Well, well, well… where have I been??
What a fun-filled last couple of weeks! It’s been hot here in Valencia and we have been taking advantage of the bluer than blue skies. A couple of week ago the girls and I went to the beach in the camper of a good friend with his good friends who are now our good friends. This camper is straight out of a 1994 bluegrass festival and it gives me déjà vu to be in it. It has the same smell as my parents old Airstreamer. They cooked us a typical Spanish seafood dish called feddegua. It has a strong delicious saffron taste, but also a STRONG seafood taste. Like it’s straight out the sea. Very, very strong. We enjoyed ourselves immensely on the beach, which is covered of Easter-egg like pebbles. We found green and blue ones and pink and orange ones.
Mom and Lee came to visit Valencia the week after that. What a dream! They are so wonderful and to have them here was something special. Someone can see what I will be talking about the rest of my life. We went out to eat with my friends several times, talking about everything under the sun/moon depending on if it was lunch or dinner. They met my Spanish friends and I took them around my typical stomping grounds. Valencia really showed off for them, we had great weather the whole weekend. It was simply wonderful to see their faces.
And then Semana Santa happened! Ashley and Mary Claire and I had loose travel plans in Portugal so off we went. We took a train ride through Andalusia, which was quite something. The 22-year-old and 12-year-old brothers from Madrid that sat across from us were entertaining, the little one wanting to know about hot dogs and Halloween and The Simpsons. The landscape was intoxicating and ever changing. In Sevilla we learned that the bus to Tavira, Portugal were our friends were was full for that night. We bought tickets for the next day and left the train station in hopes of finding a hostel. Considering Sevilla is the busiest city in Spain during Semana Santa, we were quite lucky to find a room with three beds in a nice hostel for pretty cheap. We saw the Catholic processions, creepy enough with their hidden faces and pointy hats. Sevilla was beautiful during the day and smelled heavenly. The warmer weather had brought the orange blossoms out and there are parks full of flowers around every corner. A crazy woman to read Mary Claire's palm for five euros, a price that included a sprig of fake rosemary. There was a park along the river lined with people and wisteria. We sat in the sun in a floating cafe for an hour or so then hopped on our bus to Tavira.
Another small hiccup. We pulled through beautiful Tavira and into the bus stop. Readying ourselves to get off we noticed that the bus was not exactly stopping. Just kind of circling. And then driving away from the bus stop. Is there a second one? We wondered. Is he going to stop pretty soon, or what? Why is he getting back on the highway? After a slightly confused discussion (the Andalusian accent has a strange absence of the 's' sound for a language full of s's) we found ourselves in the next town up- Faro, Portugal. Faro is beautiful. Marine images everywhere and a sky-blue sky dotted with white puff clouds. Birds and salty air. We stayed there for an hour and a half and caught the next bus back to Tavira. There we met out four guy friends from the UGA program. Diego's family has a little house in the resort town outside of Tavira. It was beautiful and luxurious- a swimming pool, tons of old people, white washed cabins with cats lounging on the balconies, and kitchens! We cooked every morning and every night. The one full day we were there we laid on the beach all day, taking a boat across the little sound to get there. The next day we wandered around in the little ancient city of Tavira which features tulips and a bridge from the time of the Romans. It was a brief stay in resort paradise, but I was exciting to see real Portugal. Lisbon.
Lisbon is so cool. So so cool. The main part of the city is in a valley, flanked by two big hills. One of the hills is topped with an ancient castle surrounded by winding medieval streets. The other hill is the part of town with all the fun bars and restaurants. Every sidewalk in the town is intricately laid tile (apparently a huge city project that kept prisoners busy for decades) and the sky at night is absolutely blue. To be on the Atlantic again! What a history of maritime in the city. It's very crazy to think about Lisbon as the center of the world at one point. We saw Vasca da Gama's tomb. We climbed to the top of the ancient fortress that greeted sailor's coming back into port. We stood "where the land ends and the sea begins."
Outside of Lisbon is a little dream world city called Sintra. We went for a day trip and loved it so much we came back the next day. It was the ancient summer destination of royalty of Lisbon and no wonder. Candy castles and the most beautiful moss-blanketed, secret-hiding, flower-blooming, stone-bridge-crossing, sequoia-surrounded-swan-pond park in the world. We were in heaven. I felt like a fairy princess. It was an authentic magic land. We could have stayed for days.
Back in Valencia we showered (finally) and prepared for a short journey to Jérica, a little city north of Valencia in the Catalonia province. It felt like out west. Big orange cliffs, bright yellow flowers, tiny bubbling streams. There was an old barn with an old truck filled with an old crop of dried out lavender. We rubbed it all over our arms and neck and we smelled fantastic. We returned yesterday. We only have 10 or so days left in Valencia, my heart starting to break a bit. A good distraction is planning our month-long-voyage for after the program. France, Italy, Formentera, Andalusia, oh my!
I have missed writing on my blog, but I assure you I have been journaling like a mad woman. All is wonderful, blissful, perfect.