With our first European destination checked off, we arrived in Valencia after a 3 hour train ride. Emerging from the train station we were filled with the notion that this would be a much different experience than Barcelona. Valencia seems more open, cleaner, and its citizens - and tourists - are dressed in ridiculously nice clothes.
I´m going to be a little less wordy with Valencia, and just hit a couple high points. With not much on our agenda, everything happened by chance. First, in walking through Plaza de la Reina, we happened upon the Valencian soccer team parading through the plaza bearing the Copa del Rey - King Cup. We had no idea we would help receive the city´s top atheletes in the country´s most celebrated sport.
The other, more notable, event we happened upon, was the Procession of the Virgen de los Desamparados, marking the 50th anniversary of its choir. To say this was a procession does it little justice. There were hundreds of people lining the winding streets and hundreds more participating in the procession. Participants included religious groups, military personnel, bands, the choir, and women and girls adorned in dress representing their image of the Virgin Mary. It is strikingly similar to the costumes worn by teenage Latinas celebrating their quinceañera.
Our sampling of food in Valencia proved especially delicious. We dined on Valencian paella (with rabbit and chicken), tapas of mussels and prawns, and much more. And a quick word about rabbits in paella...don´t eat it without careful chewing and inspection. Now Allison knows how our cat feels when chomping through her latest garden kill - rabbits actually do have bones, and they make an obvious appearance in the paella.
Our lodging in Valencia was probably the purest of hostels - shared bedrooms, shared bathrooms, and absolutely no privacy...even for our French roommates who could have used more privacy than we allotted. It was a positive experience, although one that disrupted our normal sleep habits - that is, actually getting some sleep at night. Having a duet of French snorers is not as harmonious as it sounds.
With two Spanish cities down, and several left, we´re slowly but surely adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle of late nights and unconventional eating habits, by American standards. Now we´re just a Trenhotel ride away from Granada!