August 26, 2016

Alcalà de Henares, Cervantes was born here!

And we arrive at the wonderful historical beautiful and educational Alcalà de Henares in the community of Madrid.

We arrive straight from our house in the mountains at Serrania de Cuenca, on the A40 then A3 towards Madrid where we took the M50 and A2 Zaragoza until the M300 and arriving at our parking in plaza de San Lucas underground and nice easy walk to all over the city.

From Via Complutense we set out on foot to see the city. You have wonderful Arch of San Bernardo and into the parque O’donnell park , and right into Plaza de Cervantes. Here you have the wonderful music kiosk and the statue to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra the Creator of Don Quijote ,the utmost story of the Spanish language and a native of the city(b.1547 d.1616).

Right around it is Calle Mayor and we went looking frantically for his House Museum Cervantes at no. 48 ,opened to the public since 1956. You come in for free!!! and right into the courtyard or patio.  You take the walk tour into the surgery room, from his father’s trade; then the dining room, kitchen, ladies’ drawing room, a puppet show of the novel Don Quijote, his bedroom, bathroom private parlour, children room,and exhibition hall. Wonderful a must. http://www.museocasanataldecervantes.org/information/

Then, we headed for the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful belltower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justus and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidal staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area. http://www.catedraldealcala.org/

You will do well to visit the Church Santa Maria la Mayor ,this one has a wonderful belltower overlooking the plaza de Cervantes and Inside has spectacular altar to the Virgin as well as a beautiful Chapel.  Tower info here: http://www.turismoalcala.es/que-visitar/monumentos/45-torre-iglesia-santa-maria-alcala-de-henares.html  And the Church here:  http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/paseo/iglesia_compania.htm

You see wonderful architecture such as the City Hall (Palacio Consistorial b.1870), http://www.ayto-alcaladehenares.es/portalAlcala/contenedor5.jsp?seccion=s_floc_d4_v2.jsp&codbusqueda=352&language=es&codResi=1&codMenuPN=3&codMenu=215&layout=contenedor5.jsp&codigoArea=29&ca=12&layout=contenedor5.jsp

and the Convento de las Clarisas de San Diego, more here: http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/paseo/convento_clarisas.htm

The great University of Alcalà de Henares: some info here in Spanish, http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/historia_tradicion/universitario_01.htm

And more from the University: founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros: https://www.uah.es/es/conoce-la-uah/la-universidad/historia-mision-y-valores/

Looking out from the Cathedral I saw this quaint Church and decided to take a closer look, the Ermita de Santa Lucia: This is a barroque Hermitage from the 17C that has its origins in a medieval Church from the 12C where the city Council convene to discussed business. IN 1515,on this site Cardenal Cisneros called for the concordat of Santa Lucia to resolve conflicts between the nobility and the people. Inside there is a chapel that welcomes all the Polish immigrants to the city and the thriving community today. http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/alcala_henares/paseo/ermita_lucia.htm

By Calle Mayor, you have the Hospital de Antezana, in the old Jewish quarters. This hospital is one of the oldest in Europe and continues to functions for the elderly. Here San Ignacio de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and maybe too, Rodrigo, father of Miguel de Cervantes. Previously it was called the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, founded in 1483 by Luis de Antezana; and the new one took his name.

Right around the Plaza Cervantes, do not missed the free admission the Interpration Centre, The Universes of Cervantes (previously the building was the hermitage San Juan de los Caballeros where the nobility were buried and those in prison paid their penalties as well as a burial for the cavalery.  This is now an eye opener into the life and times of Cervantes where you can even see the baptismal vase where he was baptised on the wishes of his father Rodrigo and mother Leonor. You see displays and interactive rooms on Cervantes’ life. A must. more here: http://culturalcala.es/espacios/centro-de-interpretacion-los-universos-de-cervantes-2/

The Monasterio de San Bernardo and the Palacio Episcopal are two other great architecture buildings to see while walking in this area. These we just passed by taking a picture and move on ;more info is here: http://monasteriosanbernardoalcala.es/  and  http://www.turismoalcala.es/que-visitar/monumentos/29-palacio-arzobispal-antiquarium-recinto-amurallado.html

