O Espanya, diria jo.
I am currently wrapping up my tour through Valencia. It seems that even though I just entered the region that I am already exiting it. I have seen so many wonderful places as they seem to be endless in Spain. Every region offers similar Spanish culture, yet distinctly different regional tendencies and in some cases languages.
Valencia is a region that is just below the region of Catalunya. Valencia has close ties to Catalunya because of their strict linguistic connection and some of their foods as well. What I have loved about entering the region of Valencia is that I have gotten a new perspective on what Valencian culture is all about.
I came some years ago to Valencia, but like most tourists I stayed only a few days in Valencia, the city, and got to know little of the region. In fact, my first time, I am almost embarrassed to admit that I would not have known they even had their own language if it were not written on the streets. Something that has been clear and evident to me as I have been able to really hear the language first-hand and in person.
I started my Valencian trip in the city of Alicante, a city famous by name, which is yet another coastal city. Its beaches are quite beautiful and well established. They are welcoming and open to sunbathers of all kinds. From Alicante, I worked my way up the coast to Moraira, then ultimately Pilés, Valencia, and lastly in Benicassim. In Alicante, I stayed in Urbany Hostel albergue, which enabled me to see things from there.
In Pilés, I had a unique opportunity to experience Valenciano culture up close and personal. I stayed at the Urbany Hostel in Pilés, which was literally directly in front of the ocean on the beach. It was amazing because I didn’t have to walk more than 30 seconds from the back door and my feet hit the sand. It was even nicer that I slept to the sound of gently rolling waves.
Thanks to the Director of Mar i Vent, I was able to go into the mountains to a small Valencian town called Benealí for dinner. It was a great experience. (On a side note, Benealí is of Arabic origin. It means “son of (Ali) God” in Arabic. I was told that during the Spanish Inquisition of the Moors, many Arabs hid in the hills and mountains, which is why many of the towns retained some Arabic influences. History is just fascinating.)
Listening to Valenciano is absolutely incredible for me as an aspiring linguist because it is a language that originates of purely Latin roots. I loved listening to the locals speak the language between one another. Some words I catch as Castellano and others I can draw connections from other languages such as Italian or French. For example, words like “parlar”, which is the Valenciano verb for “to speak”. You may recognize this word from French or Italian where it is the same verb used, or “hunger” in Valenciano is “fam”. Very well connected to the other languages of Latin origin. I could talk about languages all day… because I am a nerd like that.
It has been wonderful to get to know Valencia better and with a more well-rounded perspective. It is precisely its blend of history coupled with that Valenciano twist that makes the region so interesting. I look forward to returning!