Vamos a la Playa

    “Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” – Miriam Beard

Last weekend was the one weekend of the semester that I really wanted to be in Minnesota for. Homecoming, Jackie’s 21st birthday, and my cousin’s wedding all in one weekend? Rough
Thankfully, great friends and the beautiful Mediterranean Sea made for an amazing weekend! Why would I ever wish to go back to Minnesota when I’m on the beach in Valencia, Spain?

Valencia is the third largest city in Spain and is along the eastern coast. It’s a beautiful city with a lot to offer. I liked that it wasn’t as large and overwhelming as Madrid. Palm trees and beaches are always a plus in my book too!

Our trip began late Thursday night when we took the last train from Toledo to Madrid. We quickly found our hostel and then made our way to a bar specifically for international travelers. The main draw to this place was the free leis, a must have for a beach weekend!

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With just a few hours of sleep, we boarded the first train to Valencia. Sleep when you’re dead, right? The train system in Spain is called the Ave. It’s a cheap, comfortable, and fast way to travel around Spain. The trains reach speeds of 300 kph, but you hardly feel any movement. We were able to sit all together at 2 tables. We shared a lot of laughs, partially due to how exhausted we were! A trip that would take 6 hours by car or bus only took us an hour and a half! We even got to enjoy some amazing views along the way that highlighted the various landscapes of Spain.

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Oncewe arrived in Valencia, we quickly made our way to the beach. It was gorgeous and massive, filled with soft, white sand. For Spaniards, it is a little past peak beach-going season, but for us it was a perfect 80 degrees and sunny. The “cooler” temperatures gave us lots of room on the beach. We spent the whole day swimming, tanning, and napping in the sand. Paradise! I’m thrilled to now be able to cross swimming in the Mediterranean Sea off my bucket list! We learned very quickly that Europeans are much more comfortable in their own skin than we are in the US. I saw a few too many men in speedos and women missing their bikini tops, but I guess it’s part of the Spanish experience, and I definitely admire their confidence!

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After a long day at the beach, we ate at a beach side restaurant. We all shared a large batch of Seafood Paella, a rice dish that orginated in Valencia. It was great to try the real stuff, right on the beach!

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That night, we made our way back to the city center. We managed to find a Spanish equivalent to Chipotle for dinner. We probably should have been sticking to the Spanish stable foods for a true cultural experience, but we all were in need of some food that reminded us of home and anything that resembles Chipotle is usually a hit. After dinner, we explored the city and watched some street performers.

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The next day, we went shopping and then back to the beach! We stayed until sunset and had another relaxing and fun day.

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It was a great weekend, totally worth the bad cold that I have now! Today, I had my first experience with a Spanish doctor and pharmacist. The encounters included a lot of me nodding and guessing on what they were asking, just hoping I wasn’t agreeing to sign my life away. Now, I have medicine and will hopefully be cured before Portugal this weekend. I am excited for my first trip outside of Spain.

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