Another we did came in and it’s a must is the Museo Archeologico Regional (archeological museum) ,also, free admission.  It is house in the old convent of the dominicans Mother of God (convento de frailes dominicos de la Madre de Dios) built in 1565. It is opened since 1999 and the permanent collection opened in 2003. You have nine themes from the entrance garden of antiquities to the patio of glass (patio de los cristales) to areas of knowing and not inventing, Madrid and the Courts, medieval Madrid, hispano roman history, agriculture, early towns, before humanity and another section on temp exhibition call the Los Escipiones: Rome conquest Hispania. (Scipios). Many artifacts and statues, stones, drawings Tools of the time of the Romans in Spain. Again, this is a must visit. More here: http://www.turismoalcala.es/que-visitar/museos/35-museo-arqueologico-regional.html

Oh yes forgot , we did eat of course lol!  We left the mornings with breakfast at home and come back in the evenings for dinner at home, the way to go with large families, and for lunch we eat out local, nothing touristic, so we headed for one right smack in tourist lane yet it was great!!! Go figure it/ The resto tapas bar La Gitana Loca is just across from the Cathedral. An umpretentious place that look more like a bar than a restaurant but the service was very friendly and the food sublime and cheap, tapas for one euro and beer for 50 centimes attack attack, and we came out for about 7 euros per person full bellies and delicious Spanish fares. See the picture for the glorious menu. More here: http://www.lagitanaloca.es/locales/alcala-de-henares/

And yes at the end of the day it was time to head back home and quickly get on the A3 then A40 flowlessly back to Cuenca , always little or no traffic at all especially on the A40. We arrive home late time for the Mahou cinco estrellas cold beer and ibericos, manchegos and chorizos and listening to our Neighbors heavy metal music practice, yes a band lol! Our boys were in heaven, we almost dead lol!!!

Enjoy your weekend and stay tune for more, the trailblazing continues…………………….;;;;Cheers

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August 25, 2016

Chinchon, Colmenar la Oreja, and Villarejo de Salvanés, Comunidad de Madrid!

ON our whirlwind tour of my beloved Spain, we took a day and made it long sort of. We came first to Aranjuez (see last post) and then  move on by car on the road M305 to Chinchon , another wonderful old town. We followed up with Colmenar la Oreja and then Villarejo de Salvanés before getting back on the A3 /A40 back to home base.

Chinchon is a nice town famous for its wonderful anisette base liquor and its great Plaza Mayor square.  Here at the plaza mayor the first houses were built in the 15Cn and the square is used for many things not least the bullfight arena!

The Church Nuestra Señora de la Asunción was built in 1534 and finished in 1626; and the great belltower without a Church of the old Church of Nuestra Señora de Gracia, built in the 15C as well, now only see a clocktower or Torre del Reloj  over the plaza mayor.

The castle of the Counts built in the 16C or Castillo de los Condes; its last used was a liquor factory, and now it is just there holding fairs and temporary events.  Entering town you see the Convento de las Clarisas built in 1653. Tourist office is here in English: http://www.spain.info/en/informacion-practica/oficinas-turismo-embajadas/oficina-turismo/madrid/oficina_de_turismo_de_la_comunidad_de_madrid_4.html

And the Madrid commune tourist office: http://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/chinchon/11294-chinchon.html

We continue our journey on the M311 road , after doing some excellent foot work on the Streets of Chinchon to reach our next town on the trailblazing sun of Spain; this town was Colmenar la Oreja.

We quickly gather around the Plaza Mayor that has an overhanging house to get to on one side and opens up on the other side encircling a bulls arena as well. The  Plaza Mayor (Major Square), built on a cliff between 1676 and 1794, and we walk around the Church of Santa María la Mayor.

More on it in English at the Madrid community tourist page here: http://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/colmenar-de-oreja/202-colmenar-de-oreja.html

I wanted to visit one more town before heading back home for the day, we are fast ::)  We continue the journey on the road M311 crossing over our expressway A3 to reach Villarejo de Salvanés, I have read it has a nice tower and indeed it is. There you will see the wonderful  Torre del Homenaje o part of the old Castle of Villarejo de Salvanés.  By here , passed the old road of Toledo as well as call the Senda Galiana (Roman road that linked Galia (France) and Hispania (Spain) used during the Middle Ages.

