I was recently contacted on behalf of eShores to ask if I wanted to enter a style competition to win £250 of ASOS vouchers. As you all probably know, I love a good style competition, and this one has a twist. You can read more about it here.
The clincher for me was that you had to pick a stylish city that you love shopping in...
I'm not sure if I've mentioned this before or not, but I used to live in Spain. In fact, this year marks ten years since my family moved there. July 2003-September 2008, five years, and most of my teens (nearly 13-just turned 18). I loved it, learned a different language, had my own transport (a moped - Peugeot Speedfight 2 Silversport!) and became who I am today!
So, without further ado, let me present my style capital...
Valencia has the amazing Fallas festival in March, holds the Formula 1 in the summer, the Moto GP in the Autumn, and countless festivals in between. It has a great beach and so much going for it!
Most of all, Valencia was the city that taught me to shop!
So... What do I love about shopping in Valencia? There is something for everyone! And I mean everyone! It doesn't matter about your budget or taste, you'll find something for you.
(Some prices in £GBP because they are available to buy online in the UK)
Before I start naming places, I should mention the whole siesta thing... The main city centre shops don't close for siesta, but the smaller shops inside and on the outskirts of the city can be closed from 1-4 or 2-5pm, then they will be open until around 9pm. Designer stores usually have strange opening hours, so it's best to either swing by and take note of the hours, or call the store that you would like to go to.
Every week in Valencia there is a market right next to the main train station, the Estacion del Norte, right in the city. I used to go there on a Tuesday morning when I was off school to pick up some bargains. Belts and scarves are so cheap there, from as little as €3, so if you don't want to spend a lot of money on accessories, this is the place to go.
This is my speciality! High street shopping in the city was what I absolutely lived for. Especially in my last two years, when I was studying for my A-Levels, I felt like I needed to let off a lot of steam. Shopping is always a great way to do this. Valencia has a HUGE shopping street called Calle Colon on which you will find all of the classic stores: Zara (yes, this store actually originates in Spain) Bershka, Pull and Bear, Mango and now... H&M. H&M has only been there a couple of years, and was put in after I moved away and I was so gutted! My Mum still lived over there when I was at uni and I loved the novelty of being able to go to H&M there (even though I shop there all the time.)
Don't forget to check out Calle Don Juan de Austria, where you will find Stradivarius another Zara (when I used to go, it was just for men, but not sure about now!), Pimkie and Blanco.
In Spain, there is only one department store that matters: El Corte Ingles. It is romanticised internationally as the Spanish answer to Harrods. Be under no illusions, this is not the case. Nevertheless, it's a Spanish icon, and was a huge part of my life! There are five in the city, including two that aren't right in the centre. My favourite ones are: the one across the road from the train station, which sells normal priced clothes, and more accessible brands like Miss Sixty. I bought a BabyPhat cardigan from here in my younger days, I loved it so much and spent nearly €80 on it, which was a fortune for me at 14; and the one on the corner of Calle Colon and Calle Don Juan de Austria. This one has expensive perfumes and cosmetics, handbags, shoes, Ralph Lauren, all the expensive jeans and cashmere I could never afford but loved to touch!
Just being in this store made me feel so grown up, like I was in a movie!
Hands down the best shopping centre in the area is the Centro Comercial Bonaire. Located a few kms out of the city, it has everything you need for a good day shopping. A great food court, a cinema, bowling alley and so many stores. You'll find all the high street brands, shoe shops, and even a Primark there (unheard of in my day!), electronics, sportswear, all next to each other. This is an outdoor mall and it is so nice to shop in. The best thing about this shopping centre is the mini-centre attached by a walkway. Factory Bonaire is an outlet mall and it is amazing! You can get discount clothes from a lot of the brands found in the main centre, such as Levi and Mango. I still have a few cardigans that I picked up for a couple of Euros each there!
If you like to stray from the mainstream, Valencia can still cater for you! Head to the older part of the city, go past the cathedral and keep going. There you'll find lots of independent stores, vintage stores and lots more. If you don't fancy going that far, then there is a place on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento called Kwaleon that might cater to your tastes. There is a juice bar here, and they have a lot of cool music, but the clothes are a pretty eclectic taste! You'll find a mix of high end designers, to bags made out of crisp packets. The prices are pretty steep but you'll find things that nobody else has!
The city has no end of designer stores, mostly located within Calle de la Paz, Calle Marques de Dos Aguas, and Calle de Salva. Roberto Cavalli, Louis Vuitton, Carolina Herrera, Hugo Boss, Loewe, Hermes and Bvlgari can all be found here, so you can indulge your every desire with luxury designer clothing!
So that's it!
This is the perfect outfit to take you from shopping down Calle Colon, to the pubs and clubs of the city. I can imagine myself at a bar in the Port sipping cocktails with friends wearing this ensemble. I'm not going to lie, I'm seriously considering this dress... Blogger challenges really bring out the online shopper in me!
Thanks to eShores for giving me the chance to enter this competition. I didn't mean for it to be this long, but it has been a trip down memory lane and that has been fun even if I don't win!