Two weekends ago, we went on our third group trip, this time to the city of Valencia. I’m not going to lie, it was pretty amazing! We arrived in Valencia just in time for comida, which was at an incredible restaurant on the beach that specialized in paella. YUM. After comida, we headed to the beach to play around and dip our toes in the water–though it was cold, we didn’t care. I’d even say we welcomed it, unlike the freezing cold we experienced in Segovia! After playing in the beach like five year olds, we headed into the city to our hotel, which was situated directly across from el Palacio del Marqués de Dos Aguas, right by Plaza de la Reina. To top off an already incredible set-up, it just so happened that Valencia is our beloved Arturo’s, our contemporary Spanish art professor, hometown so we pretty much traveled with the ultimate authority on the city. We were also extremely lucky to visit right around the time that the city was gearing up for their famous FALLAS—some of my buds even got to attend a firecracker celebration that happens every Sunday leading up to the event!
We went on the usual Arturo-led historical tours, but these tours were extra special as Arturo told us stories of growing up in Valencia, showed us where he went to school and how much the city had changed from his childhood to now. He took us to the Mercado Central de Valencia, the Puerta de los Apostoles, and the church which houses the Holy Grail. He knew where to get the best horchata in town and explained the Valencian love for pólvora, gunpowder. We explored the city on our own and climbed up one of the giant towers that once made up the only entrances to the city and all 207 steps up the Torre del Miguelete. Though the historic and cultural aspects of the city were great, my favorite part of our visit was our time spent at the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias.
Personally, I feel the name is a bit misleading. The Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is not a city, it’s more of an EDUCATIONAL DISNEYLAND. No joke. According to my host mom, they have all these awesome educational expositions, games, and presentations. But I didn’t see any of them. Upon arriving, Sergio and Arturo announced that there was an Indiana Jones archeological exhibition and our five year old selves lost it. We practically sprinted for the exposition and spent about two hours running around watching clips from the Indiana Jones films, learning all of the movie’s behind the scenes secrets, and playing this game intended for children in which you had to complete nine puzzles to acquire nine pieces that made up some sort of digital antique that if completed earned you a place in the Indiana Jones archaeological object hall of fame. It was pretty sweet. But the fun didn’t end there, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias is split into two parts: the arts and sciences complex and the Oceanográfic, the largest aquarium in Europe. We saw sharks, whales, penguins, and even got to go to a Sea World-like dolphin show that had many of my friends wondering how they could become dolphin trainers.
Out of of three group trips (Segovia, El Escorial, and Valencia), sunny Valencia has definitely been my favorite. Our next trip will take us to the city of Toledo, but it’ll be difficult to top this experience!