It is more than common to have our students explore beyond the city their program is in. For instance, traveling to Valencia for the weekend. Sharing her experience is Laura Hilty, currently studying aborad in Alicante, Spain.
Food and Sangria
As the third biggest city in Spain, Valencia is popular for its incredible weather, picturesque Mediterranean port, Valencia oranges, and famous paella. This past weekend I visited the city with two of my friends. We arrived by train at noon on Friday and proceeded to wander around the city for the next 3-4 hours. Somehow every single street is beautiful, so we never got bored exploring. There were too many times to count where I saw a gorgeous building and assumed it to be some sort of historical site or important center. Nope. Just some apartments.
Lunch was the menu del día at a café, where we got 3 appetizers to split, an entrée (paella), a dessert, and sangria for 10 euros. Paella apparently originated in Valencia, so you can imagine how great it was. Actually you can’t. It was that delicious.
After checking into our hostel (the River hostel), we found a tourist information stop and bought tickets to go to Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias Saturday. Though they were a little pricey (about 30 euros), it ended up being worth every bit. The rest of the night consisted of us walking around the entire city, eventually stopping for tapas in one of the many plazas. When we got back I checked my phone’s pedometer and saw that we walked over 11 miles that day! Needless to say, we slept quite soundly.
The next morning we woke bright and early to eat a bocadillo de huevos and jamón (eggs and ham on a baguette) with café con leche and fresh squeezed orange juice. The orange trees that frame every street and plaza aren’t there just for looks – the oranges taste incredible! Once we finished eating, we climbed los Torres de Serranos, which were once gates to the old medieval city wall of Valencia.
A five minute walk away was the Valencia Cathedral, where I had once of those jaw-dropping moments upon entering. There is so much detail in every stone that it is impossible to comprehend the intricacy of it all. A narrow spiral staircase leads to the top of the cathedral, where there is a large bell and an amazing view of the city. It was worth the climb! Mountains surround the city on one side while the Mediterranean Sea lies on the other.
From there, we took a bus to Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias. There is a reason it has “city” in its title. The place is huge! Besides that, each building is a true work of art. During out time there we visited the Imax, which is modeled in the shape of an eye, the interactive science museum, and the largest aquarium in Europe. And that’s not even all of it! Four hours were devoted to these three parts, with a lunch break in between on the port.
The entire trip was such a success, and we were so proud of ourselves for seeing so much in so little time without being too rushed. So proud that we kept saying repeatedly just how great of a trip it had been. I guess that jinxed us…
Time for Gelato
After the museum, we had gelato and walked around the city some more. Our train was due to leave at 9:11, so we arrived to the station at 8:45. For some reason, we could not find our train number on any of the screens. After trying to figure this out for a bit, I finally asked the information desk.
Yes, I realize we should have done this sooner instead of trying to figure it out on our own, but we did not. Insider tip: there are two train stations in Valencia. Even if one is called “the train station”. There is another. Quite tricky, I know. By the time we found this out it was already 9:00.
The man at the desk explained where the station was and said it was about a 10 minute walk. So off we went, sprinting through the streets of Alicante with our backpacks. By some lovely miracle we came upon a shuttle bus whilst on our impromptu jog, and we made it to the train station right on time. Quite an adrenaline rush!
Besides that small blip in our plans, our trip to Valencia really did go perfectly. I recommend it highly, and we didn’t even go during the warm weather when it is considered to be at its best. Guess that means we will have to go back!
Until next time!