The River That’s Not A River?

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.

12 comments On The River That’s Not A River?

  • Great pics… it looks incredible and I’m sure you’ve enjoyed some fantastic sights zooming around on your tredley.

    • Cheers Jo. Between the treddly, walking, bus, tram, Metro and the very popular and extensive bike sharing system it’s easy to get around without the need for a car.

  • Never realised how vibrant Valencia has become. Amazing photos!

    • Thanks Veronica. Despite the vibrancy if the city, Valencia has a high unemployment rate over 20%, just higher than the national average. But despite this, you don’t feel the economic downturn that hit Spain and more so here in 2008. Certainly at least in the city centre. As locals have described it, Spanish families are very close, so if someone’s out of work, the rest of the family pitch into support them.

  • CJ Port Lincoln already has sharks: Swan River sharks would be like your Valencian aquaduct – a good idea at the time!

  • I think I would rather have the river. However it must keep the tourist busy looking for it!
    Your ideas for the Swan although at first thought may be dismissed as silly they do have merit and could indeed generate a huge amount of interest from overseas tourists.
    Maybe I could trial the idea at this years Sailing Cup race, shark fins to be fixed to all yachts!!!
    Make sure you keep your fluid intake of good Spanish red wine up to the required limits.
    Love Ang and Les

  • What would fair Adelaide be without The Torrens River. So appropriately named for such an expanse of water which proudly supports all manner of aquatic activities throughout the year. It has a native Kaurna name- Kara wirra-parri. Even that does not make it anything more than a sort of dam held in by a weir to ensure there is always water between the north and south of the city linear parks. What a tourist attraction for what was originally a city sewer responsible for typhus and cholera. Now it’s also got a ridiculously expensive footbridge that can’t cope with the footy crowds. We paddled on it for two race days in September after the recent rains filled it with enough debris for the local paper liken it to The Ganges- the most polluted river in the world! Yes we should keep our jewel in the crown!

    • Now Helen, I think you maybe being a bit harsh here! Granted the good ol’ Torrens may not rate as one of the top rivers of the world and by comparison some may refer to it as not much more than a creek. But given all that, I reckon Adelaide’s got it right in that whole precinct. To me that area has always looked like a picture postcard, particularly at night. Maybe the footbridge should have been bigger, but unlike most government projects I’m yet to hear of anyone who doesn’t love that whole new oval/ walking from the city over the bridge to the oval atmosphere that’s been created. I thought it was fantastic. But if the price of all that is an outbreak of cholera, worst case is you couldn’t go wrong with also draining the thing and turning into a playground!

  • Hi Chris,
    The Turia river still exists !
    There was a big flood back in 1957 and the city suffered a lot because of the waters during several days.
    The river was a landmark of the city of Valencia with different bridges that still exist.
    After 1957 , the decision was taken of deviating the river and so they created a new path, a much wider one, surrounding the city which flows into the Mediterranean by the south part of the city .

    It’s actually the old riverbed which was transformed into a huge park reachable from many parts of the city .
    And to make it short it is known as “the river”
    No pollution, no cars, quiet, where people do whatever they prefer to do.
    A space of peace.

  • Certainly the “river that’s not a river”, the old river, I think is one of the major assets of the city. I love it.

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