Day 2 – Reaching Gandia

We woke up this morning, showered, and packed our bags to head to Gandia. We walked to a nearby bakery called Ciudad de Pan (City of Bread) to get a few pastries for breakfast. For just over half a euro, I was each able to get two croissants each, one plain and one filled with Nutella, both delicious! Returning to the hotel, we gathered up our massive amounts of luggage (5 suitcases, a duffel bag, and three backpacks amongst the three of us), checked out of the hotel, and took a train to Valencia-Nord, a large castle-like train station, covered with mosaics on the inside. We just missed the hourly train to Gandia, so hung out at the station with our gaggle of bags.

Upon boarding the train, we were approached by a girl from Rice University who is also in the two week course. We also spotted a guy with a Chicago Bulls hat, who ended up being with a group from the exotic, far away land of UW Madison. The train ride took roughly an hour, following which we took a cab to the apartments.

Maddie and I are sharing an apartment with our mystery roommate (she hasn’t checked in yet) and Alyssa is a couple floors beneath us. The apartment looks a lot like my aunt’s apartment in India – it has the same layout and is furnished similarly… odd. We met up with the girl from Rice for lunch at a restaurant nearby. Maddie and I split a delicious Paella Valencia (paella with chicken) and croquetas de bacalao (a kind of fish) and pollo y jamon. To get the check, we awkwardly tried signaling to the waiter for several minutes before succeeding. So far, we’ve been able to communicate successfully – for the most part – albeit, awkwardly.

The four of us then walked a short bit to the beach and walked around on the sand. It was windy and a bit chiller than the water, but well worth it because we got to watch Alyssa combat the sand with her heels. Also it was crazy gorgeous! On the way back, we walked around a grocery store. We came back soon after with one of the Madison guys, to get some bread, cheese, pasta and other staples for our stay. One of our more interesting purchases was a Nutella-like spread that was half chocolate, half cream of some sort. Both times, we were mesmerized by the wine selection – bottles were on average 2 euros, ranging from 1 to the bank-breaking 6 euro bottle.

Throughout the day, we’ve been meeting more and more people who are doing the two week course. It’s a little sad that the majority of people we’ve met are from the midwest (there’s a big group of UW Madison kids), though there’s been a couple Europeans here and there. Everyone is nice though, and I’m sure there’ll be more students to meet in the next two weeks and onwards. A fairly large group of us met up and hung out in the apartment next door and then went out to dinner, where we got delicious kebabs. Definitely going to go back there at some point.

After dinner, we just hung out at the apartments for a bit. Some of the others went out, but I’m just chilling in our room with Maddie and typing this up. The three of us are headed to Valencia for the day tomorrow and Alyssa and I are going to the Valencia – Real Madrid game tomorrow night. We did a bunch of research into what games were when and ended up buying tickets that were on the expensive side before leaving, only to find that they added a last minute VLC – RM game this Wednesday that’s significantly cheaper. I’m a little bummed by that fact, but oh well, no way we could have known. I’m also still ridiculously excited about tomorrow’s game!

I anticipate these posts will get a lot shorter as the semester progresses, but right now we don’t have much to do yet. Also, just generally, I don’t have any idea as to what time it is – my internal clock is way off, and not in a jetlag sorta way. It might just have to do with the fact that everything happens generally on a more relaxed, later schedule than back home – for example, dinner tonight was around roughly 11 pm.

– from Jan. 20

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