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Moving to Valencia: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in

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El Carmen
The Barrio del Carmen lies right in the centre of the city and is part of the Ciutat Vella or Old Town. It’s great if you want to be right in the heart of the action close to lots of bars, cafes and shops. It’s ideal for those who love Spain’s iconic cute narrow streets and historic architecture. This neighbourhood lies within easy walking distance to almost everywhere. The only place that you might want to hop on the tram to is the beach. The only drawback is that this area can get particularly crowded with tourists, especially in summer and during the Las Fallas festival at the end of March. It can also be quite noisy, given the number of late-night bars that can be found down its narrow streets.

La Seu
The oldest part of Valencia, the neighbourhood of La Seu centres around the Cathedral and is also part of the Ciutat Vella. It’s both the religious and political centre of the city and is home to some of its most impressive buildings. Like its neighbour, the barrio del Carmen above, if you live here, you’ll be at the heart of everything and be able to walk to everywhere (except the beach). It can also get quite noisy and crowded however, especially in summer when people sit outside on bar terraces at night.

El Cabanyal
The city’s old fisherman’s district, El Cabanyal was one of the poorest areas of the city until very recently – full of old crumbling apartment buildings and several unsavoury characters. In recent years however it has been getting a facelift – apartments have been renovated, new businesses have opened and younger people have moved in. Now one of the city’s most up-and-coming neighbourhoods, El Cabanyal is ideal for those who want to be just steps from the beach and love traditional old colourful architecture. The only drawback of living here is that you’re quite far from the city centre, so may need to spend quite a bit of time travelling back and forth on the tram.  

El Cabanyal, Valencia. Photo: Lablascovegmenu / Flickr

El Pla del Remei and Gran Vía
El Pla del Remei and Gran Vía are located in the L’Eixample district – the extension of the city and are more modern than the neighbourhoods in the Old Town. El Pla del Remei and Gran Vía comprise Valencia’s main shopping hub and are filled with all the most popular high street stores, fashion boutiques and upscale apartment buildings. They’re centred around the art nouveau Mercat de Colón – a grand historic market that has been fully renovated and is now filled with an array of trendy bars and restaurants.  Bordering the green lung of the city – the Turia Gardens on one side and the Ciutat Vella on the other, they offer one of the best locations in the city. The main drawback is that rental prices are high here and you can get a lot more for your money elsewhere. They are also very busy areas, so you may want to consider somewhere quieter if that’s what you’re after.  

READ ALSO: Living in Spain: Why Valencia is officially the best city in the world for foreign residents

El Botànic
El Botànic lies in the district of Extramurs, to the west of the Ciutat Vella and borders the tranquil Turia Gardens. The area also comprises the city’s leafy Botanical Gardens, of which it’s named after. Live here if you want to be within walking distance to the Old Town and all its bars and restaurants, but also want a more relaxed vibe, surrounded by greenery and nature. The neighbourhood has plenty of its own sights too, including museums, a quaint market place and the Torres de Quart – the twin gothic-style defence towers which once formed part of the city wall.

Ruzafa
Ruzafa lies just south of the Ciutat Vella on the eastern side of the grand main central train station. The city’s coolest barrio, it’s home to hipsters, young people and plenty of interesting bars and restaurants. Its trendy alternative vibe means you’ll find everything from vegetarian and vegan cafes to bars hidden in book shops and antique stores. Attracting young professionals, digital nomads and foreigners, it’s ideal for those who want to experience the city’s alternative nightlife and great restaurants. Because of its hipster status, accommodation prices have risen in Ruzafa a lot over the past five years or so, meaning that bargains are hard to find here anymore.

Ruzafa neighbourhood, Valencia. Photo: Derek Rankine / Flickr

Campanar
Campanar is the name given to the city’s fourth district, comprising Les Tendetes, El Calvari, Sant Pau and the neighbourhood of Campanar itself. Located outside of the city walls and on the other side of the Turia Gardens, Campanar was once a separate village filled with canals, fields and citrus orchards. Today, not much of that survives and most of the district is given over to high rises, shopping malls and wide boulevards. But, hidden in amongst all this you can still find the Old Town of Campanar with its colourful two-story houses, shady plazas and pedestrianised streets. It’s ideal for families and those who want a quieter and more local side to Valencian life, close to greenery – with the Bioparc Zoo on one side and the Turia Gardens on the other.

