I promised myself and many others that I would post at least once a week, and since I’ve already broken that promise, here is a quick list and description of what I have been up to over the past two weeks…
My 21st birthday
I knew that I would be celebrating my 21st birthday during my first week of classes in Spain, and had a feeling it would be a bit anticlimactic because of the drinking age in Europe. Since my birthday was during the first week of classes, I wondered prior to arriving in Spain if I would have some friends so early on that would want to celebrate with me. Well, it turned out my birthday was a great reason for everyone to celebrate. My new friends made me feel so special and my birthday eventually felt like it was never going to end. Because of the time difference, I was celebrating for way more than 24 hours! The night before my birthday, we ended up finding an American bar (we know where we’ll go for the Super Bowl now!) and went to a random Spanish club near the beach. The next night, even more people came out and we went to the popular “Club Mya” in the neighborhood of The City of Arts & Sciences.
Authentic Valencian Paella
Last weekend, ISA took us to a Paella farm about 30 minutes outside of the city. I still don’t really have a clue where we were, but it felt like another world. We arrived at a farm where a man was cooking the largest pan of rice I have ever seen. There were lots of dogs and cats running freely around. There were also some goats and roosters and donkeys… it was an experience, to say the least. The tour guides took us on a walking tour of the orange groves, so I picked some to take home to my house mom. In the afternoon, we went back over to the big pan of paella and they walked us into a large and beautiful dining room. We all took our seats and then were treated to a five-course meal. It was all amazing, but I didn’t eat much of the paella as I had been forewarned there might be rabbit in it; my excuse to those who questioned why I wouldn’t even try the “best paella in Valencia,” was: “I refuse to eat something that I have once held lovingly.” Period.
Later, I returned home and gave Amparo the oranges I picked for her. She thanked me and then told me that I was not a professional orange-picker because a professional would have left the stem and leaves on each orange. Oh well!
Last Sunday morning, I traveled out to the northern region of Valencia in Náquera, to hike the mountains in the Sierra Calderona National Park. The trip was long and finding our way there was trial and error, but after a few hours of missing trains and calling cabs, we finally found ourselves at the base of the mountain. On the sign at the entry, we saw “ISA” carved into the pole and thought that was pretty cool.
It took about an hour and half to get to the top of the mountain, mostly because we kept stopping to appreciate the view and take pictures. But once we did, we were actually climbing, hand and foot, up to a castle that we didn’t mean to visit. On top of the mountain, we all sat outside the castle. It was so quiet and absolutely the most beautiful view I have ever seen.
Pictures don’t do it justice, but below are some of my favorites:
On Wednesday night, I went to the Levante v. Barcelona partido del fútbol. The atmosphere was really exciting and I noticed a big difference between American and Spanish fans. Barcelona won the game, and each time they scored, the Levante fan-section’s chants didn’t slow down, speed up or even change rhythm. Maybe that’s because I’m more accustomed to Boston sports fans?