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Biking and Fishing in Valencia

By Abby

sunny 18 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

Today was a fun day, which I had been looking forward to ever since I heard about the wonders of Valencia. Today we got to rent bikes and go to Europe's largest aquarium. We left our apartment a little after nine this morning, and walked down to the bike rental shop and picked up a 9€ bike for each of us. They were pretty scuffed up, but they served their purpose, even though they didn't have any gears. We rode on small one-way streets and hopped on and off our bikes as we avoided pedestrians and cars. But finally we made it to the park and had a nice quick ride through it. When we came to the area of town where the aquarium was, we were surprised to see how large and modern it looked. There were many shallow, and very blue, pools of water by the buildings, which were all very oddly shaped and most of which were bright white. The walkways around the pools were made of grey, square stones and white mosaic tile. My dad said that he was surprised at how little people think about the durability and upkeep of a building and its surroundings when they build it. To this I replied that if people kept that in mind all buildings would be boring and old... he agreed. After slowly biking around the area we stopped for a little picnic of crackers, cheese and granola bars. We finished off our lunch with some chocolate, and for a couple of us some oranges. After packing up we locked our bikes at a bike rack and bought ourselves some outrageously expensive tickets to the aquarium.

Valencia Aquarium

Valencia Aquarium

The first couple exhibits we went to consisted of some small, but unusual, fish, as well as some odd and brightly coloured birds. I enjoyed seeing the different types of fish, especially a 70 metre long tunnel you could walk through while watching the fish that swam around you. The birds were also interesting, as most were species I hadn't even heard of before. In their enclosure they had ponds which had very large fish and some small turtles as well. After this we sat down for a little to enjoy the sun that had finally revealed itself. Some of the exhibits were outside, making the weather an important aspect of our day. We had planned to go see the giant turtles after this, but were disappointed to find that they had left until spring, to avoid the cold weather. But we quickly revised our schedule and went off to see the sharks. In the indoor parts of the aquarium there was always music playing, and it changed depending on what kinds of animals you were looking at. The music at the shark tank was very mysterious and a little disturbing, which I found suited the scene quite well. This part of the aquarium was one of my favourites, as there was another tunnel. Though not as long as the last one, I found that I liked it better. This was because the water was higher around the tunnel, so when a fish swam overtop, it looked as though it had gone through the glass and was just floating above us, out of water. It was a very cool effect, and we spend while admiring the underbellies of sharks, rays and other sea creatures. My favourite animals in this area were the sawfish and the sunfish, both of which are extremely odd looking creatures.

After the shark tank we went to see the belugas, which for me was a little underwhelming. Although I loved seeing their cute little faces, they never once came up to the glass and half of their tank you were unable to see. Plus, there were only two, and even though one had recently given birth they had taken the baby away and he/she was nowhere to be found. Also seals kept swimming in from the other half of their enclosure which made it very hard to concentrate on the belugas. But nevertheless, I enjoyed seeing them again.

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

From belugas we went to dolphins which were in an outside arena because of the show that was happening soon. Hannah and my dad went to sit near the front, while my mom and I chose the farthest and highest corner, which was the only place that got sun. But when the show started we made our way down to the seats they had graciously saved for us, and sat down right next to the world's cutest baby, who was sleeping away in his snowsuit. The show went on for about 20 minutes, and tied (if not beat) the sharks for my favourite part of the day. It was a spectacular performance that included synchronized flips from the dolphins, as well as their trainers being moved through the water by the dolphins pushing their feet. One time during the show two of the dolphins jumped very high in the air and, by keeping their noses on the trainer's feet, brought the trainer into a spectacular jump and dive with them. But the show unfortunately had to end, and as we had nothing else to see in the aquarium, our day there had to end as well. But since we had the bikes until 7:30, we decided to ride around the park for a little while before riding home, which went very smoothly. Along the way we picked up some dinner (pizza and a salad) and went home to enjoy a simple, tasty and warm meal. After dinner Hannah and my mom went out shopping together, and my dad was forced to go alone as I opted to stay in and relax, as I had done some shopping the previous evening.

We all hope that you are enjoying beginning of the holiday season, and we wish you good luck and success in Christmas shopping as well.

Posted by KZFamily 02:13 Archived in Spain Tagged valencia biking aquarium Comments (3)

Valencia

by Ben

sunny 20 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

It appears Valencia is the forgotten little sister of Barcelona. Being overlooked makes it less touristy but it is perhaps far more beautiful, far safer and cleaner than Barcelona if you can overlook the ridiculous traffic. We are enjoying our exploration of European cities with the only caveat that it takes nerves of steel to drive in them. I have learned a great deal about how small a space you can park in and how close cars can drive side by side and still have motorcycles pass in between. There have been numerous times that I have had to fold my mirrors in to make us fit in a parking spot and on one occassion just to drive. Valencia takes traffic congestion to a whole other level. The amazing part is they are more courteous and efficient than in Paris or Madrid (frenetic cities), there is less honking and they stop for pedestrians. All that said my knuckles were pretty white by the time I found a parking spot after 45 minutes in the middle of it all.