Benimaclet
One of Valencia’s least-known neighbourhoods, Benimaclet lies to the northeast of the city, close to two of the city’s universities. Because of this, it attracts many students and accommodation prices are a lot cheaper than they are in the more central neighbourhoods. But this is not Benimaclet’s only draw. The area, like Campanar, used to be a separate village, which was later annexed to the city, meaning that it has a more laidback and tranquil vibe. And it still feels like a village too with its proper houses instead of just apartment blocks, charming colourful architecture and attractive squares. It may lie further out than some of the neighbourhoods, but it’s just a quick metro ride into the centre for everything you need.

READ ALSO: Moving to Barcelona: A guide to the best neighbourhoods to live in



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‘Fight Club’ author Chuck Palahniuk reflects about his life: From building his own castle to making the audience faint | Culture

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Portrait of writer Chuck Palahniuk in Italy in 2007.
Portrait of writer Chuck Palahniuk in Italy in 2007.CENDAMO LEONARDO (Getty Images)

The Covid-19 pandemic divided the world in two: those who tackled personal projects, taking advantage of the collapse, and those who later regretted not having done so. For Chuck Palahniuk, 60, confinement was not as problematic – after all, a writer needs a certain degree of isolation in order to concentrate – as the closing of the gyms. Suddenly, he had no way of working up. So, he set himself a new routine: building a castle with his bare hands on top of a cliff outside of Portland. He chuckles as he recalls: “I changed a completely abstract activity in the gym for lifting rocks weighing more than 40 pounds. I started with a simple room and before I knew it I was making windows, niches for statues, a patio… There it is, without ceilings, like a strange uninhabitable fantasy.” During those months, he took on something he had been avoiding: teaching and preparing a manual for aspiring novelists: Consider This: Moments in My Writing Life After Which Everything Was Different (Grand Central Publishing).

Collage that mixes photos of the writer Chuck Palahniuk at different times in his life with images of film adaptations of his books such as 'Fight Club'
Collage that mixes photos of the writer Chuck Palahniuk at different times in his life with images of film adaptations of his books such as ‘Fight Club’Miguel Vides

Question. You start this book by saying that you never wanted to write it. What made you change your mind?

Answer. Before publishing Fight Club, I used to work on a truck assembly line. There were so many of us journalists in that company that we joked that they should teach welding during the career. Then I signed up for the writing workshop of Tom Spanbauer [author of The Man Who Fell in Love with the Moon] and everything changed. I owe him a lot of what I know. Thanks to him, I was able to develop my career. And since Tom is not in good health and was never going to write this book, I owed it to him.

Q. Tom Spanbauer created the concept of “dangerous writing,” which you practice. What is it about?

A. It’s about exploring something threatening and unresolved in your life, overcoming fears from painful personal truths.

Q. What advice, as a writer, would you have given to yourself as a young person?

A. Relax. You need to take your time to publish something that matters; you only have one first novel.

Q. In your case, it was Fight Club. You did take your time… you wrote it when you were 33.

A. I was still young, wasn’t I? [Laughs]

Q. How did you manage to keep grounded after its success?

A. It was not a success, on the contrary. During my first promotional tour, in Seattle two people showed up, and in San Francisco, nobody. And even though the film rights were acquired, nothing indicated that it would actually be filmed. When it was finally released, it lasted a couple of weeks in the theaters. By then, it had hardly been sold; almost all copies of the book remained in a warehouse. It wasn’t until Fox released it on DVD that it really found its audience.

The author dancing in a photograph from a few years ago.
The author dancing in a photograph from a few years ago.

Q. Is it true that after you were introduced to Brad Pitt on the set, you wanted to get his lips?

A. [Laughs] We all have our insecurities. I, for example, have been trying to hide my neck since I was a child. It’s too long. That’s why I always had my promotional photos taken with a turtleneck. But I hadn’t paid attention to my mouth until a friend told me: “Have you noticed how the attractive thing about Brad Pitt are his perfect lips?” They are very pronounced, very full. That made me self-conscious about mine; they are quite thin. I needed lips like those. So I called several cosmetic surgery offices to get information and tried one of those telemarketing-style inventions that do suction to achieve a fuller effect. It was a complete disaster. And I took the opportunity to write about it, of course.

Q. Why are you so keen on exploring the limits of the body?

A. Funny you should mention it, because I have realized that the stories that most attract me as a reader are those that include some physical element. And that is always present in my writing: it could be in violence, in sex, in drugs or in illness. Creating a very intense feeling of the character’s body generates a physical reaction in the reader.