The wonderful Church of San Andrés the Apostle sit facing direct to the tower and castle ruins on a nice square or Plaza del Castillo.  More on the town from the tourist office of Spain: http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/otros-destinos/villarejo_de_salvanes.html

and more from community of Madrid tourist page in English: http://turismomadrid.es/en/discover/las-vegas-region/7368-villarejo-de-salvanes-1.html

A wonderful entry into the real Spain away from the crowds in a peaceful surrounding, at Villarejo we spoked with locals waiting for their bus which connects to the city of Madrid, got to know the bus routes and the Mercadona supermarket ::)

It was time to head back to our mountain retrieve in the Serrania de Cuenca along the A3 and then the A40. Enjoy it as much as we did. Spain everything Under the Sun, a slogan of the tourist office from the movida years of the 80’s and still holding true. Cheers

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August 24, 2016

Aranjuez is more than a concerto !

And we came to the wonderful city of Aranjuez, a princely town made very famous by all Spaniards for the concerto created by Joaquin Rodrigo on an old story of love between a prince and princesse, hear it, sublime music of Aranjuez. My mother made me come into it when a boy and it has always stay with me up to today.

The tourist office is at http://www.aranjuez.es/index.php/turismo  and a site with more info in Spanish  http://www.aranjuez.com/

We follow by car the A40 from Cuenca all the way to Aranjuez that is in the Comunidad de Madrid, just South of it and closer to Toledo.

We came right into the the Church chapel of San Antonio after passing the arches that hold the Church together on each side. This is right next to the Royal palace or Palacio Real. Here we took the chiquitren or litle train ride all over town for about 50 minutes and 5,50€ per person good deal.

We did our usual walking around town soaking in the local life after the litle train ride into Calle Principe where we found free parking, and Calle Postas right by the Mercado del Abasto or food covered market.

The Calle Postas takes you right into the Plaza de Toros on your left at corner with calle mirasierra. Its not a major arena so we just walk around it. We headed back walking to see the garden or Jardin de Isabel II and a nice statue of the Queen.

The Palacio Real we did not go in as already seen lots of palaces including this one before, but for first timers is a must. We rather had some granizados crushed ice with flavored drinks for the heat and continue walking into the jardin del Principe and Parterre of the castle behind it.

The highlight for us is the local food and off tourist trails we headed for one closer to the plaza de toros, the De Cañas en Fedario, at Calle Postas ,68. This was great menu for 7,50€ included a first plate of Arroz con Tres Delicias, Gazpacho, ensaladilla Rusa, and then second plate of chicken breasts, roasted pig a la plancha, or hake fish rounds in spices, all with french fries, dessert we had arroz con leche and flan, beers of mahou very cold , a great deal indeed. No web of course….

While in town you notice a nice looking Church on end of calle Principe, this the Church of Alpajes (also known as the Señora de Angustias) and see the wonderful fountain of Apolo at Plaza de la Mariblanca right in front of the Palace.http://www.diocesisgetafe.es/index.php/diocesis/parroquias/89-nuestra-se-ora-de-las-angustias-alpaj-s

It was a quick visit that we combine with our next town, see it in next post. In the meantime, enjoy Aranjuez and its concerto ! Cheers

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August 23, 2016

The mythical beautiful Toledo!

And I made it back to Toledo this time with the family and it was one of our best expériences from our trip to Spain. Believe or not , I have come here often on my rounds by Madrid , but this time came with the wife after 26 years!  Toledo is magical but been to many places and little time for it, this time with the family finally made it back and it was very special.

The tourist office is here: http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en

We came by car on the N400 after going most of the way on the A40 from the mountains north of Cuenca (see previous posts). The drive was easy with little or no traffic ,and the parking was easy to find and plenty of spaces available in the Corralillo de San Miguel just next to the Alcazar. http://www.parkindigo.es/parkings/ficha.php?id=43

Of course, the first building was the Alcazar and the museo del Ejercito or army museum.  We are not into muséums preferred the street walks and soaking in the local flavors of the gastronomy and shopping.  However, this is a must for museum goers. http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/military-museum_73

We quickly moved to wonderful Plaza del Zocodover, full of life and great eateries and shopping, we loaded up on Swords and pennants which the boys soaked up pretty quickly; even a musket pistol! The shop is just across from the entrance to the museum,the name escapes me as usual on these things duh!  http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/squares_105

We ,then, took the calle comercio full of shops and restos very colorful, we love it came by here many times sometimes in circles so be it ,it is wonderful. I can stay here all day ,you walk. This street takes you on the back of the Catedral Primada. Now, again not into seeing buildings but if not been in it you should see it. Me, well can’t seen to be paying 11 euros to see a Church; sacre! it should be free or at least much cheaper. http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/primada-cathedral_243

In our walks, we passed by many Churches with lots of history but we just walk by them soaking in the architecture and the sights even of other tourists…. One that was Worth the photo was the Church of del Salvador or Savior built on a mosque and Christian by the 12C. Of interest Queen Juana of Castile was baptised here, been the mother of Carlos V.   The Church of San Idelfonso an original Jesuit Church that took 150 years to built, following the example of  Il Gesú in Rome. Next we came to the Church of San Romàn, located on one of the 12 hills of Toledo! on the foundations of a Roman building, and Inside it has a Visigoth museum or museo de concilios. Another, was the Church of Santiago del Arrabal, considered one of the best example of Mudéjar style architecture in Toledo.

