March Madness

I figured that was fitting since I was in 3 cities this particular weekend. Normally even I would tell you that being in 3 places in a matter of 3 days sounds crazy but this is me saying YES to life, haha.IMG_6315The beautiful view of Salamanca from the Cathedral

Remember my goal in (Exploring Spain) regarding wanting to visit half of the autonomias in Spain? Well during this weekend I crossed another one off my list and visited another city in Castila-La Mancha. I'm really glad I decided to do these trips during the same weekend because it definitely put into perspective how different 3 different autonomias can be. Each city was different in its own way, but I was definitely surprised by how much I ended up loving Valencia!

IMG_6427Rebels taking over Salamanca

Salamanca So I started my weekend off in Salamanca, a city famous for having the oldest university in Spain. It is also the most famous city in Spain for international students to learn Spanish, so that is why it is often called the "Student City". Like Segovia (another city I visited), this city was founded in the pre-Ancient Rome period. While this isn't my favorite city that I have visited around Madrid, I definitely was awed by the architecture. The Cathedral I visited here was beyond beautiful (that may have to do with the fact that I was able to climb up to the roof and even higher up to the bell tower to get a nice view of the city, I know what is it with me and views?)

IMG_6342With Paul and Lalito 

Ice Cream as per usual (L) & with my friend Nicole (R)

Amazing architecture, but what's new?

What I remembered most about this trip was my lunch. In theory, that doesn't sound very good because you'd think I'd remember something significant about the city itself but having visited so many surrounding cities , they're all starting to look the same, lo siento Salamanca! Don't get me wrong I loved it but let me tell you about the lunch I had. As you may know Menu del día is very popular in Spain so of course I always opt for the 3 course plus a bottle of wine included meal for 10 euros. I had the black rice paella and it was beyond amazing. Funny, because I like to think of this meal as my "prep" for Valencia, home of the paella. This dish was so good, I can't even begin to explain it.

IMG_6358Still dreaming about this

Mis Chiquitas- love my friends 

After a day in Salamanca, I headed back to Madrid to rest up and pack (last minute once again, whats new?) for Valencia.

IMG_6397One of the classrooms in Salamanca's Uni

Valencia Early Saturday morning, my friend Simone and I headed to the bus station to catch our cheap bus to Valencia! While on the bus I realized 2 more things I loved about Europe:

  1. How accessible other cities are by bus for people who don't want to take a plane or can't drive. In the states you pretty much have to be willing to drive or fly. Rarely do you hear people taking the Greyhound bus to different states.
  2.  How cheap traveling is. If I tell you that my roundtrip fare to Valencia cost me 34€ would you believe me? Because that is exactly how much it cost me. While its old news to me now (okay not really), it still amazes me how easy and affordable travel is here. I've spent more on a tube of lipstick than my fare, how crazy. IMG_6573                     Our pink hostel room--my favorite one so far

Anyways, we arrived in Valencia around 11 am and waited for RJ to arrive at McCafe (eating macarons, whats new?). We basically had the rest of Saturday and half of Sunday to explore Valencia and in that short amount of time, this coastal Spanish city won my heart. Here's why:IMG_6680Ciutat Vella de Valencia 

  • Paella. Need I say more? When people asked me if I came to Valencia for Las Fallas (will explain shortly), I always slightly shook my head yes. However, the true reason behind me wanting to visit Valencia was to finally try some authentic paella from the land of where Paella was born. Paella is a Valencian rice dish served on a big pan with saffron and rosemary as one of its main ingredients. I always opt for the seafood paella. I knew it was going to taste good because its rice, duh but I didn't realize that I would be blown away. I savored every last bite and scraped up the burnt pieces (the best part).              IMG_6695                       Paella served by our waiter
  • Las Fallas. Las Fallas is a traditional celebration held in commemoration of St. Joseph in Valencia. Each year groups spend lots of money to build elaborate structures and leave them up and at the end they burn them all down to welcome spring, wonder why Spain is brokejaja. Though I didn't get to see the statues being burnt down, I saw it being put up and it was beautiful and way larger than I imagined. They covered every corner of almost every street.
  • Las Fallas 

  • Similar to home.Having never gone back to Saipan since I left 8 years ago, I found it comforting how eerily similar Valencia was to Saipan. Though I was only there for barely two days, I found a couple similarities. Take for instance, the paella. This reminded me so much of red rice, only a seafood version. Maybe I came during a time when this is more common, but as I was walking through the streets on Sunday, there were huge groups of people everywhere gathered with their family and just barbecuing on the street. The characteristics of the Valencians were a lot similar to islanders as well. Who knows maybe I'm a little homesick. 

     IMG_6707Street Parties on every corner

  • Beach. One of the other things I was looking forward to for this trip was the beach, so I packed my bikini, shorts and sun hat only to be greeted by windy, cold weather. Okay that may have been my fault. As usual, my sheer optimism prompted me to pack as if I was going somewhere hot and sunny, which you'd think would be the case for a coastal city but apparently not in Valencia. Nevertheless, I made my way to Playa Malvarossa and slept in the sand as well as dipped my feet in the ocean for a total of 20 seconds before realizing that it was so freezing cold. IMG_6746IMG_6794           Ciudad de Las Ciencas 
  • Will be blogging about the Spring Break of my dreams soon!

    Hasta la próxima vez, 33707473534400090715