Q. When would you say you moved on from your obsession with provoking?

A. The 1990s was the decade of transgressive novels. It started with American Psycho and continued with Trainspotting and Fight Club. Novels about bored kids who would try anything to feel alive. But everything changed with 9/11. Suddenly, anything transgressive was in danger of being accused of inciting terrorism, and publishers decided not to take legal responsibility for their authors. That is why there was such a strong revival of codified formulas of transgression, such as horror. I published my own horror trilogy: Lullaby, Diary and Haunted. I had to sharpen my wits to hide the message. I don’t see it as something bad; on the contrary, it forces the reader to exercise their intelligence to decode what you’re really telling them.

Q. You have a short story, Guts, about risky forms of masturbation that can end in tragedy. It is famous for causing fainting among the audience. Why do you like to read it in public so much?

A. Guts comes from true stories. I wrote it as a personal challenge, thinking about Shirley Jackson and her story The Lottery. When she published it in The New Yorker in the 1950s, the magazine lost subscribers; some people were very offended. I was obsessed with the idea: what would a story capable of amassing the same level of anger look like today? Reading it in public is the most humiliating thing I can do, because I have to put all my dignity aside. It is a message especially for the youngest: in order to create, the first thing you have to lose is shame – only then do you end up facing your own fears.

Chuck Palahniuk in a selfie he shares with ICON from his book cover shoot, in which he got several fake tattoos on his face.
Chuck Palahniuk in a selfie he shares with ICON from his book cover shoot, in which he got several fake tattoos on his face.

Q. Shirley Jackson’s daughter sold her mother’s ashes online, and gave you some. Where do you keep them?

A. They are too precious a relic to keep in my hands. I bought two beautiful wooden boxes from an antiques dealer, split them up and sent them to my agent and publisher. The truth is that I’m not particularly fetishist.

Q. In your book, you raise two unanswered questions: why are we so obsessed with stories about losers? Why do high culture tales end badly?

A. In most movies of my generation the good guys used to lose. Rocky lost, Rosemary gave birth to the devil’s son, Taxi Driver croaks, Carrie kills everyone and then herself, Midnight Cowboy ends terribly… Everyone goes after an ideal and loses the battle, although many persevere. Someone named this “romantic fatalism.” We had seen the failure of Vietnam, Nixon’s corruption, the environmental crisis… Nobody was going to go for a nice ending, we had to see the hero try and try and fail. The decline of the Summer of Love would give rise to the Me Generation of the 1970s and the yuppies of the 1980s. And so, we have remained in love with tragic endings until today.

Q. In 2018, you experienced a particularly difficult moment: you lost the income of your last years due to the embezzlement committed by your literary agency’s accountant. What was it like to suddenly find yourself in scarcity?

A. It was disturbing, but it helped me not to be so confident. In any case, I didn’t start writing for money, and it has never been my main goal. I’m not a big spender either. So, essentially, nothing changed. At that time, much worse things happened to me, like the death of my father-in-law from cancer.

Q. You have always been very discreet about your relationship with your husband, with whom you’ve been with for almost 30 years. But you now talk about it more openly. What has changed?

A. The death of my parents was decisive. I didn’t want to embarrass them when they were alive, because homosexuality wasn’t something they quite agreed with. Also, my husband feels more comfortable with it. In 2018, we were invited to the Rome Film Festival, and when I walked the red carpet we posed together and he hugged me from behind. It was a natural gesture that we don’t usually do in public.

Q. You’ve had no problem writing about your addiction to sedatives, but I read that you’ve given them up. What drove you to do it?

A. I started because I suffer from insomnia. I can spend weeks wandering sleeplessly. Then I discovered that they were a fantastic tool for writing in one sitting or for keeping up with the pace of promotional tours. Vicodin or Ambien were useful to turn my body into a machine that responded to the need to rest or to be awake when needed. Until I was invited to a cultural festival in Borelo, Palermo, and I got hammered mixing pills with booze. I ended up acting like a jerk in front of people I admire, like the writer John Irving. On my return to Portland, I was so embarrassed that I said to myself: never again.

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Norway accepts European military aid to secure oil sector

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ENERGY

Norway’s prime minister said Friday the country, which has become Europe’s biggest supplier of natural gas, had accepted military contributions from France, Germany and Britain to secure its oil and gas sector.

Published: 30 September 2022 19:01 CEST

Pictured is Norwegian PM Jonas Gahr Støre

File Photo: Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York City on September 22, 2022. (Photo by Tomothy A. Clary / AFP)

“We are in discussions with our allies to increase the (military) presence in the Norwegian sector and have accepted German, French and British contributions,” Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store told a press conference, following the alleged sabotage of the Nord Stream pipelines in the Baltic Sea.

His comments came days after four leaks were discovered in the Nord Stream gas pipelines in the Baltic Sea, which bring Russian gas to Europe.

