Day 3 – Exploring Valencia

Our fearsome trio headed to Valencia today to spend the day exploring the city. We thought we’d start the day off right by making some eggs for breakfast, however we ended up with just egg sauce because the stove wouldn’t get hot enough to actually cook anything. We later realized that it was because we had the dial set to ‘6’ – which we assumed to be the hottest setting – when actually it should have been turned to ‘1.’ We didn’t realize that until the next day, unfortunately. Simultaneously, I called for a cab, only to get an quasi-angry call a few minutes later saying that the cab was ready and waiting and where were we! – pretty silly, considering we were still early by the time we ran down to the cab. Oh well, live and learn!

Our train ride to Valencia (on the same line we took to get down here) was made a little more exciting by the minor crises Maddie and I faced along the way. As we were buying tickets, I nearly had a heart attack when the machine ate my credit card and refused to give it back for a couple of minutes. While on the train, Maddie’s camera refused to turn on because of a “lens error,” only to resolve itself mysteriously. Anyways, we ultimately made it there hearty and hale, set to explore the historic center of the city.

We walked around the city for several hours, pausing to eat at different restaurants along the way. Overall, the city is totally gorgeous and feels super safe. The temperature was pretty comfortable too, 50-60 F for most of the time and will only get warmer as months pass! (: We acted super touristy everywhere, partially because it was fun and partially because we just felt like tourists – doesn’t feel like this will be our home! While walking, we were able to see the following landmarks (in no particular order): Estacion Nord, Toros, Plaza de Reina, Plaza de Virgen, La Lonja, Mercado de Colon, el Jardin de Turia, along with several random stores we walked into for fun. Throughout the day we stooped at Horchateria El Siglo for horchata de chufa and fartones (a milky beverage made from tigernut and long john-like pastries), Le Crepe crepes with egg & cheese and Nutella & white chocolate (self explanatory. om nom nom.), and a German beer cellar-looking restaurant for arroz al horno (rice with chicken and sausage), salmon on toast, patatas bravas, and patrones de pardon (roasted peppers), and Cafe Templo for cappuccinos classicos and ensimada (a swirly pastry covered in powdered sugar).

Following this, Maddie headed back to Gandia, while Alyssa and I continued on to the Estadio Mestalla for the Valencia – Real Madrid game. As we neared the stadium we fell upon throngs of people decked out in Valencia gear, drinking massive quantities of 1 euro beer and generally being merry in preparation for the match. We were thrilled and extremely excited and generally made lots of unintelligible noises, especially Alyssa, whose “husband” Iker Casillas plays for Real Madrid. While waiting outside the stadium, we were standing near a group of extremely tall guys. Neither Alyssa or I thought much of it until several people (though primarily young boys and older women) came up to them and asked to take pictures with them. We didn’t know who they were, but asked for a picture anyways, so we could figure out who they were afterwards. Our hunch that they were basketball players (I mean, why else would five tall guys be friends?!) was confirmed after an internet search (we tried asking people, but no one knew who they were :P).

Inside the stadium, there were many more unintelligible noises made and plenty of jumping up and down. Alyssa was nearly in tears, which was hilarious to watch. We were both thrilled that Casillas was playing and the game itself was good – though the crowd near us didn’t agree – with Real scoring 5 goals in the first half and Valencia coming up empty handed. We were sitting right behind the Valencia goal so got to see all of the goals up close – unreal. We had to leave after the first half to catch the last train back, but it was okay because no one scored after that anyways.

By the time we got back, it was nearly midnight and Alyssa and I were exhausted – we walked at least 5 miles with Maddie, plus more after she left – but we had a great day in every way possible, so it was absolutely worth it.

– from Jan. 24

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