Family in town always makes for a packed week! Checked another major European city off my list, ate so many patatas, got frustrated and laughed at how inconvenient Spanish schedules seem, and had some QT with the bro.
- Vale! This word roughly means ‘ok’ but is used so often in dialogues here. It’s used as acknowledgement, agreement, as a transition like ‘sooo’, and sometimes in a string like ‘ vale, vale, vale’.
- Not that interesting but in Valencia they mostly fly the Valencian flag, in Barcelona the Catalonian flag, and in Madrid the Spanish flag. Yet another example of how the nation v. region pride is evident in this country.
- Blabla car is a carpooling app that’s pretty established around Spain. On any given day, you can search for rides between cities and pay a cheaper rate to ride in someone’s car. Like Airbnb, you can read reviews of the driver and see a picture. Cobi took it all over Spain…we rode together from Valencia to Madrid for 19 euros each in a van with 5 people. Worked great!
- Visited Madrid this week! Impressions over the two days: A lot like NYC with Austrian inspired architecture. Calle Gran Via, the main strip, has strong Fifth Ave vibes. The city was quite crowded even on a Wednesday/Thursday, and there was a lot of English being spoken. It was also noticeably warmer than Valencia.
- All of the main sights to see were actually a lot closer together than you’d think so we were able to cover all we wanted.
- I found it interesting that Madrid’s one of the only European cities I’ve been to where water is not a prominent feature (there’s a river but it’s quite small)
- Madrid is known for having Vermouth on tap. According to Google, Vermouth is a fortified white wine. Didn’t remind me of wine but ok. The city is full of old taverns and it’s a pretty safe bet their serving.
- Morning on scooters with Cobe, check out the two main city towers of Valencia (there used to be a wall around the entire city center, now only two towers remain)
- Climb to the top of Torres de Serranos for a view over the old city
- Long walk to the Cabanyal neighborhood to try to treat Cobi to bocadillos. Turns out those are not served past noon. It was 12:30.
- We proceeded to wander around looking for more food, but ahhh schedules, no lunch was being served until 1:30. We landed on some overpriced but yummy food after five attempts.
- City bus back to workspace. Valencia has great public transportation, buses and metro!
- Gelato date with a fellow Remote at Bautista Martí. Their Dulce de Kookie flavor is to dieee for.
- Early morning drive to Madrid with my first Blabla experience.
- Grabbed a quick tortilla de espana and jumped right into the city’s ‘Central Park’ called El Retiro Park.
- El Retiro is complete with the crystal palace, a man made ‘lake’ where you can rent row boats, and countless paths and greenways.
- Wander past the famous Prato Museum that was a lot less impressive from the outside than I expected
- Huffed it to a café to work. Landed on the Bicicleta Café, got a bit loud and wasn’t super comfy but got the job done.
- Met back up with Cobi at our hostel for the night and dropped stuff.
- Continued our wandering through Plaza Mayor and the entire old city center. Grabbed various tapas and snacks along the way for dinner.
- Ended the day at Parque del Oeste to watch the sunset, along with the entire city. It’s a very popular spot for a reason.
- Had the most disrespectful hostel roommates EVER that turned the bright light on at 6:15am, played videos at high volume, left the shower running for a solid 5 minutes with no one in it, and sprayed so much perfume my sinuses were burning. Couldn’t believe. So pissed.
- Grab breakfast at the historic Chocolateria San Gines: churros and chocolate for dipping. Substantial? Hell no. Delicious? Of course.
- Stroll through the Mercado de la Cerado, more of a local, quiet open air market on the weekday.
- Make our way to CentroCentro, a beautiful commercial building at a prominent intersection, then take the elevator to the top of Circulo de Belles Artes for a 360 view over the city.
- Walk down Calle Gran Via, the main strip, and take in the commercialism. My favorite ad was for New Balance. It read: Worn by supermodels in London and dads in Ohio.
- Cut through to Palacio Real de Madrid for some self-timer photo fun and good tourist/people watching. Oh, and the building is insane.
- Settle into the Lolina Vintage Café for work and some noms. HIGHLY recommend this for digital nomads, great space. And in my favorite part of Madrid that we saw.
- Rent electric scooters one more time and ride to the Plaza de Toros, the famous bull fighting arena. Cobi ended up staying for a fight that night that I was bummed to miss…until I learned they kill a bull at the end.
- Grab dinner at a gluten free restaurant then catch a Renfe train back to Valencia. Was 60 euros, but 1.5 hours and super easy.
- Last day in Valencia and it rained!! Was crying for our departure.
- Spent the morning running around doing errands: mailing things, getting cash, returning cards, etc.
- Work and pack
- Official goodbye party at workspace, sad to say bye to some awesome Pareans and the best city team we’ve had so far.
- One last hoorah at the most American bar in our neighborhood: Red Cup. Couldn’t pass up on the fries completed with an American flag toothpick.
- Travel day: 4am taxi for 6am flight to Paris, 6 hour layover in the Charles de Gaulle airport where I ate and worked in the Air Canada lounge, then 11 hour flight to Hanoi.
- To come in first Hanoi log!
We are a third of the way through this journey, and whew, it’s flown. Valencia by far felt the shortest. Next up? Vietnam! I’ve for sure had my reservations about Asia, but if I get back to why I did this in the first place, it’s to experience different cultures to gain a new perspective on the world. I am also lucky to have an amazing group of now 24 to share the adventure with. So, here’s to new challenges and pushing my comfort zone! And thanks, Espana, hasta luego!