columnist, Spain
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Hidden Gems

When travelling, we are used to pick the most popular cities. Rome, Paris, New York, London, are on the top of our list and most people don't even bother researching more about the country they are travelling to. Why is that? Why do we think we get to know a country and its culture by visiting only one big city? What I've learned in the past years is that the life of a local that lives in a town is completely different to the one of a person living in a city. These are two completely different people and I know you will never get to know a country if you don't give both sides of the coin a chance.

On a recent trip to Madrid, a friend of mine proposed a weekend getaway to Valencia, a small town located 2 hours away from Madrid. I honestly didn't know what I was getting myself into but as a curious traveller I agreed. We went for the “Fallas” Festival, a celebration Valencia throws to welcome spring. It's more of a getting rid of the past and have a clean slight kinda thing. During this weekend I got to know more about Spain and its culture than in the past 4 times I've been to Madrid, to be honest. I got to understand the Spanish passion for their country, their traditions and their love for arts and culture in a sum of 3 days. This trip has become one of my favorite ones so far because I was drawn to something completely new, completely out of my comfort zone. I did things that I had never done before, I saw the most amazing firework show I've ever seen in my life (sorry Disney World) and I felt a true spirit of change in the air, how this celebration got to locals in a personal way, it made them meditate on the past and offer new opportunities, forgiveness in a way.

I am not telling you not to go to big cities, on the contrary, go discover its famous landmarks, its food, their people but if you want a thorough appreciation of a country going to one single place won't do the job. Travelling to small cities like Valencia shape your mind in a completely different way, It gives a different perspective of the country, you get to know locals, you can see true passion for their town and find yourself with amazing surprises like in my case, the Calatrava's city of arts and science, tasting the original valencian paella and admiring the breathtaking gardens filled with valencia orange trees. So GO! discover the hidden gems the world has to offer, you might find yourself with a lot to discover and great stories to tell.

-AA

About The Author

My name is Andrea Almeyda I am a  student at Parsons the New School for Design which is the reason I live in New York City.  I have been traveling since I'm very young but became passionate about traveling at the age of 15 when I decided to go to Dubai and fell in love with discovering new cultures and places that have now shaped me to who I am. I was born and bread in Guayaquil, Ecuador where my curiosity and passion for the unknown was developed, leading me to move abroad at the age of 18. Now at the age of 20, I have traveled to 18 countries (and counting) hoping to one day have the whole world crossed out of my bucket list.  Hopefully that's a journey we will live together.

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