Study Abroad: Notes from Spain
Valencia , Barcelona and Logroño
by Dani Schneider '09
After traveling some pretty short distances between cities, Valencia would be our first long trip. We took an overnight train so we didn't waste a day on travel since from Granada, Valencia is about seven hours away.
The sleeper cabin was so small, having only enough room for two bunk beds and a sink. I had to push Eby (Lauren Ebersole of Hagerstown, Md.) through the door because her backpack didn't fit through. After some laughs, I was able to get a good night's sleep and we arrived in Valencia early the next morning.
We were not aware of it at the time, but Valencia has two train stations. We got off at the wrong one! After figuring out where we were at, about 20 minutes outside the city, we caught a bus to the station we should have arrived at. Valencia was smooth sailing from there, having visited la cuidad de artes en ciencas first. Home to Europe's largest aquarium and science museums, Valencia was a mix of old and new which made it a pretty interesting place.
Feeling adventurous, I decided to take on the city alone and do some sightseeing on our second day there. Walking from the Museo de Bellas Artes, Las Fallas Museo, and the Cathedral filled my day. Throughout our trip I have found that sometimes maps can be a bit deceiving. I wasn't sure how long it would take to walk from place to place, but I surely didn't anticipate a 40-minute walk each way between the two museums! The hostel we stayed at was awesome, probably because our room was hot pink (my favorite color!).
After a full two days in Valencia, we took a bus to Barcelona. We enjoyed three days in this monstrous city. Barcelona was full of exciting places including their enormous soccer stadium, Museo de Picasso, La Sagrada Familia Church, and even a Chocolate Museum!
We took an elevator to the top of Gaudi's unfinished masterpiece, La Sagrada Familia, which gave us an awesome view of the city. It is supposed to be finished in 50 years. Hopefully I'll still be around to see the finished product!
My favorite part of the Picasso museum was the Las Meninas room, which housed Picasso's imitation of Velazques' masterpiece. I can't wait to see the 'real' Las Meninas when I visit the Prado in Madrid with my International Studies Abroad (ISA) group next week.
Barcelona was also full of fun surprises. On our way back from a picnic lunch in Gaudi's park, a gospel group was performing in the metro. They sang "Abajo del Mar"("Under the Sea"), Pink Floyd's "Another Brick in the Wall," songs from "Grease" and many other random songs. We enjoyed the free entertainment and the little taste of home that came with it.
Our last stop before meeting up with the ISA program was Logroño. Capital of La Rioja, the wine region of Spain, it was only natural that we took a tour of a vineyard.
Emily's (Hoffman of Tampa, Fla.) cousin from Logroño came along with us and afterwards gave us a personal tour of the area. It was the best tour of the trip. He drove us through the mountains and small towns within the area and even stopped to let us take pictures. Afterwards, we met up with his wife and had lunch at their house. Not only did he give us a great tour, but he also cooked us an amazing meal. Our first real taste of Spanish hospitality made me very excited to meet my new family in Santander.
It is hard to believe that I have already been here for two weeks! Time really does fly when you are having fun. Although backpacking has been an amazing experience, I can not wait to finally settle down and be able to unpack. We have met so many awesome people and seen so many wonderful things. Although my mom was a little nervous about us staying in hostels, it worked out well. Not only has it been a fun experience, but I have also learned so much. My confidence in speaking Spanish has improved tremendously and I imagine it will only get better with time. Next week, we head to Madrid where we will say ¡Adios! to Eby (Lauren Ebersole of Hagerstown, Md.) and start the new leg of our adventure with ISA.
Dani welcomes e-mail correspondence from current and prospective members of Catawba's community and can be reached at email@example.com.