We came into a nice square Plaza de San Vicente where the Circulo del Arte building is located; this is a nice example of old, religious like building used to expose great works of arts in temporary and permanent expositions. http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/exhibition-halls_497

The nice  Convento de Santa Isabel de los Reyes, a convent where nuns sells the sweets of the area is quite nice and very inviting to eat even in the heat of 35C!  http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/convent-of-santa-isabel-de-los-reyes_280

An interesting building was the Posada de la Hermandad or brotherhood created to protect the farmers from bandits even if today is used for exhibitions by the city; http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/inn-of-hermandad_296

The city hall or town hall (Ayuntamiento) is always attractive in many cities and one to look at its architecture, this one in Toledo is no exception. http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/town-hall_286

A super site just by the puerta de Valmardon is the Mezquita Cristo de la Luzhttp://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/cristo-de-la-luz-mosque_244

http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/bab-al-mardum-or-valmardon-gate_265

The Cristo de la Luz mosque is the most perfect example of islamic art in Spain ,kept almost intact from the time of the Caliphs by around 999AD.

Another interesting gate is puerta de Alcantara, http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/alcantara-gate_264

and Puerta de Bisagra: http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/bisagra-gate_262

For those on public transports the train station is very nice and just on the outskirts of town with great bus service inward. http://www.toledo-turismo.com/en/how-to-arrive-the-city_404

We did try the bus no 61 to get us from the back of the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (puerta bisagra stop) back to the Plaza Zocodover after an exhaustive day of walking , the ride was nice and the cost 1,40€ per person. info on UNAUTO here http://unauto.es/lineas

There is a nice Teatro de Rojas in Toledo not stay overnight to try it but it looks very nice and good alternative for the day activities of anyone. From 1578 a comedy theater to the one now from 1878, its all here in Spanish: http://www.teatroderojas.es/es/el-teatro

And of course, we did delves into ice creams and granizados or granitas best can translate, its syrup of different flavors to choose on crushed ice great for the heat of the day. However, for a formal lunch we could not resist the 6,95€ menu from Meson Palacios part of hostal Palacios. on Calle Alfonso XI El Sabio (the sage) no 5 corner with calle Navarro Ledesma. We had first plate arroz a la Cubana, judias blancas con panceta y rabo, croquetas Roquefort, then 2nd plate, bistec a las finas hierbas, hamburguesas con patatas, pollo en pepitoria, also bread, dessert like rice pudding, a glass of beer and coffee tax included all this for 6,95!!! the best bargain in our trip and all deliciously serve with great friendly funny service. A memorable family moment to last. http://www.hostalpalacios.net/Restaurante.18.0.html

On the way back, we stop for more shopping and ice cream at the shopping center or centro comercial Luz del Tajo on the N400 road, follow centro comercial and then luz de tajo ,further there is Fusion shopping plaza but not as good. Something to use as a rest stop as well. http://www.luzdeltajo.net/

And our trip to Toledo ended good. Memories for me and especially for the other half as 26 years ago I brought her here searching for a hotel and could not ,all booked, we end up back in Madrid where we found one, driving on the road with no réservations, never again. Toledo is now seen by our sons and we pass on the thirst for more in the future as they like it too !!! Enjoy the photos and may it bring you the thirst to come here too, Toledo is magical, mythical, beautiful. Cheers

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August 22, 2016

Cuenca is quaint and an Unesco world heritage site

And following our blazing trails on the road in my beloved Spain, we came down from the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca to the town of Cuenca, a world heritage site by Unesco.

This is the biggest town near our rental house, so for leisure walks and shopping this is it before going up to the mountain home. The tourist office is here: http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__en/default.aspx

We drove into the town with our big car into very narrow and steep Streets but that was the fun of it. Parking was precious so we continue climbing up in town! until finally finding a spot by the Arco de Bezudo in the Castillo or castle now in ruins with ramparts where you can see the whole town and beyond .

