of paellas and bullfights

June 16, 2011

Well, not so much the bullfights, since there aren’t any going on currently. But it had a nice ring to it.

[Creative license?]

I can’t say I’ve been up to too much since getting back to Valencia 3 nights ago, but I had the urge to write. And, nonetheless, Zach and I finally visited the Catedral de Valencia during our Monday lunch break, and that was quite a trip in and of itself.

The Valencia Cathedral is one of Valencia’s greatest treasures: an ornate, Gothic church built in the early 13th century. Today, the Cathedral sits in the Plaza de la Reina and is an enormous tourist attraction, for good reason. It is quite possibly the most beautiful church I have ever visited [and let me tell you, we visited a ton of churches during our tour of Italy a few years ago]. Zach and I paid 4 euros for an audio tour, which was actually very pleasant [not to mention the woman at the counter handed me the audio in Castellano, so the lack of having been asked if I would prefer the English was a good confidence-boost].

We were only able to spend about an hour at the Cathedral, since we were pressed for time between classes, but I probably easily could have spent at least another hour there, just admiring all of the artwork and architecture.

Perhaps if I get the time, I’ll make another trip.

But now on to the food.

The night we flew back in from Portugal, María prepared some homemade paella for us, which was a very sweet gesture seeing as how the dish takes a pretty friggin’ long time to make.

Specifically chicken paella [since I am not the pork-eating type] with veggies.

Now, paella and I have an interesting relationship. I’ve had paella twice in my life prior to coming to Spain, and on both occasions I was sorely disappointed.

Not that the dish was bad, per se, but rather…bland. Not a fan of the texture of the rice, nor the spices [lack thereof] that go into the dish. But, I’m always open to trying [or retrying] new things, and so I had been anticipating a reintroduction to paella upon coming to Spain.

Honestly, it was good. At least, significantly better than the paella I had had before. But I think…paella just isn’t my thing, over all.

[Not to mention it reminds me hugely of biryani, which I’m not a huge fan of either, so I wasn’t totally surprised at my inability to fall in love with the dish].

But Liz loved it, and Zach loved it when his host parents prepared it, so it’s definitely just me.

In the end, though, I gave it a second shot, and so I’m satisfied.

In other news, Liz and I took a stroll to the train station today in order for Liz to purchase her ticket to Barcelona next weekend. We did end up having to walk a bit to a different train station, for reasons that are still an enigma to me [the main train station apparently isn’t selling tickets to Barcelona anymore, although the one she ended up purchasing departs from that station], and then ended up having to wait behind about 40 or so people before going up.

So we made ourselves comfortable on the floor, leaning against the glass wall separating the ticket room from the platform, sitting and chatting while awaiting our turn. After 10 or so minutes, we were approached by a nice Australian gentleman who spoke absolutely no Spanish whatsoever.

[“Excuse me, but do you ladies speak English by any chance?” “Yes, of course!” “Well, I really don’t have any idea what’s going on…”]

So we chatted with him, found out he was in the same boat as us [having been deferred from the main station], and we gave him the 4-1-1 on the situation. He was very pleasant [I really enjoyed the accent], and then walked away, still seeming to be somewhat unnerved but at least more at ease.

Ten or so more minutes passed, and then Liz and I were approached by our Australian friend and one of his friends, and the two of them very sweetly asked if we would be so kind as to accompany them to the counter and translate for them. We were, of course, more than happy to do so, grinning in acceptance and enjoying a very nice English/Spanish conversation with our new friends and the jolly man at the counter. After they had secured their tickets, one of the men helped convince jolly-counter-man to go ahead and get us our tickets right then and there, as there were still a good 30 or so individuals in front of us. Jolly-counter-man was totally for the idea, so we thanked our Australian friends, wished them a pleasant trip, and left soon after, ticket secured.

That little encounter earlier this evening definitely has been one of the highlights of this trip. I’m not even sure why I was so – moved? happy? – because of it.

I think it’s the feeling of mutual understanding that we sometimes share with others; the ability to ask for help when uncertain and lost, the joy from being able to help that person, and the laughs shared over the counter of a train station in a foreign country, English in one ear and Spanish in the other. It’s a reminder that, at the end of the day, although we come from different places and head to different places, we’re all in this together.

And it’s only a matter of time before we run into each other at a train station in Valencia.

It seems as though pre-depression Francisco Goya would agree with me.

In other other news, tomorrow is our last out-of-Valencia trip for this adventure. To Granada, in fact. I am bursting with excitement to see what beauty the city has to offer.

Here’s to hoping my plan of staying out all night won’t backfire on me during tomorrow’s 8-hour bus ride.

I suppose this is when sleeping pills are an appropriate decision.

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