Valencia, Spain is a beautiful place to be and a wonderful place to eat. From the fresh produce markets to the chic restaurants, you’ll have no trouble finding all manner of delicious cuisine, but if you want to know what you should definitely eat in Valencia, look no further.
Five things to eat in Valencia, Spain
Obviously, in Valencia, you should eat Valencian oranges. In fact, go to Central Market and you can indulge in all manner of terrifically fresh and flavorful produce. Don’t try to eat an orange off a tree in the city; they may look pretty, as you can see above, but they taste sour. Head out to an orange grove if you must pick your own oranges.
It was a dark and stormy night when I visited the Valencia Aquarium, The Oceanografic in the outlandish City of Arts and Sciences complex. No really, it was dark and stormy. When I arrived at around 6 PM, the sun had set, and it was raining intermittently. I was cold and worn out and definitely ready for a couple of hours of underwater magic.
The Oceanografic closes at 8, but I had a 9 PM reservation at L’Oceanografic Submarino Restaurant, a suprising gem hidden beneath the strange, intriguing building above at the right (designed by Felix Candela to resemble a water lily). I figured I’d arrive at 6 and kill the hour in between, not realizing that meant I’d be visiting an aquarium in the dark. Had I known that many of the exhibits are outdoors, or that natural light illuminates some of the enclosures, I’m not sure I would have chosen to visit at night, but I did — and I’m glad. There was an esoteric thrill to the ambience. As people poured out of the last dolphin show holding jackets over their heads to stay dry, I couldn’t help but feel like I was participating in some kind of secret aquarium lock-in. And, the other-worldly atmosphere of the restaurant at the end of the evening felt all the more exclusive.
The Oceanografic has to be one of the finest aquariums I’ve seen anywhere. It’s beautifully, artistically designed, and I never felt like I was in a preschool, which is what aquariums often feel like to me. Let’s start with a video of one of the most wonderful sights at the Oceanografic: the jellyfish (be sure and select the HD option!).
I’m partial to the jellyfish, but wouldn’t want to underrepresent the aquarium’s other precious marine inhabitants (of which there are over 45,000). Here’s a quick tour of some of the highlights:
The Valencia Oceanografic, which opened in 2002, is the largest aquarium in Europe at 360,892 square feet. It is a center both for education and for research, and has already been privy to over 100 animal births. The aquarium is divided into 10 sections, with 80 percent of the exhibits underground.
There are several restaurants at the aquarium, and one opens up for dinner at 9 PM: Submarino. That’s where I headed, slightly drenched, after killing the in-between hour in the nearby mall, for what turned into a lavish, decadent dinner of inspired modern cuisine on my final night in Valencia. The decor was stunning and the circular underground dining area was surrounded by wall-to-wall windows into an enormous tank of palometa, swimming counter-clockwise all around.
Check out the gallery for images of the amazing Submarino restaurant, and some more of the terrific marine animals the Oceanografic has to offer.
The zoo in Valencia, Spain, known as Bioparc Valencia, is full of wonderful animals in deluxe, non-depressing enclosures. You’ll find it on the western border of the city, easily reachable by bus or subway (you’ll have to walk about 15-20 minutes if you take the subway).
Bioparc Valencia is a new zoo which opened in March 2008, and its philosophies include sustainable design, scientifically-created habitats to ensure the well-being of the animals, specialized animal care provided by teams of both biologists and veterinarians and a concept called zoo-immersion for guests. Zoo-immersion means that when you enter an area of the zoo, which is divided into geographical ecosystems (currently only the African savannah is open, but Southeast Asia and the Neotropics are next), you will be surrounded by vegetation and landscaping appropriate to the animals you’re viewing, and in some cases, like with the ring-tailed lemurs, you’ll be inside an enclosure with the animals. The lemurs run all around their habitat, jumping over your head and crossing your path like cats.
And that brings us to #1 of our Top Ten Cutest Residents of the Valencia Bioparc: lemurs in trees (above and below)!
Cutest residents #1 through #4 are included in the video above. Here are the rest:
5. Blue butt monkey
So you like a cute blue-footed booby. How do you feel about a blue butt monkey? I feel pretty good about him.
6. Kirk’s dik-dik
This little antelope is only about knee-high. I’m so jealous of whoever Kirk is. (Kidding.)
I get the feeling this ostrich thinks he blends in. He doesn’t. He stood very still and tried as hard as he could to make me think he was a tree, but I totally knew he was an ostrich. All. Along.
8. Rhino (I know)
You may point out, and you’d be right, that an animal like a rhinoceros is not normally called “cute,” but this guy’s wrinkly muzzle and his graceful, tri-clump feet are adorable. No? Agree to disagree.
9. Aardvarks in a heart-shape
I spotted these two aardvark lovers sleeping together in the dark, curled around each other into the perfect shape of a heart. My guide told me that some visitors think aardvarks are ugly, but I think they’re tremendous.
I filmed this myself with an HD Flip camera on my latest trip to Valencia, Spain. Having recently visited Zambia on a safari, I thought the African animals at the zoo might not impress me as much as usual. Boy, was I wrong.
Bioparc Valenica allows you to get so close to the animals — and not because the enclosures are small (they’re actually larger than most I’ve seen). Furthermore, it provides you with experiences you definitely wouldn’t have on a safari, like watching hippos swim underwater right in front of you.
According to my Zambian guides, hippos can hold their breath underwater for four to five minutes. They prefer to be underwater during the day because it’s hot. On this particular day in Valencia (November 27, 2010), it was actually cold, so the hippos are hanging out underwater for the opposite reason: the water’s heated. There’s nothing like a heated pool on a chilly day!
The mother hippo has the most wonderful face, and every time I see that little hippo’s feet, my heart melts into jelly. I hope yours does, too.
Six Flags Magic Mountain will add two roller coasters and alter an existing coaster in 2011, bringing the park’s total to 18. That gives the Valencia, California, theme park the most roller coasters of any theme park in the world, dethroning Ohio’s Cedar Point, which has 17.
The first addition is the Green Lantern, is a spinning coaster on a vertical track. It’s the first of its kind in the United States, though the builder, Intamin, has a similar model called the Comet Express at Lotte World in Seoul, South Korea.
The Green Lantern’s cars can spin on a vertical axis. The ride starts with a 107-foot lifthill, after which riders will zig-zag through more than 800 feet of track on the way back down. Check out the video at the bottom of this post to see a rendering of the Green Lantern in action. Six Flags says the new roller coaster will debut in the spring.
The second 2011 coaster addition at Six Flags Magic Mountain is an as-yet-unnamed kid’s coaster that will be adjacent to the theme park’s Bugs Bunny World children’s area. It will be 679 feet long with a 28-foot lifthill and top speeds of 21 miles per hour.
Finally, the theme park’s Superman: The Escape roller coaster will get its name changed to Superman: Escape from Krypton, along with a pretty major makeover. New cars will allow riders to shoot up the 41-story tower at 100 miles per hour backwards.
The Superman coaster has two tracks. Six Flags says following the ride’s alterations, both tracks will operate with the backward-facing cars at first. After a few months, one of the cars will be turned around, allowing riders to choose whether they want to ride forwards or backwards.
Superman’s new ride cars will also have lower sides for a more exposed feeling, and new over-the-shoulder harness restraints. Six Flags says the Superman alterations will be completed early next year.