Friday, February 14, 2014

Get in to it baby

My first weeks in Valencia where a bit rough. Between finding a place and trying to adjust my sleep to the time, this city was starting to get the best of me. To ease the stress I would take several walks around town to visit museums and sites. After almost two weeks of searching I found an apartment smack dab in the middle of Valencia for $450 a month. Its got a balcony; so European. I went and saw a Fallas exhibition too and I finally got down to sculpting with white Styrofoam. I have to say, "this is one of the most difficult materials I've ever worked with"

So I searched several "apartment rental" websites for several days and called 16 different people. Its a bit difficult to find someone willing to rent out their apartment for just a couple of months. I wanted to rent a 3-4 bedroom apartment not only for the space but for the extra rooms. Im having friends from L.A. over for the Fallas Festival and I wanted them to have a place to stay. Also a 3-4 bedroom apartment in Valencia runs between 400 to 500 euros (US$550 to $680) which is not bad considering Los Angeles prices. In the mean time I was staying at a 'Bed and Breakfast'.

The 'Bed and Breakfast' was nice. It had a heater in every room, clean sheets, free wi-fi, and was located south east of the city center in a neighborhood called 'El Pla del Remei'.

      La Plaza de Ayuntamiento is at the center of Valencia. It's where Im told the big Fallas are constructed. The area surrounding the Plaza de ayuntamiento  is packed with good restaurants and a movie theater.
      500 feet to the south of Plaza ayuntamiento is the main Train station. I hear a roundtrip train ticket to madrid from valencia on the AVE line (High speed train) cost around 100 euro and gets you there in about an hour and 45 minutes.
      Next to the trainstation is the Bull fighting arena. I haven't seen a bullfight and Im quite sure I wouldn't like to but apparently there will be bullfights through out the month of march during the Fallas celebration.
        The B&B is also one block east of 'Mercado Colon'. For the first week, I would wake up around 11am and walk over to the 'Colon Market', thats the direct translation, and have a 'Cafe latte', its coffee with milk, and a pastry called a 'Farton' for 2euros. Yes, you read that correctly, I was eating FARTon's at the COLON market... grow up people. Besides being a bit ritzy, its only fitting with a name like that, the tile work on the facade of the Mercado Colon is mesmerizing.

        The neighborhood 'El Pla del Remei" lies west of  the Turia river, which is an old river bed that was converted into a sunken park after the flood of 1957 which almost destroyed Valencia. "..the water has been diverted southwards along a new course that skirts the city, before meeting the Mediterranean. The old course of the river continues, dry, through the city centre, almost to the sea", said Wikipedia. Its a cool park with lots of public workout equipment and a huge fiberglass Gulliver figure, from Gulliver's travels that doubles as a kids jungle gym/slide/playground. You can see it in Google maps. Its pretty cool.

Over all the Bed and breakfast was pretty cool but at 25 euros ($35bucks) a night that place was getting old quick.

 I started looking into shared appartments and found a company that rents out decent size rooms in large flats to Erasmus students for 330euros ($450) a month. So after about a week and a half of stressing over a place to stay and work I moved in to a room on the 4th floor of the building at 'Carrer de les Garrigues 4', one block east of 'Plaza de Ayuntamiento'. I've got a cool 12'x15' room in the far corner of a 7 room flat. It has a balcony that over looks the 'carre del music peydro' walkway. The 1ft balcony, if you can call it a balcony, has really come in handy as that is where I sit and do most of my styrofoam sculpting. 

I have never sculpted in styrofoam but in preperation for working with it, I bought a Hot Wire Foam Factory tool back home, watched countless turorials, and dove right in. I found a store, by chance really, by the name of "Corchos Gomez" near 'Torres de Quart' in the neighborhood known as 'El Carme".
I bought a 1'x1'x3' piece of Styrofoam, which the gentleman was kind enough to split in two, along with a 1/2 liter of Styrofoam glue, and ten 10" wooden dowels. I asked for everything with confidence and like I knew what I was talking about but I honestly have no idea what I'm doing.
I got home and started working the foam with the Hot wire tool. The hot wire tool is pretty awesome and cuts through the Styrofoam almost too easy. Along with a retractable razor blade and 80 to 100 grit sand paper I have begun shaping and forming the foam.