It has finally begun and I am beginning my life in Europe. Thank you to all that wished me well before my departure and thanks to all that sang along to the sub-par guitar playing at my farewell. Thanks must also go to Gary Black for the personalised photo which should keep me warm on those lonely nights.
I flew out on the 14th of July from a cold Adelaide Airport. Six and a half hours later I was in a hot and humid Singapore Airport. Here I had a 5 hour stopover which was perfect for Burgerking.
In Singapore Airport they accept most major currencies which saved me having to get hit by huge transfer fees. After a while I decided to let the plums breathe by getting into a pair of shorts as I was heading towards the European Summer.
The second of my flights took me from Singapore to Barcelona with a short fuel stop in Milan. I pre-booked my seats to be at the back and it turned out I had nobody sitting next to me for the whole flight. After watching back to back episodes of Flight of the Conchords I tried to get some sleep lying across my whole row but it has now definitely been established, I cannot sleep on planes. How was I going to pass the next twelve hours? The movies were terrible and most of the TV shows I wanted to watch weren’t available. I would just have to spend my time watching Tom Cruise’s poor attempt at sounding German in Valkyrie and play two-hundred games of Sudoku.
On the upside, the food was good and I made sure I got my moneys worth by eating everything they could throw at me.
We arrived to a wet Milan where I didn’t have to leave the plane thankfully. One hour later we were on the move to Barcelona and the sun came out. After a quick bag search by the drug police I was out of the airport and Conchin was waiting for me. Really good to see her after so long. From here we began the long drive from Barcelona to Valencia. I was trying to keep my eyes open which was made easier by the crazy Spanish driving. Please note, speed limits are just a guide to use loosely.
After a lengthy journey we finally arrived to Valencia where we went to a village just outside the city called La Canyada.
This is where Conchin’s Auntie and Uncle lived and where we would be staying for my first week. Not a bad start to my trip to Spain to have a swimming pool and house to use at my leisure.
My eyes finally closed and I got my first bit of sleep for two days but it didn’t last long because we were expected for dinner with more Spanish friends I met in Vienna. This is the point where I had to begin adjusting to the Spanish lifestyle. Dinner at ten is the norm and just to think, Dad would have already been asleep for over an hour at this time. After a couple of glasses of Sangria I started to fall asleep at the table.
The week had passed and I had spent my time swimming and lying around in the sun whilst still trying to recover from jetlag.
We moved back in with Conchin’s parents and it should be noted that they both don’t speak English. During this week I went to my first bullfight. I met Carlos, a friend of Conchin’s, and a heap of his friends for a quick pre-game filled with beer and shots. The guys were good to me making sure I paid for nothing and trying their English out on me. We made the walk in forty-five degree heat to the Plaza de Toros and took our seats. The atmosphere was amazing with the constant shouting of ‘ole’ and the hush that surrounds the ring when the Matador is going for the killer blow. Once the sun went down it became even better as I didn’t have sweat pouring off my body.
On the Friday Will, an English mate from Vienna, arrived to Valencia. This night I was invited to a party in the Village of Torrent by some of the guys from the Bullfight.
The party involves the whole village and the theme is water so I had to be prepared to get wet. We started off with a Tapas dinner which once again, we got looked after with the final bill. Then we made our way into the party getting soaked by sprinklers up above. Torrent is famous for the shots they produce which the name escapes me but they have a really strong burning taste. Guys were walking around with water cannon filled with this alcohol and squirting into our mouths.
Saturday we made our way to the beach for Paella which is the famous dish of Valencia. It is a rice dish with chicken or fish and topped with snails. This time around I gave the snails a miss. During the night we made our way to another village for their village party. The theme for this party is to close off the town centre and let a bull loose. This is not to be mistaken with Pamplona’s running of the bulls. In this case there is only one bull and his horns have fireworks attached to them.
This was really good to watch from a distance as people scampered around the flaming bull.
The final night of Will’s stay we spent in the Barrio del Carmen which is the historic part of the city. The streets are lined with bars and restaurants with people sitting outside enjoying the summers night. We had dinner at a cider bar then made our way from bar to bar drinking gin and tonic.
During my final week we made our way to Bio-Park which is an African zoo in the city. Here I got to see a large range of animals and a giraffe get turned down for sex. On the Thursday we were invited to visit a winery owned by one of Conchin’s friends. It was amazing to see the size of their vineyards and that they have still restored the original ways of making wine including an underground storage section.
On Saturday we had to drive to Alicante so I could catch my plane to London. After a few dramas in the airport I was finally on my way and about to begin my real-life.