Archive for March, 2016

March 13, 2016

Some news from Spain XVI

Some of the latest from my dear Spain are here. Just warming up as after Vietnam is Spain twice !! See you soon again.

Museo del Ferrocarril or train museum you get there on Paseo de las Delicias, nº 61  metro Delicias.  This is the market of engines  or Mercado de Motores  with more than 200 stands with almost anything on sale from antique vintage products to second hand clothings or design items that is held the second weekend of each month. Webpage:

One of favorite drinks source news news !!! González Byass has reach agreement to buy into the region of the DO of Rías Baixas, Galicia. The property is call Pazos de Lusco, which will make GB represented in all the major wine regions of Spain such as in  Jerez, Rioja, Cádiz, Cava, Penedés, Rueda, Somontano, Castilla and now Rías Baixas. The Pazos  de Lusco is a Property from the 16C also known as  Pazo Piñeiro or Casa Bugallal and with a Big house, chapel, stables, and small houses dependencies all surrounded by vineyards of the grape Albariño. The farm has 5  hectáres. The house (Bodega)  of Gonzalez Byass, I have lasted visited in October 2015, and it is a family bodega founded in 1835 dedicated to wines and brandies of  Jerez, with the best known brand of  Tío Pepe Fino sherry and wines of  Noé or Apóstoles, or  brandy solera gran reserva Lepanto.. It has already more than 30 years that is dedicated to wines with bodegas of great quality in Spain such as Bodegas Beronia (DOCa Rioja), Viñas del Vero (DO Somontano), Cavas Vilarnau (DO Cava), Finca Constancia (VT Castilla), Finca Moncloa (VT Cádiz), Beronia Verdejo (DO Rueda) ,and  Pazos de Lusco (DO Rías Baixas). Webpage:

In my nostalgic Granada, recently Cervezas Alhambra celebrated in the city  the contest « Granada de Tapas” and arrive at 8 finalists which were Bar Mexuar. Hotel Saray, Rte. Andalucía Center. Hotel Center, Gastro&Drinks Löwe, Mesón la Criolla, Rte. La Cuchara de Carmela, Rte. El Pescaíto de Carmela, Rte. Ay Carmela , and Urban Gastro Lounge. The winners there were Gastro&Drinks Löwe,with the tapa Hasta el rabo no todo es toro, Bar El Mexuar (Hotel Saray),with the tapa ¡Pues vaya remojón! Mesón La Criolla, with the tapa; La Caja de los Sabores, and Restaurante La Cuchara de Carmela,with its tapa Cocogüéjar Carmeliano. Great Cuchara!!!

Now is time for the Fallas of Valencia from March 15 to 19, 2016. This is believed to have started from the 18C when carpenters burned in squares the parot wooden instrument holding a candlestick that wood masters worked at night. One thing is sure, all started by burning a simple estoreta of wood instrument and now the entire city burns. The city hall mayor declares the festivities by saying in Valencian provençal . Senyor pirotècnic, pot començar the mascletà”. This is the phrase the the Fallera Mayor says from the box at City hall . The dialy march starts at 14h (2PM) and roar after the sky is stained with smoke, vibrating the city like an improvised earthquake with shiny powder on the roofstops of buildings

However, not all Valencians are Falla fans ,and it is not a a religious festival or much less consists in burning ninots indiscriminately. There is something else in all that.

To come the best is short sleeve, scarf in hair and sunglasses. The city is invaded by crazy Valencian and visitors armed with firecrackers and masclets. And what looks like a full-fledged bombing is nothing more than the Despertà or awakens. Thus, do not sleep in five days ::). It is preferable not to use the metro during the Fallas unless you like to suffer the consequences of a crush that upon entering the wagon will be imminent. During the week fallera there is no space in the city not even for a needle, so the best advice is to use those legs and go to kick the city walking! . Anyway, you will be walking and a lot. In the city proliferate premises and stalls that sell churros, Donuts, hot chocolate and other gastronomic delights, try them at Horchateria Santa Catalina or the Horchateria Fabian, Calle de Ciscar ,5 no web;  both located in the Centre of the city As well as the usual giant Paella which takes place every year at this time , try them all free paella bar! Another option is to go to one of many restaurants that they produced delicious paella.

