Day 6: Traveling Singers
It is a six-hour drive between Granada and Valencia, which means at least two rest-stops, as mandated by union rules, and since there are no tourist stops like Toledo, it meant a lazy day. Which was fine by us. The first two hours of the drive almost everyone on the bus was sleeping, including me. When I woke up, I traded iPods with one of my friends and listened to a bunch of pop music. The first rest stop was in a cafeteria of sorts. I didn’t buy anything but one guy, who had recently won a Fanta drinking competition against another choir member, bought a stack of cookies to celebrate. We got back on the bus, spent another two hours sitting, listening to music, and reading After Virtue (me) before lunch.
Lunch was at a cheap restaurant where you could get bread, an appetizer, main course, and dessert for 10 euros. I ordered paella, a pork cutlet, and flan. They were out of paella, so I got I received pasta with canned tuna and plain tomato sauce. Contrary to what you might think, it actually tasted good. On the next course, two of my table mates got into an eating contest. First, one of them was challenged to eat an entire pork cutlet in under 30 seconds. He finished in under 20. Then there was the other guy, trying to eat all the French fries in twenty seconds, which he failed to meet. Finally, my third table mate got in on the action by trying to drink three quarters of a liter of water in 7 seconds. He did it in 8. The food itself was mediocre, so they didn’t really miss out on a culinary experience. Thankfully, I didn’t order the hamburger, which was a strange pinkish color. The flan itself was not bad, but there was sauce at the bottom that was quite bitter and not at all fitting with the custard.
Two hours later, we arrived in Valencia. There wasn’t going to be much time between our arrival at the church and the start of the performance, so I traveled to the concert in full Madrigal attire. The church was nice, the oldest building we had held a concert in thus far. I can’t say much about the music, because the concert went so smoothly. The only problem we had musically (down from two problems at the last one, we’re improving) was that the start of Jauchzet by Mendelssohn was slightly out of tune. Other than that, everyone was moving together. Spectrum, Madrigals, the a cappella groups, they were all very tight as well.
Our celebratory dinner was on the upper floor of a restaurant. We were across from a loud group of people celebrating a marriage. They had probably been drinking before we arrived, and a group of 48 teenagers won’t do anything to make a room quieter, so it was a raucous dinner. There were more eating contests, as the two people I mentioned earlier found themselves sitting across from each other. The cherry on the cake was when one of them consumed an entire scoop of ice cream in one bite. Our choir director found out that the other group was a wedding party, so he had the Heartbreakers sing Runaround Sue for them, which was a bit awkward, considering that’s a song about a girl who breaks a guy’s heart by leaving him. They seemed to like it anyways. Earlier in the evening, Vikapella had performed I Feel Good, which was, well, good.
After dinner, we returned to the hotel. The next day was going to be full of touristy things, so I went to bed relatively soon, after talking with some of my friends on the 14th floor.
Day 7: Valencia
In the morning, we drove back to the part of Valencia where our concert was held and were given free rein to explore the shops and markets. My friends and I each had something we wanted to buy, so we went on a shopping expedition. We ended up at El Court Ingles, basically a Spanish Macy’s. At this point, I have to thank two of them (they know who they are) for being great translators and preventing us from getting lost. They were really helpful all trip long. I bought an Asterix book for my dad and some saffron for my mom. A few other people went to buy beach towels, because we were going to go to the beach after shopping. If the prices were low enough, they were also going to try to make some money by selling the towels to other choir members. Another member of our group still had not found her almonds, so on the way back we went into what looked like a promising store. Unfortunately, they didn’t have almonds. However, they did have cannabis absinthe.
We still had a little bit of time before we had to get back to the bus, so two of my friends and I decided to go to a café that served horchata, a drink made from tiger nuts. Perhaps they were busy, or perhaps we were doing something wrong, but it took us forever to get service. I had to order twice, and by the time we had to leave, we still hadn’t received our check. We decided to leave the money on the table and head back to the square. We arrived just in time; the church bell started ringing when stepped into the square. I was glad we made it back in time because our director decided that we would sing a few songs for the people walking by. It was our best impromptu performance, because by this time (finally) we all knew the music.
After a twenty minute drive, we were dropped off at a beach. There were small soccer goals set up at the back of the beach, several patches of permanent beach umbrellas, a wooden boardwalk, showers, and (this being Europe) topless sunbathers. There was also a group of guys smoking marijuana next to us. However, the sun was out, the sand was very fine and soft, and the Mediterranean was nice and warm.
I spent the first bit of time reading After Virtue before heading into the water. A bunch of other choir members were throwing around a soccer ball and engaging in chicken fights (the type where you sit on another person’s shoulders, not the type involving actual chickens). Unfortunately, I accidentally knocked one of my friend’s glasses off during one of the fights. Sorry. As a person with glasses, I felt really bad about making him walk around in a fog for the rest of the trip. I still hadn’t eaten lunch and it was getting close to four o’clock, so I went with two of my friends to Pains et Co, which was basically a combination of a McDonalds and a Quiznos, and ordered a chicken, cheese, and bacon sandwich. It was unhealthy and delicious. After lunch, I spent the rest of the time continuing my reading.
We all enjoyed our time at the beach and were ready for a relaxing dinner back at the hotel. I took a shower and did my laundry in the hotel sink, then visited the 14th floor to hang out before dinner. The NBA finals were on tape delay, so I watched the Spurs beat the Heat in Game 1 of the finals. Since we were on the top floor, another guy and I decided we would drop some of the complimentary candy out of the window and see where it landed. We made sure we didn’t hit anyone, but we did accidentally hit one of the windows because a gust of wind blew the candy into the side of the building. One piece of candy survived both its first and second trips down because it landed in gravel. That was impressive.
Dinner was in the hotel dining room. We were served salad and paella valenciana, which is made with rabbit. Two interesting facts about this otherwise typical dinner. First, on a dare, one of my friends had to wear a bra during dinner. He got a few strange looks, but nothing more than that. The second story requires a bit of set-up. At the beginning of the meal we were given vinegar and olive oil to go with our bread. One guy further down the table pocketed one of the vinegar packets and slipped it into the water glass of the guy sitting next to me. When he took a sip, he was understandably surprised. The people sitting next to him either played dumb or pretended that there wasn’t anything wrong with the water. Dramatically, he vowed revenge and took the rest of the leftover vinegar packets. From then on, we had to watch our glasses.
After dinner, I returned to the 14th floor to hang out some more before bedtime. I realized that I could actually access the internet, so before going to bed, I replied to a Facebook message my parents had sent about five days ago. Having fulfilled my duty as a son, I went to sleep.