The leaks were caused by underwater explosions corresponding to hundreds of kilogrammes of explosives and look like a deliberate act, a Danish-Swedish report said Friday.

“I understand that people are worried about the consequences that the situation in the Baltic Sea may have and that something similar may happen to the oil installations,” Store said.

“We have no indication that there are any direct threats to the Norwegian oil sector,” the Norwegian leader added.

Following the Nord Stream explosions and leaks, Norway had already said it would beef up security around its oil installations, amid allegations of sabotage.

“The government has decided to put measures in place to increase security at infrastructure sites, land terminals and platforms on the Norwegian continental shelf,” Norwegian Energy Minister Terje Aasland said in a statement on Tuesday.

Norway has become Europe’s main gas supplier in the wake of the war in Ukraine, taking the place of Russia.

The Scandinavian country has a vast network of pipelines, stretching for almost 9,000 kilometres, linking it to the continent, which experts have said are at risk of sabotage.

On Friday, Støre said that two Norwegian Coast Guard vessels had been diverted to patrol near oil platforms and that the area was also being monitored by a maritime patrol aircraft.

The Norwegian prime minister met several European leaders and the head of NATO on Friday, and is expected to visit the Sleipner oil platform in the North Sea on Saturday.

Norway, as well as Britain, France, and Germany, are all members of the NATO military alliance.



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‘After my generation, no one will speak Ladino’ | Culture

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Ivo Molina, the director of the weekly newspaper Salom, in front of a stand displaying copies of his publication.
Ivo Molina, the director of the weekly newspaper Salom, in front of a stand displaying copies of his publication.Luis Mazarrasa

Although the last publications in Ladino – or Judeo-Spanish – have been surviving in Turkey against all odds, this Romance language is about to disappear.

“We are the last generation of Sephardic Jews who speak Ladino… even my children barely understand it,” warns Ivo Molinas, 60, director of the weekly Salom and the monthly El Amaneser. Both papers – founded 75 years ago – are published entirely in the language used by the Sephardic community in Turkey.

Molinas notes that he directs the only press in the world that has published uninterruptedly in Ladino. The reasons he gives for the decline in the language – which is in real danger of extinction – are both demographic and cultural. The Turkish Sephardic community has decreased over the last few decades from about 50,000 to only 16,000 members, with the vast majority concentrated in Istanbul. Meanwhile, the new generation prefers to speak Turkish, English… and now Spanish, since Spain granted Spanish nationality to the descendants of Jews expelled in 1492 by Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand. It makes more sense to use some of the world’s major languages, rather than learning a minor one that’s on life support.

“In fact, while 40% of the community understands it, we no longer speak Ladino like our parents did,” Molinas explains. However, he believes that the use of the old language will survive through the newspapers: more than 3,000 copies of Salom are sold weekly, with even more readers checking out the online version. He thinks that there will always be someone to take care of these publications – even if it’s just out of love.

Newspapers written entirely in Ladino were very popular in Turkey in the past. Since 1492 – when Jews were expelled from Spain – the language laid down roots in the area. In Izmir – where there was once a large Sephardic community – three newspapers with many readers were published at the end of the 19th century: La Buena Esperanza, El Novelista and El Meseret. In the first years of the 20th century, El Pregonero, La Boz de Izmir, La Boz del Pueblo and El Comercial joined the list, according to Dina Damon, professor of Judaic Studies at Binghamton University in New York.

The director of Salom points out that Spain does not show much interest in the preservation of Ladino… although he recognizes that the real problem is the disinterest of his own community. In fact, the Cervantes Institute in Istanbul had to cancel some free Judeo-Spanish courses last year due to a lack of students. The Sephardic Jews who come to the Institute are more interested in learning Spanish.

The inside of a 1769 edition of Cantar de los Cantares in both Hebrew and Ladino – one of the canonical books of the Jewish Scriptures
The inside of a 1769 edition of Cantar de los Cantares in both Hebrew and Ladino – one of the canonical books of the Jewish ScripturesYael Macías

Gonzalo Manglano, director of the Cervantes Institute in Istanbul, argues that Spain does everything possible so that Ladino does not disappear: “Together, with the Saramago Foundation of Portugal and the Jewish community of Turkey, the Cervantes Institute has requested a tender within the EU Horizon Program for a €3-million project aimed at rescuing languages in danger of extinction.”

If the funds for this project are obtained, the Cervantes Institute will lead the project, in coordination with the Casa Sefarad of Madrid and the Turkish Ministry of Culture. This initiative plans to renovate the Selaniko synagogue in Istanbul, which will host a cultural center that promotes – using modern technology – the preservation of Ladino… a language that any Spanish-speaker can understand.

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