October 29 – November 1, 2021
My first long weekend of the year in Spain plus Halloween weekend, I decided to take a trip. I selected Valencia, mainly because it is just far enough away that a long weekend is needed, and Tony, the other auxiliar I met on the Madrid airport train, lived there. We had talked about meeting up, and the timing worked.
On Friday, I took my first BlaBla Car and was off to Valencia. BlaBla Car is somewhat similiar to Uber or Lyft but it is more designed for long-distance travel and drivers post rides that they are already intending to take at a specific time. While my rider did speak English, it was still uncomfortable for three+ hours in the car with a stranger. I was quite tired and ended up falling asleep for the second half of it. By the time I woke up, I was in Valencia City. Valencia is another autonomous community in Spain with Valencia City being the capital and third largest city in Spain (about 1.7-2.5 million people). This community has its own language, Valencian/Catalan, in addition to Spanish.
Javi (the driver) dropped me off near Nord Station, which is its own architectural site to be seen in the city. I went into the station thinking I needed a train, but it was actually a bus. So I did a 180* and headed back the way I came and caught a bus to my AirBNB. The host was so kind. It was a small apartment occupied by her and her grandmother, and they were so hospitable. I got settled in, went to a nearby Mercadona for some groceries, and then made plans with Tony to meet up.
It turned out a bunch of other auxiliares had headed to Valencia for the weekend, too. I connected with a few of them over WhatsApp. An aux from coastal Murcia (also named Lauren) was interested in going out, so we made plans to all meet up. We picked Torre de Seranos as our meeting point, which is one of the remaining gates of the 12 gates from the ancient city wall. The walls were torn down in 1865, but some archaeological remains are still found. Torre de Seranos is considered the best-preserved architecture in Galicia.
Next, we walked to Plaza de la Virgen for tapas. This is a lively square that borders the beautiful Valencia Cathedral.
We found a few different bars to explore and spent quite a few hours getting to know each other more and dancing. We met a lot of other people from many different countries – other teachers, students, travelers passing through. Around 3 AM, I arrived back to my AirBNB and fell asleep quickly in preparation for my second day in Valencia.