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Monday, March 21, 2011

Las Fallas! Valencia, Spain

The main sculpture
This past weekend, some friends and I took a student bus to go to a festival called Las Fallas in Valencia, Spain. Las Fallas was incredible and I’ve never seen anything like it before! Apparently over 2 million people from all over the world come to this festival. Our bus left Caceres at 2 am and we arrived in Valencia 9 hours later. I was only able to sleep for 2 of those 9 hours. We toured the city for a little bit, ate lunch, and then at 2pm, we went to an event called “Mascleta” which is a “concert of gunpowder.” It ended with what is called a “terremoto” which literally translates to “earthquake” and hundreds of masclets explode at the same time. It was so crowded so we didn’t get to actually witness it, but we sure felt it!

At the beach in Valencia
After the Mascleta, we headed for the beach. The beach was a bit far from the center of the city so we decided to take a bus. The beach was fun; the weather was warmer than when we were in Palma, but the sea was a lot colder! Also, three of us broke our cameras while we were at the beach. We think it must have been the sand. Mine still works, but the shutter doesn’t close when I turn it off. I’m glad I can at least still take pictures. After spending a couple hours on the beach, we went to go find Paella. Paella is Spain’s most famous dish and it’s actually from the city of Valencia. My host mom made it once before and we had it with shrimp, clams, and muscles, but Paella from Valencia is made with meat such as chicken and beef. We ate on the beachfront, and also got to try ‘Agua de Valencia’ which is a famous drink from there.

After dinner, we took the bus back to the city and that was quite the experience. We stopped at a bus stop on the way and there were a couple of boys who were lighting fireworks. They had what looked like wands and the fireworks shot out of them (which was pretty cool because it made me feel like I was in Harry Potter.) When we first stopped, they were shooting them at other people and then they started shooting them at the bus! Everyone started screaming and closing the windows. I think the bus driver thought it was funny because we were stopped there for a good 5-10 minutes! I’m going to try and post a video of it on my Flickr account with my pictures, otherwise there’s a video on Facebook. They actually left marks and scratches in the windows of the bus!

Me with the burning of the statue
When we safely got off of that bus, we walked around for a bit, and then waited and stood for 3 HOURS for the fireworks and the burning of the statues to start. The fireworks were incredible since we were right below them in the plaza. After the fireworks show, they lit the main structure on fire. Even though we had to wait 3 hours for this event that took only 20 minutes all together, it was worth it. I can’t even describe how incredible it was. After the show, we went to go meet up with more of our group at a nearby Burger King. Getting to that Burger King took forever because of all the people. I thought Carnaval was crowded… this was ten times worse! I couldn’t believe how many people there were. Lots of pushing and shoving, rubbing up against people I did not want to touch, so many bad smells; it was awful. We finally made it to Burger King, found some empty tables, and Claire and I just crashed. Then we had to leave because the employees started kicking people out who were sleeping. We walked around and found a churro stand (which always makes me happy.) I got a filled, chocolate-covered churro and it was the richest thing I think I have ever had in my entire life. I couldn’t even finish it I felt so disgusting.

Claire and I exhausted at Burger King

After our churros, we found an entry way to a bank that was open and hung out in there for a while since it was cold outside. Then we met up with more people from Iowa State, talked for a while, met some more Americans, then headed back to the bus station. We huddled together for warmth in the bus station until our bus came at 5 am to pick us up. I slept almost the entire way back to Caceres which goes to show how tired I was because I can hardly ever sleep on buses. We got back to Caceres around 2 pm and I thought I would just lie down for a bit even though I didn’t feel that tired. I ended up sleeping from 4pm yesterday afternoon until 8am this morning without waking up once! I don’t think I’ve ever done that before in my life! I was more exhausted than I thought.

Today I’m missing Flamenco class to go to a piano concert with my host mom. I don’t know much about it except for the fact that the lady who is in charge of the concert was the piano teacher of Elizabeth, my American host sister who lived with us the first two weeks we were here.  

Speaking of pianos, I played one for the first time in two months! I just found out that the music hall is in the same building and is directly above where most of my classes are so there are about 3 or 4 pianos. We’re allowed to play them as long as there aren’t any classes going on in those rooms (obviously) since they’re all classrooms. I have a break between classes 3 days a week so I figured I would play piano during my breaks from now on.

This weekend a bunch of us are traveling to Lisbon, Portugal! This will be my first time traveling outside of Spain since I’ve been here. We’re planning on taking a train Thursday overnight and arriving in Lisbon Friday morning and staying until Sunday night.

Hasta luego!

1 comment:

  1. Shea, what an amazing trip! I watched the video of the fireworks. It's amazing that no one got hurt. It looked very crowded. Glad you enjoyed the smells of Spain! Love you, Dad