Landed in Valencia!

I landed in Valencia in one piece today afternoon following several flights and hours of lounging around airports. I stopped in New York and Madrid before finally landing here. My flights were okay, but I’m exhausted; I think it’s actually easier to avoid jetlag while going to India than it is while travelling to Europe. Still, me, Maddie, and Alyssa are trying to stay awake until a reasonable bedtime. I found those two pretty quickly after landing in Valencia, which was fortunate. We all headed to our hotel for the night, taking cabs past the unique architecture of City of Arts and Sciences before reaching the relatively swanky AC Hotel Marriott. My cab driver was awfully chatty, interrogating me about various topics, including American gun control and the US government’s policy towards Russians. He was also fascinated by American coins, trading me mine for some euros.

After lounging in our room and filling each other in about our journey out here (Maddie and Alyssa took the same flight as each other), we ventured out into the city. The weather was wonderfully mild and we were able to comfortably walk around in a long sleeved shirt/light sweater. It was amusing to note, however, that all the locals were completely bundled up in heavy-looking coats; while we rejoiced that the weather was so nice, to them, it’s winter. (My mentor from UPV did note that today was a bit warmer than is typical for this time of year, so I suppose we got lucky.) Anyways, the three of us took the metro to the University Politecnica de Valencia (UPV) campus, where we’ll soon be having all of our classes. The campus is beautiful and, like much of the city, lined with the city’s trademark orange trees.

On our way back to the hotel, we stopped at a small cafe for a late lunch. This was after trying to enter a restaurant, only to be told (in rapid Valencian, mind you) that the kitchen was closed for lunch. Instead of interpreting this as normal people would, we stood there, slightly startled and agape, while our minds tried to process what the waiter just mumbled at us. Regardless, we rushed out and went to a nearby cafe instead, where our rusty Spanish skills was once more visible as we took at least thrice as long as necessary to order our food. It was also very evident to the waitress that we weren’t from around there – might as well get neon signs at this point.

After heading back to the hotel to refresh and use the internet, we set out for dinner, around 8.30 pm. Most places didn’t seem to be open/busy, but we landed at a small restaurant called Benicio’s, with an attractive little interior. The owner was extremely friendly and accommodating of our feeble attempts at Spanish and Alyssa’s vegetarianism. We enjoyed a great meal of ravioli, patatas bravas, empanada, and carne Argentina, along with a bottle of the house wine. The food was good, though I’m not the biggest fan of red meat (a fact I’m probably going to just have to suck up and deal with here), but it was still a great first dinner.

Now, we’re just relaxing at the hotel before waking up tomorrow to catch a train to Gandia, a nearby town in the same province. There, we will stay for an immersive Spanish language course that lasts the first two weeks.

Ciao for now!

– from Jan. 18

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