The castle dates from the 13C and large parts of its walls are still visible as well as the wonderful Arco de Bezudo that you can climb for wonderful views below; it is now the site of the ministry of culture of the region of Castilla la Mancha where Cuenca is a province and Capital city of same name. You can see a picture from the Arch or Arcoa below to the parking lot where our car was.  I took a picture from both side of the Arch.

Coming downward you first see on your left the Church of San Pedro (St Peter) going down on Calle Trabuco. You come into the Colegio de los Jesuitas from the 16C (jesuit college). Further find the Church of San Nicolas 13/14C. On your left side further down you come to the old cementary , there is a statue sitting there in the middle now, and to the side there is a restaurant!

Taking the bus Line 2 (price is 1,05 euro per person one way) from here we went for a break and into the outside of town on the shopping center or centro comercial El Mirador where there some stores ,an Eroski hypermarket and the cheapest gasoline in the area at 0,9899 euro. We took the bus back into city center, and then wandered into the town hilly Streets and downtown or city center/centre ville shopping districts where our sons loaded up on DVD/CD/Video games on CEX store.

We walked past the nice Diputados provincial building or the regional government where our house owner worked as secretary!  And, right around it there was the Cafeteria Boni with terrace sitting that is set up in the parque/Jardines de San Juliàn by Calle Caballeros.  The service and food was good but it was the most expensive experience in the trip! Only 15.90€ per person for arroz a la Cubana, small  steaks, fries, omelettes, croquettes of ham and cheese, and beers for all.

We continue our walks into the valleys below such as the Hoz de Jucàr very nice views indeed; walking more we came into the Church de Santa Cruz.  Right there is the Theater but just looking above it into the mountains you see a huge Christ statue very nice indeed.

Now we are walking again, heading for the most famous monument in Cuenca, the Casas Colgadas or hanging houses. First, you need to cross the bridge or Puente de San Pablo to get a good look at the best preserve house. As you come back into town you past by the Museo Abstracto de Arte Contemporario or contemporary abstract arts museum. You see the treasury museum of the Cathedral and the Casa del Rey (King’s house); come into the side of the Cathedral into Plaza Mayor see the equestrian statue of king Alphonso VIII of Castile.  Next building is the Episcopal Palace attach to the back of the Cathedral.

Then, you see the next famous building here, the Cathedral of Santa Maria y San Juliàn (St Mary and St Julien) where we walked back up to Castillo parking to get our car and came back to our  mountain house. One day at a time easy does it in Spain, where everything is Under the Sun…..

Enjoy it as we did, wonderful. Some links here:

arco de bezudo and walls: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/arco-de-bezudo-y-muralla-30064/visita/

Church of San Pedro: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-de-san-pedro-29964/visita/

Church of Saint Nicolas: http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/p21861__3/tabid__9403/Default.aspx

line 2 bus Castillo CC Mirador: http://www.urbanoscuenca.com/

shopping center CC El Mirador: http://www.elmiradordecuenca.com/

Diputacion de Cuenca: https://www.dipucuenca.es/historia

Cafeteria BONI: Hoz de Jucàr : jardin San Juliàn no webs

Church Santa Cruz: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-de-la-santa-cruz-31864/visita/

Casas Colgadas(hanging houses) and museo abstracto : http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/casas-colgadas-27664/visita/

http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/museo-de-arte-abstracto-espanol-de-cuenca-1461/visita/

Catedral Santa Maria: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/catedral-de-santa-maria-la-mayor-o-de-nuestra-senora-de-gracia-28964/visita/

Museo Tesoro de la Catedral: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/museo-diocesano-catedralicio-de-cuenca-1561/visita/

Plaza Mayor: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/plaza-mayor-de-cuenca-87964/visita/

Palacio Episcopal: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/palacio-episcopal-29564/

There is more to see in Cuenca and we will be back later on with our blazing trails in Spain. Cheers

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August 21, 2016

Madrid ,well is more than a word for me, always nostalgic to be back!

As our vacation time in Spain begun, there is no way I would skip Madrid and even arriving the first thought was to come here and visit again. Madrid I never get tired of visiting, long story going back to my early teen years living there. Lucky enough to visited several times even more than once in the year. This time with the entire family was even more memorable.

We drove from Las Majadas ,province of Cuenca , Castilla La Mancha region (see last post) on the A40 connecting at Tarascon with the A3 to Madrid and parking on the Atocha train station Saba parking lot.

