There is a coastal town east of Madrid that is often overlooked by the bigger Barcelona. It is the home of plazas of antiquity and modern observatories of science. It has cathedrals that will blow your mind in its scale and intricacy of design. On the other side of the city, newer developments have laid claim to some epic buildings, including the largest aquarium in the world. Oh yeah, did I mention the Mediterranean Sea? This, ladies and gentlemen....is Valencia!
The train ride there was less than eventful, though we arrived safe and sound after 6 hours of rocking and shaking through the countryside in Spain. I was amazed on how untouched the earth was in the countryside. Of course there are farms and buildings that may not have been around 500 years ago (some houses appeared pretty ancient, and farms have been around...well, since Mesopotamia, but that's neither here nor there), but I feel that the terrain has not changed much over the centuries upon centuries of rich history that the Eastern portion of Spain has. Hannibal's Carthaginian army brought 50,000 soldiers, including some 500 elephants, in 218 B.C. through the same mountains that we crossed in 2011 A.D.. I'm not accustomed to that kind of human history. I assume I was the only person on the train that had that particular historical event on their mind, but just looking out the train window and imagining such a force is astounding.
Upon discovery of the city of Valencia, we traveled by metro (subway) to the center of city known as Colon. Our first mission was to find a proper youth Hostel that the four of us could stay. After literally being laughed at for asking if we could all stay in the same room (yes, it was asked and the woman burst into laughter...how cruel, eh?) we were able to find a place to accommodate us. After putting down our gear in our new home, we walked about the town for a meal. We found a quaint cafe in one of the narrow streets that I have grown so fond of since being in Europe. We sat outside, it being almost 15 degrees (that's in Celsius by the way), it was practically summer time in Spain. While being outside, what appeared as the local chapter of the Hell's Angels appeared and started a bit of a ruckus. We decided to move inside for a mixture of safety and peace. After a phenomenal meal and a few beers, we were on our way home. We made the perfect turns to end up at the Plaza de la Virgen which was absolutely beautiful.