The best aquarium ever


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Europe » Spain » Principality of Asturias
May 12th 2009
Published: May 12th 2009EDIT THIS ENTRY

With 7 weeks left to go of my year abroad, time is flying. The workload is piling on in preparation for the exams, and that's what this week has mostly been about. I worked fiendishly to get all my creative writing pieces done for my Lengua Espanola class, and now it's all ready to hand in! So that's one thing out the way, but I have a LOT of Portuguese to get going on before the exam, and tons of reading for my literature classes. I'll be heading down to the library as soon as I've bashed this out to get some books. One good thing is that I collected my certificate for the Erasmus language class I did at the start, so at least I have something to show for all those wasted evenings!

And despite all the work, we're still making time for adventures. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity so we're making the most of it. So we have no free days, so what?! We spent a truly frustrating couple of days trying to book a trip to Bilbao and Santander; the Alsa website accepted everyone's card once, and then systematically refused them. But luckily, between us, we managed to book coach tickets to Bilbao, then from Bilbao to Santander, and finally from Santander back to Oviedo for next weekend. We looked into hostels in Bilbao, but they were all miles out, and weren't much cheaper than the hotels. So we've booked a central 3* hotel; a little bit of luxury! We're all really looking forward to it. The weekend after that, Fiona will be here!! I miss my Perpi housemate so much, so I can't wait for her to come. So there's going to be lots to report!

Last week, with some extra free time on Thursday because one of our lectures were cancelled, we decided to get the bus to Gijon and visit the aquarium. Gijon was fairly quiet, as coastal towns are prone to be on a rainy weekday afternoon, and we were the only visitors to the aquarium. That was brilliant, because we had the place to ourselves, we could spend as much time as we wanted gazing at each tank. It is a truly wonderful aquarium, the best I've ever visited. It would be different in high season catching only glimpses of things, but it has a huge array of animals and a great layout. We started off wandering past terrapins, salmon and otters, before winding our way up to an 'experience' area, with pools you were allowed to dip your fingers into, and inspired domes inside the tanks, which you put your head into, and had the bizarre experience of being underwater, as fish and rays swam around you. It also looked very funny from the outside. From there, it led onto the tropical tanks and the aquarium's piece de resistance, a gigantic tank around which everything else was built, containing 1,000,000 litres of water, and sharks. You could walk round the whole tank, and there was even an escalator which led down to a curved space, where the tank was above your head. We spent ages at this tank, because as well as the two big sharks, there were several smaller ones, hundreds of fish, flatfish and two giant turtles. They were amazing to watch. One of the turtles seemed to follow us wherever we went. One side of the tank was partially obscured by a penguin tank, but with a small window behind the penguins, meant that as we were watching the penguins being fed by the keepers, the dark shadow of a shark would occasionally pass by. It was the most wonderful eerie experience, the five of us alone by this gigantic centrepiece, watching these silent sharks glide by.

The tropical fish in the 'beach' tank (with a regular, crashing wave) were beautiful, as were the starfish and the mesmerising blue tank of jellyfish (or yellifish, according to the English translation of the Spanish 'medusas'!). There were also some truly horrible-looking creatures in some of the tanks, such as black slug-type things, gigantic crabs and lobsters, and a disgusting, huge green eel. But the most bizarre thing there, perhaps the most bizarre thing I have ever seen, was the pair of shark embryos, white sacs with tiny, orange wiggling things inside. To see the full-grown sharks in the main tank, and then see these developing things was very very strange. We came out blinking, amazed by it all. If I have only one tip for anyone visiting the region, it is to visit the aquarium in Gijon, out-of-season, on a grey, uninviting day.

Now that I've finished waxing lyrical about fish, I'd better get off to the library and get some work done, before the next adventure!

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