Saying Farewell in Madrid for a Chance to Find the Holy Grail in Valencia

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August 21st 2014
Published: August 21st 2014
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Yesterday morning I bid farewell to Josh yet again as it was time for me to move on to Valencia from Madrid. We spent three lovely days together walking the busy streets of Madrid and finding hidden streets where we could catch up on one of his crazy stories or read the morning paper. We popped into several cafés for a morning coffee or afternoon beer and spent hours people watching while sharing tapas. I also allowed myself some "me" time to explore the park and Prado museum and stopped in one afternoon to enjoy churros con chocolate (warm, sugary fried dough with a side of thick chocolate pudding for dipping). It was delightful! On Tuesday night Josh revealed to me that he had booked a place for two days in Toledo and had invited me to join him in this quaint, historical town. Although it sounded very appealing, I was feeling as though it was time for me to move on. My reason was twofold: For one, I felt as though our time together was special and I wanted to keep it as such and to cherish the time we spent together both in Madrid and Granada (short and sweet) AND I was looking forward to reuniting with my new travel friends and enjoying a few days of relaxation on the beach in Valencia. Although he was bummed out, he completely understood and respected the journey I've set out to complete.

I joined up with my group yesterday morning after everyone disbanded for a bit to have some free time and we set out for Valencia. Upon our arrival we walked around town for about two and a half hours orientating ourselves and checking out the sights. We met up for dinner at an amazing restaurant where I shared several dishes with Tara & D--two lovely Australian women. We had baked brie with plum jam, prawns, grilled calamares, fried sardines and ham croquettes. We also shared two jugs of sangria because "when in Spain..." Over dinner and well, over the course of this trip, I've learned so many new and interesting phrases from my new Aussie friends. It's incredible how different their vernacular is from ours in the states and their accents just make everything sound so much more charming. At the risk of being tangential, some of my favorite new words/phrases are:

squiz (to take a peek/quick look)

niggle--small pain/nuisance/discomfort (sensation); as in "I've got a niggly feeling." The Irish also use this one but add the word "wee" before it--"a wee niggle"

bogan (white trash)

A cake of soap (bar)

A dander (walk)

My Spain/Portugal travel companions are really lovely and I've come to really enjoy most of them. I'd have to say that my best chum is Joe, an adorable Irishman who can best be described as a boy in a man's body. He's a high school math teacher who lives in Liverpool and eats on average, two double scoop ice cream cones daily. He loves Fanta Limon and has started a fantasy-based "Watchmen" club that ensures that everyone in our group is being watched (looked after) at all times. He also makes it a point to mention how outraged his mum would be during several risqué encounters such as seeing the topless women at the nude beach. Oh Joe!

Speaking of which, this afternoon Joe, Akash (my other Aussie friend) & I ventured off for a look at the Catedral de Valencia before heading to the beach for the afternoon. We were on a mission to find the Holy Grail which apparently is housed there at the moment. When we arrived, we picked up a map and an audio guide and rushed through the first few rooms of the cathedral which appeared boring and uninteresting until we arrived in a room with a huge gaudy gold adornment in the center of it. We were convinced this was the place of the holy grail although we could not make it out through all the gold ornamentation. We walked around the display case several times--reading the inscriptions and tricking our minds to see something that in reality was not there. Forty minutes and several photos later we decided to leave the room and we felt deceived as the holy grail was nowhere to be found. Apparently we took this experience as some sort of Indiana Jones mission that we needed to uncover. Defeated, Akash and I sat down in the main chapel whereas Joe approached a woman at the front desk and while pointing to the photo on the brochure, he asked where he could find the Holy Grail. She looked at him puzzled and in a "duh you idiot!" tone, pointed to the first room we breezed through and said, "it's right in there. You can't miss it." Apparently we weren't impressed the first time around because we had walked right past it without the slightest acknowledgement. We had quite a laugh when we found the real thing.

Another beautiful day and a lovely dinner. Tomorrow we leave for Barcelona where I've got two more days left with my group and a few additional days on my own. I can't believe my journey is coming to an end and I'm nervous about what's to come next. I foresee a great deal of personal reflection these next few days and a continuation of my existing gratitude.

Additional photos below
Photos: 9, Displayed: 9


The Holy GrailThe Holy Grail
The Holy Grail

Terrible photo--d'oh!

22nd August 2014

Aussie slang...
I laughed when I read that you were learning aussie words/sayings. Well done :)
23rd August 2014

Enjoying the city life
Great shot! The ice cream looks good also.

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