In case you have not had it, horchata is a cold drink that is kind of sweet and tastes vaguely like milk. More importantly it was first created in Valencia, Spain. Friday morning we travelled to the birthplace of horchata. After checking into our hotel, we headed out to check out the old city. [Mom—I never thought that I would say it…but I’m beginning to enjoy both airplanes and hotels…] I have found my knowledge of Catholicism acquired from both my family and good friends to be supremely useful in the visits to cathedrals. For instance, I was able to explain what both the Eucharist and a relic are. The arm of Saint Vincent was in Valencia. Perhaps more shocking, however, is that they claim to have the Holy Grail. Based solely on the lack of tourists/grandeur in the chapel containing it, there is no way. Also, the DaVinci Code says it was last sighted much later than that. But it generated a great conversation.
After that we hit up the ceramics museum which was in an old palace. I must confess that I enjoyed the palace part much more than the ceramics. It was easy to imagine being Cinderella with that split staircase… After resting 5 other people in the program and I went to sample the local fare. We drank horchata (because how can you not?) and ate a great dinner at this little Italian restaurant. Then we walked around a lot while simultaneously trying to scare each other about a potential horror movie. Finally we ended the night at a cider bar. It was a fun atmosphere, despite the vendors that continually tried to sell us giant sunglasses or roses. Lol.
The next morning I woke up early to go for a run because my roommate said that if I set an alarm that early and didn’t get up she would kill me. THAT is good motivation. I felt great after and got to explore the city some before everyone was awake. After getting my once-every-two-weeks-chai-tea we set off to see the waterfront. Apparently the city of Valencia is destroying this quaint fishing village homes to create a direct avenue to the city. The residents are putting up a fuss and I can certainly see why.
The next stop was the “new Valencia”. The regional government paid something in the figure of 1.5 billion euros to have Santiago Calatrava design and build The City of Arts and Sciences. It houses the world’s second largest opera house, a huge auditorium, a science museum and multiple others. We went inside the science museum—which wasn’t as exciting once you’ve been to the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., but decent. Then we had a private tour of the opera house. This made me remember how much I have enjoyed opera and I decided I will try to see one in Barcelona. The interior qualities of Calatrava’s buildings are phenomenal! I liked him before, but he is quite exceptional. Not sure if he’s worth the money, but he just might be.
After a little shopping and rest, a group of 8 headed to a highly recommended Italian restaurant which was also wonderful. Then we hit up some Valencian Water (rum, vodka and something else that is NOT water) and crepes for dessert. Then 5 of us went and played hearts until it was time to go out. But that turned into a bigger hang out with most of us—aka a lot of people—in the room next door. Finally I went to bed. The next morning we hit up a FANTASTIC photography exhibit by Ruth Anderson, an American photographer who spent 7 years in Spain. The quality for this early 20th century photography was phenomenal. The contrasts as well as the compositions just blew me away. She was REALLY GOOD!! Then we hit some art, sort of hit and miss on the exhibits. Finally I passed out for most of the train ride home. A great weekend if I do say so myself!
Left to right: Katie, Rhianna, Kyle, John and Magda (the program director) in front of another church.
The world's narrowest house...one door wide!
The beach front...ahh palm trees!
Rest break at the port.
Calatrava's Science Museum
An arching bridge by Calatrava.
The aquarium by Calatrava
The world's second largest opera house, second only to Sydney's.
The old town in Valencia, Spain.