domingo, 30 de septiembre de 2007

24 hours in the life of...

Sunday night 22.31 pm, this is the conclusion to what's been an impressive week-end of various events. I'll try to start at the beginning but the story might jump as my mind wanders through memories.

The real starts would be thursday morning, as I went to pick up my little brother Ilan from the airport, who came to visit me for 5 days and is staying until tuesday. I decided to skip thursday's 8 o'clock class (somehow the appeal of waking up at 7 for a 3 hour class of a course I might turn out to be rejected from anyway didn't match up to sleeping in a bit more, and headed towards the university by metro. Music on my ears and a book in hand, there's nothing more enjoyable than relaxing on a trip that will take long enough for you to stop caring exactly which stop you're at. Besides, the aeropuerto (yes you're gonna learn some spanish) is the final stop anyway. I get out of the metro, take the electrical stairs, and as I enter the main hall, I notice a strangely familiar girl walk me by with a holiday luggage. She looks at me with the same where-could-I-possibly-know-you-from look as I had, until we realized she was my dutch friend Dimitri's ex-roommate back in Delft. Not that we ever really spoke to each other (in Delft), but the quirky circumstances deserved a little 'euhm, what are you doing here' chat. Turns out she was here to visit a dutch friend whom she had been on earsmus with some years ago. That same friend, was now getting married with a spanish guy she had met here in Valencia. Just goes to say: you never really know where a little adventure might take you to. As for me, I wouldn't mind it taking me to eternal fame, wealth and a private beach of my own, but I guess marriage is quite a cool outcome (for her, not me, I'm sticking to my beach :-)

So we exchanged phone numbers (and never called), and I continued my way to the Arrival Gate 3. I had been there only a month before, waiting for Anna the other dutch erasmus, to come out of that same gate. There's just something about these arrival gates. Somehow the contrast between the deadly boredom of waiting outside, and the fantastic potential that could be behind these sliding doors is just a killer. I mean, you're waiting outside, and you've got nothing to do, and flights keep getting delayed, and people keep coming out like droplets, and it's just never the person you're waiting for. At least, not before another hour or so. But your mind, is just buzzing with expectations and wonder. Has the person landed yet? Is it looking for it's bag? Are these other strangers from the same flight? Is he walking to the exit right now? Or now? Maybe now? The answer, 586 times of of 587, is of course a big fat NO. Anyway, after half hour or so, I decided I might as well engage a fellow waiter in a conversation, seeing I had already read through the whole crappy English newspaper I had found on a seat, filled mostly with cheap rumours and local news. The chewing-gum equivalent of nutrition amongst the newspapers range. So I walked up to my fellow waiter, who I had guessed must be waiting for the same belgian flight as me. Turns out she was here on erasmus for a year, studying Law and waiting for her visiting parents. I asked her about the cool places to visit here in Spain (as I asked anybody else who has already been around). Basically the same names keep popping up: Sevilla, Granada, Barcelona... Somehow nobody said 'Madrid' so far. That's about when both her parent and my little brother poppped out of the magic slidedoors and we headed to the exit. Oh, we stopped by the little tourist centre, as the dutch ex-housemate told me it's the day of the tourist and she got a free metro pass. But then when I went there, all we got was a shitload of maps and actually a nice little bag or Oxata (remind me to tell you about those).

Headed back home on the metro and we dropped my little brother's stuff in my room, and decided we should hit the beach (couldn't really come up with a better thing to do, and the weather was nice). However, once we were there, we discovered there was a loud wind blowing on the shore, which kind of made the temperature feel like freezing-degrees and the sea... well not that attractive anymore :) But we came all the way already and so we pumped ourselves on the thought that once we'd be in the water, it would probably be ok. .. ... It wasn't. We did apply my latest method of entering the water: Running like a fool until you either trip or the water is deep enough to take the plunge. (It's actually nicer when you dive, because tripping in undeep water can be a bummer). I'm not saying I invented the method, but so far, I've been an adept of the 'little-by-little' approach. Also called the 'Ouh-ah-ouououh' method, seeing as with every wave, you discover a new part of your body that used to be warm a second ago, before being turned to wet-freezing temperature. So I convinced my brother to run along (although he had been suspicious) and we soon discovered the water does not necessarily turn out to be warmer than you expected. Sometimes, it's just as cold as your little brother predicted it to be. Therefor, we ran out of the water as fast as we had run into it :) We decided to remain on the dry side of the shoreline and enjoy the sun, until we went home.