Then, we were all over walking at first, from Atocha to calle Atocha to the Plaza Mayor and onwards to Calle Arenal, Preciados, Carmen and back to Calle Bailén and the Royal Palace and Cathedral of Almudena.

By Calle Arenal we past the old archives building of Madrid dating from the 17C. The Palacio Real is always wonderful to see even if been there several times, the Cathedral of Almudena is a wonderful building that was seen again,and onwards along calle Bailén on the other site to the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande.

On Calle Atocha got in finally into the Church parroquia Santa Cruz , a wonderful Church that in the past had been close when passing by , this time it was fully open and wonderful.

I took the kids to my all time favorite since evey younger than they, Chocolateria San Ginés, in my youth used to come here after the dance club next door ; Joy Eslava, which at the time was a community dance hall and theater, later becoming a chic discothéque. I past by it too. San Ginés is the famous churros con chocolate racion for 1,40 euros or the porros a bigger size churro. A must in Madrid.

We did went shopping at El Corte Inglés by calle Preciados 3 and had our lunch in the 7th floor cafeteria ,and later stop by my favorite store, the official Real Madrid store at Calle Carmen off Sol. We did shopping here too and got a nice beer mug ::)

We came back to the Plaza Mayor a must to visit while in Madrid , always a happening ; see the Plaza del Callao and the famous cinema there, and got around the Teatro Real or royal theater, and the Puerta del Sol square.  We passed by the mercado de la Cebada market and the famous theater of La Latina. A visit to the mercado San Miguel is a must and see the beautiful building of the museum of Anthropology and the Ministry of Agriculture. Down to the Puerta de Toledo where we took the C2 bus to get back after a long exhaustive day of walking to all the wonderful Madrid Streets always telling my sons where their Dad had walked before even younger than they! A nice neat family experience.

This is Madrid in one day leaving before it got too dark, but always memorable, I have no words Madrid is more than a city to me, it is part of my life and a happy nice life indeed; always Madrid or From Madrid to Heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day !!!

Some links for the above sites here:

Atocha train station: http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/60000/informacion_000070.shtml

Palacio Real: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/royal-palace

Catédral de Almudena: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/catedral-de-la-almudena

Parroquia Santa Cruz Church: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parroquia-santa-cruz

Chocolateria San Ginés: https://chocolateriasangines.com/

Joy Eslava: http://joy-eslava.com/

El Corte Inglés dept store: https://www.elcorteingles.es/centroscomerciales/es/eci/centros/centro-comercial-preciados-callao

Real Madrid official store: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/santiago-bernabeu-stadium/stores

Plaza Mayor: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/plaza-mayor-Madrid

Puerta del Sol: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-del-sol

Mercado de la Cebada: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/shopping/mercado-cebada

Teatro La Latina: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/teatro-la-latina

Mercado San Miguel: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/shopping/mercado-de-san-miguel

Museo de Antropologia: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/museo-nacional-de-antropologia

Ministerio de Agricultura : http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/ministerio-de-agricultura

Puerta de Toledo: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-toledo_45

Teatro Real : http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/teatro-real

Plaza de Callao and the famous cinémas: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/callao-city-lights

and the bus network of Madrid is EMT Madrid , and the best way to move quickly and stay above ground to see more here is tourist link with bus info:  http://www.esmadrid.com/en/getting-around-madrid-by-bus

And I will be back at the end of my trip for a last look or take a photo of it in my heart. Cheers

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August 21, 2016

Our home base Las Majadas, Casa Pitu

Moving along telling you all about my last trip family vacation to Spain. We finally arrive in our home base of Las Majadas ,in the Serrania de Cuenca mountains on a house 1400 meters or 6600 feet high in the mountain, name Casa Pitu. I find it on the rural houses site Top Rural. http://www.toprural.com/

The house webpage is here: http://www.casapitu.es/

Just to say it has been our best vacation ever ,not only because the location was great, the house fanstastic with all the trimming ,and the price right, but the host Luis and Ma Isabel were fantastic beyond the call of duty to make our stay a wonderful one full of great memories and even friendship. You will do well to rent from them in the future as we will definitively look forward to another opportunity.

We arrive on an earlier Saturday so the first thing after the great welcome by the owner hosts, we headed for the big town of Cuenca, UNESCO historical town, in search of………….food! groceries to stock our house. We found our favorite French chain Auchan which in Spain are call AlCampo (literal translation) on a shopping center right in town outskirst.

