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A little about my neighbourhood

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Now I have settled into my new flat here and am getting to know the local area, I thought I’d give a little account of my barrio.

I live in the Benimaclet area of Valencia, which used to be a small town in its own right until it was swallowed up into the city by an act passed in the 1970s.  The name is Arabic in origin, so it must be pretty old…in fact there’s even a Wikipedia article about the place.  I had intended to post more pictures of Benimaclet, but it’s a bit dull and rainy at the moment.  As soon as it’s jolly, I’ll try and get some up here.

I’ll start with the block of flats where I live.  Valencia is a city of the high-rise, and there are very few houses here; most living in flats.  Spanish building standards, not being particularly fussy about many things, mean that you soon get to know your neighbours, if not by name then by habits.  My neighbours above are Ecuadorian, and relatively quiet.  To one side are an old couple, with a squawking bird and deaf ears.  They shout at each other constantly (most of the time not in argument, but at times they are frightening), their television is loud, their radio louder, and the man hammers on the lift to make it arrive faster.  On the other side is a family with a large dog that at times likes to howl, and I don’t know much more about them.

A view down the street from my terrace.  A pretty typical suburban Valencian view.

A view down the street from my terrace. A pretty typical suburban Valencian view.

The flats are arranged about a central core so that interior rooms still have natural light.  However, the other effect is that not only do you hear your immediate neighbours, but those in the rest of the block.  So now let me introduce Sr. Emphysema, the man that cycles hanging out of his window with his nicotine habit and with his lung problems.  I’m disturbed during the day by his hacking, and woken and night by the sound of the window flying open and the coughing commencing.  Other characters include the Arguers, a family with a poor put-upon father and his ungracious teenage children.  I won’t bore with details of the familiar arguments they like to have.  The Yappers have a small but ferociously loud dog, which is yet another alarm clock in the morning.  Their solution to making it quiet (after the other neighbours yell “’¡callale!”, “shut it up!”) is to give it a squeaky toy that is just as loud as its yap.

Opposite the flat is a small park, and in the vicinity are all manner of shops.  Most close by is a greengrocer’s (next door to the entrance to the flats) and then there are newsagents; a sweet and dried fruit shop; a bakery (with 24-hour automatic bread machine); a fishmonger’s; a few butchers and delicatessen; some takeaways; more bars than you can count; and half a dozen Chinese random crap shops.

Absolutely anything here, absolutely anything.

Absolutely anything here, absolutely anything.

These random-crap shops are actually rather handy; I’m in my nearest one at least a couple of times a week.  Anything from light bulbs to sheets to buckets to tasteless decorations.  You know the kind of place. Oddly, though, I didn’t expect to come across such classy labels in the footwear section:

Lovely.

Lovely.

Further afield in the bigger streets are all sorts of other shops, including, if I should ever need it, a large dog beauty salon (not for large dogs, I mean the place is big).

It also seems to be difficult to get away from Croydon.  There’s a Chavi Bar in one street, and a bit further away, the Black Sheep.

The Sheep! How I long for thee and a pint of snakebite black...

The Sheep! How I long for thee and a pint of snakebite black...

A bit blurry, but you get the point.

A bit blurry, but you get the point.

Coming soon: a reportage on my University, the local Poly.

[published at ben.corale.co.uk]

Written by Benjamin

October 18th, 2008 at 6:37 pm

He llegado en Valencia

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Hola a todos.  Just a quick post to say I’m alive, and have arrived in Valencia, with it’s wonderful Heron City entertainment complex, and cafés that give out lucky cards that have landed me a pair of green flipflops.  Awesome.

It wasn’t entirely painless getting here, though.  My 36kg of bags were over the weight limit, so I wasn’t sure if they’d be nice and just let me take it anyway; after all, it’s not the busiest of flights.  But no, I have to pay (although, thankfully, not for the whole excess amount!).  And this is where things suddenly turned a bit sour.  It transpires that my “Iberia” flight was in fact a code-share for their budget airline, ClickAir.  It would’ve been useful to know this little bit of information before.

We all know budget airline means uh-oh for excess baggage, and uh-oh it was.  Eighty quid it was.  With Iberia, it should’ve been 50€, i.e. considerably less.  I feel a bit conned by this…surely I should’ve been told when I booked the flight it wasn’t Iberia operating?  The price I paid too for the ticket in the first place wasn’t that of a budget airline.  It feels like fraud!

Anyway, I am here and that’s good.  Tomorrow it’s more travelling with a train journey to the town where I’m attending language school.

Buenos noches.

Written by Benjamin

September 6th, 2008 at 11:38 pm

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