In the Swim

Sometimes I still feel like we’re tourists. Yes, we’ve lived here for a while now but we’ve only scratched the surface of what Valencien – or Spain in general – has to offer. There are some top sites for tourists when they visit. All the fruits of the City of Arts and Sciences.  The Natural History museum, The Hemispheric or the Opera house. There is also the BioParc in the North of the city and the Oceanographic – Marine park – that’s a huge draw at this time of year.

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On the weekend, we walked the river and ended up at the Oceanografic. It’s the largest aquarium in Europe and because we’re residents it’s cheaper for us to enter. My expectation were not that high. I’ve taken my kids all over the place and often, when we’ve been traveling to one city or another, on one continent or another, we’ve visited things that would interest the kids. Things that weren’t museums or historical sites.

Once in Edinburgh, we went to the local children’s museum across from Holyrood house. I think Nick and Em were a bit freaked out by the bloody tales of Scottish Royalty, complete with i;licit lovers and stabbings. In retrospect, perhaps a bit much for children under 10, so they needed a break to just be kids. That was a pretty cool place but I wouldn’t have expected to enjoy it as much as I did.

The Seattle Aquarium always seemed to be under construction and Sea World in San Diego was a very tired place the last time I was there. Thus, aquariums weren’t high on my list of places to visit.

Here, the Oceanographic is a top notch marine life facility. They do conservation, research and education and the aquariums are air conditioned spaces underground – the perfect location for 38 degree day.  Our first collective impression was ‘WOW!’.

Every exhibit was better than the last.  The shark tank experience was impressive with the rays and the variety of sea life. The jellyfish exhibits from around the world – including what we think of as the Pacific Northwest (home) but they call the “Northeast Pacific’. That seemed strange but they’re right, of course. There was an arctic installation and one or each of the Seven Seas. And then we went to the dolphin show.

We’ve been to many many dolphin shows in the US, Canada and Mexico. They’re fun and you expect to get wet. The first part of the entertainment was all about conservation and about climate change. I like that they tied it all together. Of course, the dolphins belong in their natural environment and not in a tank. But something we noticed in many of the exhibits was that many of the animal – of course not all – seems to be rehabbed. There were dolphins whose tails were clearly mangled by something. Sea lions who were missing a fin.

And kids can get up close to the animals via various experiences and learn about where they live and what we can do to help them. Emilie loved it! And so did we. We’re becoming members because this won’t be the last time we go there – it’s made it to the ‘What to do when people visit’ list.

Emilie heads back to school in less than a month. Until then, each weekend we’ve decided to be tourists in our own town. We’re on Stay-cation this summer. So why not! Next outing – The BioParc.