Bike races and nice faces.

Trip Start Mar 30, 2010
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43
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Trip End Dec 13, 2012


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Where I stayed
CS Aline, Maria and Ben
CS Maria

Flag of Spain  , Valencia,
Saturday, November 6, 2010

    Valencia, or should I say Valenthia(the proper way to say it, so I was taught by Valenthianos), was a city that I had only heard of because such things as Formula 1 and MotoGP.  I left Athens, having a  6 hour + stop over in Rome en route.  Thanks to Anna who printed off my tickets for me, she informed me that my second flight was departing from a different airport than the one I landed at.  Travel lesson 2478:  Always check which airport...some cities have multiple.  After an extremely overpriced train ride to the central station, I arrived at the other airport and tried to check my bag in.  The man at the counter told me in an Italian accent, "exxcuzi sirrrr...Youra tiket iz forra wan weeek from todaaay."  I looked at my ticket, and sure enough he was right.  Crap!  I had to be on that 720 flight to Valencia since I had bought tickets to the races that weekend, which started the next day.  On top of this, my couchsurfers were expecting me that evening.  I hate to be a person who says they are going to show up and don't.  So after a hefty cost to change the ticket for one later on that night, I went and sat down on the front steps of the airport.  It was a long day since I was early up packing, flying, airport security, carrying this monster pack around Rome for hours, and having to pay even more money that I was expecting.  I was s demoralized.  I remember completely zoning out thinking.......all I want right now....is to sit on MY couch back home, and not have to think about where I am going all the time.  Its mentally draining  always having to be on top of your game when navigating around.  When your on home turf, you can almost shut your brain off.    But I didn't want to let a few challenges like this ruin my visit to a new country.  I gave my head a shake and got excited again about the fact I was going check another item off my personal list of things to do before I die.  Watch a MotoGP race live....in Spain!   When my overpriced flight landed, It was time to make my way to my hostess Alines' place.  Aline is actually from Belgium but currently living in Spain.  She had given me her phone number, and that of her two roommates, Ben and Maria in case I ran into any problems.  After some horrible Spanish on my part, I somehow acquired a Sim card and gave them a shout to see where I was heading.   I got a hold of Aline but she was getting ready to go to work, so by the time I would arriving, Ben or Maria would come and fetch me at the tram.  After learning yet another public transit system...I was where I had to be... Pont du Fustas.   From the brief little bit of the city I had seen on my way there though, impressed me a lot.  Very clean, and that beautiful architecture style that the Spanish are known for.  Maria came running to the tram stop to take me back to the apartment.  Back at the apartment,  there were one of her classmates from Wisconsin, and his roommate sitting having a couple of drinks.  A nice and easy way to settle into a new place I figured.  It was funny because I met my CS's roommates before I even met her.  Maria is from Salamanka, a different part of Spain.  She was very warm and easy to talk with right away.  Then Ben, a German studying in Valencia as well came and introduced himself.  He had quite a bit of knowledge about the city considering he himself was a visitor there as well.  After we all got acquainted, and a few more drinks in us, they were going out for a night on the town, because almost every single night, there is a place that has something going on.  Aline had left me her Valenbyci card, which is a card used to borrow bikes all around the city.  It is a marvelous program they have there.  18 euro for a year of free bike rentals.  The city isn't really that big....you could travel around the city for a year for less than 20 euro!!  Fantastic idea.  We went to a bar at first that we weren't really feeling, so they decided to take me to a place called Batallion....or something like that.  It was actually on University property, and every Thursday night, all the students from the city come here to drink and be social. I was in for quite the surprise though, because it wasn't just like a few students.....it was like 4000 people in one area having a massive party at 2 am.  And apparently, this was a "quiet" night.  Sometimes the numbers can grow closer to the 8,000 person mark.  The majority of the people in the crowd though were from all over the world.  I meet more Belgians and Americans than I did Spanish, but it was still a great time.  Fun first taste of the city....but I was done come 3 am.  Just as I was getting ready for bed, Aline came home from her job, and we had our brief introduction.  Very sweet and smiley person.  I think I lucked out and met a great trio of people that could host me.     One of the most impressive parts of Valencia to me was its amazing park that runs right through the middle of the city.  It once used to be a river bed, but the river was re routed around the city.  Talks were made of turning this channel through the city into a highway.  Instead, they chose to turn it into several kilometers long park with running paths, bike paths, and fountains.  Trees are planted everywhere and the fact that it is lower than the traffic, it is peacefully quiet.  I enjoyed walking several times.     The next day, Aline and I went out to walk the city to take some pictures and see the sights.  She herself hadn't taken many picture of Valencia during her time there, so it wouldn't be a complete tour for just me.  Now I can't remember the names of everything thing that we saw, but we did get to see a lot.  On our way back towards the apartment, we noticed some man standing next to a motorcycle with all kinds of maps and flags around it.  Of course I was interested....so we walked over to take a gander.  The motorcycle was an older BMW model, covered in flags and stickers from just about every country of the world.  There was also a map laying across it with a newspaper article taped to it.  The bike had been "modified" to suit the riders needs shall we say.  The BMW motorcycles, for those of you who don't know, are known for being the adventurist bike of choice.  Many side panels you can buy for it, as well as other nifty gadgets that come in handy when in the middle of nowhere.  Instead of buying the factory accessories, this guy had literally strapped a suitcase to the side of his bike with ratchet straps.   The newspaper article that was tapped to the side of his bike was about his journey.  He had been riding around the world for 10 years, and at the age of 69 was trying to enter the Guinness book of world records as the first deaf and mute rider to ride all continents, including most of Russia.  