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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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Vienna school under fire for sex ed class using doll for children as young as six

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According to Austria’s Kronen Zeitung newspaper, a teacher used a doll to explain “how sex works” to the children, while also encouraging them to use their hands and fingers on the doll. 

She said she wanted to “enlighten” the children about aspects of sex education. The children in the class were between the ages of six and ten. 

The teacher also explained to the children that “condoms should be used if you don’t want to have babies”, the newspaper reports. 

One boy was told to remove the clothes of the doll but refused before being told that he had to do so. 

The boys parents removed him from the school, saying that he was “overwhelmed” after the class and had started touching his sister inappropriately. 

“We have never seen our son like this before, he was completely overwhelmed” the parents said anonymously, “we are taking him out of the school.”

“We can already see the consequences. 

“A few days after these disturbing lessons, a classmate came to us to play. Like many times before, the boy also played with our ten-year-old daughter. This time he suddenly wanted to pull her pants down.

Peter Stippl, President of the Association for Psychotherapy, said that while sex education was crucially important, it needed to be age appropriate in order to be effective. 

“(This type of sexual education) scares the children! They get a wrong approach to the topic and their natural limit of shame is violated,” he said. 

“Sex education must always be age-appropriate and development-appropriate. Many children are six, seven or eight years old – or even older – not interested in sexual intercourse.

“We should never explain sexuality in schools in isolation from love and relationships. It makes you feel insecure and afraid. It harms the development of children.”

The Austrian Ministry of Education will now set up a commission to determine who will be allowed to teach sex ed in schools. 

The city of Vienna is also investigating the specific incident. 



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Madrid’s Retiro Park and Paseo del Prado granted World Heritage status | Culture

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Madrid’s famous Retiro Park and Paseo del Prado boulevard have been added to UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The decision, made on Sunday, brings the total number of World Heritage Sites in Spain to 49 – the third-highest in the world after Italy and China.

Up until Sunday, none of these sites were located in the Spanish capital. The Madrid region, however, was home to three: El Escorial Monastery in Alcalá de Henares, the historical center of Aranjuez and the Montejo beech forest in Montejo de la Sierra.

Spanish Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez celebrated the news on Twitter, saying it was a “deserved recognition of a space in the capital that enriches our historical, artistic and cultural legacy.”

Retiro Park is a green refuge of 118 hectares in the center of the city of Madrid. Paseo del Prado boulevard is another icon of the capital, featuring six museums, major fountains such as the Fuente de Cibeles as well as the famous Plaza de Cibeles square.

For the sites to be granted World Heritage status, Spain needed the support of two-thirds of the UNESCO committee – 15 votes from 21 countries. The proposal was backed by Brazil, Ethiopia, Russia, Uganda, Nigeria, Mali, Thailand, Kyrgyzstan, Oman and Saudi Arabia, among others.

Statue of Apollo in Paseo del Prado.
Statue of Apollo in Paseo del Prado.Víctor Sainz

Prior to the vote, the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS), the organization that advises UNESCO, had argued against considering the Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park as one site, and recommended that the latter be left out on the grounds that there were no “historic justifications” for the two to be paired.

This idea was strongly opposed by Spain’s ambassador to UNESCO, Andrés Perelló, who said: “What they are asking us to do is rip out a lung from Madrid. El Prado and El Retiro are a happy union, whose marriage is certified with a cartography more than three centuries old.” The origins of Paseo del Prado date back to 1565, while Retiro Park was first opened to the public during the Enlightenment.

Pedestrians on Paseo del Prado.
Pedestrians on Paseo del Prado. Víctor Sainz

The ICOMOS report also denounced the air pollution surrounding the site. To address these concerns, Madrid City Hall indicated it plans to reduce car traffic under its Madrid 360 initiative, which among other things is set to turn 10 kilometers of 48 streets into pedestrian areas, but is considered less ambitious than its predecessor Madrid Central.

The 44th session of the World Heritage Committee took place in the Chinese city of Fuzhou and was broadcast live at Madrid’s El Prado Museum. Perelló summed up the reasons to include Retiro Park and El Paseo de Prado in less than three minutes.

“When people say ‘from Madrid to heaven’ [the slogan of the Spanish capital] I ask myself why would you want to go to heaven when heaven is already in Madrid,” he told delegates at the event, which was scheduled to take place in 2020, but was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Every year, UNESCO evaluates 25 proposals for additions to the World Heritage List. In the case of the Paseo del Prado and Retiro Park, the site was judged on whether it evidenced an exchange of considerable architectural influences, was a representative example of a form of construction or complex and if it was associated with traditions that are still alive today. The famous park and boulevard sought to be inscribed on the UNESCO list in 1992, but its candidacy did not reach the final stage of the process.

Etching of Paseo del Prado from Cibeles fountain, by Isidro González Velázquez (1788).
Etching of Paseo del Prado from Cibeles fountain, by Isidro González Velázquez (1788).Biblioteca Nacional de España

The effort to win recognition for the sites’ outstanding universal value began again in 2014 under former Madrid mayor Ana Botella, of the conservative Popular Party (PP), and was strengthed by her successor Manuela Carmena, of the leftist Ahora Madrid party, which was later renamed Más Madrid. An advisor from UNESCO visited the site in October 2019.

English version by Melissa Kitson.



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Ryanair reports €273m loss as passenger traffic rebounds

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Ryanair has reported a €273 million loss for its first quarter even as traffic rebounded during the period.

The carrier said it carried 8.1 million passengers in the three month period, which cover April to June. This compares to just 500,000 in the same period a year earlier.

Revenues increased 196 per cent from €125 million in the first quarter of 2020 to €371 million for the same quarter this year. Operation costs also rose however, jumping from €313 million to €675 million.

Net debt reduced by 27 per cent on the back of strong operating of €590 million.

“Covid-19 continued to wreak havoc on our business during the first quarter with most Easter flights cancelled and a slower than expected easing of EU travel restrictions into May and June,” said group chief executive Michael O’Leary.

“Based on current bookings, we expect traffic to rise from over five million in June to almost nine million in July, and over 10 million in August, as long as there are no further Covid setbacks in Europe,” he added.

Ryanair said the rollout of EU digital Covid certificates and the scrapping of quarantine for vaccinated arrivals to Britain from mid-July has led to a surge in bookings in recent week.

First quarter scheduled revenues increased 91 per cent to €192 million on the back of the rise in passenger traffic although this was offset by the cancellation of Easter traffic and a delay in the relaxation of travel restrictions.

Ancillary revenue generated approximately €22 per passenger the company said.

Mr O’Leary foresaw growth opportunities for the airline due to the collapse of many European airlines during the Covid crisis, and widespread capacity cuts at other carriers.

“We are encouraged by the high rate of vaccinations across Europe. If, as is presently predicted, most of Europe’s adult population is fully vaccinated by September., then we believe that we can look forward to a strong recovery in air travel for the second half of the fiscal year and well into 2022 – as is presently the case in domestic US air travel,” he said.

However, the airline warned the future remains challenging due to continued Covid restrictions and a lack of bookings and that this meant it was impossible to provided “meaningful” guidance at the time.

“We believe that full0year 2022 traffic has improved to a range of 90 million to 100 million (previously guided at the lower end of an 80 million to 120 million passenger range) and (cautiously) expect that the likely outcome for the year is somewhere between a small loss and breakeven. This is dependent on the continued rollout of vaccines this summer, and no adverse Covid variant developments,” said Mr O’Leary.

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