02 February 2016

// spain | valencia 2 of 2 //

valencia is surrounded by the river turia-- or what used to be the river. in 1957 it overflowed, flooding the city horribly. while in the midst of recovery, they made the decision to reroute the river and have since turned the river bed into an incredible park that wraps around the city. one morning while in valencia, we just started walking the length of the park... eventually reaching the park and following the paths until we came to the city of arts and sciences.
orange and olive trees abound in the park and there are runners everywhere. valencia truly is the city of runners! at one point in the park, there is a larger than life replica of gulliver from gulliver's travels that you can pay to climb all over like a jungle gym! this park holds futbol fields, skating rinks, horse corrals, climbing walls, cafes & much more. the way the river bed wraps around the old city centre reminded me of the tiber river running along trastevere in rome and its such a popular place for people to gather.

we explored the science and oceanographic buildings near the mouth of the old river and the modern architecture is incredible! our walk back took us through various neighborhoods with no tourists and that was the best! it's always worth getting out of the tourist hub. we got some paella to go and sat in the park to eat and people watch:) paella is a dish that's famous all over spain but it originated near valencia so you could say it's most authentic there.

new years eve is a huge deal in spain and we were told many times that valencia celebrates accordingly. we were told that they do a massive fire work display in the city center to welcome the new year and everyone eats 12 grapes at midnight for good luck, one with each stroke of the clock. most everyone stays in until midnight and then afterwards in the new year is when all the parties start. 
we saw them setting up in the city center  so we thought we'd avoid the massive crowd there and watch the fireworks from our 5th story terrace with friends at the hostel and then go out for a bit afterwards. after siesta we went to the super mercado and bought some bread, meats cheeses and such to munch on. hanging out with our new hostel friends from germany, slovenia, serbia, the netherlands and belgium was so fun! we swapped stories, debunked common misconceptions about our countries, talked about cultural differences & laughed so much!

the streets around us had been so quiet all evening but as we got closer to midnight, we expected it to liven up a bit. it didn't but we got our grapes ready!! the church bells started chiming at 12o' clock but it was really hard to keep up with the chimes and eat our grapes fast enough! haha plus the grapes had seeds- no win there! we cheered and greeted each other then turned expectantly towards the city center. no fireworks. a few minutes later, some started popping off around town that we couldn't see. then several minutes past midnight we heard them go off in the city center but they were shooting them off from the ground so we couldn't see them:/ rather a disappointment but we still had fun!

the next morning, new years day, we were up first thing to catch our train to sevilla. the weather was balmy and the streets were quiet as the older generation of spaniards went to morning mass while the younger generations slept off their hangovers or kicked a futbol around in the streets.
up next: sevilla!
if you missed it: barcelona pt. 1 | barcelona pt. 2 | valencia pt. 1

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