Week 3 - Valencia
Monday night we had our welcome dinner.This was pushed back a week due to the holidays that were going on around here.For the dinner, every student went as well as all of the professors.It was really cool to see everyone together and we were all at one table.I don't think I have ever seen that many people at one table before.The dinner was really good.Basically we just had multiple small dishes that sort of gave a taste of local foods.First we had salad, then cheese and sausage.From there we had calamari and tortilla de patata, which is basically a potato cake with milk, egg and I believe cheese.After that we had croquetes which are hard to describe.They are basically pureed potato with ham fried like a tater tot.For dessert we had chocolate and strawberry ice cream.All of this was really good and it was fun to have a little taste of everything that is typical around here.It was also fun to converse with the other people and professors and see everyone out of the school atmosphere.The dinner not only was a welcome dinner but also served as a birthday dinner.One of the girl's birthdays was on Monday and she was turning 21 so it was a nice way for her to celebrate.We all sung happy birthday to her in Spanish and it will be something to remember.Tuesday and Wednesday isn't much to talk about.After the crazy week of fairs and fiestas, these days were nice to be able to relax, catch up on sleep and do homework.In my European Union class we went on another excursion around town and learned about the Jewish presence that is and was in Segovia.There is a Jewish cemetery and an old synagogue that is now the Church of Corpus Cristi.One the first the sales started in the stores.It is a national thing around here that on July 1, all the stores have sales for the whole month so we have been shopping downtown and that is about it.I do have to say that I have come to enjoy the lifestyle around here.I have gotten a schedule now which starts with class and then going to a café for a coffee and talking then going back for class then home for lunch.I really enjoy it because everything here is so laid back and not rushed that it is easy just to take some time for a coffee at a café without worrying about how long you have until you have to go back.
This weekend we did not have a planned excursion because they wanted to give us the 4th off.Having this open weekend a group of about 15 of us decided to take a trip of our own.We left Thursday night for Valencia.Valencia is located on the east coast of Spain just south of Madrid.We took a bus from Segovia to Madrid and then had to take 2 metros to a different Madrid train station, where our train was leaving.Our bus ended up getting in late so we ended up running through the metro stations to make sure that we were able to catch our train.We got to our train with about 10 minutes to spare so once we were all on, we were able to relax.The train was really nice.There was more leg room than an airplane and they played movies on the way over.It was about a 3 and a half hour train ride.The really nice thing is that you could see the country side the whole way and because it was around 8 at night, I was able to see the sunset which was gorgeous.Once in Segovia, we decided to walk to our hotel because we all had been sitting for too long.We ended up walking in circles because our directions were from MapQuest and were meant for a car.We probably walked at least a mile more than we needed to.I enjoyed it though because I was able to see the town at night.Once we got to our hotel we just went to bed.On Friday we went to the beach.It was a hot and humid day and a perfect day for the beach.As we were walking, we saw the port which is home to the American Cup which is an annual or bi-annual yacht race.There were yacht houses surrounding the port that were BMW, Mercedes and many more.It was cool to see all the yachts and the set-up.We walked past that and found the beach.We ended up staying out there for most of the day because it was so nice.We were able to swim in the Mediterranean which was amazing.The water was warm compared to the ocean water that I am used to.We were all excited to lay out and get tan for a little bit.That night we hung out with the group for the fourth of July.We had fun celebrating our holiday in a different country.The interesting thing is that the 4th of July is known around here.Most people know that it is an American holiday.On Saturday we went back to the beach for a little more sun.We kept it real laid back this weekend because we had nothing to worry about and we were separated from our school lives.That night we went to the Ciudad de los Artes y Ciencias, which is the City of Art and Sciences.It is one of the coolest things I have ever seen.All of the architecture was futuristic and I believe it is the largest educational complex in Europe.There is a science museum, IMAX dome and aquarium.We wanted to go to the aquarium but we got there too late and it was close but we were able to go to the IMAX which was amazing.We watched the Mysteries of the Nile and it was fun.Our whole group was just awestruck at the entire complex.We could have stayed for hours if we were able to.We then found some dinner and called it an early night.We all wanted some sleep before leaving the next day.On Sunday we had to get up relatively early to get packed.We had to leave the hotel by 10 to get to the train station in time.We walked down to the market so we could get some breakfast and I bought an infamous Valencia orange.It was so good.Valencia is known for their oranges among other things.So needless to say we got to the stations safely and back to Segovia without any major injuries or problems.It was a successful weekend that is filled with memories.If I ever come back to Spain, I will make sure to go back to Valencia.There are so many more things that I would have loved to have seen but did not have the time for.
Quick side note:On Wednesday a reporter from the local newspaper came in and took a picture of our group because he was doing an article on studying abroad and the 4th of July.I was also one of two people that got interviewed for the article about my experience and other things. The website for the article is: http://www.eladelantado.com/hemerotecaAmpliaNot.asp?sec=6&idn=68657