Buenos dias! Que preciosa es Valencia! Valencia was a really beautiful city with a pleasant mixture of old and new, especially with the architecture. I was most pleased to discover that directly next door to our hostel, the Red Nest, was a gourmet cupcake store- a rather rare thing for Spain. The first day there, I wandered around the city center and hit all of the tourist and historical places including a lovely, giant garden/park equipped with a giant jungle gym Gulliver for the kids (or Lilliputans?) to run all over. By around three in the afternoon, my friends arrived by train from Barcelona. Meeting them at the bus station already fairly familiar with the city, I felt like they were visiting me there and I was their tour guide. After they got settled into the hostel, I showed them the cupcake store (!) and some of the other sites that I had found during the day. The night ended with admiration and appreciation of the city's vibrant Christmas lights and decorations.
The next day we woke up early and set out touring. Our first stop was the Port of Valencia where the last America's Cup race took place. There's not a lot to see of the port anymore, but it was still cool to be at the site where this epic race took place (which the US won). Next we walked to La Ciudad del Arte y las Ciencias (the city of art and science), a giant museum and auditorium complex that is the epitome of modern architecture complete with a building built to look like the giant skeleton of a whale. After we explored the grounds, we visited the nearby Museo de los Falleros where they have pieces of the winning fallas from the beginning of the twentieth century to today. Las fallas are part of a famous Valencian festival in which the people create these giant scenes, usually politically satirical, out of mostly paper. The winning fallas are at least partially salvaged but the rest are given to the flames in a spectacular display that gives the appearance that the entire city of Valencia is on fire. Anais, the host sister of my friends John and Katie, tried to explain some of the pop culture, political, and societal references to me- but some things just do not translate! After the museum we made our way back towards the hostel, but first we stopped at El Mercado de Colon which strongly reminded me of Fanueil Hall. Next we walked to the Valor, a famous Spanish chocolate company, store and restaurant for a snack of chocolate con churros. Oh. My! Thanks to their history of South American imperialism, the Spanish have developed a taste for hot chocolate- literally a cup of melted chocolate that one dips doughnuts or churros into. However, this was no ordinary order of chocolate- this was four different types of chocolate: milk, white, dark, and semi sweet. Dinner that night was a buffet of all Spanish cuisine including the famed Valencian Paella.
Instead of taking a bus or a train back to Granada Liz, Jayson, Katie, John, and I rented a car- surprisingly a lot cheaper than the other options. It was incredible driving across the magnificent landscape and so much fun to be with my friends for so long. For fun, we stopped in Alicante and enjoyed the seventy degree weather by visiting and having lunch at the beach- in early December! All in all, although I am still thoroughly disappointed that I could not visit Italy, I ultimately didn't let the Huelga win!
Yesterday, Ana invited us all to a new exposition at her art gallery. Upon hearing that that meant free wine and food, each our GRIIS friends made appearances. After we went out for tasty tapas, but we did not stay out late for too long as we had to wake up early this morning to catch the bus that I am riding right now to Sevilla. I promise to tell you more about it later!
PS May your chocolate always be rich and your churros soft yet crunchy.
PPS I love you!