Thursday, December 8, 2011

holiday in spain. part one.

Part One: Valencia!
I'm fooling myself when I think it's possible to actually write a blog post which can attempt to capture all that happened over in Spain. This is the best I got.

Day ONE (Saturday November 19):
After almost missing our connecting flight in Zurich (it's easy to look like four Americans staring at the smoking lounges in the airport...while sitting at the wrong gate), we landed in Valencia around 2:30pm (aka 7:30am Chicago time). We had no idea which way was up, but I know I had stored my sweet Swiss Air chocolate for later consumption and I was about to see Mark for the first time in months.

We spent the day strolling around downtown Valencia in a sleepless haze and trying to avoid talking to Ricky (always the grumpy one with lack of sleep and meals). The Valencia futbol team was playing Real Madrid that night and only Dad and I made it to the bar to join Mark and his friends to watch. I was running on adrenaline and total amazement of the vodka soda I ordered (which was huuuuuuuuge and included a separate bottle of Perrier of which I could use my own discretion to add).

After a solid 36 hours up, it was time to call it...a super long day.

Day TWO (Sunday November 20):
This should probably be renamed afternoon two since we all started our day around 1pm. Luckily it had rained all morning so we didn't miss a thing. We walked down to La Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias. It was gorgeous, but not being museum people, we enjoyed the sights from the outside. This included convincing Dad that the water behind us was really the Mediterranean Sea. Jetlag makes him extra gullible.

Nothing wraps up the day like a little Spanish gelato before a Mexican dinner. If the poor waiter didn't know what quesadillas were before we dined there, he does now!

Day THREE (Monday November 21):
This was the day I was waiting for – the day I would get to see and touch the Mediterranean Sea for the first time! Mom and I were determined. Mark showed off his school area and introduced us to some freaking amazing Strawberry treats that I pretty much threatened him to bring home at least 10 packs (hint, hint).

It was a cloudy day and at one point, Mark turned to us and asked if we were sure we wanted to go to the beach today. “It really won’t be that great.”

Peg and I jumped all over this: OF COURSE WE DID.

…and it was even better than I could have imagined.

Day FOUR (Tuesday November 22):
Our plans to take a day trip to Alicante, Spain were dampened by persistent rain and a wacky train schedule. Letting no rain leave us coped up, we ventured out to find a meal for lunch in which we wouldn’t have to rely on Mark’s Spanish ordering for us since he was in class.

Needless to say, we spent 2.5 hours in one restaurant which gave Dad ample time to bring out the “Learn Spanish Fast” book to practice this new language. Thankfully we had an extremely patient (and easily amused) waitress who didn’t mind have The Joe practice his Chinese-accented Spanish.

After doing some shopping (who doesn’t love a good H&M trip in a foreign country) and a quick tapas stop (seriously, Spain did not have enough food to feed Richard throughout the day), we dropped off the shopping bags and headed out to a small gem of an Italian restaurant about 10 minutes from our apartment. The food was absolutely amazing (although I wasn’t crazy about my dish, I coveted the four cheese fancy macaroni my mom had ordered). The mozzarella cheese on the caprese salad was easily life-changing. Mark and Dad split a bottle of red and I graciously stepped in to enjoy a glass so they weren’t forced to drink the whole thing alone. I’m just giving like that.

Day FIVE (Wednesday November 23):
Our last day in Valencia greeted us with nary a raindrop! And our day began before noon! Success!

We visited al mercada central (aka the world’s largest indoor market) where we were easily amused by Dad ordering “tres” of every pastry he could. Mark – ever dubious in his studies – couldn’t join us until later so we found a little cafĂ© to eat lunch outside. I ordered a salad…which arrived without lettuce. How confusing! Thankfully the glass of wine which accompanied almost every meal made everything go down a little smoother.

The day led up to witnessing our first futbol game: Genk vs. Valencia. We grabbed dinner (or what we hoped would be dinner) but those darn Spanish folk don’t eat the meal until 10p. It was only 8p. Silly Americans! Mark did the ordering and somehow we ended up with a steaming plate of undercooked meat. He thought he ordered calamari.

Needless to say, we didn’t let dinner bring us down. The futbol game was unreal. It was like combining Bears and Cubs’ fans all into one sport – complete with non-stop chanting, the wave and seven goals for the good guys. The weather was perfect and we managed to finagle our way to our seats without any incidences.

A solid end to a solid stay in Valencia, Spain…now it was on to Barcelona!

Ricky didn't fit in Spain but he was a good sport.

Daily nightly sight: The Cathedral.

He looks way too European for me.

He decided to change his whole look while abroad.

FUTBOL game!

Lunch views. Who's the American?

#1 stunna
View from our little Calle Alta abode.

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