After spending the summer apart, Aeriel and I reunited at the Orlando airport. We took an overnight flight to Copenhagen, Denmark, where we had a half day layover. We were semi-excited to see the city. After our few hours there, we were excited to leave. Of course it’s not fair to judge an entire city after spending only a few hours in it, nevertheless, our opinion is that Copenhagen is a cold, dreary, overpriced city that lacks charm.
4 nights in Barcelona
When we arrived in the warm, lively, affordable and charming city of Barcelona, I was elated. I was finally back in Spain, where I studied abroad four years ago, and at long last, we were on the first stop on our European tour after 9 months of planning.
We were in Barcelona near the height of the Catalonia independence movement so we saw a lot of protests and demonstrations. Besides that, we mainly just saw tourists. Tourists everywhere. No matter where went in the city, we were surrounded by fellow tourists. We prefer to live like the locals do, so while we enjoyed our time in Barcelona, it wasn’t ideal. The first authentic Spanish experience we had was getting on the bus to Valencia.
4 nights in Valencia
We had already fallen in love with Valencia before we arrived. We read about it on the Internet and discovered it’s basically a smaller, cleaner, warmer, cheaper Barcelona. British people love going there, but other than that, it’s kind of a hidden gem. It’s right on the Mediterranean and it’s the birth place of paella, horchata and a delicious drink called “el agua de Valencia” (the water of valencia). If you order “a cup of Valencia,” you’ll get a large glass of orange juice, champagne, gin, vodka and sugar. Yum.
We spent our five days there exploring the city and searching for the neighborhood we want to live in during November. After travelling to many destinations for the first five weeks of our time in Europe, we’re going to slow down and stay put in Valencia for all of November.
The city was as nice as we imagined it would be. It made us realize how much nicer Europe is than Buenos Aires. I know that might sound obvious, but Buenos Aires is always touted as a half European city, a step above the rest of Latin America, but it’s nowhere near the level of cleanliness, organization and safety as Europe. When Aeriel and I saw a bus stop with an electronic screen telling us when the next bus would arrive, we nearly teared up.
6 nights in Bilbao
The stop I was looking forward to the most was Bilbao, the city where I studied abroad in 2013. My host family said we can stay with them and it was great to see them again. I saw some old friends, returned to old haunts, and we even went mushroom hunting with my host dad in a valley outside the city.
We also saw a prison on the beach and went to a church on top of a mountain. Typical Bilbao stuff. Not much had changed in the city since I had left. It felt like going to a history museum of my life.