Thursday night was going to be our very first Tapas-in-town kind of evening. Old town. Thing is, with everyone of us living in the student neighbourhood (nearer to the university, outside of old town), we never really spent our nights there. And so thursday night was tapas in town night. For clarity's sake, when I say we, I mean: Lizzie (Austrian), Verena (German), Klara (German), Anna (Dutch), Pascal (renamed Pascual, Dutch), Tania (Australia) and Lionel (French). Sometimes, Walter (American) and Jimmy (Australian) come along. We all met up at Plaza de la virgen in the old town before heading into the trendy quarter called Barrio del Carmen. It's basically the heart of the nightlife in the old city. We hoped to find a place with affordable tapas, but it wasn't as easy as we thought. The funny part was going back to the hostel were I slept my first night in Valencia, and ask the same receptionist (who remembered me and the two dutch girls) where we could eat tapas. She actually recommended a place right behind the corner, after which I told her we'd be back if we ever need an Italian restaurant, and we checked the recommended Las Cuevas. It seemed quite authentic and attractive, if it wasn't for the fact we couldn't sit outside and enjoy the good evening weather. So we headed into the little streets of Barrio del Carmen and looked for the tapas bar recommended by our little Lonely Planet. But then the prices weren't as cheap as we hoped for, and we started just walking back (as we had seen so many other places on the way), and decided we'd just take the first cheap one we find.

Not so easy. But we ended up entering a tapas bar that wasn't very full or attractive; the kind that prints their menu on coloured printed pages and puts them in office-supply transparent sheets with holes in them for filing. I think word I'm looking for is "professional" :) But behold, that little underestimated bar ended up being a very good surprise. (Isn't life amazing like that?). More and more people entered the little bar as we commented on the snowball-phenomenon that must have been taking place. The tapas were cheap though mainly focused on seafood (no thanks) and porc (no thanks), so I ordered grilled zuchini and patatas bravas (potatoes), while my little brother has grilled eggplant and codfish croquettes (quite nice actually). The table soon filled with heaps of plates and we tried each other's plates in euhpory, the way only very hungry people do.

After that, we decided to go for a drink in another bar. Again, search and search for one that's not full, not too expensive, allows us to only drink etc. And that's how we arrived at Cafe de la Seu, a stylishly colorful bar filled with stylishly colourful people (or so we thought). On the TV, madonna's concert was playing silently and we got into a conversation praising that 50 year old (45? 38?) singer. No, performer. No, simply uber-cool woman. Anyway, all praise. Looking around, I started noticing little framed pictures of naked torso's. Artistic, of course, but... Looking around again, I take a second look at that group of ten guys having a drink together. Is one of them... is that a sailor shirt he's wearing? And the waiter, he's kind of... gay, no? I say 'euhm, guys, I think we're in a gay bar'. And we all went 'Aaaaaaahhh'. And sneeked some more looks around, distinctly more mischievous this time. Funny, same people, same bar, but now looking feels a bit like staring feels a bit like we're not supposed to. So we act cool about it. It's actually cool. Like I said, colourful, stylish, and the mint thee that Pascual ordered looks amazing, from the thee can with the little round grid with which you can press the leaves down, to the little cookies and the actually fresh mint in the first place. Cool... Heh, I had a strawberry juice. Quite original, yet so fitting here. And then we talked about relationships and it was funny how we all did give examples, yet never names or personal details. Only 'persons'. "you know how sometimes this one person seems to... but then the other person... and you think.... will that person ever...". I wonder how and what we'll talk about a year from now. Will we know pretty much everything from each other? Would we still have to talk or could we read each other the way only family and best friends can? Ah... like Walter (legendarily) says 'Ah guys, I'm so glad to be here'. Life is good indeed. And then we walked back home except for Klara who was the lucky one, having bought a bike one week before at the black market (another blog entry of its own right.)

Wow, all this words for only thursday. So before I forget, (and I promise I'll fill in the details soon; friday classes (grafismo + animation) then pizza+movie in the evening. Saturday late wake-up call, beach again (this time with newly bought towels and no wind), then tapas again (this time right on the corner of my street, delicious, and then over to Verena's house for hanging around with more erasmus folks) then sunday, today, unforgettably Black Market and picnic in the Turia Rio (ex-river, now a parc) and then organizing our trip to Barcelona.

Voila, it's 23.39, and I better go to sleep since classes tomorrow are at at lovely 8am.
But I have a race bike now and I should have the luxury of leaving at 7.56am from my house.
One song away from the amazing world of Valencia's finest university, renowned for its administrative labyrinth and its exquisite taste in the absurd.



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