Living life in Valencia, Spain.

Living with (International) Intention May 30, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — vamosavalencia @ 1:11 pm

Today I want to interrupt our regular programming for a bit of inspiration straight from Valencia, Spain. I’ll be back in a matter of days to tell you about an exciting road-trip adventure. In the meantime, I want to talk about living with intention. But first, I want to talk about living with stress. You have to live without intention before you realize you should live with it, right?

We we are, getting ready to live with intention.  Compliments of Letlove Photography,

Here we are, getting ready to live with intention. Compliments of Letlove Photography,

I am sure all of you are living with your own stressful things. For us, our current situation includes navigating immigration processes in TWO countries, planning wedding celebrations on the other side of the world, examining our career paths and searching opportunities, and wondering where in the heck we will be living in a matter of a few months. What does The Universe have in store for us? Every single day we have a to-do item to check off, which could mean waiting in an office somewhere only to find out you didn’t bring the correct documents, waiting in line at the post office only to get to the counter and find out you didn’t bring your wallet (this only happens to me, not Jesus), searching stationary stores throughout the land for invitation envelopes, or calling the printer because oops, we counted wrong and we need more of those invitations! I wont bore you with more examples, but trust me, its enough to make anyone toss and turn at night.

However, the other morning, when we got up early before work to fold and stuff those very same invitations, something changed. I opened my sleepy eyes and looked at my incredibly cute international man of mystery over my coffee cup and announced that I had an idea. “Someday we are going to look back at this crazy time and smile,” I told him. I decided right then and there to enjoy each and every one of these loco moments. Jesus, of course, was immediately on board. We decided to live with intention, laugh and really remember all of these insane things that happen to us. To me, this is living with intention. Intending to get the most out of every moment that we’ve got. I won’t dread these mundane bureaucratic tasks; instead I’ll feel lucky we get the chance to do them, and intend to do them well. Jesus wisely pointed out when I read him the draft of this post, “All of those things that seemed so difficult before now seem funny.” LIfe is never boring around here, and ain’t we all grateful for that?


Cervezas de Valencia May 19, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — vamosavalencia @ 5:50 pm

This week I thought I’d share with you a special night out on the town in Valencia, Spain.  I had planned a surprise date for my international man of mystery, at a new place we had never been before.  //-_  (mysterious look)

We arranged to meet after work, and when I arrived fresh off the bike from the Academy, here he was, looking handsome and ready to be surprised.

My date

My date

We went out in Benimaclet, another neighborhood in Valencia.  Although as I shared last week, Ruzafa is our home and favorite Barrio, we have been exploring Benimaclet a bit lately and really loving it.  It actually used be a separate village, and sort of merged with Valencia as it grew.  However, it still maintains its village charm, with little streets and colorful buildings.  This mixed with a lively population of working class Valencianos and plenty of students gives it sort of a left-ish charm.  The last time we went out there we shared crepes for dinner and danced to a Cuban band, the FIRST time I have heard live Salsa music since leaving SF.


On this night’s agenda was a special “Cata” (tasting) of local handcrafted beers, served accompanied with tapas, all for the incredible price of 10 euros each.  The location:  Cafeteria Libreria Chico Ostra a super cute cafe/bar/bookstore (I know best combo ever).  Check it out for yourself:

Chico Ostra

Our friendly waitress explained to us that the Galana beers are made locally in a town called La Yena within the Communidad Valenciana (here the states/provinces are called Communidades).  They use fresh spring water, and specially selected hops and yeast.  Made with love one by one!

The First Pour

First we tried a beer made with Red Tea, accompanied by a toast topped with Cecina, which is a cured beef.  This was a new flavor to us, but it was actually really tasty.

Red Tea

Next up was the wheat beer (my favorite), served with little zucchini logs stuffed with couscous, leeks, and nuts.  Delicious!


Finally, we wrapped up the tasting with an Apricot Beer, served with these little pies that we simply couldn’t get a good photo of due to the romantic mood lighting.  They were stuffed with turkey, pineapple, and corn.


