On first inspection it feels like Valencia, Spain’s third largest city, is a blend; a cocktail of classic Madrileño style with the palm-tree-aromas of Barcelona.
I arrived in Valencia at 10am this morning and instantly started comparing everything to Barcelona and Madrid, the Spanish cities I know best. The colourful streets here are certainly quieter, but still filled with classic tapas bars and terraces. Similarly to Madrid, the seats are occupied by older gentlemen in chinos, brown loafers and navy jackets. Their cigars and sunglasses providing an air of mafioso sophistication; their wives equally dolled up with big hair, bold lipstick and long swooping pearl necklaces. It’s a far cry from the dread-locked, mullet-wearing Catalans of Barcelona.
Whilst asking a waiter for a menu, a man sitting at a table raises his beer glass to show that it’s empty and that he wants a refill. There’s no smile, no gracias or por favor. Just a cold stare that suggests the waiter best not take his time. So far the service has been far warmer and welcoming than that of Barcelona. I get the impression that they aren’t quite as sick of the tourists here as they are elsewhere in Spain, perhaps because there simply aren’t as many of them. One thing’s certainly clear: I’m enjoying being in Spain and not being surrounded by millions of tourists. It really is very refreshing.