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A Fishy Tale

Feb
21
2006

I am overdosed on fish, flipped out on flippers, up to the gills with scales.
No, this is not more on the famed Mediterranean diet. Over the weekend we went to L’Oceanografic, the “largest marine park in Europe.” That’s aquarium, to you and me. Many fish are very interesting; some others are not so interesting. This is unimportant to the fish themselves, but something to remember if you have several million of them to look at. And we barely got through half the place.
The aquarium is part of a bid by Valencia to put itself on the map a la Bilbao (and its Gehry-designed Guggenheim museum) with a complex including a science museum, performance centers and the fishy area designed by star architect and local boy Santiago Calatrava. The buildings are certainly amazing to look at but the place has the feel of a spaceship dropped in on the city.
Still, in the aquarium buildings there are lots of cool ways to look at the fish, through tunnels and bubbles and in long, long tanks. Really, for fish you couldn’t do better. Except maybe a restaurant near the beach, but that doesn’t entertain the kids for as long.
What the aquarium does have too, and I’m guessing it’s not as common on this continent, is a dolphin show. It was a good dolphin show, as dolphin shows go, which for my money, and it’s a lot of money they charge at these places, believe me, but anyway, for my money the shows go on just a touch too long. But I assume everyone’s mind starts to wander at some point during the dolphin show. I worry about the dolphin people getting cold. And then, ever since I read, by coincidence, two novels practically in succession in which both authors wrote about people dying (from drowning) when dolphins tried to copulate with them, it’s really hard to concentrate on the tricks they’re showing.
Anyway, the dolphin show really was everything you could ask for, and the kids enjoyed it. And the perkiness level was toned down a notch or two from your average U.S. level. There were also plenty of sharks (not at the dolphin show), so all in all the marine park was a success.
As a former Southern California mommy, I fancy myself a bit of an expert on entertainment complexes. What most shocked my about our visit was that at least two employees spoke to me or members of my party without smiling, and in fact almost brusquely. I was shocked, shocked I tell you. The U.S. is more of a smiley culture anyway, but if that happened in a California park the employees would be dropped in the dolphin tank – in sexy underwear.
Still, that would be a different kind of show – not quite suitable for children – and I’m sure they’d charge a lot more for it, so really, sometimes I suppose it’s best to just accept cultural differences.

Share  Posted by Deborah Klosky at 4:37 PM | Permalink

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