This week I finally started my British Council placement! It was… interesting. Between the kid who decided that he wanted to throw himself out of a second floor window and the one who started to shout “que te den por culo” when she was sent out of class (I’m not going to translate that) and the 5.20am alarms, it’s certainly been an experience! It’s been weird speaking “English” again, albeit a weird, please-understand-me-English, it sounds like a foreign language to me already!
Thursday I was treated to almost front row seats to see the València-Real Madrid basketball match thanks to Rafa, who unable to go gave me his season ticket pass to be able to watch “the match” of the league. Even though the result was disappointing for us (75-94), and at times I had no idea what was happening (why was there a car on the court all of a sudden???) the atmosphere made it a surreal experience, a closed cauldron of noise with a lot of abuse towards the Madrid players and the refs (umpires?). “Sorroll Afició!” (Noise, fans!)
Then on Saturday it was time to finally be a tourist! After meeting Jess and Charlotte in front of estació del nord, we went to explore the historic centre. This weekend was Nou d’Octubre, the day that València was liberated from the Moorish conquerers in 1238, meaning that the first ever Senyera (Valencian Flag) was being displayed in the ayuntamiento (Town Hall) guarded by some very official looking guards. They weren’t quite the Royal Guard at Buckingham Palace but it was still very impressive to see the 18kg flag being protected in such a way.
After it was time to hit the Cathedral, where much to my surprise and annoyance, they have recently started to make you pay to enter! Although 4,50€ isn’t expensive, the only change to the cathedral that I could see from when I visited a year ago was that they had installed free wifi, which I wasn’t going to use being in a church! Even so, it was still a nice visit, with the two Goya paintings and the Holy Grail (yes, really! It is said that it was taken from Rome by St Lawrence in anticipation of a persecution and was looked after by the kings of Spain until it was given to the Valencian Cathedral in the XV Century. Experts agree that it is the real Santo Caliz). Then to the top of the tower, climbing 207 steps to get the best views of the city from above. Old meets new with the mix of architecture ranging from the Torres de Serrano y Quart to the stunning modernism of the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències complex.
After a quick Paella Valenciana (no fish and DEFINITELY no chorizo!) it was time to say goodbye to the historic centre (and to Laura who went to see her parents) and go to the Ciutat de les Arts i les Ciències (City of Arts and Sciences). The futuristic architecture of this complex always takes my breath away and on catching their first sight of the hemisferic walking down the ramp, the conversation suddenly stopped to be replaced by “oh my God”s.
Time was running short by now, so instead of doing the whole complex in one day (well, in three hours in reality) we decided to just do the Oceanogràfic. Asking for three student entrances in the ticket office would be easy, we thought. Except for the fact that unlike in the airport, they actually check that the photo on your ID is you. Charlotte, you should never have dyed your hair! What should have been a straightforward, 5 minute maximum transaction took almost twenty minutes to complete as three separate people checked Charlotte’s ID, and only accepted it when she produced three different types! Turns out that its easier to get into the country than the aquarium…
In the end though, it was worth the wait, especially the for the dolphin show. Watching dolphins playing football, singing and dancing in the warmth of the Valencian early evening was the perfect way to finish our long day!