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Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Back from Spain

This is my first real post since I got back from Spain.  Had a great time but it was a very quiet holiday, really. Not much partying to be had. (Apart from one mad night which involved copious amounts of cocktails and some ill-advised dancing.  And neighbours at the door at 4am.) 

My plan had been to go and get an awesome tan before coming back home for my cousin's wedding but the weather wasn't all that great.  Nice enough for most of the time but the night before I was going to go to the beach there was a storm - thunder, lighting, the works... - and we got soaked. And then the next day was kind of cloudy so we didn't go.  Never mind, I went a kind of golden brown so that was good enough in the end.  Probably better for the skin, too!

I went for lunch with my friends to this cool Colombian restaurant, and it was really tasty!  Lots of good eating!  We also went to see the Shakira concert, which was good fun, though I hadn't been a huge Shakira fan before we went.  In the end there were about 7 of us there and she put on a really good show.  We all went to celebrate my friend Fran's birthday - he was dying to see her, so me and him went along during the day to camp out and get a good space in the queue.  When we arrived there were already about 100 people there waiting, so we set up camp and waited it out through belting sun, rain, and clouds for about 5 hours!  It was worth it though cause Fran was so excited.  Here's a pic of him just after we arrived and marked our territory, well prepared with sun hats, parasols, water, beer, munchies, and iPods:


One day whilst I was there I hopped off the bus on a whim and had a wander about a market that I'd just passed.  It was all painted in bright reds, oranges, and yellows outside and I just couldn't help myself!  So I went in and bought myself a quarter kilo of cherries for 90 cents, and they were so good I almost couldn't believe it!  I'd forgotten how amazing the sweet cherries are when they're in season and I scarfed almost the whole lot as I wandered about looking at the other stands.  I couldn't eaten a kilo, I'm sure, but I probably would have paid for it later! 

Some of the other things I forgot I liked about Spain:

1.  Fountains all over the place.  In the tiniest, grubbiest of squares, you'll often find a fountain.  Or on a roundabout, or in front of a bank or official building.  And they're always turned on, and they're always immaculate - no rubbish thrown in, nice clear sparkling water.  And most people don't even notice them because they're all over the place.  Well, I always did, even when I was living in Spain, cause I love them!  And here's one just in a normal roundabout in a quiet street I walked down.  Lovely!


2.  Buildings in lovely colours.  I don't know who chooses the colours to paint buildings, if they're colour co-ordinated, or if the council just got a good deal on coloured paints, but everywhere you go you see rows of buildings all painted different colours.  Some of them are bright, vibrant colours, others are pastels but they all look fresh and clean, and make wandering about a wee bit more cheerful.  Here's a building that caught my eye in the Russaffa area of Valencia.  I loved the balconies, as well as the nice paint job...

One more thing to tell you about, and that is:

3. the trees!  There are trees everywhere in Valencia, you can't walk down a single street without seeing them and there are loads of different kinds.  The ones you notice most, I guess, are the orange trees.  These are everywhere, and they're all full of giant, heavy fruit.  Quite often you'll see an orange splattered on the ground where it's fallen out of the tree, though I've never seen anyone get hit, yet.

If you walk around at twilight then the orange blossom starts to open and the air is filled with this incredible heady scent that lingers and seems to envelope you as you walk about.  It's a wonderful smell, and is maybe the strongest memory I have of living in Valencia.  I used to walk home from my work at the school at 10pm and, passing a row of orange trees, I would smell this incredible blossom and feel very content.  Even after a hideous class, of which there were many. 

This time, I didn't get a photo of an orange tree, but I did snap a couple of palm trees, which are also all over the place, even in the middle of the city.  This photo was taken at the beach, and these are the big tall palm trees rather than the wee fat ones that look like pineapples, which are actually more common.  I love this photo though, perfectly timed intersection by Fran!

Of course there are things I hated about living in Spain, too: bank queues, supermarkets (the stupid layout, the lazy, slow staff, the massive queues, the fact that there's no express queue...), people quite conversationally informing you that you've gotten fat or had a bad hair cut... but never mind that for now, this post is about some happy memories, so I hoped you enjoyed  photos! 

And if you're looking for a new holiday destination on the Med, you could do far worse than go to VLC.

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