This letter arrives months late, but with good reason, for it has been the most eventful past few months ever, we can assure you! Life-changing in many ways, both personally & professionally, the year 2015 will go down in history as one to remember always.
While 2015 was difficult around the world for many reasons, there were also many wonderful things that came out of the past year: the discovery of water on Mars and Teixobactin, the first new antibiotic in 30 years; the discovery of an exoplanet so similar to ours that it has been labelled “Earth 2.0.”; researchers in Sweden developed a blood test that can detect cancer at an early stage from a single drop of blood; NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer located the brightest galaxy in the universe to date, emitting 300 trillion suns worth of light; bionic lenses were created that can improve eyesight to three times better than 20/20 vision and can be implanted in just 8 minutes — these are only a few of the amazing scientific breakthroughs of the past year and are a sign of more incredible things to come.
Roseline Lohr, This Is Glamorous
For us personally, if you are a longtime reader, you will notice that this year’s New Year’s letter comes a little later than usual, and if you follow along on Instagram, you will have also noticed that things have been a little chaotic over the past few months . . .
This year is no different, for we have equally exciting news: we have recently moved to sunny Spain! And as of early December, we have been living in the port city of Valencia, on Spain’s Orange Blossom Coast, where the Turia River meets the Mediterranean Sea . . .
But there’s no such thing as a completely fresh start. Everything new arrives on the heels of something old, and every beginning comes at the cost of an ending. –Jennifer E. Smith
We have had the most magical time in Edinburgh, with bicycle rides along the coast, window seats in the quaintest candlelit pubs and the cosiest Christmases by the fire. It was also wonderful having the chance to become reacquainted with P’s aunts & uncles and grandmother once again. Nevertheless, when we first moved to the city in early November three years ago, we had always planned on staying for about a year, but ended up falling in love with the place (despite the weather!) and staying quite a bit longer.
However, we had been thinking about moving on to our next adventure for awhile now, and the end of the past year seemed like a perfect time, and so, in early December we packed up our lives and boarded a flight . . .
From dramatic Scotland . . .
. . . to sunny, laid-back Spain
You may be wondering how we came upon the decision to choose Valencia, and the answer is that one of P’s many gifts is finding the best, most underrated (or untapped, as he likes to call it) cities to live, which is how we came upon the move to Edinburgh, which turned out to be a brilliant choice. And before we decided on Edinburgh, we had seriously considered the town of Sevenoaks, just outside of London, and Chipping Norton.
Before Valencia, we considered Lyon, Bordeaux and Lisbon, the latter two, of which we visited in 2014 and 2015. As it turns out, we ended up moving to Valencia without ever having been, and so far it is turning out to be one of our favourite places yet. Widely considered to be one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, there are amazing markets filled with fresh fruit, Jamón serrano, vegetables, meat & fish — including the best shrimp, oysters and anything your heart desires — and to top it off, there is a beach just three miles from the city centre. And then there’s the climate . . .
Valencia has a relatively dry subtropical Mediterranean climate with very mild winters and long hot summers. In fact, the city has one of the mildest winters in Europe, caused by its southern location on the Mediterranean Sea and the Foehn phenomenon. Summer temperatures can last up to eight months of the year.
It is third largest city in Spain with 810,064 inhabitants in the city proper and 1.7 to 2.5 million in the Metropolitan Area
It is on the Mediterranean Sea, approximately four hours to the south of Barcelona and three hours to the east of Madrid
It is an active industrial and commercial centre producing textiles, metal products, chemicals, automobiles, furniture, toys, and azulejos (coloured tiles)
After its conquest (1238) by James I of Aragón, Valencia rose to great commercial and cultural importance and rivaled Barcelona. Its university was founded in 1501. In the 15th and 16th centuries, through the work of Auzias March and others, Valencia achieved literary and intellectual eminence. It was the seat of the Valencia school of painting in the 16th and 17th centuries and experienced an economic revival in the 19th and 20th centuries (source)
The city has two spoken languages: Spanish (predominantly) and Valencian
Dès qu’on parle une langue étrangère, les expressions du visage, des mains, le langage du corps changent. On est déjà quelqu’un d’autre. —Isabelle Adjani (via @frenchwords)
As soon as we speak a foreign language, facial expressions, hands, body language change. We are already someone else.
While we have been to many cities around the world, Valencia is the very first we’ve visited in which very few of the city’s inhabitants speak English (not even a word). In the months we’ve been here, we’ve learned a few words and phrases (P orders chicken breasts from the butcher (pechugas de pollo) and I order americanos with milk on the side (dos americanos con leche aparte, por favor!) as well as a soy latte (con soja) and even managed to purchase a bed, washing machine and refrigerator with broken Spanish, Google Translate and wild hand motions. We still have a very long way to go and will be signing up for proper Spanish language lessons as soon as we’re more settled, but everyone here has been warm and lovely, making the transition much easier.
We found the most beautiful apartment in the best neighbourhood in the city, and while we may no longer have our beloved Carrara marble fireplace, in its place, we have two rooms lined with juliet balconies that open to the warm breezes and bright Spanish sun. We will be decorating our place here at This Is Glamorous and (& Instagram) hope you’ll follow along with us on our next adventure . . .