I want to be one of those bloggers, I really do. The ones who have literally the best day of their life and the best time of their life every single day. The girls that make you question the definition of “best day ever” because they have it everyday and you’re all like “IT CAN’T BE THE ‘BEST DAY EVER’ EVERYDAY YOU TWIT!” I’m blogging to share my experiences, and if I fail at every html code and mess up photo opportunities and the readability of my posts is often times in the red (whatever, wordpress, your mom’s not readable) the one thing I will not fail at is being genuine and honest about my experiences.
Valencia is one of those places in my opinion that is fantastic to visit but really hard to move to. There’s a certain cliquey feeling that I got when we got there that I just couldn’t shake. No, of course not everyone in Valencia is standoffish (we met some really awesome people there), but I found that people being really warm and kind to us was kind of the exception rather than the norm. At first I thought I just needed to improve my Spanish, but my friends who are fluent also felt the cold shoulder. I’m not crazy, I swear it’s a thing and it exists!
With that being said, when you visit Valencia remember this and try not to take it personally. Once I kind of threw my hands up and decided to just enjoy the city without putting pressure on myself to get in with the locals I had a great time 🙂
Once I got out of my rut, I found some really great sides of the city! By far my favorite section was the Ruzafa neighborhood. It reminded me the most of the neighborhood I left behind in Seattle and I freakin’ loved that place.
For this reason I’ll focus this post on Ruzafa. That was our favorite neighborhood, and where we found the best bars and restaurants. The kind of places that weren’t touristy but at the same time the locals there didn’t scowl at you like you had a just walked into a church with a huge boner either.
So here they are! My favorite places in Ruzafa:
Awesome little cafe featuring beer, wine, some liquor, and a small library of books! The people that work here are also surprisingly friendly for such a hip little cafe. In some bars in Seattle it’s sort of become hip and cool to be a condescending dick bartender, not the case with this one. You also aren’t paying the hipster prices for your drinks either! A bottle of wine is only ten euros, you can get a bottle of local craft beer for 2 euros. The place is always busy but never so packed you want to light yourself on fire five minutes after you get there. It’s located in the Ruzafa neighborhood which is a great neighborhood to go out in on the weekends, so this is a great little place to get things started.
The Turia Park
The park is not technically in Ruzafa, but maybe a 5 minute bike ride from there. You might remember my mention of the Turia from my Fallas blog post. The Turia park is where we went to escape the madness and the tiny little terrorists in the streets slipping firecrackers under our feet. It’s a really lovely place to be any day of the week though, not just when people are strategically trying to give you heart attacks.
It runs around the entire city and each section is a little different so you will want to walk the entire thing. Enjoy the sunshine, stop, nap, have a picnic, go for a run, whatever you want. It’s also kept quite clean! I haven’t seen anything at the Turia that made me think, ‘ugh, gross, in public?’ and I’ve been there at night and during the day. Grab yourself a valenbisi bike from one of the many locations around the city and ride through the Turia when you’re in Valencia, it’s pure bliss I promise you.
We loved this restaurant! Not only is the food fantastic, but this was the first place we went to in Valencia where we didn’t feel like unwelcomed outsiders. Rob and I don’t go out for dinner often (maybe once a week or so) but we think we may have gone to this place five times in the five months we were there (keep in mind Rob was on the ship working for half that time). So yeah, we really liked Sabors.
There’s a server who works there named Pablo and he was actually nice to us! We were at the table grinning like idiots because someone was being friendly and it wasn’t just us forcing ourselves on people trying to get them to like us. But, even if you don’t take into account our desperation for warmth, this place just rocks. The food is really good, not overly complicated, and the prices are fair.
This little pizza place kicks ass. First, try to get a table. This can be quite difficult but believe me it’s worth it. Then go up to the counter and tell them how many pizzas you want. Don’t tell them what kind you want, they will bring you whatever they want to bring you. This might bother some people but I haven’t met a pizza I didn’t like there, they’re all good trust me. And they only cost 1.50 euros each. Get a bottle of wine for 7 euros. It’s so cheap and so tasty and such a unique little restaurant.
One of the other unique features of this place is the artwork. I’m pretty sure the main criteria of getting your art on the walls of Finestra is that it has to have graphic penises incorporated in it somehow. I’m not lying, it’s something you really need to see for yourself.
This is just a great, funky bar in Ruzafa that Rob and I liked to go to. The bartenders are awesome, and everyone, including the staff, seemed like they were having a blast every time we went there. This is important to me since I used to tend bar. When the staff is stressed out it makes me want to start bussing tables and helping somehow because I know how much it sucks to be in the weeds. Anyways, chill bar playing great 90’s hip hop (seriously, you could put Tribe Called Quest on in a burning building and I’d probably run in and start dancing), good drinks, friendly and happy staff, and they give you bugles with your drinks. When’s the last time you got to put bugles on your finger tips and pretend to be a witch (don’t lie, you know you did it).
Everyone thinks, ‘Where can I go in Valencia to get authentic paella that’s also cheap?’. This place. This place is exactly that. Such awesome paella, and so unbelievably cheap. A medium container costs 4 euros. How do people make a profit selling such delicious food for that price? I have no clue. They have all different types of paella, including squid ink, and it’s dirt cheap. And the lady that was working the last time we were there was so nice! I’m still wondering if she would consider adopting me, I think every girl deserves an abuela to teach her how to cook these amazing dishes. Is 29 too old to get adopted? Don’t answer that.
These are a few of my favorite Ruzafa spots. Places that Rob and I returned to time and time again because they had great food and drinks, a great atmosphere, and a warmth and kindness that I think all travelers crave when they’re thousands of miles from home and out of their comfort zones. You can’t put a price tag on that folks, believe me it matters!
That’ll be it for Spain guys! I’m officially writing this from my air bnb in the Netherlands in the port city of Rotterdam, getting ready to collect some new stories and travel tips to share 🙂
Anyone else spend time in the Ruzafa area? What did I miss? What was I totally and completely off about? Don’t hold back, I can take it 🙂