A few weeks ago, I went on a side trip

 to Valencia over the weekend. In my program, we only have classes 4 days a week, so we were able to leave Friday morning. We would have left Thursday night, but that day I had the opportunity to see Martha Graham Dance Company perform in the Teatro Real de Madrid. Martha Graham is often called the “Mother of Modern Dance.” Seeing her company perform live has been a dream of mine for many years, so finding out that they were performing in Madrid while I happened to be studying here was one of the happiest coincidences I’ve realized in my lifetime.

The day after that amazing performance, I was off to Valencia. We stayed in an Airbnb and our hosts there were extremely welcoming. They gave us a map of the city and circled all the must-see sites. That afternoon, we went over to the Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias, an area of Valencia with extremely modern architecture and art and science museums. We first went to the Oceanogràfic, also known as the largest aquarium in Europe. I often feel conflicted visiting aquariums and zoos, as they can often be very unhealthy for the animals kept there. The Oceanogràfic seemed to place an emphasis on the scientific research and conservation efforts that they facilitate, which was encouraging. The Ciudad de Artes y Ciencias is located at the southern end of a 7 kilometer long park called El Jardín de Turia, though it is often just referred to as the river. The Turia River used to flow through the city, wrapping around the historic downtown area, but it was prone to flooding, so they redirected it outside the city borders and converted the river bed into a park. We rode rented bikes up and down the lush park visiting el Museo de Bellas Artes and a small farmers market on the way. We also passed at least 3 LARPing groups, which is always fun to see.

The next day we spent a relaxing morning at the beach. I then went out that evening to go to the MicroTheater of Valencia and the Ubik Cafe, both of which I would highly recommend. Overall, I had a great time in Valencia. The one big disappointment was never being able to find a restaurant that served Valencian Paella, since this classic Spanish dish originated there.

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