People refer to it as the river. I could see the river on the map. I’ve always found it an exciting challenge arriving in a new city getting your bearings. I kept looking for this river. The map indicated a sizable river circumventing half the old city. I found what possibly could be a river. But there was no water. Turns out there is no river. But they call it a river. And so I later learnt, back in the 50’s they drained what was the Turia River and turned it into this now continuous stretch of parkland.
I can understand their thinking. It’s dense urban living here. Everyone lives in apartments. The kids wanted to kick a footy around. And if we can’t have a backyard for a barby, well let’s make one, they would have thought. And make it they did. A huge one. It’s a fantastic long stretch of continuous recreational parklands. Ten kilometres of uninterrupted cycling path 🙂 together with throngs of joggers, picnickers, soccer fields, water features and lots of parkland areas.
What a brilliant idea. Clearly better usage value for the same space than a few people paddling up and down in little rent-a-paddle boats. But clearly it’s not something we would want to do in Oz. Take the Swan river in Perth city for example. Sure, it has a massive though hugely underutilised area that has nothing more than a ferry going back and forth all day. You could drain it and it’d be big enough to run a grand prix in it. But no. I believe we have a touristic obligation to feed the expectations of our international guests. You see, everyone overseas it seems, is awed by the endless list of things in Oz that can take you out. From sharks, spiders, crocodiles, snakes, you name it, it’s there waiting to get you. Yep, we’ve got the whole package.
So rather than drain the likes of the Swan, instead create a lasting memorable experience. Like a huge remote controlled shark fin cruising up and down past the ferry? That would be sure to create a stir with unsuspecting tourists on board. That would tick off the sharks. And of course we’d need to train a few kangaroos to be jumping up and down the mall to meet more foreigner expectations. With countless stories to tell, tourists would be proudly heading off with T Shirts and certificates declaring “I survived Down Under”.
But back here in Valencia, the experience is certainly a much different one. You could be excused for thinking Valencia is limited to this exciting old town. Not so. The old river has given birth to not only extensive park lands, but at one end is the impressive City of Arts and Sciences. It’s an entertainment based cultural and architectural complex. An amazing contrast of very futuristic looking buildings. The river may be void of water, but it’s certainly filled with a large abundance of life.