Have you ever tried Spanish language immersion schools in the heart of Spain? Until I took the plunge last year I only had an over enthusiastic appraisal from a gorgeous friend of mine.
She spoke of the warm engaging Valencian’s who had really made her stay memorable, the famous Valencian paella and the experience taking in the outstanding architecture from the comfort of a horse drawn carriage pulled through the historic City.
From above the main square from the Cathedral of Valencia located in Plaza de la Reina, which also has a bell tower attached to the Cathedral, splendid views unfold across Valencia.
All sounded tempting to me so far….
But, what I really wanted to check out was… Horchata! ‘What’ I hear you cry! Yes.., Horchata.
Could it really be as delicious as my friend described? And was the paella very different to that in other parts of Spain? Valencia was the only place I could go to find out so I decided to pack my rucksack and take a trip to find out.
I booked a place at one of the Spanish language immersion schools called ENFOREX before I left because they have language schools right across the Spanish speaking world and I had heard nothing but good things about them. Check them out here.
From my home with my host family I could see on the map that not only would I have to pass the famous Estadio Mastella Football Ground on Avenida De Aragon before crossing El Jardine De Turia to reach the City. But I would also be within close proximity to many cafeterias en route where fresh Horchata is served.
Horchata (or Orxata in Catalan) is a soft drink not dissimilar to a milkshake made from tiger nuts, water and sugar. Vegetarian? Then it’s perfect for you too. It is apparently found all over Spain but I have only ever seen it and tasted it in Valencia.
Avoid the pre-packed stuff though; it’s nothing like the fresh.
There are a number of ‘horchaterias‘ in Valencia, the most famous of which is opposite the Iglesia y Torre de Santa Catalina in the corner of Plaza de la Reina where they also sell nice warm pastries to be dunked in.
Or visit the historic market and you will discover a Horchatería that continuously runs a film showing how they make Horchata from chufa. Mmmm… utterly delicious!
Backtracking just a little, El Jardin De Turia is a must for a lazy afternoon meeting friends from the language school or taking an evening stroll, which of course is when the park really comes alive.
If you can think of an outdoor activity, El Jardin De Turia is where it takes place.
From jogging to posing, to pitching a picnic for a birthday party or finding some cool shade under the trees to practise Tai Chi. Tennis courts and football grounds dot themselves from one end to the other as do fountains and children’s play parks.
If you have the energy hire a bike and follow the path as it winds its way through, if not catch the metro and head back to the centre.
One afternoon I came across an resourceful group of young men who had tied a rope between two trees where they set about practising their skill in tight rope walking… and boy they were good!
The park has a real buzz, I spent hours people watching and listening to the locals. For all that they speak very fast it’s excellent practise to train your ear to the real Spanish that you’re aiming for.
For me it was a spontaneous spectacle to remember and take home with me. For the Spanish, just another glorious afternoon in the sunshine.
After soaking up the sights and a cafe con leche in the park cafeteria I then strolled to the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències ( City of Arts And Sciences) and sat with my feet in the cool water of the majestic pool that runs between El Museu de Cièncias Natural and Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències.
Once the riverbed of the old Turia River, the beautiful Jardins de Turia wind their way through the length of this magical city. You cannot visit Valencia without falling in love with these incredible gardens.
I had arrived in Valencia from the language school at ENFOREX in Barcelona where I had spent one week and was absolutely delighted to discover that my new host family lived on Avenida de Aragon right opposite the Estadio Mestalla Football Ground.
I bought myself a ticket and sat with the Spanish to watch my first ever football match. Valencia Vs Man UTD. The atmosphere was electric.
Man UTD ganó 1-0 !!!
Visiting a language school can offer you far more than excellent tuition if you are prepared get out and about and see the sights.
I really have become very carried away with the delights of Valencia rather than tell you about Spanish language schools haven’t I? Easily done for a girl like me with so much passion for all things Spanish. I’ll post you another blogpost this week about ENFOREX as promised.
Happy Spanish Learning,