Whimsy also plays a role in the architecture: The

Valencia exudes the fine arts of transformation

VALENCIA, Spain If your travels haven’t taken you to Valencia recently, you’re in for a pleasant surprise. This formerly Discount Replica Louis Vuitton Bags sleepy city on the Mediterranean coast has transformed itself, literally, through two ambitious and impressive public projects.

First, Valencia found a world class architect to design a spectacular series of buildings along 86 acres of abandoned riverbed though calling Santiago Calatrava’s sculptural structures “buildings” is a bit like calling Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling a “painting.”

The project Calatrava a native son helped develop, the City of Arts and Sciences, is a futuristic vision built in steel, glass, replica louis vuitton bags from china concrete, and white ceramic tiles. This city within a city, designed to combine education with entertainment and leisure, includes Europe’s largest aquarium, a 450,00 square foot science museum, a planetarium and IMAX theater, and a performing arts center with two performance halls where Zubin replica designer handbags Mehta and Loren Maazel preside over opera, ballet dolabuy.su , and orchestral music.

Walking through the new city is an adventure in itself. Calatrava wanted his creation to represent the sea and sky of the Mediterranean, and the brilliant white structures and reflecting pools do indeed produce intense reflections (on a sunny day , sunglasses and a hat with a brim are advised). Whimsy also plays a role in the architecture: The performing arts center resembles a gigantic white helmet and the planetarium/IMAX structure resembles the world’s largest eye surrounded by two huge lakes.

It’s a walk of more than a mile from the performing arts building to the aquarium (comfortable shoes also advised), which 1:1 replica handbags was designed by the late F Candela, a Mexican architect born in Spain. The series of white hyperbolic paraboloid roofs set within a nature reserve fits right into the city’s contemporary design. With more than 500 species of marine life housed here, including dolphins, white whales, sea lions aaa replica designer handbags , fish, and wetland birds, you could easily replica louis vuitton bags spend a day at the aquarium.

Most impressive is the fact that construction on this project began in 1997 and was completed in 2005, although residence towers in the area remain a work in progress.

“Valencia has changed so much in fake louis bag the past 10 years that people here don’t recognize their own city,” said aaa replica designer handbags Patricia Pico, who works at the City of Arts and Sciences.

The city’s second large scale project involves the waterfront where, again, Valencia has taken a downtrodden area and turned it into something remarkable, almost in the blink of an eye.

“Valencia gave its back to the sea. Now we want to change that to be open to the sea,” said Pico.

Nothing spurs progress like a deadline. In 2003, Switzerland won the America’s Cup, bringing the famed sailing competition back to Europe for the first time in 152 years. The landlocked Swiss chose Valencia to host the 2007 event and for the past two years the city has worked feverishly and successfully to transform an abandoned section of an active commercial harbor (one of the largest in Europe) into a viable America’s Cup site.

There are 12 new buildings that serve as headquarters for each competing team, including Perfect Quality Louis Vuitton Replica the defender, Alinghi, and the US team, BMW Oracle Racing from San Francisco. To keep the racing yachts and commercial vessels from getting in each other’s way, Valencia carved a new half mile canal out to the ocean.

The newly developed waterfront is open replica louis vuitton handbags to the public (once you pass through security) and includes a hall of historic exhibitions with models of all 32 past Cup winners, South Beach style restaurants, and a harborside promenade. Preliminary regattas have already been held, and the Louis Vuitton regattas in the spring will determine the Cup challenger.

The beach aaa replica designer handbags , just north of the commercial harbor, is a broad sandy expanse and the water is inviting for swimming. A wide walkway, popular among the locals for biking or an evening stroll, separates the beach from a row of popular restaurants and resorts. As part of Valencia’s rejuvenation, some of these are being transformed into large luxury and smaller boutique hotels.

Two blocks inland, two and three story buildings with Art Deco sensibilities sport signs saying “Rehabilitaci Sin Destrucci (rehabilitate without destruction). With so much growth in Valencia, locals are working to preserve the traditional character and architecture, and to balance the new with the old.

For those who like to explore history, there are many ways to enjoy the cultural heritage of Valencia. Spain’s third largest city, with a population of 800,000, has a vibrant city center with cobblestone streets, a medieval gate, Roman ruins, the first bull ring built in Spain, an impressive cathedral, a food market similar to La Boqueria in Barcelona, as well as many museums of art and history. replica louis vuitton The National Museum of Ceramics is worth seeing for the exterior facade alone, a carved alabaster portal from the 18th century.

Of course, the fresh salt air and lots of walking will make you hungry, which in Valencia is a very good thing because the cuisine reflects the city’s seaside location. Its most famous dish, paella, is prepared in many ways, combining saffron flavored rice with varied ingredients including chicken or rabbit (to represent the land) with snails, fish, and shellfish (to represent the sea ). Thirty percent of Spain’s rice is produced in the province of Valencia, and one can learn about three distinct varieties (Bahia, Senia, and Bomba ) at the Rice Museum, housed in an old rice mill.

In addition to paella, and, of course, tapas, Valencia is known for horchata, a sweet refreshing drink made from the milk of the tiger nut. After a day on the go, it’s an excellent pick me up to carry you through the evening hours. This is Spain, after all, where dinner is Designer Louis Vuitton Replica Handbags late and nightlife even later.

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