Viva Valencia!

Blablacar has proved the cheapest way of getting around Spain. Fortunately, there are tons of rides from Barcelona to Valencia every day, so I was able to find one for about €20 early in the morning. I got up, stuffed myself with as much bread as possible, and headed out on the metro to meet my driver. The drive was only a couple hours long, but I made friends with a German guy who didn’t speak Spanish, a Spanish girl and guy, and the driver, who was French/Spanish and worked as a freelance translator. I got his business card, and I gave my blog address to the girl– hoping she contacts me!!
For whatever reason I only got a picture with the German guy. He was cute though. 
Immediately on arriving in Valencia I found my host’s address, but no one was going to home until eight that evening, so I posted a message about being alone with nowhere to put my stuff on couchsurfing and immediately got a call from a local woman who offered to keep my stuff at her place and show me around for the afternoon. Gotta love the internet. 
This woman was crazy talkative. But, she showed me around part of the city and explained the history of some parts, like how Napoleon had destroyed a bunch of buildings (and specifically the palace that used to stand where an apartment complex is now) which is totes not cool, the “river” that runs through the city which is actually dry and has been turned into a garden path through the city, and one of the old magnolia trees in town.
We split up for a bit and I went shopping for new swim trunks (I forgot my other ones in Barcelona…. UGH. ), and then I spent most of the day just walking through the city, looking at street art and trying to find the attractions with zero luck.
I made it to the house that night and met some of the people living there. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to really hang out with them and stuff because they headed out to party and were busy doing other things, but I was able to get a hold of my friend from Barcelona, Jeremias! We agreed to go together to the City of Arts and Sciences the next day, which is basically the most famous attraction in Valencia. 
No wonder. 
The City is made up of three parts; there’s the Hemisféric, the Oceanográfic, and the museum. They all are separate from one another so you have to pay a different amount based on which ones you’re going to visit. It was €22 or so to see the Oceanográfic and the museum without the Hemisféric (which is basically a giant 3D theater in the shape of an eye) so we event for that option. It was AMAZING.  I love aquariums, so much so that I would actually pay to see them. Here are some highlights from that experience:

Bioluminescent jellyfish. In the light they shine all different colors in rainbow patterns up and down their bodies. Basically, the gays of the sea. 

This turtle is adorable. 
We saw a dolphin show. No big deal. 
Sweeeet

This thing is the ugliest fish I’ve ever seen. In Spanish, it’s called a Pez Luna, which means “moonfish,” but in English it’s called a sun fish. How strange…

You know how we have that drink called horchata in the US? Well, this is Orxata, and it’s the real deal. Straight from Valencia. It tastes like liquid carrots (but much sweeter), with the consistency of Naked juice (but significantly less chalky). It’s a bit hard to describe, but it’s cheap and it’s amazing. 
Next was the museum, which is supposed to take several hours to see but we only had a little over one hour to see it all. So we hurried through a section that was basically a carbon copy of the St. Louis science center (except in Spanish), and read all about genomes and biology in the “genome forest.”
ILLUSION
Those are all supposed to be chromosomes. 
That’s the Palace of Arts or something. I’m not sure how that ceiling thing holds itself up, but props. 
After a long, long day, we decided to stuff ourselves at a restaurant and when we couldn’t find one that suited our tastes/budgets, we decided on a doner kabob place which is like the Greek corner back in Kirksville but more junky, way cheaper, and super delicious. You get more food and here in Valencia it’s only €3,50 for the normal size (€1 more for the large, which it got… Naturally). Then we went  to the supermarket so I could buy us chocolate. 
Jeremias had to go back to his host in a town 40 minutes away so we parted and I headed toward the bridge east of Gran Vía de Germanías to watch the fireworks show. Somehow, I’d managed to land in Valencia during what is effectively the Comunitat Valenciana Independence Day, a celebration of the city being liberated from the Moors by the Christian conquistadores. So they put on bull fighs and fireworks shows to commemorate the day, kind of like a Spanish Fourth of July. Except their fireworks shows are RIDICULOUS. 

BOOM.


The finale. 

On my last day in Valencia absolutely nothing was open because of the regional holiday. There was a parade in the streets, more fireworks that sounded like gunshots and cannons being fired to commemorate the battle, and plenty of people crowded around the middle of the streets and in the plazas to enjoy the show and scream a lot. I met up with a CouchSurfer who was from Valencia, and he showed me all around the city and explained the history of basically everything. 
This is traditionally prepared paella. Paella is a dish with fried rice, meat, veggies, and other stuff all crammed into a giant wok thing and cooked together. Mmmmm. Valencia is supposedly the birthplace of paella. 
The oldest commercial center in Spain.
Most plazas in Europe are square or rectangular. This one was around back in the 1800s and is one of the very, very few that are actually round.
This is the coliseum right next to the Stació del Nord. Here, bullfights take place, where there are six bulls and three matadors. Each matador (Spanish for ‘killer’) kills two bulls after wearing them down over the course of about twenty minutes. 
Valencia evidently used to be surrounded by a moat. Or walls, or something. At this point in my lesson I had heard so much information it was hard to understand Spanish. Anyway, the Moors had control of most of Spain and their reign lasted about eight centuries. The Christian conquistadores came to take Valencia but couldn’t get inside the city, so instead, they surrounded it and cut if off from all contact with the outside world. The Moors were stuck in the city with all their waste and trash and such until finally they gave up the city. Those that converted got to live, and those that didn’t were executed. There’s a plaza where many executions took place and whenever someone was killed there, the executioner sliced a mark into the wall of a nearby building. I have a picture somewhere, but I can’t find it… Anyway, pretty cool. 
Here’s the parade, with the guys in fancy red clothing representing the Moors. This city goes all out! Anyway, I had run out of time and my Blablacar ride was about to get there so I thanked the guy and ran off to get a ride to my next destination… Elche. 

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