Semana Santa here in Spain is the Holy week of what we call Easter back home. As it’s a pretty big deal, we were given 11 days off from classes. Since Semana Santa is celebrated with big processions, we decided to travel through to the places most famous for these processions and to also see a part of Spain that we haven’t gotten to see: the South! (+Valencia on the Mediterranean)
Valencia was our first stop. Unfortunately, especially when you’re trying to save money, getting from Oviedo in northern Spain to Valencia on the Mediterranean can get pretty complicated, and so we ended up having a pretty rough first day of travel. We started by taking a bus to Madrid, sleeping in the airport for 7 hours, then catching a plane to Valencia where we hopped on the subway to get to the actual city. As soon as we walked up the steps from the city, we were in love! The weather was so nice and we marched with smiles on our faces with our wheely suitcases bursting at the seams filled with summer shorts, dresses, bathing suits and flip flop (By the way, this all proved to be worthless for the mostly rain filled days in “Sunny” southern Spain.)
Looking back on the trip, I can say Valencia was tied with Granada as my favorite city. We got to our awesome hostal and right away met lots of cool people from all over the world. We met one girl, Nadia, from Poland with whom we became really good friends . She told us about a place to rent bikes, which ended up being the best advice anyone could have given us! Renting the bikes really allowed us to see as much of the city as we could while avoiding soar feet, plus it was just a neat way to spend the days. We rode our bikes with Nadia all over and got to see the cathedral, plazas, and beautiful architecture. We ate fresh fruit from the famous marketplace in the city the first day and also went to the beach, which was my first time seeing the Mediterranean and also to eat a coconut! (Some man was selling them) We ate paella of course, since Valencia is where it originated, and watched an outdoor roller skating competition that we happened to be riding by. Finally, we rode our bikes through the beautiful Jardines de Turia, past the river, orange trees, people enjoying the weather, and of course the dancing fountain (it was literally a fountain that danced to an orchestra!) before ending up at the world famous La Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias de Valencia, a famous science and art museum. So this is a random little add in but in Oviedo, we have this mall that is dubbed “the space ship mall” by my friends and I because it is this giant, futuristic grasshopper looking building. The real name is Buenavista and it does NOT fit in with the rest of the city of Oviedo. It was built by an architect named Calatrava who is famous for his modern, over the top looks. He only builds really expensive buildings for millllions of dollars, normally in bigger cities. Anyway, the rumor goes that this guy was friends with the mayor of Oviedo and that’s why we have a random crazy building by this famous architect. The point of the story is that Calatrava built the famous museum in Valencia, and the second I saw it, I could tell it was the same guy who built the space ship mall in Oviedo! The only difference is that it actually fit in with Valencia, and therefore looks a lot cooler rather than obnoxious as it does in Oviedo. I’d have to say my favorite part of the museum was the Oceanográfico, which is an aquarium! I’ve always loved that kind of stuff, so it was really neat, especially the DOLPHIN show!!! So cool!
I absolutely loved Valencia, and I hope to go back one day. I have never heard much about it, so it was a pleasant surprise how much I enjoyed it! It was definitely one of my favorite cities, although of course the weather might have had something to do with it, since it was pretty much the only city where we were able to enjoy the sunshine…