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Madrid and Valencia

SPAIN | Tuesday, 5 July 2016 | Views [402]

My time in Spain continues with Madrid and Valencia. A quick side note: I know some of y'all were concerned due to the attack on the airport in Istanbul. I had originally planned on going to Turkey, yes, but in light of recent events I have decided that I, unfortunately, need to skip Turkey. Anyway, continuing on!


My time in Madrid was pretty relaxed. I was there for four full days but could have easily been there for one or two days and been perfectly fine. I mostly wandered around various places in the city and did not really do much "tourist" stuff. There were two things, however, that I definitely recommend that you do if you find yourself in Madrid.

1. Parque del Buen Retiro. It's kind of like Madrid's Central Park. It's huge with lots of benches for reading and people watching, grassy areas for picnics, and cafes for bocadillos (sandwiches on baguettes)' churros with hot chocolate, and other lunch foods. Toward the middle of the park is a decently large, man-made lake where you can rent boats for. I went there like everyday just to relax and people watch.

2. National Archaeology Museum. This museum is pretty incredible. It's four floors of displays from throughout history. There are also many interactive and multimedia displays as well. All the displays have information in both English and Spanish. Everything is well displayed, informative, and fascinating. The bonus is that it only costs a couple of Euros!

Overall, I wasn't super impressed with Madrid. I'm glad I went and it was fun but I didn't looooove it the way I did with Sevilla and I would be perfectly okay if I didn't go back. I know a lot of people rave about the art museums in the city, but they were too expensive for me to consider going since I'm not a huge fan of art museums, so if that's your thing, Madrid may be a great place to visit.



I really enjoyed Valencia. My days in Valencia were different from the other cities I've been to. I didn't go to a palace or cathedral or park. I went to one museum but even that was different from other museums I've been to. The activities I did were a little bit pricier, but I think they were totally worth it. Here's what I did!

1. Science Museum. This museum is a part of the City of Arts and Sciences, which is an area of land that houses several attractions. I went to two of them and would have loved to visit the others as well. The first one I went to was this museum. I loved this museum because it's really hands on and interactive. Part of the museum is called the Exploratorium. There are dozens of stations where you can touch and experiment. There are stations about magnets, light, sounds, light waves, and many more. Every station is explained in Spanish and English. The information tells you what you need to do and why the what happens actually happens. Another part of the museum is an interactive area about smart living. There are exercises to test your posture, displays about different types of mattresses, and information about car safety. When I was there the museum had a temporary exhibit on Tesla and his contributions to science.

2. Oceanographique. This was the second part of the City of Arts and Sciences that I went to. Oceanographique is an aquarium, technically, but it's so much more than that. First of all, it is the largest aquarium in Europe. Second, it is set up more like a zoo than a typical aquarium. What I mean is that it is not on large building but is several buildings and distinct areas spread over a large area of land. It's absolutely incredible. I spent several hours there and could have spent more. There are exhibits for the Mediterranean Sea, the tropics, sharks, the Arctic, the Antarctic, butterflies, birds, and dolphins. Yes, dolphins. They have the largest dolphinarium in Europe. It consists of five pools, 26 million liters of water, and thirteen dolphins. A few times a day they do a dolphin show which was really cool.

3. Bioparc. Much like Oceanographique is not your average aquarium, Bioparc is not your average zoo. First, its entire focus is on Africa so you'll see plenty of elephants, lions, giraffes, zebras, rhinos, gorillas, and hippos. Second, the habitats are designed to look like they would in the wild. Barriers are big boulders and deep ravines, meaning that you'll rarely see any plexiglass or acrylic barriers between you and the animals. In some cases there were no barriers, like in the Madagascar section when I looked up and there was a tree full of lemurs right next to me. It was incredible and so much fun.

While you're in Valencia there are several things you need to try, as well. First and foremost, oranges. Valencia is known for its oranges and holy cow is it deserved. I ate several oranges during my three and a half days there and had several glasses of fresh squeezed orange juice (and by fresh squeezed, I mean I physically saw the machine squeeze the juice for me). Second, paella. Now, to get the good paella, you're going to have to pay more, but some girls from my hostel and I went to try paella my last night there and ate it at a little cafe. It was pretty good but not stupendous. But we also didn't pay a ton. Third, Agua de Valencia. This is only if you drink alcohol, but this cocktail consists of orange juice, vodka, gin, and cava. It's freaking delicious, especially because the orange juice in mine was definitely fresh squeezed.



That concludes my time in Madrid and Valencia. I have had the chance to upload pictures from Madrid or Valencia, but I plan to sometime this week!

I hope y'all had a wonderful Fourth of July!


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