Valencia is a great place to practice Spanish and to create a writing retreat on the cheap. I spent the first two weeks of September in Spain's third largest city, in the Cabanyal neighborhood right by the beach. Right before Spain's economic crisis hit, the City of Valencia bought a swath of houses two blocks wide and maybe four blocks long. The idea was to tear them down and connect a road all the way through to the waterfront. The houses were bought and vacated--and there they sit. Now there is a two-block wide ghetto in Cabanyal, a thriving center for drug dealers and squatters. With views of the sea. Amazing. On either side of this strip, Cabanyal is gentrifying, with houses being snatched up by foreign investors for almost nothing. It's an interesting moment in the neighborhood's history. I ate, drank, wrote, and made new friends during my two weeks. My Spanish is still minimal, but definitely better than before. Here are some shots of the neighborhood and a few of an afternoon spent in a small town about an hour out of town.
The boardwalk at Valencia Beach, Cabanyal
Valencia Beach at Cabanyal
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