My friend Ana randomly texted me on a Wednesday if I wanted to go to Valladolid for the weekend. I had just promised myself that I was going to stay in Soria because I needed to save money. For the past month and a half I have been traveling to different cities, but with Semana Santa coming up I knew I needed as much money as possible. But I agreed to go.
Ana told me that she knew someone who lived in Valladolid and was a French Auxiliar just as she was. The tentative plan was to meet up with him, have him show us around on Saturday, then Sunday we would go to Segovia for the day with the other Erasmus from the university and then find a bus back to Soria. It sounded like a lot but I was down, however, the only thing lacking was a place to stay. It was Ana’s idea to look on couch-surfing because we were only going to be there for one day. She ended up messaging at least five different people asking if they were available that weekend to host us. Only three responded, but two said they weren’t going to be there that weekend and the other one gave us the green light!
Our host was a 30-year-old man named Alfonso who spoke three languages and has been to 30 countries by the time he was 30. He graciously invited us to come with him and his friends to an African exhibition at the University.
Of course, we said yes, also because there was food and we were starving from being on the four-hour bus ride to Valladolid. We ended up arriving late to his apartment late because we cut through a park in the city that had peacocks, swans, and other birds. The park was massive and I had never seen a peacock in real life before, so we took our time watching the birds. The best part about the park was that the birds were able to roam free. The smaller birds had cages, but the peacocks and the swans were able to walk around with other people. This was something I’ve never seen before but everyone seemed to respect them and took pictures of them from a reasonable distance. There was one crazy lady in the park who fed the peacocks a loaf a bread.
After staring at the birds, we finally found Alfonso’s apartment, set our stuff down, then left with him to the University.
One of my favorite things about Alfonso was that he was a history buff and was telling us about the significance of each building we passed. When we got the University there was a small intermission, so everyone was eating. The event was put on the university medical students. It had started at 1 pm and went until about 6 pm. There was live music from different parts of Africa that included traditional dances as well as presentations.
We all ended up getting along together and went to cafe after. What bonded us all was our love for music festivals and while we were drinking one of them even bought a ticket to a music festival. Shortly after, Ana and I had to leave to meet up with her other French friend, as he was going to show us around and take us for something to eat. He was so kind, I can’t spell his name because I have no idea where to even begin; but he was from a southern part of France and did his exchange in Valladolid, which is why he came back to teach. He showed us around the cathedral, which was never finished because at the time the war between Spain and Belgium started and the money had to be spent to Madrid in order to fund it. He had to go home “early” because he was going to Segovia early the next day. We then met up with Alfonso and his friends at a random bar. We were the only ones there so we were able to play whatever type of music we wanted. On top of that, the bartender liked us and she kept giving us free shots. There was an after party from the African showcase earlier that day and all of the students were there. We only stayed for a bit but still had a great time with all of these random students.
The following day Alfonso made us breakfast and took us on a short tour of his city before meeting up with his other friend, Alex.
We met at a bar called Pennywise for Vermut, near the cathedral. Vermut is personally one of favorite drinks in Spain. I have no idea what’s in it, but it’s super strong and you really only need one of them. Typically it’s for grandmas to drink after church, why that’s a thing I have no idea, but I don’t care because it really is delicious. His friend finally arrived and it was my turn to buy rounds and they suggest I buy the “penny,” the bars signature drink. They told me it came with little cookies too. However, when I got the “drink” it came in what appeared to be a double shot glass. My first thought was “alright it’s game time, but to have a cookie as a chaser is a little strange.” So I brought everything back to the table and we did a few toasts and the ever so classic “quien no appoyar no follar.” I then proceed to throw the entire shot back and immediately took a bit of the cookie after. EVERYONE at the table looked at me in disbelief and Alex was the first to say that it was indeed a DRINK and not a shot. They all roasted me and kept saying that was super American of me to do. In my defense, this “drink” really looked like a shot. They kept laughing at me because I was drunker than the rest of them and when we got home Alfonso made us lunch before we had to run back to the station and catch our blablaCar. The whole way back in the car was me dead in the back seat, while Ana sat in silence with the driver.