Friday, 7 September 2012

Welcome to the world of tomorrow.

Day 135 04.09.12 Valencia Oceanarium

After yesterday’s mammoth adventure we’re keen to have a quieter day and avoid walking too far.  Our spot near the shopping centre means we’re just a stone’s throw from the superamazingawesome Science Park – I had to invent a new word for how superb this place is because the existing ones don’t cut it.  Built on the bed of the old river which was diverted after floods in the 1950s, the Science Park is made up of a number of futuristic buildings the likes of which I’ve never seen before.  The sheer feats of engineering involved in these seemingly gravity defying buildings is astonishing.  It truly is like stepping into the future.

We head over to the Oceanarium, the biggest aquarium in Europe.  The entry fee is an absolutely ridiculous 27.90 euros which would usually have us running for the hills.  We love aquariums though and had agreed to miss out all other aquariums in favour of visiting just this one.  Had I known the price in advance though I’m not sure we’d have made that decision!  We bit the bullet though and went in.  The buildings here are also phenomenal.  The huge Thunderdome type building plays home to the wetland reserve full of interesting birds and fish, including the fascinating spoonbills.  It’s a great place to look around but I spent most of the time terrified of getting pooped on by the birds high above us! 

There are several sections all dedicated to different areas of the sea and their residents.  I spent far too long enjoying watching the seals play underwater and cooing over one of the younger ones sat up next to the glass watching the tourists.  The penguins were as always a favourite, although I was a little disappointed that you could only watch them above the water.

A great highlight of the tour was the Walruses which were staggeringly humungous.  Both above and below the water these giants were a sight to behold.  Across from them you find the Beluga whales who are so peaceful looking and unbelievably cute.

After this we headed to the dolphinarium in time for the afternoon show.  The trainers were fantastic and had the dolphins performing all sorts of fun tricks. 

Afterwards we headed over to the shark enclosure with the huge glass tunnel you walk underneath as these petrifying beasts swim above your head.  It’s amazing how close this allows you to get to the sharks from every angle, so much so you can see inside their mouths (eeeep!).

We also enjoyed the sea lions chilling out in the sunshine and quarrelling with one another.  It was funny to watch their little squabbles until the massive alpha male stuck his head up then everyone went quiet and played nice!

I have to say, having visited lots of aquariums, the fish tank portion of the place was a little disappointing.  The focus of course is on the larger sea fearing animals but it’s a shame not to see more unusual and interesting fish.  That said though, the jellyfish hauntingly moving around their exhibit were a joy to watch.  As too were the deep sea jellyfish who light up different colours as they move.

Whilst the oceanarium is absolutely fantastic and we had an amazing time, I’d still say the entry fee is too steep.  Our enjoyment was also a little marred by the sheer volume of loud, annoying children.  If you decide to visit I’d recommend avoiding high season for this reason!

Later we headed back to the dophinarium to watch them just swimming around instead of putting on a show.  We couldn’t see them very well but stuck around for a little while and then the trainers came out for some quiet one on one time with the dolphins prior to the next show.  It was wonderful to see these more personal moments of the dolphins chilling out with the trainers and meant we got to see them up close.  A huge highlight for me.

After Chris had to drag me to leave the Oceanarium – left to my our devices I would’ve gone round and round until closing time – we went for a better look around the science park.  It was getting late so thankfully had quietened down and we could just really enjoy the buildings.  I honestly cannot describe to you how phenomenal this area is.  The IMAX cinema is shaped like a giant eye, with the eyeball making up the curved cinema screen.  Alongside the shallow pools of water there is an exhibition of photography from the science park accompanied by inspirational quotes and lyrics.  Valencianos must be so proud to call this amazing city home.

It really has been an awesome day, certainly one of my favourites so far.

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