Yes, that is from Phantom of the Opera, and yes, I did go to a masquerade this week.
It was our friend JC's birthday party, although his birthday is not until the end of April (he just won't be here for it). Masks were supposed to be obligatory, but that ended up not being the case. In any event that's probably a good thing since I made mine out of some lace and elastic...not very attractive.
The next day, Saturday a group of five girlfriends and myself went to Valencia.
Immediately upon arrival we consumed paella. The hostel staff actually told us that we wouldn't be able to find paella since we went out at 3 and yet we ate this amazingness literally around the corner. It was paella valenciana with green beans, legumes, meat, and snails. I did try a snail. I can't say I will necessarily eat one again, but at least I tried it once. Following our amazing lunch, we got very lost trying to find the cathedral and ended up in front of the town hall instead. It was really pretty on the inside, and outside. Pretty much all the buildings in Valencia are Gothic-style architecture, so it was gorgeous. After a few wrong turns, and stop to ask directions at the tourist info desk, we found the cathedral.
The arm is said to be the left arm of Saint Vincent who was martyred in Valencia in the year 304 CE. Not sure if this is true or not, but it just as gross either way really. We did not, however, find the Holy Grail. The quest continues!...Up the 173 very steep steps of the cathedral tower.
The view at the top was definitely worth the pain though. We also timed it perfectly so that we got there right as the sun was beginning to set. It could not have been a prettier view of the whole city.
Left to right: Camila, Breanne, Annalisa, Kelsie, Me, and Paige
We then came down from our great heights and just walked around, getting completely lost. We stumbled upon a procession for, what I can only assume was, a convention of wine and possible cheese too. There were representatives from Spain, Italy, France, and Belgium. Each group had a different color coat on and was carrying a sign with the name of their winery. It was very odd. We then found a Starbucks and all fulfilled our craving, regardless of how evil Starbucks may be...it still tastes good. Bre and I then went on a hunt for a second-hand international bookstore I had read about. We didn't find it, but we did find a second-hand Spanish bookstore. I bought an anthology of Garcia Lorca, a copy of Don Quijote from the turn of the 20th century, and 3 playbills from the mid-20th century. We then met up with the other four girls and walked around some more and since we had nothing better to do decided to get drinks at a bar near the towers which used to be the gateway to the city. We had Agua de Valencia (Valencian Water). Do not be fooled by the benign sounding name. It is a lethal mixture of orange juice, champagne, gin, and vodka. It definitely tastes delicious, but after one glass we were definitely tipsy. Later that night, being so full from the paella earlier and needing to get something in our stomachs to counteract the Agua de Valencia, we got some kebaps and just hung out at the hostel getting to know our roommates for the night. As it turns out, all of them, except for two guys who were out all night anyway, were American.
On Sunday we woke up early because I had read in the Fodor guide that my mom left me that there was a farmers market every Sunday in front of the cathedral. The Fodor guide lied to me. There was no market. There was, however, a cathedral in which was a Holy Grail we still had yet to find so we decided to renew our quest. I seriously considered quoting lines from Monty Python and singing songs from Spamalot, but I refrained since a few of the girls are actually Catholic and I figured would probably not find it quite as amusing as I do. Anyhow, the quest continues and this time we were successful!
Monty Python would be so proud!
Of course this is not the real Holy Grail, as they still have not found that one, but historians thought it was for a long time so that's still pretty cool. We then got some breakfast and then walked toward the Ciutat de les Arts i de les Ciences (City of Arts and Sciences). It was a fairly long walk, but we had stopped for candy at an amazing candy store and it was almost 65 degrees outside so all was good. We also walked past a few Sunday morning futbol games and stopped to watch those. The City was built in 2005 and has four different parts; the art museum, the planetarium, the science museum, and the aquarium. Each building is designed to look like a shell or crustacean. We walked around all of them, but our main goal was the aquarium. It was the only one we could all agree on, and it was a good thing that we went, because it was amazing!! It was made up of a lot of little buildings with tunnels underneath them connecting two at a time. The tunnels were also aquariums with fish, and sharks, swimming over and around you.
There was also something that came straight out of my nightmares...not sharks, but a cage filled with birds that people actually went inside of. Why you would lock yourself into a cage with birds is so far beyond me. The other exhibits were tropical fish, that tunnel is the longest in the world, the galapagos penguins, pelicans, sea lions, the arctic and the antarctic, and the dolphins. We, of course, went to the dolphin show and all six of us were literally giddy. It was a 45 minute show and it was amazing!!!
We then walked back to the hostel to pick up our things. On the way we found frozen yogurt, which none of us could pass up. To round out our trip, Bre and I had Valencian oranges (which honestly taste the exact same as Murcian oranges)
¡Hasta la semana que viene!