Ciudad de las Artes y Sciencias, Valencia

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September 26, 2013

Today we went into Valencia for a school trip. Driving around in the bus got tedious and the majority of us ended up napping until we came to a stop and started a tour to learn about the city’s history.


History Lesson

Valencia is the fourth most populated after Andalusia, Catalonia and Madrid with more than 4.9 million inhabitants. It is located along the Mediterranean coast in the south-east of the Iberian peninsula. It borders with Catalonia to the north, Aragon and Castile–La Mancha to the west, and Murcia to the south. It is formed by the provinces of Castellón, Valencia and Alicante.

Its origins date back to the Catalan-Aragonese colonization by the Crown of Aragon, after the Moorish Taifa of Valencia was taken by James I of Aragon in 1238 during the Reconquista. The newly founded Kingdom of Valencia was granted wide self-government under the Crown of Aragon with the promulgation of its Furs in 1261. Valencia experienced its golden age in the 15th century, becoming the economic and cultural capital of the Crown and contributing with the most important works of Catalan medieval literature.

Flag of the Valencian Country


 

One of the most beautiful parts of Valenica is the quarter that houses the City of Arts and Sciences. Much more contemporary than other sectors in Valencia, it is a testament to the gift that Santiago Calatrava has as an architect.

Another site I adored was La Lonja. A Gothic style building built in the 1400’s that included a walled courtyard/ orange garden. This building was used by merchants for meetings and trading goods like silk and oil. However, it was one of the lower level rooms that really caught my attention. Standing in the center of this expanse, gives the feeling of being centered. I always feel that when I visit places like this, I should let its history affect me. I loved this room. Even after the group moved on to the orange gardens, I stayed behind with a student, we sat on the exquisite tile, and let our blood absorb it all as we stared at an intricately designed ceiling. Feeling a sense of calm is far and few between these days, and I will grasp on to any moment I find.

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Before we were given our hours of free time to wander the city, we visited Catedral de Valencia and had to climb the 207 windy stairs of the Toree del Micalet to get a view of Valencia, blue tiles domes and nearby churches from 167 feet. Also, at the top of the tower is the infamous El Micalet up close and personal. El Micalet is one the the 12 bells in the tower and weighs in at over 24,000 pounds.

As you can imagine, after a climb like that we were a bit winded, but with 5+ hours of free time we decided we could take our time. Our group set out, Amipa, Manerva, Kip, Sesame and myself, to locate souvenirs and food.

NOW. If it’s one thing I despise it’s shopping. Add on people walking slow and not being able to make up their minds? DEFINITE NO.

And that’s exactly what happened. Sesame and I blew through the motions, got souvenirs, got ice cream, and we still were waiting on the rest to lazily amble down the way. The hilarious part was that we were the only two who could actually read a map at the time, so having the perverse idea to leave them behind clearly wasn’t an option. *sigh*

And yes, we have 5+ hours, so what’s the rush??

It took 2 hours for them to decide on something to eat cause they are ‘picky’ about Spanish food.

*rolls eyes*

I did NOT come to Europe to eat McDonalds or Starbucks, and that’s all they could decide on. Then they ate a bit slow, distracted by free wifi,  except one who ate fast and then wanted to eat all of our left over food. So we ended up with less than 2 hours, which worked for me, but was not enough time for them.

Mmmhmm. Never going to any store with them again if I can help it.

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September 24, 2013

Today, with classes ending early, Amipa and I wanted to go into town. While we were on the descent from the 3rd floor, we ran into two Carmine and a new face, Flame. She said she was bored so we shared our plans and told them to come along. Amipa wanted to explore some local stores that we had found in 2011 and we were also hungry so we decided to kill two birds with one stone.

The walk into town went without incident, and wasn’t as bad as the trek in this past Saturday. We ambled about, they took pictures, and then they decided that they wanted coffee. [ What is the obsession with coffee?! 98% of the students drink it, as if it were water.]

IMG_0214An old friend had taken us to a little cafeteria during my summer abroad that was close to a park, so we agreed and headed out to the spot. I am NOT a coffee drinker, and apparently coffee is done exceptionally in Europe, but not for me. However, if there is one thing I will indulge in, it is a cup of red wine. *sigh*

While we sat an relaxed, Carmine asked us what we thought about the male crop.

*raised eyebrows*

She was the LAST person I expected to broach the topic, but if there’s one thing I know how to be is openly vague. I said the crop had potential, there were eye-catchers here and there. BUT she wasn’t satisfied with that answer, so she asked for specifics.

NOW. It’s one thing if we have some basis of friendship and you want to dish about the men-folk. It’s another thing when I feel your motives are suspicious and can backfire in the near future.

So I sat back and eyed her over my wine glass as the others answered with names and specifics in what they liked, and she just soaked everything up like a sponge. THEN, when they asked her HER opinion she says,

“I don’t think I will tell you guys cause I don’t trust you yet.”

I guffawed so abruptly and had to catch myself. I stared at her and told her that she was something else. If she didn’t trust us why was she trying to have this conversation? As you can imagine, the conversation came to an abruptttttt halt and it was suddenly time to head back to campus.

MARK. MY. WORDS.

The details of this conversation are going to make a guest appearance some day.

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September 22, 2013

Sunday!!! Time for rest, relaxation and a recap!!

