Once Upon… the owners
For Bas (1980) and Roos (1983) the idea of moving to Spain had been on top of their minds for several years and without really having a plan they just decided to go! The first idea that popped into their minds was starting a restaurant somewhere in Spain. But why Spain? Well known about this country is the good weather, lots of good food such as tapas, real Spanish sangria and something magical about the Spanish way of life: it was only the thought of those things that made their mouths watering! Back in Holland Bas was ready for a new adventure and so was Roos. When she got her masters degree in Hospitality Management, they were free as a bird not having the responsibilities of paying a mortgage, raising a kid or anything! So the road to this daring experience was totally clear!
The search for the perfect city
What city it was going to be, was unsure at the time. Of course there were some important conditions their future city had to meet. It had to be a city that was not already discovered by tourism but nevertheless should have a lot to offer! In the search for the perfect city that had all that, they came across Almeria…
A city with potential
So it was a cold november day when they jumped in their old Volvo, waiting a big adventure! After a long trip, all down to the south of Spain, they arrived in Almeria, not really liking what they discovered there. Streets were dirty, houses clearly needed renovation and it looked like the city could fall apart any second. The city’s plans of renovating and fixing the whole city, wasn’t planned for the next five years. It all was clear: this city was far from ready for Bas and Roos to realize their Spanish dream!
To make their dream come true, they had to look for another Spanish city, that also met the same requirements: it had to welcome international companies, near beaches and not yet flooded by tourists. So they weighted the pros en cons. A city that Bas and Roos visited often, with over 300 sunny days a year outnumbered all the other options…
Valencia it is!
Living in a hotel
One who wants to open a restaurant in another country, has to speak the language too. Roos already spoke a little Spanish, but Bas didn’t. So they decided to enter a Spanish course. When they arrived in the city of oranges, Valencia, they were more or less homeless, which led to living in a hotel for two weeks, before they found a new apartment.
The first official offer
The first months in Valencia were all about getting to know the city. What places were well visited and where could Bas and Roos find a potential place for their restaurant? After exploring for a little while, they found their perfect spot. They made an offer and… shoot! Someone else did outbid them. But as we all know, every cloud has a silver lining: lucky them they didn’t buy the place, because a dark shadow casted across Spain in the form of an economical crisis. For a little while they thought about starting a bed and breakfast, but eventually they decided to leave it like that.
Creating an income
Then the moment came where they realized there had something to be done to get food on the table. By email they reached out for help from family and friends, when a friend suggested the idea of starting a website for tourists visiting Valencia. In the beginning the website itself wasn’t viable, so Bas did some website work for a Dutch company and Roos gave English lessons to kids in Spain.
The creation of Once upon a Bike
Of course there were a lot of friends and family who visited Bas en Roos in sunny Spain. Showing Valencia to their friends and family made them realize there was not much information about this city for foreigners who visited it. And even though there were some travel guides about Valencia, Bas and Roos kept on finding new cool places and hidden gems, only known by the locals. There was a lot to write about this wonderful, undiscovered city! The final and best idea ever was born: building a website, filled with new and inspiring content about the lovely city Valencia. While the locals were playing Parcheesi at the Internet café, Bas and Roos had more serious business to attend to, like building Once Upon a bike, while hurrying every sixty minutes to put in a new euro into their computer while building Once Upon a Bike..
The first Tours
In the first instance Once Upon a Bike was built just to inform tourists about the correct opening times, cool sights and useful information about the city. After a while Bas and Roos wanted some new experiences, something extra to offer, next to having a website. So Roos decided to give tours and workshops in Valencia.
Now almost then years later, they even opened a bike rental and Tour office in the lovely, colourful neighbourhood Ruzafa, that goes by the Dutch name Verrassend Valencia!
Ever since the existence of Once Upon a Bike, the goal is to introduce Valencia to tourists in a way that’s surprising, enthusiastic, authentic and most of all welcoming to everybody!