So…..I just had the most amazinnnngggg time in Valencia! If you are coming to Spain, Valencia is a most, you just have to go there. Okay before I continue my rambling let me get my acts together and narrate my story properly.
My friends and I decided to visit Valencia for the weekend and I was looking forward to it. What better way to celebrate my birthday than on the beach. We went with a touring agency which leads me to my next study abroad tip; Your first week make sure you connect with agencies that particularly cater for exchange students. In Madrid I had Smart Insiders, Be Madrid and City Life Madrid. Their job is to organize trips, events and parties for students. It is also a great way to meet people.
Ok back to my story, let us start from my very eventful journey to meet up with my friends. I had to take the train to our meet up location. I live in Getafe , which is a couple of minutes from Madrid Center. At the Atocha station I had my phone in the outside pocket of my bag. (Not Smart!). A lady just walks up to me and whispers that a man just stole your phone. I immediately ran after the man, he ran into a train and I ran after him into the train (all true!) and then he sits down and I just walk up to him and boldly said give me my phone back.
Honestly it all felt like a scene from a movie, and he actually gave me my phone back. My next huge tip is; be very careful with your items and be aware of your surrounding, because you will shocked how easy it is to get your stuff stolen.
Aside from my brief rant about my stolen phone. I started my journey to Valencia right about 9am. It was a bit of a long drive, but the view along the way was worth it.
We had the option of going to the L’Oceanogràfic (Oceanographic) or doing an independent activity. My friend and I decided to go to the City of Arts and Science which was absolutely beautiful. It features various intelligently designed architectural structures, sculptures and art works. My favorite structures were the; L’Hemisfèric and the El Pont de l’Assut de l’Or, and I really liked the “La diadema” sculpture
Next we started our official tour of Valencia. We started at what I remember being like an old door leading to the city itself (The Valencia City Gate). I believe they are also called the Serrano Towers. This was my first sighting of the Catalonia flag right at the door of the city. I have had conversations with my roommate about the Catalonia independence movement which has been very fascinating.
What I found really interesting about Valencia was the buildings. In Madrid I am used to the narrow streets and particular building. Valencia had the narrow streets but the buildings were a little different from the ones in Madrid. Next we were off to Plaza de la Virgen and the Cathedral Quarter. The beautiful Plaza is surrounded by the Cathedral of Santa Maria, the Basílica de la Virgen de los Desamparados, and the Palace of the Generalitat. Right in the middle is a fountain sculpture of a man and eight virgens. The plaza is the perfect place to soak in and appreciate the beauty Valencia offers.
Right around 8:30pm it stared getting dark and the fountains were all lit up with lights and there were a few entertaining street performances. During our tour round the city, our tour guide recommend we try a Valencia special drink, Agua de Valencia. So my friends and I ordered that during dinner and it was absolutely wonderful. I do not remember exactly the drink mixture but it was really sweet and refreshing.