So much to tell! It's sad to think that after this trip I won't be seeing the beach for a long while, but I made sure to take full advantage of it when I could. Valencia is somewhere between Madrid and Barcelona. Definitely a smaller city overall but with the limited time and planned activities I only got a taste of what the city had to offer.
Anyways so where did I leave off? Thursday night was fun because I got to meet up with Eric (a writer/producer in Madrid) and we got to talk film and get to know each other. After that IES took over Kapital. To summarize más o menos the whole group of IES met up and went to the most famous club in Madrid: Kapital. This club has seven floors, one being karaoke (where I lost my voice and am still recovering from Backstreet Boys and N'Sync songs) and another of them being a promotional floor for a whiskey where they handed out free t-shirts, hats, and sunglasses. a very fun night overall and early the next morning we were on a bus on the way to Valencia. We stopped on the way for breakfast at some place (I had no idea where we were as a result of sleeping the whole bus-ride) where they had the typical Spanish food: tortillas espanolas, chorizo, etc. and the very special local dish of Breadcrumbs. haha seriously I mean it was built up and all but really they served us fried bread crumbs with some chorizo mixed in. That was the main course and it wasn't very satisfying for me to say the least.
So we arrived at Valencia that day and our hotel was legit. It was 4 stars and even had an internet café. The breakfast the next day was probably the best I've had since arriving in Europe (with fresh fruit, bread, eggs, meats, cheeses, you name it). It was also fairly centrally located. The first priority for us was to find a place to watch the USA-England game. After asking around we were led to a very nice bar with a big screen TV. I ordered my first Gazpacho which for those of you who don't know is a chilled tomato soup and it was the best I've had. The game was super exciting, especially since we should have won and all of the people in the bar agreed. But that's for another day.
We then proceeded to explore the city a bit. In the midst of our exploration it began to rain and that kind of put a halt on things. We only got as far as this cathedral that overlooks the whole city before we couldn't stay out any longer. The night didn't end, however, as we decided to play some cards in the hotel. I learned/got really good at Spades and a few other games I don't know the name of but it's been awhile since I've had a guys card night and it was definitely good times.
What's weird about this trip is EVERYONE was on it so I got to see people that I normally wouldn't see. I ended up hanging out with more or less the same people but it was cool having the whole group together.
the next day we went to the amazing Arts and Sciences museum. If you've seen my pictures on Facebook you'll know how good this architect is. Fun fact, a guy at the intercambio told me that the person who designed that is designing the building that will be in place of the Twin Towers. Pretty exciting stuff if that's true cause those buildings were amazing. We started off going to an Imax show which was about mummys. Nothing too special here besides the crazy headsets they made us wear to hear the voiceovers. Seemed a little bit overkill cause they looked like the thing cyclops wears over his eyes. Next up was the aquarium. The aquarium there was supposed to be the best in Europe, but it definitely couldn't hold a candle to Monterey or really most American aquariums in my opinion. It had some cool stuff but we really got to see the whole thing in around an hour.
For lunch we got to eat at another nice restaurant treated by IES. On the platter was chicken paella which was served in a monstrous pan. Paella isn't my favorite I realized, even without the shrimp that stare at you, but the lunch as a whole was multiple courses and I always love that.
A group of us then headed off to the beach for the first time. It was either between that and a ceramics museum and as much as I like ceramics, nothing can beat hanging out next to water on sand. What's awesome about Europe is how late it stays light. We were at the beach until literally 8pm and it was still fully sunny. Maybe that has something to do with the late nightlife here. I often find myself losing track of time. I also forgot to mention that Ainara (my friend from school) who is from Valencia gave me a list of recommended activities. For night we went to her recommended club which was an open air VIP-esque place. Most of us were pretty tired but we arrived at 1 and it was empty, but 3:30 when we left it was completely packed and people were trying hard to get in. A sample of how late things start here in Spain.
The next day was beach only. I got to play a lot of beach soccer and that was a blast if not a bit tiring. The sand/beach in general was a lot better than Barcelona's man-made one but just a different more laid back scene. I also went into the Mediterranean for the first time all trip! Don't know why I just didn't go in before, probably to do with the cold, but it was incredibly refreshing and we attempted to body surf on the little surf it offered. The funny thing was that were supposed to leave at 1pm but it turns out our bus got stuck in a ditch and we had another 2 hours to kill. Most of us had gotten enough sun for awhile though so we just relaxed in the shade and got icecream from Burger King.
I loved the trip and it's sad to think how soon everything is ending here (next week is finals). That night I got to visit another friend from UCSB, Cassy, and turns out we were basically neighbors the whole time I was here! Crazy! But that's it for now, sorry for the late update. Tomorrow is the next US game! USA all the way!! That reminds me, last night I watched the Spain game in front of the Santiago Bernebeu (the real madrid stadium) and it was insane! So happy we won, but the crowd was so lively and each goal was like a party! haha I love the world cup.