Jared and I have been asked the same question time and time again: “Why did you come to Valencia?”
The honest answer is easy. “It’s big, cheap, hot and there’s a beach”. Perhaps this sounds like I’m not showing due respect to the city’s unique culture and beauty, but the truth is that neither of us knew anything about Valencia before our arrival… In 2016 we were just two young handsome men full of potential, drinking beer in the back of a dirty pub in Oxford, choosing where to set up an English Academy based on where we could get the best tan.
Now, having lived here for more than 6 months (and still no tan), I’m in an ideal position to write a list of the weird and wonderful things you can find in Valencia, so get ready to dip your ‘Farton’ of curiosity into an ‘Orxata’ of knowledge….
- The city planners were confused! In most coastal cities, the beach is the main attraction, and the city is built around it. In Valencia they like to do things a little differently; Malvarosa beach is quite far away from the city centre, and the area by the beach (known as El Cabanyal) is a run-down area full of old sailor houses, all defaced by graffiti and occupied by gypsies. It’s perfect; I’ll take bike-thieves over skycrapers any day.
- There’s no water in the river. In 1957 the river overflowed and people got wet, leading to the biggest overreaction in the history of city-planning when they decided to drain the river entirely and install some football pitches in the resulting space. Valencianos LOVE the dry river, but I think a river with water is better. Maybe I’m just a traditionalist.
- Only guiris drink ‘Agua de Valencia’. This drink is an icon of Valencia, but in reality it’s not all that popular, and I’m yet to try it myself. The locals love beer, and the most popular brand here is ‘Turia’ which used to be brewed here but now is made in the less glorious city of Murcia, famous for Earthquakes and cocaine.
- Everyone has a dog. As part of the Queens Academy marketing campaign Jared and I were going to buy a cute little bulldog and use it to attract unsuspecting perrophiles. What we didn’t anticipate, however, was the huge number of dog owners in Valencia, and the walls of the Queens Academy building are like Mecca for diarrhetic canines. We decided not to buy a dog.
- They have their own language! Called Valenciano, it’s very similar to Catalan but contains more words to describe burnt rice. These guys really live Paella!
ENGLISH EXERCISE: Fill the spaces:
Bon Dia! It’s another fine day in Valencia, ………(1) third biggest city in Spain, home …..(2) the futuristic City of Arts and Sciences and the biggest indoor market in Europe. Here’s some history about Valencia:
Apparently, in the 13th Century, King James I was sleeping and a bat woke him ……(3). Then he looked …….(4) of his window and saw that a bunch of Muslims were coming to attack the city, so he sent a Snapchat of the approaching army to his general and …….(5) a result they could protect the city. That story is not 100% accurate – it was a small bird, not a bat, but the image ……..(6) remained and now you can see pictures of bats everywhere in Valencia.
Nowadays Valencia is a beautiful, vibrant and sunny city. So, what’s the best way to make the most ………(7) the good weather? Why ……..(8) take a walk down the dry river and eat a picnic of ‘Arroz al Horno’ under ………(9) orange tree, or throw some ‘Petardos’ at some old people playing ‘Petanca’?
And what’s the best way to finish the day? Come to Queens Academy, …….(10) course! It’s easy to find – just follow the dogs! Woof Woof!