My journey from Boone to Valencia Spain was a long but safe one. Driving to Charlotte then flying from Charlotte to Chicago, then to Madrid, and finally to Valencia. When landing in Madrid I was overwhelmed by the architecture of the airport. The Madrid airport features a large amount of open space and countless curves and lines; it is simply a beautiful structure. After what was a rather brief passport review process I found myself going through security again, I found security to be a bit odd. Madrid’s agents featured batons and handcuffs. When I went through the checkpoint they wouldn’t allow me to pass with a filled water bottle; rather than having me dump out my water I found they wanted me to exit the checkpoint and finish my bottle of water. After finding ourselves to the terminal that would lead us to our final flight to Valencia we were released to grab lunch. I walked around with four of the other students in what is a rather large shopping area in the terminal. The overwhelming theme I noticed is fashion. The Spanish are generally well dressed and I couldn’t help but feel out of place as I stood there in jeans, a white t-shirt, and running shoes. It seemed that the easiest way to pick out a foreigner, or American at least, is to look at their shoes and if they aren’t dressy they’re likely not Spanish.
After landing in Valencia and most of our group retrieving their luggage we ended up taking a taxi to the hostel. The taxi ride was a bit scary, it would appear the driving standards of the Spanish are not what I’ve grown accustomed to; this was reaffirmed later with a drive with Nacho (one of our Spanish student hosts). Finally faced with an opportunity to rest I couldn’t resist. We then met Stan (our faculty host in Spain) who took us via bus (public transit) to Jamon Jamon a Spanish restaurant. The bus featured two green seats, which two of my peers learned are for elderly, pregnant women, or disabled persons as an elderly woman kicked them out of their seats. Our dinner seemed liked an endless course of many meals. I am not sure if that is was would be a typical Spanish feast but it was very good; no one left the table hungry. Dr. Chen encouraged everyone to keep eating, as you don’t know when the next meal is going to be; the Spanish eat lunch and dinner much later than our American standards.
After dinner we were introduced to Nacho who took us, the students, to the roof of his apartment building to the fireworks that were being displayed. I asked why there were fireworks and I believe it to have been a Valencia pride day. The display was impressive and lasted much longer than we stayed to watch; we stayed for about 20 minutes. We finished our evening with a couple of drinks at a bar were we sat outside in a courtyard surrounded by high-rise apartments, or I assume that is what they were. The other patrons of the bar all seemed to have dogs and Nacho told us that was normal for people to bring there dogs with them. Exhausted we decided to call it an evening and Nacho dropped us off at our hostel. In spite of the fact is was only 4 or 5 pm back home I found it very easy to fall asleep. I look forward to seeing what the rest of my trip has in store for me!