We left Barcelona at the end of August and wound up in Valencia this past Monday on October 8th.
I thought I'd write a post talking about our life in the adorable teensy town of Moncofa where we spent the past month.
Valencia is huge. You have Valencia the city and Valencia the Comunidad (basically like a state). The comunidads hold what are called provinces and the provinces hold the cities which hold the neighborhoods and so on. With Valencia, you can't tell if you are looking at the city or the Comunidad unless you are SERIOUSLY paying attention to a map. Mostly because Valencia the comunidad and the biggest city that it holds share the same name. Imagine all of North Texas was called Dallas and so you would always have to differentiate between Dallas and the rest of North Texas.
Our plan was to find a spot that we could stay until sometime after the first of the year and then we would figure out where we wanted to go next.
So here's what happened:
There is a notorious neighborhood in Valencia city that is supposed to be great. It's called El Grau.
I'd looked at several apartment services and was just browsing Airbnb to scope out what they had.
(Airbnb has amazing discounts for long term stays FYI)
I found this amazing place just 100ft give or take from the beach right in the middle of El Grau and it was perfect! All the reviews were great, the space looked like more than enough for us and at $450/mo. I really was ready to jump on it! Especially since it was in the exact neighborhood we were looking for, right? RIGHT??? Only it wasn't....it was in El Grau in Moncofa which is in Castellon which is in Valencia COMUNIDAD, not the city.
So, when you search apartments in El Grau Valencia...both El Grau neighborhoods come up because TECHNICALLY they are both in Valencia. Only one is the city and one is the comunidad.
We are adventurers.
I saw this place for $450/mo. literally just steps from the beach. We figured why the hell not?
We have no particular place to be?
Let's do it!
Long story long, we didn't realize the mistake until a few weeks before we were leaving Barcelona. Luckily, our landlord, Vicente was super understanding of how confusing Spanish Comunidads can be to foreigners and let us shorten the dates to about a month. We were never supposed to wind up in Moncofa. But I'm sure as Hell glad we did.
First of all, the scenery.
Being a serious lover of the outdoors, we fell in love with Moncofa immediately. We were situated perfectly between the mountains and the sea in a town of 6,000 people. I love cities, too, but this was definitely more my speed. We could hear the waves first thing in the morning and we could see both the sea and the mountains from our balcony. This made for one happy Melanie.
Ollie got plenty of beach days
We noticed that people weren't as accepting of dogs as Barcelona. Not necessarily in a bad way, but you just didn't see dogs (especially big ones) in restaurants and out and about as much. People were also generally much more scared of Ollie compared to Barcelona where everyone is a dog lover and Ollie was welcome practically anywhere. Luckily, we found an off leash dog beach just a few skips away from the beach in front of our apartment. Ollie got play and jump around in the waves plenty! In fact, most days when I was teaching, Brett would walk him down to the beach for an hour or so.
We met some great people in Barcelona. But we made friends in Moncofa and were able to integrate in a way that we just didn't get the chance to there. Brett set appointments for us to get haircuts a few days after we arrived. I did NOT want to get my haircut but...but I knew it was time, ya know? I hadn't had my hair cut in a year (yikes). So, he sets an appointment and we hit it off with the hairdresser.
Her name is Yolanda. She is the girl in all of the pictures below. It worked perfectly because she is trying to lean English and I am trying to learn Spanish. Brett was the translator more often than not, but we still learnt a lot from each other! Before we knew it, we were hanging out with her and her boyfriend, Luis, every chance we got.
It all started when she invited us for breakfast with Luis and some of her friends. We sat drinking coffee for two hours at least. Then she and Luis invited us to go to an agriculture fair in the next town over. We spent the entire afternoon together and became great friends. She introduced us to several of her friends over the next few weeks. Two of which were a lovely couple named Carlos and Angel. We met with them for dinner and afterward went out to drink and dance. They knew maybe 5 words of English and while I'm learning a great deal of Spanish, we spent the whole night getting to know each other over google translate and laughing about how silly language is when you can be friends without it.
None of this would've happened without Yolanda. Thank God I got those split ends cut :)
^^Brett drinking from the communal wine pouch at the Agriculture Festival
^^^Luis, chomping on ham at a local jamon stand, smoking a cigarette that he just rolled, drinking from communal wine pouch. If that's not the most Spanish thing I've seen, I don't know what is. :)
Full of dainty little details
While there obviously wasn't a ton of things to do in a social sense within the town, there were so many beautiful little details I just fell in love with. All the wild flowers, of course. And the clementine trees not quite ready for harvest yet. I thought they were limes at first!
I loved being somewhere so secluded where I could go and be with the moon by myself and it not be weird. I deeply admire the full moon and the energy it has on us and natures rhythm. I'm a believer in the seasons, the phases and the energy surrounding the sun, moon and Earth as the dance together.
Here are some of my favorite shots I got! The first shot is the Harvest Moon and the following are a few days after as the moon is beginning to wane.
¡Te extrañaremos, Moncofar!
I think we were meant to wind up in the wrong place.
I think that honestly, in it's own little way, wound up being the right place and for that I am grateful.