My friend Susana and I have been doing a language exchange for about a year now over Skype. We’ve become pretty good friends in that time, but since she lives in Spain, we never had the chance to meet in person. That is, until our whirlwind trip to the Iberian Peninsula, post–Atlantic Crossing. When she met us at the train station, we just picked up right where we’d left off in our last WhatsApp chat. Susana was kind enough to invite us to stay with her while we were in town so we got to see firsthand what it’s like to live in a tiny village near the Valencian coast. She and her daughter, Victoria, live in a house that has been in the family for generations and is very typically Spanish with its tiled roof, wooden ceiling beams, and thick stucco walls for keeping out the heat.
We wanted to see old stuff so Susana took us to Valencia’s cathedral, which dates back to the 13th century. It was a twisty, somewhat death-defying 207 steps to the Miguelete, or bell tower, at the top, but the views were totally worth it, or as they say in Spanish: vale la pena.