City of Arts and Sciences

The motorists in Valencia, especially those on scooters and motorcycles, are a crazy sort. They don’t stop at red lights. They squeeze between cars into the tightest of spaces. They cut across sidewalks. At first I was intimidated by their recklessness. By the end of the night, however, I became one of them. I cut through red lights with impunity. I weaved through traffic from one side of the road to the other. I honked my way across sidewalks.

After I rented a scooter, I picked up Naty from her job, and we decided to find an Indian or Pakistani restaurant to have an early dinner before she left for her shift at Hollywood Grill. She looked up some places in the local phonebook and marked them on my street map. We set out to find a place, but both of the restaurants we checked were closed. Spaniards have a habit of eating late, and many restaurants close a little past noon and open again late in the evening. Naty and I decided to check out the City of Arts and Sciences instead, which I didn’t have time to see earlier. Getting there, however, was not so easy. Valencian streets are incredibly confusing. Many are one-way, so if you drive in one direction, you may very well not be able to get back. Moreover, the city is not in a grid format, which makes it much harder to navigate. Having Naty with me helped. She kept the map in front of her and told me where to go. Even still we ended up on the wrong road at one point, headed towards Barcelona. The road was a major highway with not a single exit in sight. It was several kilometers later that we came across an exit and looped back around.

We finally arrived at the City of Arts and Sciences. I parked the scooter on a nearby sidewalk, and Naty and I walked around the city. The Ciudad de las Artes y de las Ciencias as it is known in Spanish is an inspiring assortment of buildings designed by the Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava. There’s an opera house, which looks like two fish jumping in opposite directions from the pool below. The museum looks like a bony, underwater creature. The “greenhouse” looks like the vertebrae of a fish. It’s comprised of consecutive metal arches that have vines growing over them. Eventually the plants are expected to cover the whole ceiling, forming a cool, leafy walkway underneath. All the buildings are white, and most of them are covered with white pieces of angular tiles, which makes them shimmer. There are shallow pools at the bases of several buildings. The reflection of the buildings in these pools lends them a symmetrically “round” appearance. It is a remarkable effect. All in all, the whole complex is a dazzling architectural feat.

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