After a few silent months from my side here on the blog, I would like to restart myself and to refresh this virtual space with some positive energy. Today, I would like to present to you Jennison Grigsby, a yoga girl, mother, and wife from San Diego, California who moved to Valencia, Spain chasing her dreams. When we were in Valencia most of all I appreciated that I was part of the outdoor yoga practice taught by Jennison. The inspiring attitude of hers and good tips which can be found on the Facebook page provoked me to invite Jennison to be part of the rubric “On a visit to…”. After reading all her wonderful answers I am sure that we will be back in Valencia to follow her steps. Namaste all!
How do you imagine the ideal “om trip”?
For me, an ideal “Om Trip” is somewhere lost in nature, near the sea. Somewhere with the possibility of feeling removed from the everyday stresses of work and away from the constant temptation to be connected to social media, email, etc. In other words, I imagine a quiet space to disconnect as I aim to reconnect to what is important.
Can we take an “om trip” to Valencia or is it impossible?
Yes, absolutely! One does not always have access or the possibility to escape on a perfectly crafted yoga retreat on the beach in Costa Rica or lost in the mountains of India. One thing I love about yoga and meditation is that it can be experienced fully no matter where you are. You can delve into your daily morning meditation from your hotel room, expand your yoga practice as you take in the beauty of a neighborhood park, and embrace a unique community of yogis anywhere you travel.
Valencia offers many opportunities to practice various types of yoga from meditative Kundalini yoga in the hip neighborhood of Ruzafa, Bikram yoga in the heart of the city center, free classes on the beach in Playa Patacona during the summer and (my favorite) donation-based classes in the beautiful riverbed of the City of Arts and Sciences.
Three things which we absolutely have to take with us to Valencia in our luggage?
Oh, great question! Valencia has amazing shopping and great sales in the months of January and July, so I always tell visitors not to stress too much about packing as they will most likely be going home with more than a few souvenirs!
If I had to pick three things, first and foremost, your sunglasses! Perfectly located next to the Mediterranean Sea, Valencia experiences beautiful Mediterranean weather year-round. It is a perfect destination for tourists as you can almost guarantee you will be exploring the city and its beautiful beaches with the sun shining.
Secondly, bring your camera! There is something so magical about this city. Although it is the third largest city in Spain, parts of it feel completely untouched. The old town city center is a maze of historical buildings and quaint tapas bars. Climb up the stairs of the cathedral’s tower, El Miguelete, and snap an aerial photo of the city below. Rent a bike and explore the Jardínes de Túria, 9 kilometers of green space surrounding the city, the perfect place to capture the true essence of Valencia. The dark blue hues and calm waves of the Mediterranean Sea sit quietly on the coast awaiting sunbathers, paddle boarders, and sunrise lovers. No matter where you find yourself in the city, you’re destined to capture an Instagram-worthy shot of your holiday!
The third thing I’d suggest packing is… a friend! This city is meant to be shared and explored. Bring a loved one and dance the nights away in the disco, explore the city’s cozy corners by bike, spend your days filling your belly with Valencian paella and delicious wine, head out on a road trip along the coast to sunbathe on some of the world’s most beautiful beaches!
How to look like the locals?
Happy! Valencianos are some of the nicest, happiest people I have ever met. Maybe it’s the sunshine or the 1 euro glasses of wine, but you will find yourself greeted with a smile and a “buenas!”. Other than a perma-smile, Valencians are generally dressed pretty casual compared to other parts of Europe. Check out the latest trends in Zara and 80% of the locals will be sporting the same style. Traveler’s tips: skip the flip-flops, leave your cargo shorts at home, and don’t try fitting in with a baseball cap.
However, in my honest opinion? Don’t stress too much about fitting in and enjoy yourself just as you are!
What should we absolutely try when we’re in Valencia?
Valencian paella. I think the world generally thinks of paella with mounds of seafood and shellfish. However, the famous rice dish, which originated in Valencia, features rabbit and chicken. I love enjoying a homemade paella with my husband’s family on a Sunday, followed by a traditional Spanish siesta.
Where would you take us to have a cup of coffee?
Oh, this is a good one! Going for coffee is a favorite outing of mine as there are so many beautiful places in the city to enjoy an espresso or café con leche. If you’re looking for great views, sit down at any of the outdoor terraces near Plaza de La Virgen. Mercado de Colon is an elegant, open-air Mercado with adorable cafeterías and restaurants perfect for cozying up with a coffee as you people watch. Lastly, give yourself a freedom to explore the city streets, follow your heart, and pop into one of many hip or historic locales to enjoy your cup of Jo.
The place you’d like to share with us?
My favorite place in the city center would have to be Mercado Central. Locals and tourists alike pass by one another as they shop for local goods and produce. I love to make a stop at Bar Central, a bustling bar right in the middle of the Mercado, which has some of the best tapas around!
Where can we practice yoga outdoors?
Because of the great weather in Valencia, it is easy to find an outdoor practice almost every month of the year. I teach a donation-based yoga class in English every week. Our class is held in the green space of the Turia Gardens near the City of Arts and Sciences. We practice with the grass under our toes and the breeze in our hair. Another outdoor favorite of mine is yoga at the beach. It is common for local studios to offer classes at the beach in the mornings or at sunset. The most popular classes are held at Playa La Malvarrossa and Playa Patacona.
Do you practice yoga while you travel?
Whenever I travel I am always curious to discover a local yoga practice and immerse myself in the yoga community. However, I think the practice of yoga is so much more than the asanas on the mat. It is about being present and living, not only in the moment in time but also in a constant moment of gratitude. I often am filled with the same benefits of a physical yoga practice as I sit and watch the sunset over mountains I have never seen before, as I sip wine and engage in conversation with a new friend I just met on the train, or walk hand in hand with my husband as we explore the streets of a new town. Yoga and travel are both about the opening. Opening your eyes to new experiences. Opening your heart to new opportunities. Opening doors as you break down your own barriers. I love the way yoga and travel intertwine themselves in these ways.
There are lots of clichés about Spain and maybe for Valencia as well, which ones proved to be false?
One that comes to mind right away is bull fighting. I’m not sure I have met any local who actually enjoys or supports bullfighting. Not everyone knows how to salsa and Spaniards are more likely to be found drinking beer than sangria.
Where should we go after Valencia?
Valencia is within a two-hour drive from some beautiful towns and incredible beaches. I’d suggest a night or two in Altea, a white-washed town on a hill where you can get lost roaming the tiny streets and gaze at the moon as it rises over the sea. Next, head to Jávea and explore its many gorgeous, clear water coves. My favorites are Cala Granadella and Cala Blanca. Outside of the region of Valencia, I’d suggest visiting the Alhambra in Granada and catch a flamenco show near the beautiful cathedral of Seville.
Who is Jennison Grigsby? A California girl with a love for all things European. A vegan with the occasional exception for a gelato in the summer. A teacher by trade, a yogi by practice, and a mama in training. A soul in flight, in search of meaningful connections in this beautiful world with a (possibly permanent) stopover in Spain. She earned her yoga teacher certification through CorePower Yoga in Point Loma in November 2010. She is a credentialed teacher for grades K-8 and in addition to adults, she also loves sharing yoga with kids of all ages. Jennison has been practicing yoga for 16 years and has found that yoga has brought her a sense of inner peace and unyielding strength. She often says that teaching yoga is a way to share the light with others. http://www.bravasinthesun.com/