I did not have many predispositions about Valencia, Kaitlin's suggestion for a stopover before Ibiza. I knew it was another coastal city (meaning it probably had some good ocean access) and that it was the supposed birthplace of paella, but aside from these details I had not looked into it. It surprised us though,turning out to be a fresh experience in artistic and scientific modernity.
We booked our stay at the 40 Flats hostel, a unique accommodation that claimed to have various local artists decorate each room differently. We thought it would be an interesting experience, so we gave it a try. What we found is that these decorations are not just a simple wallpaper tone change though - we are talking about a full visual and tactile experience where the environment comes alive. In our room, for instance, it was a temperate rainforest, with fake vines on the ceiling, a full-wall print of a forest scene, a small hanging-gardens style toiletry table in the washroom, and the rest of the furniture and decorations to match. Even with our advance knowledge of these decorations, the level of effort and planning that was put into these environments was impressive.
Upon leaving our hostel, we came upon the arts and sciences park, including 5 massive alien structures and a sculpture boardwalk with a suspension bridge in the middle. Everything was toned with either white or a dark blue-purple, with flourishes of vegetation and flowers to keep things lively. The park was open to all for most outdoor parts of it, but if you wanted to go in the aquatic park, dinosaur exhibit, or science museum there was a fee. We ended up coming back for the aquatic park and science museum, which were awe-inspiring displays worth the money. The aquatic park had a dolphin show, sharks, beluga whales, and walruses among the standard stars of the show. They also had some less-encountered creatures, such as the huge Japanese spider crabs, eels, and a variety of rays. The science museum was similar to Canada's Science World, with many interactive displays showing off scientific principles.
We made it down to the long beach and through the city briefly too, but our stay was too short to get a feel for the city. We will need to visit again.
What small taste we were able to get of Valencia ignited the artist in us and challenged our minds. It was the perfect storm for our short stay, and leaves us wanting more.