There we did our groceries and found upon recommendation by the house owners a wonderful bakery call Pasteleria Ruiz which we stock up on sweets, goodies!  Store AlCampo here: http://www.alcampo.es/mi-tienda?p_p_id=myShop_WAR_alcampoportlets_INSTANCE_KU0b&p_p_lifecycle=0&p_p_state=normal&p_p_mode=view&p_p_col_id=column-1&p_p_col_count=1

The pasteleria Ruiz has a branch in city center Cuenca and the one at AlCampo we purchase our goodies ,link here: http://confiteriaruiz.com/index.php?option=contacto

Once well stock we took a walk in the town, passing to get some fresh bread Sunday morning at bakery Los Gemelos (twins) Calle  Atanasio Lasso,7 ,with friendly local flavor. Took a walk around the Iglesia Senora del Sagrario (Church notre dame of the sanctuary) ; the small park by the avenida de la constitucion where we came in and out each day, and there is the bus stop for connection with Cuenca. For those interested on the bus Schedule is Rubiocars here : http://www.rubiocar.com/lineas-regulares.php?id=22

Tourist link in Spanish for the Church here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-de-nuestra-senora-del-sagrario-en-las-majadas-90164/visita/

We pay a visit to the local bar cafe in plaza mayor, and had our first cold beer Mahou Cinco Estrellas (five stars) real Madrid beer for you; serve with sardines in olive oïl as a tapa. The name escapes me now but it is in front of a stone statue that is to the left of the photo.

Of course, we took some pictures of our home base house for the souvenirs that will last a long time. Indeed ,it was a wonderful mountain experience unique owners,and great all around family vacation, the best so far.

And we rest ready to hit for the first day , my Madrid. Stay tune for more lol!!!

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August 21, 2016

How about getting to home destination in Spain, Las Majadas

Ok so following my trail from previous posts, I finally made it to Spain over the Col du Portalet mountain peak to my final home base in the Serrania de Cuenca (mountain range) in the town of Las Majadas (elevation 1400 meters).

We left the tunnel Under the Pyrénées and follow the road N330 towards Jaca and then Huesca on the A23 which here is the N330 passing the viaduc of Monrépos and mountain of same name; right into a smaller tunnel Under it. You can see on the pictures a lake this is monrépos lake reservoir on the other side of the tunnel.

We road hard until the outskirst of Zaragoza where from the A23 we took the beltway Z40 direction the airport of Zaragoza/and Madrid.  We continue on this A23 to direction Teruel/Cariñena wine country. On this stretch we stop for lunch at Plaza Mudejar A23 Somport-Sagunto km 215 by Villadoz/Zaragoza; here we had our bocadillos or sandwiches of chorizo and tortilla (omelette) with  a large glass of beer call a tubo, croquettes of ham and cheese, and orange juices all came out to 7,65€ per person.  It was delicious and good festive vacation ambiance with lots of travelers.

We took off again after gas up at the nearby BP station on the A23 passing the mountain town of Albarracin and its Church Cathedral of Santa Maria (St Mary) a historical monument: (photos)http://fundacionsantamariadealbarracin.com/en/guide-visits-cathedral

This is already on the road A1512 off the A23,and you see on the photo the mountains of Albarracin. Where if you have time you can stop at a rest stop and go down to see remnants of a Roman aqueduct ;the Albarracin Gea Cella aqueduct that is seen for 25 kms or about 13 miles. More in Spanish here: (photos) http://www.centroacueductoromanogea.com/

We continue on the medieval wonderful town of Albarracin and saw the Castle of Santa Croche high up in the mountain on the same A1512 road. more here in Spanish : (photos) http://www.patrimonioculturaldearagon.es/bienes-culturales/castillo-de-santa-croche-Albarracin

Follow up on the road DE 9111 mountain route we pass by the mountain town of Calomarde which is at 1584 meters high. (photos). We didn’t not have time to see as was not our destination but here there is a great canyon or Barranco de la Hoz; more here in Spanish: http://esenciadepueblo.com/ruta-barranco-de-la-hoz-calomarde/

By here we pass by a statue in metal call the guia del cobo, Sierra de Albarracin at the birth of the river Tajo on the CU901 road, until we finally saw the panel for Cuenca/Tragecete on the CU2119 heading our home base. Glorious mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca that can go to almost 1900 meters high, and the panel signaling Las Majadas 24 kms or about 12 miles.

