The 23rd of December saw me going home for Christmas. Leaving my flat at 12, I knew that it would be a long day, but it was only made worse by a two hour delay in the airport as the plane first landed late, then we were waiting for forty minutes on the runway to be allowed to take off, and finally another 20 in Gatwick because the step-person didn’t know we had landed, because you know, an airplane landing is super easy to miss. All this meant I missed my train home and was stuck with a 5 hour train journey changing four times… Arriving home at 2.3o am freezing cold, I barely made it into bed before falling asleep!

However, it was all worth it to be able to spend the best Christmas ever with my family! And of course, to eat the best Christmas dinner ever, thanks Mum!

The day after, Laura arrived, and for her Christmas present we went to London to see the Crown jewels. And, after our brief visit back to England it was time to leave once more for Valencia. After running through the airport we just about caught the plane and I was left remembering an amazing Christmas spent with my amazing family.

As soon as we landed it was obvious we were back in Spain, having changed from -3º to 21º, it was like landing in a sauna, especially considering I was still wearing two jumpers and a coat!

Having landed in Alacant, we went to explore a near-by town called Xixona, where the traditional Spanish Christmas sweet “Turrón” is made and after eaten we started the journey up to Carcaixent, Laura’s home town, driving through some incredible mountain scenery.

The next day was New Year’s Eve, and it was the first time we have celebrated it in Spain. We went to the new restaurant in town with Laura’s parents and her uncle and aunt and enjoyed a 6 course menu waiting for the bells to ring in the New Year. This was the first time that I had eaten the lucky grapes (Spanish New Years tradition) and its fair to say it didn’t go to plan, as the TV stream of the bells in the puerta del sol in Madrid (the Spanish version of Big Ben’s chimes) wasn’t working and one of the chefs had to hit a pan every time they rang on his phone. Our table was clearly the most involved in the party and we celebrated it again at 1 o’clock for “my” new year…

A couple of days later we visited a town called Anna and were given a guided tour of the castle by the chief of police. The castle, although it was fairly small, was stunningly beautiful, mixing Spanish and Arab influences and creating an amazing snapshot of Moorish Valencia.

And then the fast paced Christmas activities turned towards my first ever ReisReis, or Reyes in Castilian is the Catholic country’s Christmas, and is celebrated on the day of the Epiphany. In Spain it is bigger than Christmas and this was clear with the parade and the three kings sat in the shopping centre à la Santa’s Grotto. The “kings” (Laura and her parents) gave me a weekend away in Cuenca in February which I’m super excited for! And the Kings (me) gave Laura a weekend away in Madrid, so I’ve FINALLY got some exploring planned outside of València!

And then it was back to the cruel reality of 6.3o am alarms, hour long trains and classes, which brings an end to my first blog post in over a month.