Alright I know what you’re going to be thinking: NIKKI WHY WOULD YOU DO THAT? YOU COULD’VE BEEN KIDNAPPED OR SOLD AS A SEX SLAVE! SHORT WHITE JEWISH GIRLS DON’T TRAVEL ALONE. OMG YOU’RE A NUTBALL! ASLKHFDCJ’A;SLDF;’;ALS;FZN
Well, first of all, I went to Valencia (about three and half hours southeast of Madrid, along the coast of the Mediterranean), and it was just a day trip-calm down my nice Jewish grandparents. And second- solo traveling is not scary.
I choose Valencia for two reasons: Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias and paella. The museum of arts and sciences is also home to L’Oceanographic which is the famous aqaurium in this city and one of the top aqauariums in the entire world (fact, look it up).
I got up before the crack of dawn to get ready for my trip since my bus was leaving at 7 am! I arrived at around 11:30am and immediately ventured off. First things first, coffee. I sat perched at a coffee shop in the center of Valencia (and soon to be raging heat), Plaza de la Reina. Speaking of the weather conditions, it was to be 85 and absolutely sunny and beautiful. Perfect day to be out and about so I chose the right day to visit. I’m very glad I wore a cute sundress and converse shoes. My walk from the bus station to the plaza took about 40 minutes and on the way, I noticed a lot of people on runs/walks enjoying the beachy weather.
After my cup of joe (con leche of course) and some quick journaling, I headed off to Ciudad de Las Artes y Las Ciencias. I took the scenic route and walked there from the city center. It took about 45 minutes but I got to see all the different shops and restaurants on my way. Arriving at the museums, let me just say, are absolutely STUNNING. The museum is set in a large area and all the buildings are very modern looking with a touch of steel. The architecture is what makes the Ciudad really stand out as a popular tourist attraction in Valencia.
Althouh, Ciudad is home to seven different buildings, what I planned on seeing was L’Oceanographic, the largest oceanographic aquarium in all of Europe. This places puts the Shedd Aquarium to shame, to say I was impressed is an understatement. Partially underground and mainly outside, the aquarium was the highlight of my trip. I even saw the dolphin show! Now, I’m not much of a fan of animals (I’m looking at you SeaWorld…) being caged up purely for the entertainment of humans, but I definitely enjoyed my time here. I spent about two hours wandering around on my own, learning and being amazed at all the marine and wetland wildlife they had to offer there. The sharks were my favorite exhibit, they really are amazing animals with interesting lives (can you tell I’m already excited for #sharkweek?)
After my tour, I realized that I was on a time crunch and had to race to get my beloved paella! Valencia is home to paella, this is where it originated so obviously, this is the best city in the world to eat the most famous Spanish dish. Most of the restaurants close at 4 for siesta and it was 2:30 by the time I finished at Oceanographic. I quickly cabbed it to the Paella restaurant recommended to me, Bodego de la Sarieta. The servers were very friendly, and could tell by my accent that I’m not a native Spanish speaker sooooo “hablas en espanol por favor?”. My oh my was this meal delicious! It was also pretty filling so I was good for the rest of the day.
After I ate (happy mom?) I walked around the streets of Valencia for awhile, going in and out of some cute boutiques until I decided to head down to the beach. I decided to try to figure out the bus system and I arrived on the sandy beach about an hour later. Like a good Girl Scout, I was prepared and had packed my small travel towel, this gave me a chance to sit on the beach and journal. I also walked along the shore people watching and enjoying the beautiful weather and ocean waves in front of me. The beach was filled with people soaking up the sun. Not many were in the water because it was a bit windy but still nice enough to walk around in a bathing suit.
Once I got enough sand in between my toes, I exited the beach and caught the next bus to head back downtown. I was in a hurry because my bus back to Madrid was leaving soon and I couldn’t leave without ice cream! I made a stop at llao llao, which is a Spanish yogurt franchise famous for its all natural yogurt. Muy delicioso. After picking up my yogurt, I wandered around some more, this time in the direction I needed to head while at the same time, gazing at the beautiful sunset. I soon made my way back to the bus station and made the four hour trip back to Madrid!
-ALWAYS let someone know where you are. I told my roommates ahead of time that I was going to be gone for the day. As always, I also texted my mom when I arrived/departed and I told my program director that I was going alone. Very important you tell someone you’re traveling alone so you don’t fall off the face of the earth and no one has any idea where you are.
-Google Maps all day everyday. This app tells you everything you need to know in terms of transportation and different routes to get to where you need to go. This was the app I used throughout the entire day so use it wisely and well.
-Pros: you are alone. You get to plan your entire day based on what YOU want to do and your preferences. Cons: you are alone. Sometimes, it kind of sucked not having anyone to talk to. Try going through an entire museum without having a conversation with someone about it after!
-Be very aware of your surroundings. This is also a no-brainer for anybody when they travel but just don’t stick out as a target by being a complete stereotypical tourist and really have a plan of where you’re going. Being a petite woman, I made sure to not look lost because then it would’ve been easy for someone to take advantage of me but hey I might be small but I am ~*FiErCe*~!!
-Wear good walking shoes (this should be a no-brainer anywhere). In order to still look cute and not be uncomfortable the entire day, I wore my white converse. It matched my outfit and my feet weren’t sore or dirty.
That’s all for my solo day trip to Valencia! Starting tomorrow, I will begin my field study through my study abroad program by traveling to Cordoba, Seville and Granada (4/18-4/21). After that, since we have the whole week off from school, I will be journeying to London for the weekend! I still have a few weeks left of my program, but it’s getting too real that it’s ending soon.