You will see the photo with the road high up and the mountain then the town down Under just arriving to final home base. More of the home base of Las Majadas on later posts. We arrive, we are at home base up 1400 meters and plenty of mountain animals here such as deers, goats, sheeps, wild pigs, and cows and bulls. Spain is ON!

town city hall webpage is here : http://www.lasmajadas.org/default.aspx

And the national park of serrania de Cuenca where the town of Las Majadas is located is here in Spanish: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/naturaleza/serrania-de-cuenca-57460/visita/

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August 20, 2016

And just about arriving in Spain by the Col du Portalet mountains

I am back ,taking advantage of the weekend as there is too much to write about my last trip to my beloved Spain.

We got up earlier from hotel in Bordeaux (see prev post), and by about 7h or 7am we were on the road past the beltway of Bordeaux A630 into the expressway A62 towards Pau/Toulouse.  We continue connecting with the A64 road to Pau and then the A65 , connecting on the N134 by Jurançon and Gan, where we got on the D934  all the way past Laruns and to the Col du Portalet passage to Spain.

As we got up earlier we had breakfast on the road on the  mountains by Bielle on the D934 at boulangerie Laloubère , a small outlet they have right on the road and the back on the mountains; very nice and great breads, sweets, coffee and orange juice for 2,30 euros! per person. Their main store is at Bielle.

You see beautiful mountain passages like the dam of Artouste  done with a lake at 1997m and the spa thermes of Eaux Bonnes, the quaint nice town of Laruns, and the final destination in France at the Col du Portalet and the town at 1984 meters high. This is just before taking the tunnel Under it to reach Spain at the other side , going up through some twisting and each time higher élévations and breathtaking views of the mountains and valleys not to mention a great challenge for the driver ::)

A great final ride in France before reaching my beloved Spain, always nice to be back,and glad can do this often in the last few years.

More on Artoustes if with time to see this up close! http://www.lacsdespyrenees.com/lac-23-Lac%20d’Artouste.html

And the Spa at Eaux Bonnes, http://www.valleedossau-tourisme.com/en/ossau-valley/presentation-of-villages/eaux-bonnes/

How to get to these peaks and valleys here: http://www.valleedossau-tourisme.com/acces/

Happy motoring and you can’t have a better 1-2 combination than France and Spain , cheers ::)

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August 20, 2016

And vacation time arrived, onwards to Spain

Well a bit tired now just back but will give you a flavor of what’s to come from my last trip to my beloved Spain. We spent two weeks going by car with some metro/subway and bus on major cities. Visited Bordeaux, Cuenca, Las Majadas, Madrid, Toledo, Huerte, Belmonte, Segovia, La Granja de San IIdelfonso, Alcalà de Henares, Aranjuez, Valencia, Ségobriga ,Alarcon, Chinchon, Calatayud, and many smaller towns passing by.

We rented a house in Las Majadas ,Cuenca at 1400 meters high (about 6600 feet) that was absolutively  superb with all the trimmings and fantastic host owners. We passed by goats , sheeps, horses, deers, wild pigs and right on the eyes of cows on the road; all in good expériences. For a similar experience see this site Top Rural: http://www.toprural.com/

We left by car by 8h or 8am from home along the path of avoiding as much as possible toll roads. Taken the N165 towards Nantes N249 and then the D763 and D137 towards La Rochelle, and continue connecting with the A10 for a while before at Bordeaux get on the A62,A65 and A64 towards the Col du Portalet passage to  Spain.  On the A roads we did pay a toll of 25,70€ but we quickly move back into the D934 on passage routes at 1390 meters high with great views. http://travel-ossau-pyrenees.com/benou.html

The trip took about 17 hours stopping several times for a break, gas , and eat. It took about 1265 kms or about 784 miles for the whole trip and about 417 kms or 259 miles to Bordeaux in 7 hours.  For those who have traveled by car will note these are longer times but it was done because the only driver was me and taking breaks is a Wise thing to do. I do not know why people talk about traffic as with well planned the trip went smooth with only a slow moving traffic along the rocade of Bordeaux arriving there to our road hotel, the inexpensive F1. Part of the great chain Accor, more here: http://www.hotelf1.com/gb/home/index.shtml

We had maps of the area in case we need it to cut corners but it was not needed the GPS of our car was very good indeed. We listen to radio 107.7 FM for traffic and weather conditions as well as good music.

Enjoy these initial photos like I said the best is yet to come. I will get back to work on Monday so will have plenty of time to keep me busy for the next few days on the trip. Cheers!

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