3 Must-Do's When You're in Valencia
Valencia was my favoriteee part of my trip to Spain last fall! I wish we'd had more time to explore the city, but we definitely made the most of our few days there. Here are three things you absolutely must do when you visit:
Attend a Flamenco Show
Dinner and a show? Yes, please! This was so much fun. We got tickets for a three-course dinner and the show at La Bulería, and I highly recommend it. The food was delicious (as was the sangria), and the show was both intimate and lively. Watching the three flamenco dancers on stage was just amazing. There's no way I could ever move my feet that fast. And the outfits are so much fun!
The history of flamenco is apparently quite debated, but the most widespread theory states that flamenco was developed through the cross-cultural interchange between native Andalusians, Romani, Castilians, Moors and Sephardi Jews that occurred in Andalusia (southern Spain). The oldest record of flamenco dates to 1774 in the book Las Cartas Marruecas by José Cadalso. The tradition includes cante (singing), toque (guitar playing), baile (dance), jaleo (vocalizations and chorus clapping), palmas (handclapping) and pitos (finger snapping). It is celebrated and taught worldwide today, and in 2010 UNESCO declared flamenco one of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity.
So it's a whole lot more than pretty dresses. Want to experience even more flamenco? Take a class at Valencia Flamenco while you're there!
Learn to Cook Paella
If you don't sign up for cooking classes when you're traveling, you are absolutely missing out. As someone who both loves to cook and eat food, it was a really immersive way to learn about and experience a local, cultural dish. While in Valencia, we took a class at La Escuela de Arroces y Paella Valenciana. Our signature dish: Paella Valenciana!
Paella is a loved dish throughout much of Spain, but the Valenciano region has its own special twist on it. This version of the dish includes chicken, rabbit, green beans, butterbeans/lima beans, snails, rosemary, and saffron! In the class they take you step-by-step through the process, with a Spanish chef and an English translator, and at the end you enjoy your meal! It was so much fun, and since we were the only ones who signed up for the evening slot that day, we pretty much had our own private class.
Fun Fact: A kilogram of Saffron is insanely expensive in the U.S., ranging upwards of $1,100/kg. In Spain, it's so much cheaper, because it's grown right there!
Go Ceramics Shopping
The tradition of ceramics in Spain is deep and longstanding, and it is still practiced in Valencia today! Hand-painted ceramics can be found in many stores and pretty much every gift shop. Just a couple of blocks from our Air BnB, there was this sweet little ceramics shop located in a mostly vacant alley with an artist who paints replicas of the ceramic tiles found in El Museo Nacional de Ceramica y de las Artes Suntuarias Gonzalez. I bought a couple, for myself and as gifts.
In Valencia, "there is still a guild of Valencian ceramic makers and factories which reproduce the traditional ceramic production methods for making tiles, plates, and other decorative objects that appeared over the course of the 15th through 19th centuries." Traditional tiles come in three styles: socarrat (burnt red & brown), gótico azul (blue tiles), and verde y morado (green tiles).
Bonus: City of the Arts and Sciences
Sadly, we did not have time to make it over to the City of the Arts and Sciences when I was there, but you absolutely should! It's supposed to be so beautiful, with stunning modern architecture. Perfect for the Instagram photographer, and anyone who likes pretty buildings.
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