Valencia took us by surprise. We didn’t expect it to be so glamorous. The Old Quarter is charming, with winding streets, imposing churches, and alluring squares. Outside the Old Quarter there is a newer section that was seemingly built in the 18th century. This section presents wide avenues and grand boulevards lined with stately buildings. The buildings are architecturally stunning, with elaborate reliefs and balconies, topped with sculptures, domes, or turret-like towers. Some of the domes are decked out in blue tiles, others have fish-scale-like copper surfaces. It seems that the city has been undergoing a major renovation. Many buildings look like they were painted yesterday, although some are in the midst of restoration and others are still waiting their turn.
Valencia is also home to the very modern City of Arts and Sciences designed by the city’s native son, Santiago Calatrava. City of Arts and Sciences is a complex of futuristic-looking edifices that include a concert hall, two science museums, two bridges, a covered promenade, and various multiple auxiliary structures. Everything on the territory of the complex, down to trashcans, was designed by Calatrava. I would have loved to know what was going on in the architect’s mind when he conceived these buildings, what inspired him, and what they represent! And also, what it took to get a builder, let alone to build it!
Although the complex is open for business, some construction is still in progress. We tried to get into the concert hall but were turned away. So we went to the Science Museum, which I don’t recommend if you ever make it to Valencia. Just walk the perimeter of the buildings and enjoy the alien architecture – the inside is not worth the visit.
Back on the ship, we had just made it for the chef’s “Welcome to Europe” hors d’oeuvres of caviar, grave lox, pate, and sushi (evidently, from the European country of Japan).