November 11, 2019: We were flying back from an eight-week stay in Spain to our home since September 2014 in Cuenca, Ecuador. This was our third visit to Spain, and as we departed from San Sebastian/Donostia, I said, “let’s more to Spain!” Ken agreed, and we decided that our next adventure would be… relocating to Spain! We wanted to live in Europe. We’d done dozens of Home Exchanges since 2009, and the last one, in San Sebastian/Donostia, just sealed the deal. Cuenca is a great city, and we made many close friends, but Spain just ticked off all of the boxes. Great infrastructure – roads, rail, air, biking lanes in cities and bike-share programs, pedestrian safety; good health care, interesting culture, and we were thinking, Valencia weather.
We returned to Cuenca and engaged the trustworthy and very able facilitator Monica Gonzaga who shepherded us through the visa application process. We submitted our paperwork successfully on February 5, at the Spanish Consulate in Guayaquil.
Then we took off for a two week wine and hiking tour in Argentina with Esteban Coobija Arévalo, our esteemed guide and great friend, who is based in Cuenca and with whom Ken had enjoyed many, many great hikes in the Cajas. We joined a bunch of other expats and had a blast! If you would like to see the itinerary for our wonderful tour that included great hotels, dinners, wine tastings, hikes, biking, and visits to museums and Cathedrals, just contact me for the link.
On Wednesday March 11, we flew from Buenos Aires back to Guayaquil, and on Thursday March 12, as planned we visited the Spanish Consulate to have our new Spanish residency visas inserted into our passports. All went smoothly but by that time, covid-19 had been pronounced a pandemic. I just was reviewing our Facebook posts from that date and see that someone in the USA asked “how is Ecuador handling the covid-19 outbreak.” And Ken had answered that just the schools were closed, but otherwise no changes.
With our new visas in hand, we had planned to visit Valencia for two months, April 1-June 1, but on Monday, March 16, 2020, our world as we knew it, changed. For everyone. Our airline flight to Valencia was canceled.
But, luckily for us, we were rescheduled for July 7, 2020.
And in the nick of time! For we only had until July 12 to register our visas in Spain! And to do that they require at least a six-month lease. And health insurance, of course. A year-long policy. So. The decision was made. We were moving to Valencia. We hustled and sold most of our stuff, stored some stuff, and packed our suitcases.
July 6, 2020. Thank you Orlando Sigüenza for a comfortable and safe drive with our eight suitcases and two backpacks from Cuenca to Quito, with our overnight in the airport Wyndham Hotel.
We landed in Valencia on July 8, 2020, and on July 9 we found our new apartment and moved in on July 15… thank you, Carmen Freund! Our apartment is a spacious two-bedroom/two-bath on Plaza de la Reina, with a great terrace. Our building is about fifty years old, and we’re on the top floor.
However, as comfortable as we’ve been, since April we have lived in a construction zone. Now almost a year later, we’re moving to El Cabañyal.
From Valencian.es written by Miodrag Pepic
Reconstruction Of The Plaza De La Reina: A Facelift For The Queen Of Valencia
The long-awaited reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina starts today, Monday 26 April, just three days after the works around the Mercado Central area began, opening the Ayuntamiento to sniping about timing since it will render the central area and Ciutat Vella effectively a building site…
After a wait of around two years for the start of these two renovation projects in Valencia’s centre, the Plaza de la Reina and the Mercado Central area, they are both starting at the same time – the latter on Thursday last week, and the former today. Because they will cause complete chaos in the Old Town, critics are claiming that it reveals the fact that the City Council has already written off the upcoming tourist season.
The City Council justified the fact that both sets of works begin at the same time by stating that the works are projects by two different departments, leading to one wag on social media saying, “There are obviously no phone lines in the Ayuntamiento building”.
Reconstruction of the Plaza de la Reina was due to be completed by the start of Fallas 2022, and the works around Mercado Central by June 2022. So everything will be ready by the summer of 2022, when tourists are expected to be able to return. When they do, they will find a completely redesigned Plaza de la Reina.
The square is to be completely pedestrianised, and a 115-tree urban forest planted. A new area will also include benches, kiosks, a children’s play area, public restrooms, drinking water fountains, a Valenbisi station, underground garbage containers and newly designed loading zones. The most significant change will be the installation of massive awnings that will protect people from the harsh Valencian sun and make this area the most appealing location for a restaurant. When completed, the total space will be nearly 12,000 square metres, possibly making it the premier selfie hotspot in Valencia.
Around 1,700 businesses in 70 streets will be affected, estimates say, but large companies with annual invoices of more than €1m will receive a 95 per cent discount on the Economic Activities Tax. Aside from major hotels, however, few businesses will benefit from this, so it remains to be seen what provisions the government and the Association of Merchants of the Historic Center and the Ensanche will be able to provide.
The renovation of Plaza de la Reina will begin with closure of parking spaces, so if you plan to drive to the city centre as of today, it will be tremendously difficult to find a parking space anywhere. This might have the welcome effect of forcing Valencian drivers out of their cars, finally, given the excellent infrastructure with regard to public transport, not to mention the dedicated bicycle lanes that criss-cross the city.
A nice reporter from Levante noticed my video posts in the Facebook group Valencia Expats and asked if he could edit some for an article – click here to view.