Valencia, Spain (Jun 2016)

If you were to ask Christine what her favorite place in the world is, there would only be one possible answer: Granada, Spain. Christine lived there for a year after graduating from college. In that short year, she made lifelong friends and fell in love with Spanish culture. She would frequently tell Kevin that she wanted to take him to Spain one day. We didn’t expect that one day to happen on this trip, but a change in plans made it our fate.

From day one of our trip planning, we were preparing to spend the last few months in South America. Kevin really wanted to see Southeast Asia, and Christine really wanted to see South America. That was the deal. But as the Zika epidemic unfolded in the first few months of the year, we started to have second thoughts. Christine is like a candy bar to mosquitos – everywhere we’ve gone, she’s been eaten. Kevin gets by completely untouched. We ultimately decided that South America wasn’t in the cards for us, and in place of that, we agreed that no matter what, we would end up in Spain. This change in plans also took us to India and the Seychelles, so it turned out to be a very good thing!

Taking advantage of where we could fly to at the lowest cost from the Seychelles brought us to Valencia, with a one night layover in Paris. We couldn’t have picked a more turbulent time to be traveling through Europe. Police officers roaming the Charles De Gaulle airport with assault rifles in hand reminded us of the very real threat to places like airports in this part of the world. The day we arrived in Valencia, the U.K. voted to leave the EU. And on the day we’re writing this, a terrorist attack took place at the Istanbul airport. It’s enough to make you think “maybe Europe isn’t the best idea” – but away from the airports, on the residential streets that we stay, life couldn’t be more normal.

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain, with over 800,000 people living there, but it has a small town vibe. The old town area, full of narrow alleys and graffiti, has a lot of charm. In fact, all of Valencia that we saw had a lot of charm. We spent five days there, which was just enough time to see the main sights of the city while adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle: relaxing outside at cafes and sipping awesome coffee and cheap sangria, meat and cheese, relaxing strolls on cobblestone streets, and siestas. Christine’s Spanish skills helped us immensely on a daily basis, and Kevin made leaps and bounds in his Spanish. To be fair, he couldn’t have been any worse, so any small improvement was a good thing.

Valencia was a very photogenic town. The historical landmarks, especially the cathedral, were stunning. Here are some of our favorite pictures from our short visit to Valencia!