This guy was my hero!!  This is a life long dream for me.  He was so eager to show me his picture albums he had tucked away in his many compartments, and I was eager to see!  Although he couldn't talk, he could see my enthusiasm.  Of the crowd of 15 or so people, he pulled me aside to try and explain a story through hand actions.  He pointed at Venezuela.... made a pistol sign.... fired off some shots....and made the sign of getting the hell Venezuela.   Long story short.....Bad stuff went down in there... mental note taken.  Could you imagine not only going to every country around the world, but not even being able to speak with or hear what people are saying?   That alone is quite an impressive feat.  After some laughs about it, we took a picture together because if I didn't leave soon, I could have stayed there and picked that mans brain for days getting travel ideas.  I had a permanent glow on my face for the next hour because of that guy.  :)  I just thought it was funny to meet this guy, on a weekend that was totally based on 2 two wheel fun.             The next couple days in Valencia were eaten up at the race track watching my beloved MotoGP races.  The track itself was just 20 kms from the city center in a town called Cheste.  I took a local bus there the morning of the race...not 100% sure of where to get off because Cheste was not the final destination.  Well it soon became very apparent that it wouldn't be hard....follow the people in motorcycle jackets.  All the helicopters in the air were also a bit of a give away.  Walking along the side of the highway  to the ticket pick office, packs of 20-30 street bikes would go rolling past revving engines.  For me, the sweet rumbles of a Ducati V twin engine sound as pure music.  Now imagine that to the power of 10 000 .  I was in my happy place.  The bike parking lot had literally 50 000 motorcycles.  The whole race weekend drew roughly two hundred thousand people +.  I found my seat on the first corner of the track, and just sat in awe.  These riders look almost as though they are defying gravity when they really get leaning into the corners.  Sometimes one rider leaning over another at 130 kms on a 70 degree angle?!  Coming down the straight away, these bikes are easily reaching speeds of 300 kms per hour.   Whoever is the crazier rider and waits to hit the brakes later than the next guy going into the corner.... gets that front line advantage.  Very little room for error.   Motorcycles that are around the 200 horsepower mark?!?!  That is literally having a rocket strapped between your legs.  As fast as you want to go...it will do it.  Ahhh..... Ok. sorry just had to get that out of my system.  Can you tell I was excited? :)        After the first day of qualifying was finished, I made my way back to the bus stop.  But when I go there, I realized that there was no schedule, or anything posted.  Just a sign in the ground.  I neglected to look at the running schedule before I left* (travel lesson learned).   I ended up waiting for 2 hours, I was just about to give up.  The only reason I hadn't tried to find a taxi at this point, was because all I had left for money was enough pocket change to take the bus, with no ATM's anywhere.  A Spanish couple  appeared at the bus stop as well, but I recognized them from the bus ride in the morning.   They asked me if this was where they could get the bus back to Valencia.  I just made he praying symbol and said that I hoped so.  They smiled and showed me the schedule.  Only....40 more mins......fantastic!  When we finally did get on the bus, we had to transfer to another bus going back to the city.  The couple made sure that I got off the bus with them so I didn't get lost.  It was very sweet of them to even keep me in mind.  When we got back to the city, I thanked them for the help, and got introduced. Gerome and Maria.  We also agreed to meet the following morning and go to the races together.  It's funny how you find the nicest people when you least expect it.  Thank you to the both of you.  I hope to some day visit you in the north of Spain!   After race weekend was over, I decided to make my hosts Aline, Maria and Ben some pizzas to say thank you, not only for the place to stay, but showing me a good time.  They had shown me the city, lent me their bikes, made a nice meal for me, and were just fun people to be around.  Thank you all three of you.  Roaming the streets late at nights looking for bars, or just sitting and talking in the living room, made for a good times.  Please keep in touch. :)    My last few nights I moved to another CS's place.  I don't like to stay put in one place for too long (if you haven't noticed by my traveling).  But even within a destination, I sometimes have to break it up between CS's because I don't want to overstay my welcome.  Again...these people are doing me the favor.  My host for the latter part of my time in Valencia, was a girl by the name of Maria.  Right away she showed me to my room, and made me feel like her casa was my casa, I was also introduced to her two friends Ines and Elisa.    Since Maria was very busy with school, she explained that she wouldn't have the time to show me around the city, which I totally understand.    I don't expect people to change anything for me.  Maria organized with her friend Ines to show me around the following day.  The interesting part was that her English was so so, and well...again my Spanish is practically non existent.  It made for an interesting day of roaming the city and getting to see it through a locals eyes.  Thank you so much Ines for showing me around and trying to teach my some Spanish....I know I was a horrible student, but your efforts did not go unnoticed.      On my final night in town, we had a great dinner and drank more than our share of wine.  At one point I went to go and pack and came back to Ines dancing around the living room.  It was a great way to end my stay in a city that was a complete last minute selection.  Good friends were made, great times were had.  Again I really lucked out to meet such a great group of people.  Elisa had even offered to drive me to the airport in the morning, which was super fantastic of her because that would save me and extra hour of lugging my huge pack on public transport during the morning rush.  Come morning time, all three of the girls woke up and drove me to the airport to see me off.  It was disappointing that I only got to spend really 36 some odd hours with them.  Thank you Maria for answering my message, helping me out, and showing me such a good time in the short amount of time provided.  Please thank Elisa and Ines for me as well, the three of you will not be forgotten.  Cheers!!  Now as per norm, the wheels had to stay moving on this trip.  My next destination would be Berlin via Frankfurt.  I will get you all up to date soon....Sorry for all the delays, and thank you for still reading.  Bye for now.
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