As the my amazing year began in Europe was quickly winding to an end, I had one last big trip to go one during my European experience. I was certainly going out with a bang! During my winter holidays, I first flew to Valencia, Spain on the east coast of Spain – Once again with RyanAir. My plan was to fly to Spain on December 14th and then make my way back up through Spain, France, Luxemburg and Belgium by train en route back home to Deggendorf sometime after New Years. In Spain, I visited and stayed with students who I’d met in Deggendorf during their my first semester and who were already back at their home universities.
In Valencia, I stayed with my Dutch friend Laure. She was kind enough to take me through Valencia for a day and show me this beautiful city. This place was truly amazing. There is such a distinction between historic and modernistic here. Flying in at night I saw some of the amazing buildings on the outskirts of the city but to see them in person was mind blowing.
First of course, was the old town and more historic sites of Valencia where the whole city center is closed off to cars. Some photos here are from atop the old city gate that used to protect the city.
Then by foot made it to the modern side of Valencia. The path there is through what is today a park but used to be a water way.
After a great day in Valencia I took 1 hour train south to Gandia to visit Francis. Francis was my neighbor my first semester in Deggendorf and one of my first friends at the university. This small university town on the beach is a dream location for studying. I can understand why you might want to stay in college here an extra year or two. While it was nearly Christmas time but yet it was still sunny and 15C! A lot better than snow, rain and ice in Germany. In Gandia I saw many Spanish students from my first semester in Deggendorf such as Florencia and Nuria and students who studied in Deg the semester before I came. We all went out to celebrate being back together and had a great time. I really hope I get to see these friends again. It’s always such a fun, enjoyable atmosphere together. They will all be missed!
Now, the true train travels began. My plan was to make it back to Bayonne with the Lopes family where I was this summer for Christmas. On the way, I stopped for a few days in Madrid to see Marien, a girl who played on my softball team in Deggendorf and studied there too. With her girlfriends and roommate we cooked some great meals together and did our last minute Christmas shopping. Madrid had a great open market that weekend and was packed with people. This was my second time to Madrid this year and it only strengthened my position as finding Madrid a much more beautiful and enjoyable city than Barcelona! But maybe that’s influence by having such great connections there too :)
While in Madrid, Marien, her friend from France and I saw an English showing of “The Town” and I thought it was a great film! The last night there we met up with Bea and some other friends. Bea studied in Deggendorf as well and lived in my same building. This trip was truly great to visit all of my friends from the first semester in their home environment. I hope one day they come see me in California!
On a rainy Tuesday morning I made my way from Madrid to Bayonne, France. The "shoe shaped" high-speed trains in Spain were REALLY nice and had movies like an airplane. They even passed out complementary packaged headphones in a box. I didn’t even know what this box was at first when they were offering it to me. There was hardly anyone on these trains as well and better yet, they don’t control on the trains. Yes, you had to scan your bags and check your tickets at the counter (just like an airplane) but their system is only set up to scan the reservation that I had to additionally purchase from them for a few euros. So these day travels in Spain did not even take days off my rail pass. Who would have known?! [slideshow]
[gallery link="file" order="DESC"]