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Arriving at Valencia at Tuesday night was perfect timing - it was the Halloween. Some left to a Napalm Death concert, others continued to a party hosted by Italians in another flat. Most of the people were exchange students, but a few locals too. I tried a few times to use my Spanish I had started learning at INSA, but with just two lessons behind couldn't get much further than saying "Hola" and telling where I come from. Understanding what the others said was a bit easier but English was still a better choice.
The flats in Valencia were a lot better suited to have parties than the usual double rooms or studios at INSA, and apparently the people also took full advantage of it. The usual procedure was to continue the night in a disco - some admitted that in the beginning it had been a small shock to find out that they are just opening their doors at 1 am, and getting crowded around three. Now their only complaint was that going out meant literally doing nothing but sleeping the following day.
The athmosphere was open and lively and I didn't feel like being an outsider, but there was one serious problem: the cigarette smoke. Filling a normal living room with over twenty people half of whom smoke inside is not a pleasant experience for someone even slightly allergic to it. Combined with too little sleep the previous night I was feeling a bit sick after two o'clock and was happy to crash on the living room sofa about two hours later.
|After nine hours of sleep the world was a better place again. Stephen and Wolfgang accompanied us to have lunch in the city center. Valencia is said to be the home of paella - in Barcelona it was mostly served as a main course but here it was available as a starter too. The others took a paella plate, I decided that two times in Barcelona was enough, picked at random and received a delicious asparagus dish. The main course and dessert were also satisfying so 1500 pesetas (9 euros) for the menu (bread and drink included) seemed very reasonable.|
|Stephen continued with us to show the main attractions. The use of unusual colors in the old buildings was a nice surprise, for instance the railway station in the previous picture had window ledges and tower tops painted with a penetrating dark green. The church shaped like a castle (in this photo) was also interesting but closed.|
|We continued our walk towards the sea on an old riverbed, currently a park. The stream had been guided elsewhere already some 200 years ago. These trees tried to scare guests with small but very sharp spikes.|
|The style of the buildings turned to modernism, the most impressive projects still under construction. The citizens were especially proud of a futuristic conference hall and this bridge.|
|If you visit the beach at late hours don't miss this beautiful fountain.|
|Thursday morning we said goodbye to Valencia and our friends and of course invited them to Lyon. Driving small roads in the countryside showed the other side of Spanish lifestyle: nobody was busy on a holiday in the quiet small villages. At Chelva we followed a bumpy non paved road for a few kilometers to reach an old aqueduct in a pittoresque setting.|
|The path for the water continued for a while in a tunnel inside the rock.|
|A typical view in the central Spain, fields of small bushes climbing up the hills and mountains.|
|Our main target for the day was Albarracin, a small village Albert, one of our many Spanish friends, had mentioned. It is evidently one of the oldest in the rocky region and would be a nice place to spend a few peaceful days doing short hikes on nearby mountains.|
|After some bocadillos (a hot sandwich) and patatas bravas (fried potatoes with spicy mayonnaise sauce) in a local bar we climbed on the wall on the west end of the town. It was raining a bit and the temperature had dropped at around 10 degrees, supported by a heavy wind constantly turning our umbrellas upside down. No safety fences here, watch your step!|
|Before dawn we had still time to take a quick look of some prehistoric paintings a few kilometers away. I considered the surrounding forest to be more interesting than the actual pictures.|
It was half past six in the evening and we had still almost 400 kilometers to Madrid. Fortunately most of the roads are quite good in Spain, and slightly pushing the speed limits it didn't take more than four hours with one good break included. When approaching the capital we had to be careful though, the occasional showers had transformed into heavy rain.
At Madrid we discovered again the usual fact that arriving late has its price. After a few places that were full or closed we walked for the first time into a real hotel to save time and avoid getting wet. 13700 pesetas (83 euros) was more expensive than students usually seek for but the spacious room with three full-size beds and breakfast included was also from another planet compared to the only slightly cheaper hostel in Barcelona. Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | next >>
Last update 17.8.2001.