, cost from 1,00 to 1,40 € . Here it is 0,50, (or with a custard tart 1,20) This was the same with beer and spirits too.
Gin was a popular drink in Valencia. Being a G and T girl, I made the most of it.
I have given up asking for a gin and tonic in the bars here, as I know most don’t have it. I tend to have a beer, port or Ginja here these days. The gin and tonics were a lovely holiday treat !
The street names and other signs reminded me that Valencias first language was not Spanish, but Catalan. It is supposedly closer to the Portuguese language, and so I didn’t know whether to try my Portuguese or use my basic Spanish. I listened to people talking, and as more people seemed to be using Spanish, I dragged my basic Spanish out of hibernation. I was surprised at how easily I was understood. Phonetically sounding Spanish, with only 5 vowel sounds seemed so simple.( Portugal has 14 I think )
On Sundays the bakeries, and supermarkets were closed. Here supermarkets and bakeries are open on Sunday, and I was a bit caught out at not being able to buy fresh bread for breakfast,however all the nearby bars sell breakfast pastries.
The cakes in the bakeries were not as varied as in Portugal. I have a sweet tooth and love a pastel de nata with coffee. I bought an ensaymarda ( a sort of sweet bread covered in icing sugar eaten at breakfast) but it was a poor replacement.
I had forgotten how late the Spanish like to eat out in the evening. Most people have eaten by 8 pm here, and yet the restaurants in Valencia did not start getting busy until after 10.30 and lots of Spanish were eating at mid night. I don’t like eating so late, and so I had my main meal at lunch ( around 3pm ) and then had a few tapas in the evening.
Valencia is home to a drink called Horchata. It is made from ground up tiger nut, sugar and milk and is traditionally eaten with a sweet long bread called a farton. I gave one a go. It had a weird taste, that I can’t describe, and one was enough !
Horchata must have been huge at one time, as around the old town I spotted a couple of very ornate,beautiful buildings, which had been Horchaterias, and old black and white photos showed them full of people drinking the stuff.
So those are just a few observation I thought i would share
I am now back into my village routine again, and appreciating the birds waking me in the morning, my lovely neighbours, the quiet peacefulness, and the lovely nature outside my door.
A change is definitely as good as a rest, but it is also good to be home !