If you enjoy going shopping then Valencia is not to be missed. I have to confess that since I have come here I have spent an inordinate amount on clothes, following the logic that as everything is much cheaper here than back at home, I am investing this money now so I don’t have to shop so much in the notoriously expensive London.
Paris may have a reputation for stylish residents, but I feel that Spain in general has been overlooked somewhat. So often I’ll be going about my daily business and catch myself staring at someone because of a particular item of clothing, or a really well-assembled outfit. I’m scared it might look rude, so I try to stop, but people here just seem to dress so well, that it is unavoidably eye-catching. A personal favorite of mine is boots, and now that the weather is turning colder, I am seeing more and more gorgeous pairs on the feet of my fellow commuters on the tram in the mornings. Fortunately it is not so obvious if I am looking down, so I get to admire the shoes without fear of looking weird.
So, having extolled the virtues of the community’s sense of style, I am pleased to report that there are any number of shops where you can purchase outfits for very reasonable prices. You will find all of the classic stores on the main shopping high streets in the centre, or in the shopping centers (Centros Comerciales) spread around Valencia without any difficulty. There will also be some that you might not have come across, Bershka is a shop I have only seen twice in the UK, both stores in London, and much more expensive than here. Stradivarius is a similar clothing shop which I have never seen in the UK. When in Spain, Zara has to be mentioned, as it is generally cheaper here, whereas in the UK I tend to think of it as more geared towards professionals looking for work outfits, and therefore more expensive. I may be a fussy customer, but in the UK in recent years, I have found myself walking into shops and thinking how ridiculous the items on sale look. Here, it is refreshing (if not worrying for my bank balance) to see so many clothes that appeal to me.
If clothes are not your thing, fear not. Now it’s time to talk about food. Food is one of my ultimate passions, and Valencia does not disappoint when it comes to finding culinary delights. Different areas have their own central markets where you can buy fresh produce as well as baked goods, store cupboard ingredients and much more. The Mercado Central in the old city is open until 14:00 weekdays and Saturdays, and I would recommend going even if it’s just to look at the architecture and experience the atmosphere. There is a lot more here that caters to different tastes; variety is everywhere. I also found that the stall holders here are some of the nicest around, which really helps if you’re a foreign student like me, slightly nervous about asking for things. The website is also pretty helpful if you are looking for something specific and other information.
I don’t have enough words to go on about the other shopping opportunities that are available, but I hope I have managed to scratch the surface, because, for shopping, Valencia is definitely up there with some better-known cities, and at much better prices.