Then we had a leisurely late night stroll.  A perfect date night in Valencia.

Yours truly

Strolling the streets of VLC

Church in the Benimiclet Plaza


Won’t you be my neighbor? May 8, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — vamosavalencia @ 9:05 pm

The thing I love the most about cities, whether it’s where I’m visiting, or where I’m living, is the concept of a neighborhood.  Maybe its because where I grew up, on Prairieview Drive, the neighborhood kids were like my extra siblings, their parents my extra parents.  I didn’t imagine then that such a community can exist in a city, full of so many people.  But now I know that you create your own corner of the city, by seeing the same people every day going about their business.  On our corner alone, we have the lazy eyed pharmacist where we get Jesus’s eye drops, the Pakistani internet shop where I buy phone cards, and of course El Bouet Wine and Tapas Bar.  With a name like that, I dont need to tell you why we are frequent customers.  Even though these guys may not be like my second siblings, seeing them and greeting them every day is exactly what makes this corner a home.  You walk by and greet each other.  You sip wine when you are locked out.  You try new international phone cards and you talk about the weather.

Neighborhoods in cities are marked by the cafes, restaurants, businesses, shops, or even zip codes.  However, I think the most important factor is the residents.  The people, the characters that live and work there and create its culture. These kind of people mark a neighborhood, make it distinct, and give it a feeling.  When I visit a city, I love to see the neighborhoods where the people live even more than the tourist sites.  Try asking the people at the hotel where they would go to dinner with their friends, instead of where they are paid to recommend. This little tip has lead Jesus and I to some of our favorite travel memories, especially when it leads you a dark little romantic French restaurant where no one speaks English and the waitress resorts to charades to explain the menu.

Our neighborhood is called Ruzafa, and it seriously rocks.  It is definitely one of my favorite things about my life in Valencia.  Rumor has it that it was traditionally a working class neighborhood post Spanish Civil War, and then more recently home to many Arabic Immigrants, followed by Chinese Immigrants.  Now its simply a mix of everyone, all hanging out together. The fact that its chock-full of fun galleries, restaurants, cafes, and shops and events doesn’t hurt either.

I thought maybe I should provide you with some more reliable history than “rumor has it,” so I  (of course), googled it, and found some MAJOR history, dating back to the 1200’s.  The name “Ruzafa” comes from the Arabic word for garden, and was an Arabic neighborhood before being conquered by King James in 1238.  How amazing is that?  (source:

Im going to show you a few of my favorite things in Ruzafa.  However, I’ll leave an exploration of restaurants and bars for another post, because believe me I have a lot to say on that topic.  Here are just a few really cool things about our neighborhood, so you can imagine the feel of this very special place.

Pilar Fruites i Verdures

Pilar Fruites i Verdures

The center of our ‘hood is definately the Mercat de Ruzafa.  We are so lucky to have this great market a few blocks away, open 6 mornings a week.  This is Pilar, the woman who owns the stand we buy most of our fruits and veggies at.  Her stand is called Pilar Fruites I Verdures (Valenciano for Fruits and Vegetables) and her family is always friend and helpful, offering great quality, mostly organic products with excellent service and even cooking suggestions.

My Favorite Plaza

My Favorite Plaza

This has been my favorite Plaza, since I discovered it after moving to Valencia…even before I lived in Ruzafa!  It has great places to have a drink, coffee, or snack, and a good atmosphere.  (some of which are not open on this Sunday afternoon shot).  Its also next to the market.

Sol en Ruzafa

Sol en Ruzafa

My Ruzafa Research Assistant reads up on neighborhood events

My Ruzafa Research Assistant reads up on neighborhood events

A mix of cultures

A mix of cultures

Bikes and bike lanes..Yes!

Bikes and bike lanes..Yes!

Hangin in the hood.

Hangin in the hood.

Here are a few more good shots of Ruzafans doing what they do best; enjoying the sun, having drinks, playing soccer in the street.  You can also see above where we check out our Valenbisis, and some lovely neighborhood architecture.  I hope you enjoyed my neighborhood, what is the best thing about YOUR neighborhood?