With bars luckily we don't have to put up with identikit Weatherspoons everywhere. You can find a plethora of craft beer places, wine bars, cocktail bars, the odd Irish bar and more greasy spoon auld bloke bars than you can shake a stick at. And terraces... Pavement cafes you can enjoy in the sun, winter, spring, summer and autumn. It's refreshing.
It's the same with clothes shops, Spain is the home of Zara and Inditex the vehicle that has made Amancio Ortega one of the richest people in the World. The main roads of every Spanish capital are the same with Zara, Springfield, Mango and a whole host of other household names congregating on one strip, many of them owned by Inditex and lining the pockets of Amancio.
However, step one street off the main street and you will perhaps find a Ferretería, a haberdashery and hardware shop, where there will be an old guy serving someone with their order of two screws and a few nails after chatting amiably for half an hour while you quietly fume in the background about how long this simple transaction can take and when he will get round to serving you.
Go into any "Barrio" in Valencia and you will struggle to find Zara, Springfield et al... What you do get is independently owned coffee shops and bars, vintage clothes stores, more greasy spoon bars serving fantastic slices of tortilla to accompany your beer which shouldn't be Amstel or Cruzcampo (#JustSaying), a huge variety of home cooked food restaurants offering menus of the day from as little as 8 euros, a ridiculous number of bike hire shops, artist's outlet shops and surprises around every corner. Obviously some areas of the city are more independent than others. Today we will look at a few areas of Valencia where you will find that independent vibe.
Everyone knows about Ruzafa right? Valencia's bohemian capital is a haven of activity morning, noon and in non pandemic times at night. It's different and there is a reason which is really cool. Buildings in Valencia have a "Bajo" and that bajo is the ground floor property or properties under the flats. They have a different classification normally as "Comercial" rather than residential, it's really difficult to get that classification changed. But one reason why the chains don't move in is because these bajos are not big enough. Apartments in Ruzafa are around 70-90m2 and the bajos are often the same size. You cannot fit a Zara into a 70m2 space of course. Even if you manage to get both bajos that are usually in a building then 140m2 isn't enough.
Blasco Ibañez is the long avenue that goes down from Viveros park towards the beach in the Cabanyal, (more of that later). Blasco Ibañez is wide and full of University faculties but just off Blasco Ibañez to the north is are areas called Algiros and La Bega Baixa, bordered by the Polytechnic University and to the South, Amistat and Aragón.
The two former areas are where the students gather to drink, sing and be merry and happy. Around the Plaza Xuquer you can find any number of great, cheap bars and cafes and spreading out you will find favourites like Tanto Monta, Arabic restaurants such as Balansiya and the Indian Shish Mahal and even the Bastard Coffee shop. Of course where there are students you will always find cheap places to eat. OK, there is a KFC and a Burger King but they can be safely ignored.
To the south near Valencia's football ground you can find the Babel Cinema, Valencia's art house cinema, Brazilian, Asturian, Galician and Japanese restaurants among others and a whole load of independently owned shops selling all sorts of stuff you never knew you needed or even existed. It's the sort of place that's nice to live in.