Valencia

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Flag of Spain  , Valencian Country,
Friday, May 20, 2011

So long southern Spain.  It feels like we just got here and we are leaving again.  I definitely would have liked to spend more time here if we had the chance.  It is just a fun, laid back place with lots of different stuff to see and do.  Spain as a whole is flying by really.  Today is pretty much completely a travel day.  Again we had to be up early to make it to the train station by 9am.  We stopped for pastries for the train.  Europe has the best pastries anywhere.  I had strategically packed the sword again, this time with our new umbrellas on top to confuse the x-ray machine.  When we got to the front of the line and I tossed my bag on the conveyor belt, it came through the other side no problem without slowing down.  Whew.  Then I grabbed it walked a couple steps and a guard standing outside the grabbed me and asked for our passports.  Here we go.  They also stopped the guy behind us and asked for his passports too.  We stood there waiting, assuming they were just going to search our bags, but about 5 minutes later they came back with our passports, thanked us, and sent us on our way.  We noticed the the guy they stopped behind me was almost exactly my age, height and size, wearing a brown baseball hat just like me, and carrying a backpack while traveling with his wife/girlfriend.  Maybe we just looked like somebody they were looking for.  Either way I wish they'd just confiscate this sword already so we can stop bothering with it.On the first train we were heading to Madrid again, and wouldn't be there until around 2pm.  Again, Spain trains are slow.  The entire train ride Jacki read a book on her kindle (The Hunger Games II), and I caught up on about 5 days of journal entries I was behind on while listening to our ipod.  Great train ride.We had about a 3 hour layover when we got to Madrid so we left the train station and got lunch at a restaurant down the road.  We got ham and cheese sandwiches that they put an egg (huevos) on and put a hole in the top of the toast so it wouldn't break the yolk, kind of like eggs in a basket.  They also had fresh squeezed orange juice, which was awesome.We just sat around the train station for the rest of the time.  It was a really nice one with a huge section in the middle with plants, trees and a big pool with a ton of turtles crawling around.  Once it was time to get on the train we had to go through security. Again.  This time there was a long line and I tossed my bag on, then Jacki tossed hers on.  After mine came out the security guard said something and stoped the belt with Jacki's bag still in the machine.  I just grabbed my bag and went on.  Eventually they started it up again, they were checking out the guy behind Jacki it turns out.  It's never easy though.  This train is a good high speed one though.  We are heading to Valencia which is a big city on the east coast of Spain a few hours by car south of Barcelona.  It is kind of like Brittany in that it is a Spainish city, but only has been for a hundred years or so, and has their own language and culture.  We are only going to stay here one night, so that we can go to a huge aquarium that is supposed to be one of the biggest and best in the world.  We booked a Holiday Inn yesterday so we didn't have to worry about finding a place to stay this time when we showed up after a full day of traveling.We walked from the Valencia train station to our hotel, which took a little longer than we expected due to a few wrong turns(heavy packs don't help.)  This is the second Holiday Inn we've stayed at on this trip, and they have both been great.  It is a huge skyrise hotel right on the edge of the park.  There used to be a river that ran through the middle of Valencia, but a while back they diverted it and now there is a long park where the river used to be.  It is a very modern and nice city.  After getting settled we hailed a cab at a round about in front of our hotel and went to the beach, which is only about a 5-10 minute drive.  The beach was really really nice.  It was about as wide of a beach as I've ever seen and stretched on for miles.  It really looked a lot like Florida, with hotels and restaurants lining the coast.  For dinner we went to a place right on the beach on got paella again.  This time it was a million times better, I think the first one we got in Granada was frozen tourist stuff.  In order to be real paella it has to be made in these big skillets over a fire, and since the skillets are so big each order is for two people.  Along the boardwalk of the beach were a few huge sand sculptures.  Valencia is really nice.  During the summer this would be a great place to be.  
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