Yesterday, I took a city tour led by an Englishman in the city of Valencia. Valencia is famous for many things, for example: oranges, Don Quijote author Cervantes, and of course progressivism. After my free city tour, I stopped at a famous horchateria to try Valencia style horchata. The horchata here is nothing like Mexican horchata. Horchata valenciana is more like drinking very sweet almond milk, pleasing to the palette especially when teamed with pastry. Go figure, never thought I'd find horchata on this side of the world.
I am getting ready to leave Valencia soon as it is just an accidental stop along the way as I tour the easiest and less costly route along the Spanish coast. Happily, the weather has been nice and easily fits the description of a mediterranean climate. I also hear that many Europeans come to Spain this time of year due to climate and for the cultural experience. Valencia is indeed full of culture.
What I notice about this city is the preponderance of pedestrians. Maybe what is a novelty for me is probably a fact of life for most Europeans in big cities. I also notice the city's elderly walking hand in hand and it makes me wonder why I don't see this back home. Could it be because I am driving along in my vehicle and don't stop to notice the foot traffic? Sadly, I think it has to do with the fact that many of our elderly are tucked away in nursing homes or they have been taught to fear that it is not safe for them to wander outside of the safety of their homes. It's akin to keeping children who live in the ghetto inside the home for fear that they'll get hurt in some way. I am not belittling the need for safety and security but the environment here makes me wonder about my everyday life is all. I feel generally pretty safe here and am careful to practice common sense when wandering around.
What do I like best about Valencia? The climate, the food, and the hospitality. People here are very friendly and are honestly very proud of the city and of their unique contribution to Spain. Much like in Barcelona, the Valencianos have a distinct dialect (despite efforts it is not formally recognized as a language) all their own. My lack of spatial awareness is heightened due to the city street names which meander between Castellano and Valenciano. It's confusing for me on the one hand and fascinating on another level to feel like an outsider and also like I'm in on the joke somehow.
One neat thing is that there are many South Americans and other Latinos that have emigrated here and actually, I feel quite at home here. Spain is becoming a multicultural society due to the immigration of it's Spanish-speaking neighbors in South America and less commonly from North America. So, difference is a good thing around here.