Since I can remember I’ve always loved taking photos, and the past two years have been specially memorable. With the big move, kids new schools, meeting friends, going places, 2013 has certainly been an adventure. So when I get the chance I love to capture these moments, knowing that I will look back at them with fond memories.
A couple of years ago I discovered Instagram, love it or hate it its a pretty handy little app specially if you like being ‘artsy’ with photos. I also use it to keep family up to date back in England, my in-laws specially loves seeing what the kids have been up to, I guess it makes them feel closer to, and I am more than too happy to show how our new life is unfolding.
This year has been particularly amazing to say the least, not only we have fully settled to our life in Valencia, but have made some amazing and wonderful friends. We attended the most noisiest and sometimes scariest fiestas and eaten the most ridiculous amounts of rice and seafood. It has been a year of new experiences. And just to keep with the ‘Best Moments’ here are the best things about our first year in Valencia.
A new puppy!
A new addition to our family, Indy joined our home late August and have been a part of the family since. She loves short walks (she’s pretty lazy) and playing chase with the neighbours cat. [emoji grinning cat face with smiling eyes]. Indy is a Spanish Mastin a breed recommended by a friend who suggested that these types of dogs are great with family as well as being reliable guard dogs. And so far she is proving to be the sweetest and loveable pup ever!
Running of the Bulls!
Well.. bulls & cows. Once a year in our village stages a run that takes place for a week in the month of July. This year our family from the UK came to visit and it was just right to show them how the locals celebrate their yearly tradition. After a tapeo in the town square a group of us accompanied by our Spanish friends headed for the barriers, the usual quiet and small streets were transformed in to bustling, caged pathways for the bulls/cows to run through. The amount of times I asked my friend if “Is it safe?!” he’d reply “Sí..”, tradition or just plain madness?!
We watched the run behind bars and platforms, five bulls stampeded the streets while the locals cheered them on, I was glad to see that the bulls were not hurt in anyway, but still, this kind of taunting makes me feel a little uncomfortable. However, it was an experience that was shared with friends and family something that you just have to see if you ever get the chance.
We ate a lot of rice
I knew that paella originated from Valencia, but I didn’t know how passionate the Valencians are when it comes to cooking the traditional paella. From paella, paella marisco, arroz al horno to arroz a banda, we’ve tried them all. Almost every Sunday during the summer months we got together with friends and shared vasts amount of paella; being Asian I have never found eating copious amounts of rice a problem. [emoji heavy black heart] [emoji cooked rice]
Sharing food with friends is a great way to bond and get to know each other, from late summer BBQs to Spanish Sunday breakfasts we have truly enjoyed the social aspect of the Spanish lifestyle. During this time we have learnt how to cook a traditional Paella Valenciana and how to BBQ without burning your food! It’s something that the Spaniards are really very good at!
We spent a lot of time outdoors
The run up to summer is one of the best part of the year, from the Kite Festival, Fallas to local fares you will find them in Valencia. The temperature in its 20’s just comfortable enough to visit the beaches and attend local events. Last year we discovered a medieval fare in the next town of Llíria, where they showcased traditional trades and crafts complete with costumes and music.
With guaranteed sunshine almost everyday the Spring months is a great time to go and discover Valencia. We love that we do not have to plan or spend too much money to have a great time, Valencia is a family friendly city with its large parks and biking trails you can almost do something every weekend with the kids.
We discovered a lot of strange creatures
My 6-year-old particularly loved finding these, I guess it helps that these doesn’t bother me, and I’m not the type to run and hide. Expect to find all sorts of creatures if you’re living the campo and though sometimes it can be exciting sometimes not so, but we have gotten used living with them.
This summer specially we spotted a few snakes around where we live, but we have been rest assured that these are pretty harmless and common in these parts of the campo. I guess the thing that scared me the most was the tarantula that my husband found floating in our pool, apparently these are pretty common too but harmless. That word I need to hear often.
We’ve discovered beautiful places
No doubt, Spain have the most beautiful and undiscovered places in Europe. From little villages to large mountains, valleys, amazing coastlines and waterfalls there is so much to see just in Valencia alone. We are lucky enough to have a good friend who shows us the best places to go, and during the summer months we have explored a handful of places with friends and by ourselves.
A great place in particular is Sot de Chera, a small village situated 67 kilometres from the city of Valencia its natural trails, mountains, waterfalls and natural pools makes it a great place to spend the day picnicking, cycling or walking with the kids.
…And made friends
Hard to believe that over a year ago I was worried about feeling isolated, 1000 miles away from everything and everyone I know it was normal to feel overwhelmed. But in time, and with a little effort we started to get to know people, and just like that, they welcomed us and made us a part of the family. It’s been particularly beneficial for the kids as they became more and more confident being around native speaking children, learning through play is the best way to learn and with languages it’s no exception.
2013 was all about learning, how we have learnt so much from our friends, the Valencian people their lifestyle and culture. When we first moved here we had an idea of what life might be like, but we also knew that it would be a one of the biggest challenges we have to face, from having to learn the language, make friends and to really work at creating the life we enjoy. And in our first year here, we feel lucky that we have met great people from Spaniards, British to Dutch expats who have given us help whether we needed it or not. A great start to our first full year and hoping that 2014 offers more adventure and discoveries!