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If I say Valencia, You say…..

Don’t even tell me that you didn’t think “Orange!! Orange!!” If you’ve ever been a kid in the USA, you are well aware of the famous Valencian orange. Like Kleenex, Q-tips and Chiquita bananas, the name has been embedded in our heads related as a juicy, sweet fruit. However, I would suspect that the majority of people have zero idea where this city is located? I can admit, with my tail between my legs, that I honestly believed that Valencian oranges were from Venezuela as a child. I figured that because much of our fruit came from South America, this one was no different, and the name itself derived from a city deep in the jungles of the country. Shows you how well I was taught geography in Chicago.

So today, allow me to give you a quick recap of our trip, before we provide you with some deeper studies on the area.

Where is Valencia?
The political region of Valencia is located just south of Catalunya on the eastern coast just north of Murcia in Spain. Within this political region you also have the Denominacion of Valencia containing several vineyards that are all in Valencia province but are generally at least 30 km inland and often tucked within pocketed valleys. There are four subzones within DO Valencia, but I’ll get more into the regional wine information in a future article. For now, what I’d rather focus on is Valencia’s wide diversity and beautiful scenery.

Boats, Cars, Fruit and Fireworks
This was my first trip to Valencia, and hopefully, not my last. A city filled with sleek modern white architecture such as the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias (City of Arts and Sciences) and the Museo Príncipe Felipe (Prince Philip Museum), alongside old ornately decorated buildings complete with iron street lamps and shell shaped cornices, it’s an odd patchwork of old memories and new visions.

Valencia is also interesting in that it embodies the cliché of Spain. Snuggled up to the Mediterranean, you only need to stand on heart of the city to experience its swaying palm trees, aromatic flowers, rich and diverse paellas, lapping shores and, of course, falles, booming fireworks that occur for two weeks straight in celebration of Saint Joseph’s Day (19 March). Diverse in population, edgy in architecture and open to change, this is a city of growth and development, eager to embrace the world, as seen not only in its hosting of the America’s Cup, but also Formula 1. Yet, I can’t say that I’m totally sold on it either. Having only visited it once, I don’t truly feel qualified to judge, but it gave me a sense of despondence and disjointedness that I made me a bit uneasy. If anyone has visited the city of Valencia, I’d be curious to hear your feedback.

What I did thoroughly enjoy, however, was the region itself. Travel 15 minutes outside of the city and you are surrounded in a lush, sweet smelling haven of orange, lemon, caqui (cross between an apricot and a tomato) and apricot trees, alongside dense forests of olives and almonds trees. It would be impossible to go hungry in this region, but you could easily pass out from the oppressing heat. With temperatures consistently over 90+ degrees, it only takes a few minutes before your head is spinning and your stomach is nauseous if you don’t drink enough water, a rare and coveted resource here in the south of Spain.

Should I Visit Valencia?
It would be tough for us to argue that there could exist a place in Iberia that isn’t worth visiting, but yes, we do highly suggest you come to Valencia. Over the next week, we’ll be writing a few more articles on the food and wine of region, but in meantime, put this region on you “must visit” list. It is absolutely stunning and filled with hidden treasures that are absolutely worth you stumbling upon, such as the International Puppet Museum in Albaida, housing two of the original Fraggle Rock characters, or the river Clariano, which boasts of cool, clear waters to bathe in. Trust me, there is no shortage of adventures to be had!

Till soon,

Gabriella Opaz

PS- The picture above was taken at the Puppet Museum where I suited up for battle with my modest little cow-horse.

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