14 October 2017

Valencia. Is it the place or the people?

I am not all too often impressed when it comes to new places. But, when I am, I must write about it.

I visited Spain a few times before but I never went to Valencia. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I did see some amazing buildings when I googled it. One thing was for sure, it was Spain! It would certainly be crowded, people will be loud, food everywhere and I will be eating tapas. I don’t want to sound shallow but that was my experience in the previous visits and they were wonderful visits.

As soon as I set foot on Valencian ground, my plane arriving at midnight, I was mesmerized by the silence. It wasn’t an anxious silence. I didn’t feel unsafe or afraid. It was a silence that surrounded the city and it immediately changed my inner mood. I became calm not knowing why.
The first day in Valencia was cloudy and rainy but I wasn't affected at all. The company was excellent and that definitely made my stay wonderful but, the city itself should not be underestimated. If you looked closely at the surroundings, at the people, at everything around you, you would have realized this city was a little heaven on earth.

There were palm trees everywhere, beautiful and colorful buildings well preserved with amazing window shutters. Most of the areas were decorated with flowers and the parks were very beautiful and alive.

People on the street, stylish and simple dressed, looked quite reserved but they were very polite. Respect seemed to be one of the priorities. In the morning I watched the busy street coming to life and people being so polite to one another. I wondered if they did that because they learned it or because it something in their blood?

Perhaps unnecessary to mention as Spain is rich in culture, art and music but Valencia had her way of combining all the creativity and presenting them in a subtle and authentic manner. Street musician played very well. They did their best to show their talent and share their music with everyone. Performances and surprises were discovered in unexpected places.  I even stumbled upon a Flamenco show. The Flamenco dancer, a gorgeous and proud young woman, as well as the singer moved me to tears. The air was filled with harmony and the sweet liquor of surrender.

I must say that every time I came to Spain I wasn’t that baffled with the variety of food. Perhaps I had made quick assumptions about the tapas and paella. Valencia made me realize there is much more to the Spanish cuisine than the standard touristic bites. Not to mention the little restaurants hidden in every corner, making it already a satisfying game to discover one of them. The food was magnificent and without knowing it I was closing my eyes from time to time to enjoy the moment and the wine that, of course, had to be present at every meal. Not to mention the waiters and restaurant owners who did their best to establish some sort of relationship with their customers. I loved the genuine interest and the little chit chats.

I think what attracted me most to Valencia was the silence around me. Even on a crowded market I could still taste the silence. It was the silence I felt inside the people surrounding me. I felt their peace, their smiles as they were living in the moment, no worries seeming to trouble them. They were different. The feeling is indescribably and I can’t explain it further with words. It is of course very personal. I can’t guarantee that others will share the same experience but perhaps there are some of you out there who understand this strange yet surprisingly wonderful silence.  

Yes, I am impressed by Valencia. Yes, I can’t wait to be there again and yes Valencia makes me feel more home than any other city I have ever visited. Do I have to thank the city for that? Maybe but it is the people who have created and preserved this treasure with which that I have fallen so much in love. The perfect balance between beauty and responsibility, freedom and unity. Who knows, maybe there is Spanish blood flowing through my veins after all. Ole!

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