Let’s continue. There is so much I could write! But I should keep it fairly brief and load you up with pictures rather than words. Right?
There is a bar/restaurant near our apartment called “Portland,” and it even has a smaller version of a sign that is found in Portland, OR! Pretty funny actually. Abel and Maria told us that this bar is a hangout for locals who want to speak English. Apparently the bartender speaks English and the patrons try to as well. We want to go there sometime and see what the vibe is like. Perhaps I can make some friends! Also, there was a sign on the door saying they needed waitresses. Too bad I can’t work in Spain. This could be the place.
Above is a really good picture of Casey and Abel. Below, the guys are drinking horchata and eating fartons. Horchata is made from tiger nuts, has a milky consistency, and has a slightly autumn-spice-like flavor, in my opinion. You can get four different types: liquid, slushy, a combo of liquid and slush, and ice cream. A farton is a cross between puff pastry, a donut, and bread. It usually has a sweet glaze on top, like a donut, but the texture is different. Anyway, you’re supposed to dunk the farton in the horchata and enjoy. Casey loves it! I prefer to eat them separately, but it’s still quite good. This is unique to Valencia and is one of the top things to eat if you visit.
Back at Abel’s house, Martina wanted to spin me around in her egg chair. Can you see my legs? I got really dizzy, but she had a blast. And then she played with Casey and laughed until she fell on the floor! Sometimes when we’re eating or relaxing, she’ll just stop and stare at Casey. It’s so cute. I’d like to know what she’s thinking.
Abel took us to the beach one day! We rode our bikes about 15 miles round trip. We rode outside of Valencia, reached the shipping port, and then continued along the coast. Technically Valencia is located on the Mediterranean Sea, not the Atlantic Ocean. If you want to be even more technical though, it’s the Balearic Sea, which is somehow a part of the Mediterranean Sea, even though there is no obvious dividing line. Very interesting.
Casey took a dip in the water to cool off. He said it was very warm. The waves were very tiny too, like a lake, but I just researched and found out that they can be quite huge too. Abel skipped some stones. I took pictures. Then we ended up in a town called El Saler, and we bought crème puffs as a snack. They had been frozen, so the cream was more like ice cream, and they were delicious! I’ll have to try freezing them if I make them. Mmm!
Quite randomly, Casey got a flat tire, so we stopped to fix it. Then we had to head back to pick up Martina from the school bus. She was not as shy as on the first day, and we had another great lunch at Las Lunas. Her shirt made me laugh since it said “I love The Rolling Stones.” Abel says that people in Europe like to wear shirts with English writing because they look different and are more unique. It fascinates me that most restaurants and stores in Spain actually play American music. Casey says it’s because American entertainment is so huge and worldwide, but it still doesn’t make complete sense to me. Wouldn’t countries want to watch their own movies and listen to their own music? I don’t know. Yeah, the US has a handful of foreign films that become popular, but we don’t play foreign music in restaurants unless it’s an ethic restaurant. Who knows. I don’t.
Maria made us a traditional Spanish sponge cake called bizcocho. It was really good! It tasted like vanilla pound cake with extra sponginess. They have been so good to us by giving us an apartment, taking us places, and making us food or paying for our meals. They both speak English so we can easily talk to them, but we’re trying to speak in Spanish. And they’re both so helpful with teaching us Spanish and answering our many, many questions about the language and the city. We couldn’t ask for better friends!
Maria’s dad took us on a walking tour around Valencia and told us some history of the city. It was raining a little bit so we didn’t take too many pictures. Here I am standing with my arms spread open in front of the narrowest building in Valencia! Apparently people still live there, and I think the building gets a little bit wider once you go inside. Fascinating!
We saw a guy selling licorice roots and picked up a few to chew on. It probably has some medicinal value, or it just tastes good. Casey and I enjoyed trying it but wouldn’t get it again. And then we saw a shirt bearing the words “Yo soy tu padre” meaning “I am your father.” A Star War’s reference, of course, but it was amusing because R2D2 is the Android’s father. Casey is an android buff so it was a funny technological joke.
So when we were here three years ago, I saw a Tony Roma’s restaurant a few blocks away from Abel’s apartment, but we never got to try it. Now we finally had the chance! It is the same chain as in the US, and it is just as delicious! Ohhhh I was soooo excited! It was even more exciting because the restaurant closed in Las Vegas (my hometown and where my parents live) and it’s not near Camas, so it’s been awhile since I’ve eaten there. Yummy!!
We decided it was about time we treated Abel and Maria to a home-cooked American meal, so Casey and I went to the market for groceries. Of course we rode our new bikes (Bromptons are folding bikes, by the way), and we brought them into the market. Mine is in the cart and Casey pushed his. In the photo, I am at the counter getting my produce priced. Here in Spain, you put fruit or veggies in a bag and then take it to a counter where they weigh it and put a price tag on it. Interesting huh! We packed up the groceries in our Brompton T-bag and a backpacking backpack. Casey was kind enough to carry both.
I found an apron in the kitchen and started making chicken pot pie! Casey was very helpful and removed the chicken from the bones. I tried to be fancy and spelled “¡Hola!” on top. I also made some mini apple pies which were almost perfect…! I decided to buy premade crust because I didn’t have enough time to make my own, but the crust wasn’t perfect. Everyone still enjoyed them, but I knew it could have been better… sigh. Maria made mojitos which were actually very good! Casey and I had never tried them before, and I always just figured that I wouldn’t like them, but they were refreshing!
Here are a couple pictures that didn’t fit in anywhere. We’ve noticed that there are vending machines around town with cold and hot food! This particular one is right next to our apartment. They sell various types of sandwiches from grilled cheese to jamón bocadillos to chicken and beef burgers. You select the item you want and it drops into a microwave, basically, and it heats it up for you. Yet another fascinating thing! Casey tried the jamón bocadillo and said it was decent. I got a chicken burger with cheese but never ate it because we went to Tony Roma’s instead. I also got to hold Martina one night because she was asleep. It was a cute moment that she won’t remember, but we will.
That feels like a good ending for today actually. This is a very long post, and I don’t want to wear you out before I’m done. Because there is a lot more coming your way! Be prepared!