Opening my eyes in Valencia

Straight from my journal

Jeroen Uwland
4 min readOct 23, 2022
Yes I ended up taking it

Day 2 —Valencia

I am sitting here with a fresh fig sandwich and Costa Rican filter coffee in front of me. I was here yesterday as well and the coffee was good, so I am back.

And that is quite something, because I know I stood out.

Partly because I barely speak a word Spanish, what turned me ordering food into a comedy show for all the other guests.

But mainly, because I sat here yesterday for a minimum of 3 to 4 hours. Sipping coffee, watching people, writing, reading, petting dogs and chatting with some elderly. Or well, I was trying to chat with some elderly.

My definition of holidays changed over the years. I used to be an exciting labrador, wiggling my tail, running from one highlight to the next. With a Lonely Planet travel guide, drone and checklist in my hand, chasing hidden waterfalls. To be heartbroken and filled with frustration when they ended up not being as beautiful as expected.

Always running
Never satisfied
I travelled the world
But forgot to open my eyes

When you simply pause you start noticing different things. Valencia has a lot of dogs for example. And surprisingly fit elderly. And the limes growing in the big city park here seem to be way bigger than the ones we have in our supermarkets in Holland.

I went here without any preparation and thus expectations. And without expectations the whole labelling of good (expectations met) and bad (did not meet expectations) disappears.

Every moment becomes an opportunity for childish curiosity.

Getting lost
Can be the start
Of discovering
Small alleys
Full of street art

Kids wear school uniforms and during their breaks— there is music playing on the outdoor speakers. But not just music. Classical music!

How cool is that? Jumping rope and playing hide-and-seek guided by the beats of Mozart.

We can all use some relaxing classical music in our lives. A break from the day-to-day focus on efficiency and productivity. Moving to a new city is the exact opposite.

It’s extremely ineffective. You are new, and you are exploring. You need to discover your restaurants, your people, the most beautiful routes to walk, how to order a cappuccino or buy a bus ticket.

And when there is limited information you need to rely on your gut.

We just need to close
Our eyes
To spread our wings
And fly

Some experiences will be terrible, and some are turning out amazing. Just like this fig sandwich, it’s really good. I really love figs.

The sun is breaking through while I am writing this. It is highlighting the trees and the green of the leaves contrasts well with the yellow of the houses.

I need to hold myself back from not capturing it. I love taking photos — but sometimes you just want to stay in the moment. Seeing it without distractions. Breathe, pause, without the hunger to capture and share it. It will never turn out as beautiful as reality.

I enjoy wandering around and smiling at strangers. Paying full attention to where you are and the people you are with.

Time spent without attention
Is worthless anyways.

I truly believe that the cure to loneliness is having better conversations with strangers. We might speak different languages, we might have different ages, different colours, different noses, eyes, genders and heights, but we are all alike.

And I don’t mean this in a John Lennon, Imagine, world peace, woe-woe way. I truly believe we all have had similar experiences. We all faced heartbreak, regret, love, loss, excitement, worries, joy and doubts. We just need to be able to speak with each other about it to realize we are not so different.

I have always been excited about enabling better conversations. In relationships, in families, between strangers.

But maybe I am the only one truly caring about this topic. I am looking around and it’s just me sitting by myself here. Everyone else is with someone and excitingly chatting. Do strangers actually want other strangers to talk with? Or is that considered strange?

In the end
It does not need
To make sense
To anyone—
Nor leave
A big global impact
Or legacy

It just needs
To make sense
To you

Do you—

Do what you
Want to do

I am staying for the next few weeks in a really small Airbnb. It has a bed, a closet, a bathroom and a kitchen. That’s about it. Back home I am thinking of buying a house. And more and more I am realizing that I do not really need that much to be satisfied.

A small house, some sun, some friends, freshly baked bread and a good coffee place close by. That will do it for me.

I have nothing planned for the rest of the day or the upcoming weeks here in Spain, let’s see what will happen. Any ideas are welcome. Pottery classes, windsurfing, hikes, road trips?

No need to rush. Sitting here watching people is as much Valencia as visiting that famous science museum or lying on the beach.

I smile. I feel like growing up. Life is good.



Jeroen Uwland

Simply loves writing about all the things that amaze me. Tries to be honest, personal and vulnerable. All on a personal note.