Yesterday, we went to church and had what I would consider to be an eye-opening discussion about what we think the current flaws are in the SDA church and about impacting others and bringing them closer to God. Needless to say, it was easy to assume about the religious upbringing of some of these students. A lot of them felt that talking to non-Adventists was pointless because there is corruption in the church, and others felt that Adventists are selfish and only want other Adventists to be saved. Now, don’t get me wrong, there is corruption and it would be counterproductive to induct people into a church that is torn. AT THE SAME TIME, it behooves us to spread the message, and stop preaching to the choir, regardless of if they instantaneously join the church. The mere fact that some of them tried to discredit the others point as if it was invalid reminded me that some people aren’t really concerned about religion at all.

After lunch, the majority decided that a beach visit was in effect. This was my FIRST time even considering going to the beach on a Saturday. It was strictly forbidden. However, rebellious soul that I am, gathered my things and joined the throng. We all walked to the bus stop, and it was on this walk that I met two new floor mates, Manerva and Kip. They were school friends who had traveled together to Spain. One was very friendly, and the other was more reserved.

We reached town, and what should have been a 15 minute wait for the bus turned into a 2-hour wait. That was sign enough for me to turn around, go back to my room and take a well deserved nap. After all, it was a day of rest, and Amipa and I were ready for the nappage.

After dinner, there was a little concert at the church and we moseyed on over. I ❤ music, so I was pretty excited. Boy, was I surprised. Not by the music choices, but by the sound. Their voices are quite…..light. Airy and breathy. Not something I’m accustomed to, I assure you. Also, they sing almost every song in a key that makes me want to assume that the majority of singers are sopranos. That is still up for debate.

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Check out See Through Riia’s Eyes for photo updates!! ❤

September 20, 2013

We finally had our placement test yesterday and I ended up in Advanced.

HOW?!

I can barely keep up with the Spaniards when they talk much less respond in a timely fashion. This has to be a joke.

OIMG_0134n top of that, the rest of the students have arrived. They are mostly from California and already have friend cliques which Reanne is NOT in the mindset to try and enter. Plus, I am
a bit older than them and people ALWAYS say how I look intimidating and unapproachable. I’m just waiting to see if any of them will approach me before I approach them. I highly doubt it though.

TODAY, we went to their version of Walmart. Carrefour. Isles and isles of happiness and food! AND, I got my first dose of Spanish candy. Thank you Universe for your many blessings. It’s been too long overdue and I was starting to have a sugar craving.

Amipa and I decided to purchase a plant and we named her GLORIA! We hope to be excellent parents to our new found offspring! Well, once we get back from the beach, which is apparently going to be a weekly excursion after grocery shopping. So much for wanting to buy ice cream in this heat.

IMG_0139Later on tonight I ran into a few of my old monitores from ‘The Summer of 2011’. My adopted brother, Angel, is not so little anymore. He’s tall and has a beard, and his English got so much better. I also saw ‘The Terror Squad’, and some more old yet familiar face
s. We……will see if friendships from back then have carried on till now.

Trust me. I doubt it.

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In Sagunto

-En Sagunt-

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History Lesson

Sagunto [Sagunt in Catalan] is a town in Eastern Spain  located c. 30 km north of Valencia, close to the Costa del Azahar on the Mediterranean Sea. In 1098, the city was conquered by El Cid but the Muslims recovered it shortly thereafter. The city had been under the Muslim Arab rule for over five hundred years when James I of Aragon conquered it in 1238.

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September 18, 2013

I HAVE MADE FRIENDS!

Hahahaaaaa! Sooner than I imagined, I assure you.

We were supposed to have placement tests today BUT ….. we didn’t. With our newly acquired free time 3 other students (Amipa, Sesame and Carmine) and myself decided it would be a grand idea to bike into town and get helado (ice cream) which was amazing!! We explored alley ways and a church, went to the city center and played in a park. Clearly we weren’t thinking that we would have to bike back to the school.

Now, the school is on a mountain, with the dorm and all the other buildings on mini-mountains. So going towards town, downhill, was a breeze and quite enjoyable. the return trip? Deadly!

We made it halfway up the hill before our legs cried for mercy and we conceded to the stark reality that we were definitely out of shape. Just hearing them talk about biking to the beach and back gave me phantom back pain. We will see if I can get motivated for that journey. I’m not making any promises.

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History Lesson: Odin

In my first post I mentioned someone named ODIN, without exactly giving a back story as to why I was elated to see said person.

Here we go!

A few years prior (Summer of 2011), I was in Spain, in this exact location. It was a pre-req for my minor (at the time). During this time period we had helpers, Monitores, who would help us with our homework and the Spanish overload. Odin was one of these people.

I want to say that everything went nice and dandy and there was a mutual attraction, BUT there wasn’t. In fact, that summer opened my eyes just a bit more about the “preferences” of non-blacks.

However, I still observed him from a distance and we established a pretty cool friendship. COOL ENOUGH, that he would tell me,

“OMG, did you see ____ today she looks amazing.”

OR

“Man, I can’t wait to see her at the beach. She’s hot.”

Now don’t get me wrong. I have nothing wrong with male friends gushing about their interests. This one, however, was just a bit too close to home. You know? But I KNEW I wasn’t his type, so I wasn’t even going to walk into that failed attempt.

Nevertheless, He would always joke about wanting to grow into his shoulders cause he felt ill-proportioned. BOY DID HE FLOURISH. *hand clap*