9. May 20th. Thursday
The visual presence of Spain is overwhelming. Since Amos and I wanted to see more of the countryside, we decided to rent a car and spend a few days driving down the coast. The plan was to see how far south we could get before having to return to Barcelona for our flight home. This was the best decision we have made on this trip. However, it has left me wishing we had more time to explore this country and all its unique cities. Spent the morning on trains to get to the airport where we picked up our car. By the time we finally had our car, it was mid-afternoon and we were ready to be on the road. Our first stop is Valencia, though we took several detours before getting here. Having the freedom to stop when and where we wanted was so amazing, especially because we both like to explore more off the beaten path. Amos kept surprising me by turning off onto side roads and random exits. We stopped at a Supermarcado and bought groceries for a picnic and ended up on the beach. This was one of my favorite moments of the trip. An hour or two at the Mediterranean, eating sandwiches in the sand, watching ships sail by, drinking wine, and swimming in the turquoise water. We drove the rest of the way to Valencia with the windows down, enjoying the beautiful Spanish sunset.
Renting car to drive south, we set out from Barcelona on Thursday afternoon. We were told in Barcelona that every part of Spain we’d likely want to see would be represented by staying in the city, but our instincts and a bit of a desire to for a more relaxed couple of days driving though the country caused us to venture forth.
We really didn’t make it very far before finding multiple excuses to stop and shoot pictures. Of course the drive itself has been somewhat surreal. Most road signs are easy to understand but I think there are a few whose meaning will remain a mystery. The car we rented was a zippy little Citroen C4 with a manual transmission (which means I’ll be the only one driving). It’s big enough that the front seats will lay back enough to snooze if we decide to catch some sleep one of these nights without staying at a hostel.
Our first day’s goal in driving south was to make it to Valencia where we’d reserved a hostel in the old town. We were sure it would be an amazing place and we were right. After a few photographic stops, sandwiches and wine on the beach, and a quick lesson in finding a parking place in European cities, we made it through the narrow alleys and busy night streets of Valencia to our hostel. Unfortunately we didn’t feel like venturing out to find food so we finished off the fruit, wine, sprouts from the earlier sandwiches, and baguettes that we still had with us before doing some photo editing and going to bed. The next day’s plan was to explore Valencia and then continue south.