7 things Valencia, Rotterdam and Porto have in common

Just last week, we had an article about the 9 underrated beautiful cities in Europe we have visited during 2017 which included the cities of Valencia, Porto and Rotterdam.

Despite being located in different countries, the 3 cities have a lot in common. Let’s go through some of them.

1- They are overshadowed by their rival cities:

If you are aiming at a great-value city break, you really need to look past the capitals and big names; some of Europe’s most beautiful cities are in the smaller ones.

The big three have always been overshadowed by their rival cities: Valencia, the third biggest city of Spain, is sometimes perceived as the “ugly sister” of Madrid and Barcelona ***totally untrue***. Rotterdam is often skipped when people travel to the Netherlands ***big mistake***.

Now stopping in Lisbon while visiting Portugal feels like a ritual and no one will argue that the capital is worth seeing, but for tradition and romance, Porto may be a better option***It definitely is***

 2- The Awards:

2 out of those 3 cities were nominated the European best destinations for 2017. In fact, Porto won the election as the Best European Destination 2017 .

Although Portugal doesn’t seem as crushed with tourists as its next door neighbor Spain, Lisbon has been on the radar longer than Porto yet the later is giving the capital a run for its money as the place to go for a unique blend of history, balmy weather, culture, cooking and nightlife.

Portugal’s second largest city has claimed this title not only once, but three times (in 2012, 2014, and 2017), there is no doubt that it should be a must-see on any Portuguese travel itinerary.

Those same travelers as well voted Rotterdam as a young and dynamic global city that is continuously reinventing itself thanks to some of its iconic buildings, impressive port, trendy restaurants and food markets. It is also known for its festivals and museums.

It ranked 11th (which is the first time it has made it in the ranking) whereas Rome and Paris scored respectively the 12th and 13th place. Do I need to say more?

Valencia might not have been part of  any of those awards, but the fact that it’s motto is Vivir Sin Dormir (Live Without Sleep) makes it the city that doesn’t sleep ***Watch out New York***….Well that’s quite enough for me!

3- The Food:

“With its port houses, wine bars, food markets, seafood restaurants and Michelin stars, Porto is quickly becoming the culinary capital of Portugal”.

First thing that comes to mind when we are discussing food in these 3 cities is their Food Market Halls: Valencia has the gorgeous historical Mercado Central and Rotterdam has it’s futuristic Markthal with it’s stunning luminescent barrel vault with LED art covering the inside food hall, hangout area, and living spaces .

As for Porto, the Mercado do Bolhão is a step back in time. Don’t be surprised if you hear some cackling or crowing: a few stands sell live animals, such as chickens and gamecocks.

Besides the Markets, the three cities have outstanding restaurants. Valencia is famous for the Paella, Porto for it’s Fish and Seafood. As for Rotterdam, people from 176 different nationalities have made the city their home, bringing with them an incredible variety of food and flavors.

4- The Authenticity 

The fact that Porto came to tourism much later than Lisbon is actually a good thing. You can actually feel it, which makes the city very authentic. The charm comes from the people, the ambience, the architecture and the true sense of place

“Gentrification is a threat to Porto’s identity and now is the time to prevent it. Porto has an authenticity that can’t be lost and locals are the prime actors to avoid it”. Ricardo Brochado

Porto’s City Center is suffering a big pressure from the increasing of tourism related businesses. Every week there’s new tourist apartments, restaurants, bars, hotels and tour operators opening their doors to the growing numbers of people eager to know a little bit more about Porto, Portugal’s second City, and, nowadays, one of the trendiest spots in Europe. Ricardo Brochado

As for the Authenticity of Valencia, it starts with the lifestyle of Valencia’s citizens:  everybody who lives in Valencia eats, sees and hears the same thing as someone who is just visiting. There is no division between foreigners and residents.

You can actually say exactly the same about Rotterdam.

5- Street Art

I am a big fan of street art. And the cities of Valencia, Rotterdam and Porto are filled with them.

"Miracle workers" – @pichiavo #pichiavo #valencia #spain

A post shared by UrbanStreetz (@urban_streetz) on

6- The Architecture

In Valencia, the old mixes with the new and you can find true gems of architecture from different periods in the city’s history. From Gothic religious and civic buildings to splendid baroque palaces, and from colourful Modernist and Art Deco structures to the most spectacular modern buildings. The more we wandered the streets of Valencia the more we fell in love with it.

As for Porto, you have the countless rows of ruinous houses faced with tiles on one hand, and the astonishing modernist spaceships like Rem Koolhaas’s Casa da Música or the bulging dome of the Pavilhão Rosa Mota on the other.

Rotterdam, which was heavily bombed during World War II, has had an opportunity to rebuild as a strikingly modern city full of experimental architecture and cutting-edge design with a dynamic food-and-drink scene. Long lost in the shadow of Amsterdam, crowdfunding initiatives and striking new architecture have helped boost Rotterdam’s vibe and image recently.

7- The Drinks: Wines and Beers

Have you heard of Port wine? It is also known as Vinho do Porto. It is typically a sweet, red wine, often served as a dessert wine, though it also comes in dry, semi-dry, and white varieties***Try out the Tawny aged port***

The latest project in Porto is The World of Wine, a 30,000m2 space that will incorporate a museum on the history of Porto, a museum on the cork industry, a wine school, a slow food restaurant and events space, along with nine further restaurants, a retail area, and a fashion and design museum to celebrate the textile industry of northern Portugal. It is due to open in 2020.

As for Rotterdam, The Netherlands as we all know by now has a long history when it comes to beer brewing, and of course Rotterdam is no different. Being a major port city since the Middle Ages it only makes sense that beer was being brewed and traded on an international scale. The world-famous Heineken brewery (now situated in a mega factory in the center of Holland) had a few breweries in Rotterdam.

 

In the past few years, local brewed beers  have been appearing in bars, restaurants and shops. Rotterdam has caught up with this new trend: you can find some nice Rotterdam-brewed beers available these days and new names and flavors appear every month.

As for Valencia, the home of paella, it is not just a city where foodies can enjoy the freshest produce from the land (Huerta) and the sea in a legion of tapas bars and creative restaurants, but also wash it down with excellent local wines.

The tradition of Valencia wines can be traces as far back as the Phoenicians, who introduced the vines in this area between 1.200 A. C and 146 A. C. ***more reasons for my Lebanese/Phoenician roots to be proud***

What do you think? Can you add more to this list?