Valencia:  Mercat

Valencia: Mercat

We started our day visiting the Mercat, which is a very famous and popular food market in an impressive greenhouse type building. We decided to leave the supermarket behind and do all our food shopping for the day in the Mercat. We didn't buy the eels (you choose them alive and then the are killed and gutted as you watch) and decided to be fairly conventional and buy some Atlantic Salmon as our protein. Hannah made a study of all the different kinds of meats and took pictures so she could look them up on the Internet later. I think Hannah is toying with cooking a rabbit. Abby has bought a can of baked beans to have at the ready if ever rabbit shows up on our menu. Abby said she thinks Europe will confirm her resolve to return to a vegetarian diet when she gets back to Canada.

In the afternoon we went to explore the main city park which is located in the old riverbed of a river that was diverted around the city in the 1950s. The park is a wonderful green corridor that stretches at least seven kilometers throught the city. Since the river was quite large the unique legacy is numerous bridges crossings over green space which makes for some unique park features. It makes for great biking and walking and some water features remain. At the end of the park is a complex of five buildings that includes a science centre, aquarium, iMax and Arts Museum that is perhaps the most outrageous architectural wonder around. The Spanairds are not afraid to spend money on public buildings that stretch the imagination. If you are ever in Spain Valencia should be on your must see list. Tomorrow we will rent bikes to get to the Aquarium and explore these wonderful structures.

Valencia: Hannah with her Chef Instructor

Valencia: Hannah with her Chef Instructor

In the afternoon and evening Abby, Muriel and I did a little Christmas shopping and looking at the lights at night. However, Hannah had something quite different to do from 6:00 to 9:00 pm, she took a cooking class. A half a block away from our apartment was a cooking school that was offering an evening session on how to make Spanish croquettes. Auntie Helen had given Hannah a generous monetary gift to develop her chef skills when in Europe so Hannah jumped at the opportunity even though the class was going to be in Spanish. Hannah went on her own and had a great time--apparently food really is an international language. Hannah gives a big hug and a kiss to Auntie Helen for making this possible (and she still has money left to do it again). We can really see that Hannah having lived in France for three months has made her very brave when it comes to overcoming language barriers. She really impressed us with her gumption.

Posted by KZFamily 01:37 Archived in Spain Tagged valencia Comments (3)

The Alhambra and Valencia

By Hannah

semi-overcast 14 °C
View Koning/Zemliak Family Europe 2012/2013 on KZFamily's travel map.

We travelled from Granada to Valencia today, looking forward to three nights in the same place instead of just one. Abby and I awoke to find our parents talking to our grandparents this morning, and found out that my grandpa had been scheduled for surgery today. We wish him all the best.

038 Granada La Alhambra (64)

038 Granada La Alhambra (64)

Before we got the main journey underway, we went to visit the Alhambra, an intricate Islamic palace that was constructed during the 10th century and expanded for hundreds of years after even after the Moors were evicted in the 15th century. It's currently the most visited site in Spain, drawing approximately three million visitors a year. It seemed like every inch was covered in carvings or mosaics. My mom read a book called Symmetry: A Journey into the Patterns of Nature which explains that there are 17 types of symmetry. Each type can be found in the Alhambra, though we definitely didn't find all of them. We spent a long time in each room, admiring the Arabic script and elaborate designs. There were a few fountains too, as well as some pretty gardens that again made us question whether it really was that close to winter. We even found a koi pond. There was a small museum as well, but it was slightly underwhelming compared to what we had just seen. The area it was located in was more impressive, a sort of arena framed with columns and balconies. It made you think of gladiators. Eventually, though, we decided that it was time to head off to our next destination.

Our Valencia Apartment

Our Valencia Apartment

After the tour we ate lunch on the hood of the car, and then started on the five hour long drive to Valencia. We didn't stop once, so we got there around quarter after six, but that's not when we arrived at our apartment. We ended up wandering the streets for a bit, trying to locate address 28 on the correct street next to the correct restaurant. After about half an hour, we finally succeeded, and were let in by a friendly cleaner, who showed us to our apartment. It's enormous. When we first entered, I thought that each door in the hallway led to a separate apartment. Turns out those were just the bedrooms and bathrooms. There's enough hallway to start at a jog, get up to speed, and slow down again without hitting the wall at the other end. After a debate about who got which room (my parents got the one of their choice, as usual, but we don't complain as they're kind of paying for the place) and a coin toss, we settled in. My room's bigger and has a closet, while Abby's has its own TV. There's even an extra room with two single beds, just in case Abby and I decide that we prefer sharing. I doubt this will happen. Dinner was soup, which we always keep on hand since our night in Les Brulins (dedicated readers will know what I'm talking about), and bread with oil and vinegar. Abby had bought Dad what she thought was Spanish "turron", or nougat, with almonds, as we got nougat with peanuts last time. It turned out to be a sort of fudgy, chocolately bar with crisped rice instead. Delicious nonetheless. Dad and I went out for a quick emergency grocery shop, and then settled down for the evening in the apartment we will call home for the next few days. I think that we'll be visiting Valencia's aquarium while we're here. It'll be quite the change from the museums, castles and markets of late.

Posted by KZFamily 09:04 Archived in Spain Tagged alhambra granada valencia symmetry Comments (2)

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