Sorry for the drawn out cliff hanger everyone, I was in ITALY for the final week before returning home after this amazing semester! I will definitely be able to catch up with my blog postings now that I am back in the states again!

Alright so from where I left off, my two friends, Carly, Caitlin, and I were stranded in Barcelona for a night after missing a flight from Greece to Spain and having to fly through Rome to get back to the country.

Well, the plan for the next morning when we woke up (in my favorite city) was a little up in the air. The original spring break plan had been to spend the week on the beach and we were surrounded by beach now, conveniently stuck on the east coast of the Spain. The struggle came in with booking train tickets anywhere because it was such a popular travel week. So we decided to try our luck. Operation Get To A Spanish Beach went: Plan A: Valencia. Plan B: Point to a place on the map and book a ticket there.

Yet, for the first time that trip we landed wonderful travel luck and managed to find tickets to Valencia despite the Real Madrid vs FC Barcelona (pretty much the biggest rival soccer teams in the country) game was being hosted that night…in Valencia. Excited to start the second part of our Semana Santa vacations on the right note we woke up the next day and immediately checked the weather. We had been looking for a beach and a place with beach weather…well, Valencia certainly would deliver but we decided to postpone our beach day a little because it was a bit chilly to jump in the water and lay out all day. So we took that day to explore the city we would be staying in for the next five days.

Exploring Valencia for the day!
Exploring Valencia for the day!

After having lunch at an adorable little cafe off a side street, we walked through the Jardines de Turia, a park that spans 9km around the city (don’t ask me what that is in miles, I had so much trouble with the conversion all semester). That let us to the City of Art and Sciences, a new addition to the city. Completely finished in 2005, it is a very proud and modern tourist point for the city. There, we decided to take a rest (it had gotten warmer and we had walked a lot) and sat down with a large glass of Orxata (Horchata), rice water that Valencia is really well known for. While it tasted really good, it tastes even better when you are parched–and it is a great thirst quencher!

The City of Arts and Sciences
The City of Arts and Sciences

The next morning, after deciding it was already close to 85 degrees by the time I had gone to grab coffee, we agreed that it was our beach day. So excited about the day, we made a couple sandwiches, grabbed our awesome Barcelona beach towels (check them out in the photo at the bottom of my last post) and headed out. What we forgot? Sunscreen…

First and last beach day of the week
First and last beach day of the week

Enjoying the beautiful day we relaxed, read, dared to see how deep we could go into the freezing Mediterranean Sea, and were so happy to have a breeze blowing the heat off of us. Well, at the time we were happy. When we finally decided to get up and grab some ice cream, we were surprised that we were a little burnt. Yet, as the walk home went on, we got redder…and redder….and soon we could barely move from the searing pain our sun tortured skin was feeling. Suddenly the relaxing beach week turned into a “we can only walk in the shadows and how are we supposed to put clothes on?” week.

But I didn’t let that stop me! Taking the “Madre mia! Que roja eres!”/”Oh my you are so red!” from all of the locals, Caitlin and I drudged out into the sunny streets. Lucky for me, my Italian roots came in handy and I managed to burn the least out of the three of us. Poor Carly, with her fair skin got so burnt, she had to stay in bed the following day! Luckily she was feeling a lot better for the rest of the week–after we managed to find aloe vera in a pharmacy.

One of my favorite parts about visiting a new European city is checking to see if they have a market, and Valencia has a very famous and very large central market (actually called Mercado Central). I loved getting my fresh squeeze mango/coconut/pineapple juice there!

Mercado Central in Valencia
Mercado Central in Valencia

While Valencia does not have an old part of the city like Cáceres, Segovia, and Toledo boast, we did walk around the older religious and government buildings. Even though we didn’t enjoy any more time on the beach, we were still able to relax–for the first time all semester! Sleeping in and lazily exploring the city for the days to come we were able to get a great taste of Valencia life.

We came across a bridge lined with flowers while exploring!
We came across a bridge lined with flowers while exploring!

Our last full day in the city was Easter Sunday. Deciding to splurge a little bit, we found a great restaurant in the heart of the city where we ate Paella Valenciana. While paella is a famous Spanish dish, it is most known in Valencia where it is served with chicken and seafood. And, I might add, where it is ohhh so good.

Yet, after twelve straight days of traveling, three different countries and an accidental trip to Valencia, it was nice to head back to Cáceres for a home cooked meal and to wash our clothes…

More “catch-up” posts to come about my final weeks in Cáceres, and my amazing trip around Italy!

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