This week was Carnaval, which is a holiday where people dress up. On Thursday, Caroline, Laura, and I were at our favorite cafe just having some coffee in the late afternoon. Our American friend was there so we decided to stay and talk to him for a while. We were planning on going to these concerts, but we ended up talking and laughing for hours. Before we knew it, it was already 1 in the morning and the place was closing. At this point, we had already had friend with the people who worked there and we were all listening to Bob Dylan and David Bowie while we were getting ready to go. We went and had a few drinks at our other favorite place to go (this one is more of a night place) called El Negrito. The next night Caroline and I met up with Jean Manuel and Gilles. We went to this quaint bar, where we sat on the lofted area and listened to some people playing Flamenco music right next to us. Everybody gets really into the Flamenco and there is this certain rhythm that everybody knows and likes to stomp and clap their hands to the beat. It's really cool to watch something so different from the culture that I am used to in such an intimate setting.
The next day I got up early to go with the group to a winery about an hour outside Valencia. The bus ride there was cool because I got to see the more rural part of Spain. The landscape reminds me a lot of southern California: a desert-like earth, with small shrubs, some cacti, with no huge trees. The colors are very much earth tones like dark reds and oranges and the growth is usually just dark forest green. We got to the smaller town and it was a very quaint feel. We went into the winery and it smelled of pure wine. There were these large metal vats and this assembly looking line. At first I was half expecting to walk into some dark wooden medieval wine making place, but I guess that is just a stereotype. Then, the man giving us the tour opened up a door and it opened up to this huge room full of wooden kegs of wine. It was amazing, and more of what I thought of in my head of what a winery would look like. The smell was fantastic: wine and fresh wood. We walked across this gigantic room into the next where there were hundreds of crates full of bottles. After the winery, we walked around the town. There was this huge market in the middle and there were tons of people all buying random things from shoes to clothes, to paella dishes. Then we came to this street where there were a ton of kids dressed up in all different costumes. There was a band playing out of the back of a truck and there was so much festivity that I didn't even know what to think. We grabbed a coffee and continued to walk around the town. A lot of the buildings were white washed and it reminded me of what I thought that Greece would look like (even though I have never been there). There were a lot of cats walking around too which was random but they were all really friendly. It seems to me that everyone here has a dog or cat, but they do not leash their dogs at all. It is very rare to see someone walking with their dog on a leash. The pets act differently over here and they just follower their owners around, and I haven't seen any problems with it yet. However, I have heard that dog fights are becoming a problem in Spain because people don't leash them and they have no way of restraining them when they get bothered by another dog. So far, I haven't seen any problems with it. We walked around some more and then took a train back, which was cool because we could look at the country side again.
On Saturday night, I went to the concerts that I had been planning to go to on Thursday (but never made it to). We got there just in time to see a band from Valencia called Emma Get Wild. They were so good! It was at this bar on another side of town and it seemed that it was just like an open mic kind of gig. It was really cool because we were standing it a relatively small crowd and the other people in the crowd would be enjoying the music and then they would go play the next round and then continue to listen to the others. The other bands were really good too.