Thursday Night, I decided to head to Valencia for the weekend.
Arrived by high-speed train (the Ave) at 1:30, and checked into Home Youth Hostel. Pictures on the facebook.
Walked around Valencia Friday afternoon...down through the park, to the City of Arts and Sciences, through the marina, and up to the beach. Total of ~8 miles.
In the park, there were orange trees. They had the flavor of oranges, but the acidity of lemons.
There was also a large play structure in the form of Gulliver from Gulliver's Travels. There were slides down this hair, and the kids play on his face. If I were seven, it would have been pretty dope.
Farther down the park was the City of Arts and Sciences. Sweet architecture:
After taking a few photos at CAS, I pulled out my compass, and headed east toward the Med sea. Got to the marina, piers and the beach a while later. Pretty cool waterfront...check out the pictures on facebook.
Took the metro back to the Hostel that night, and started talking to some really interesting people including a Concord Carlisle Class of 2000 alum (small world) named Manuel, and a girl named Ellen from San Diego.
Manuel was a social worker, but was laid off, and is using his unemployment to backpack around Europe. He doesn't buy a lot of food, just beer and train tickets. Really nice guy. He's off to Granada, and then to Morocco.
Ellen majored in English and Spanish at Loyola Marymount, and has been living and teaching English in Malaga (Spain) for the past year and half. Super fun girl.
While talking with Manuel and Ellen, into the Hostel walked Becca (from IES Madrid).
There was also another girl, whose name I forget...she was a little off.
So that night, with Manuel, Ellen, off girl, and off girl's friends who were staying at another hostel, we went to a cheap dinner of Falafel wraps (which were good, but I should be eating Spanish food). Off girl had a friend who had found oranges in her Hostel Locker, and was twirling them around in socks. At first we said, okay, that's your thing, whatever, but after we talked to her for a bit, we realized that she was even more off than off girl.
Manuel had a train to catch, and/so Ellen and I walked back without the off girls.
The other guys staying in my hostel room were getting ready for their friend's wedding the following day. They went to bed at 4:30, and at 7:30, one of them started snoring like a foghorn, so I got up, walked over to his bed, picked it up and shook it enough that so he stopped, and went back to sleep.
The next night, there was only one other woman in my room, and I slept quite well, except for some loud french girls at about 3am. I couldn't remember how to say "please be quiet" in french (at least at that point I couldn't), so I walked out of my room, said "shhh, s'il vous plait," and went back to bed. That seemed to work. I guess hostel rooms are pretty hit or miss. The hostel was nice though...good people.
Saturday, with Ellen, Becca, and Becca's two friends, we went to the Aquarium, and Hemisferic (IMAX). The Aquarium was pretty hyped up, as it's the biggest in Europe, but to be honest, it was pretty lame. I really don't like animals in cages/pens. Whales don't belong in tanks, unless they're being rehabilitated etc. It was all "here are these animals for your viewing pleasure," which isn't cool. All of it made me regret paying to get in/supporting all of that crap. The IMAX movie was about the Hubble Space Telescope, which was super interesting...it was narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and at one point space travel was contrasted with rollerskating down Massachusetts Avenue during rush hour, which I appreciated. I may have been one of the few people in the theater to understand the reference.
Saturday for dinner, Ellen and I sat down at a pretty legit Spanish restaurant. It wasn't expensive, and the food was...great. We ate a dish of potatoes, eggs, and bacon, a few Montaditos (appetizers on bread (small half sandwiches)) consisting of different types of ham and bacon, and one with a quail egg on top, which were ridiculous, and a some sort of chicken sandwich on really great bread. The waiter was hilarious...he was our age, and spat a bunch of game, so we spat game back. Good times. American bacon has NOTHING on Spanish bacon.
After dinner, we got some pretty HQ ice cream. I mixed chocolate and raspberry (not mixed like blender-mixed, but you get what I mean), and Ellen got banana and mint. The banana was the best.
This morning, I checked out the Miguelete Tower and Catedral de Valencia. The tower gives you a pan view of Valencia, which was nice.
More about food:
Friday afternoon, on my way from the train station to the hostel, I stopped at a fruteria (fruit store), and bought three clementines, four strawberries, and an orange for 1.35 euro. Great lunch. Best fruit I've ever had.
After checking in to the Hostel, I got a 3 euro plate of paella, which was dec. Maybe I haven't had awesome paella yet, but it just seems like spices rice with different kinds of meat and vegetables in it.
Saturday morning, we went to the Mercat Central (Central Market), and I bought a carton of strawberries, pastries, and horchata. I love horchata. It's a Mexican almond/soymilk drink. It's so good. Check FB for pictures of everything. The strawberries were unreal...this whole "fresh organic fruit as the norm" deal is great. Food in Spain is definitely a plus. If City Market is Idylwilde on crack, this market was City Market on crack ("on crack" meaning the "I like this" factor is magnified).