The Nit of the Foc , takes place in the early morning of March 19, ahead of San Jose and so little expected Cremà (little expected because it means that the fallas are over), and is the most impressive castle of fireworks that soars into the sky and that has one duration greater than the rest of those who are released on any other day . It is a magic show that you should not miss. If you have luck try to seek a balcony   from which to watch the fireworks without. But, get out of the Center and get away by Mall and the River, seeks an Esplanade and take a Chair to make yourself comfortable. It is an impressive spectacle… and also, impressively long. You will appreciate a chair to watch the offering of the   Virgen de los Desamparados (Virgin of the Homeless) patroness of Valencia, affectionately known as the Cheperudeta is another of the highlights acts .. A wooden Cheperudeta awaits the arrival of the falleros carrying bouquets of flowers in the Plaza de la Virgen. They have the Mission of forming a blanket of flowers on the body of the Virgen , and it takes place on March 17 and 18 by the Calle de la Paz and Calle de San Vicente

The full program in Spanish is here

And here

And the tourist office in English and other languages

El Brunch arrives in Madrid and as I am plannings visits in May and August need to fine tune my places of old with new ones. These are great new ones there

El 17 de Moreto, 17 Tel.: 618 629 767  Saturdays and Sundays, 12h-16h30 Price: 20 euros.

La Bicicleta Café  Plaza de San Ildefonso, 9 Tel.: 91 532 97 42  Saturdays and Sundays 11h30 –15h30  Price: 18 euros.

Carmencita Bar San Vicente Ferrer, 51 Tel: 679 183 399 Tuesdays to Sundays from  12h-16h30 Price 14 euros.

Some of my old addresses, El Jardin del Intercontinental Hotel Paseo de la Castellana, 49 Tel 91 700 73 70 Sundays from 13h30-16h Price  67 euros.

La Jefa,  Calle de Recoletos, 14 | Tel 91 621 76 74  Saturdays and Sundays as well as Holidays from 11h-13h30 Price19,50 euros.

Ramsés Plaza de la Independencia, 4 | Tel.: 91 435 16 66  Saturdays and Sundays  from 12h-17h by menu carte but facing the wonderful  Puerta de Alcalá.

One of the emblematic cafes just reopen again the Café de Oriente, a colonial decoration of the 1930’s with the soul of the 21C! You have the bistró style in the upper floor, where you can have breakfast, lunch, tapas, or enjoy an after work or a great cocktail. It has a Chester sofa in front of a chimney, a long wonderful bar counter now of marbre, the painted walls with colonial style and huge mirrors with plenty of corners to just fade away. The nights the bistro change with its lighting and DJ’s with a rising main deck for dancing as well as live Jazz nights. Lovely place  at  Plaza de Oriente, 2  Tel : 91 548 78 46.

And of course, be there in May Champions league time and Real Madrid is still in it. Even if do not like Florentino Perez lol!!! Enjoy it. Now on to Vietnam ::)

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March 9, 2016

Perros Guirec in magical Côtes d’Armor in gorgeous Bretagne!

Last Saturday was hectic, with things to shop for the house in the morning that took a bit longer than expected and plans to visit this city, well tight. So we decided to rent a hotel for the night and go for the weekend to Perros Guirec. I have heard about it on French TV and my colleague at work is from here,so more reason to come and check it out.

Perros Guirec is a town in the departément 22 Côtes d’Armor in the region of Bretagne/Brittany/Breizh (breton language), the name means  Penn that means extremity end of the line and roz means a mount or promontory. It was called Penros in texts in  1198, 1267, 1453 ,and 1630, then  « Penros Quiroc » in the 16C,  « Penros Guirec » in 1516, « Perros » in 1592 ,and « Peros-Quirec » in 1779. The tourist office is here and the town webpage here ;

We came following the road D768 up towards Pontivy, then passed it to the N12 direction Lannion, taking the D767 direction Guingamp first then Lannion and past it get on the D788 to Perros Guirec. Easy 2h30 by car.

We came into town along the coastal bay and the Port harbor and take up the corniche road boulevard de la mer up to the upper town with breathtaking views of the ocean. You past the Port Miniature a small kiddie boat ride on a lake, the webpage from the tourist office ,   and the Musée de l’Histoire et des Traditions de Bretagne (a wax museum), webpage here :

We arrive in city center and immediately struck by the historical monuments such as the Church of Saint James (St Jacques) in place de l’église.  The Church is built with blocks of granite rose ,the bells sits in a dome with a pyramidal tower from the 17C; Inside there is roman style nave with beautiful arches, and chapters telling the story of the old testament where Adam and Eve are present. The second part of the Church was done in the 14C and there are renovation up to 1951.  You have magnificent statues such as the « Christ aux outrages » near the door of the sacristy , end of the 15C early 16C. Another the  « Christ en croix »  that is under the transept in the middle dates from the 15C. There two others statue of the Virgin and of St John of recent work. The « Saint Jacques » in the altar retable from the 17C and  « Saint Guirec »  from the 18C about the same time as the  statue of  « Saint Yves »,  The « Saint Laurent », from the 16C, the   Sainte Catherine », with a crown head as a queen from the same time of the 16C. The  Pietà is damaged dates from the 16C ,the Saint Jean-Baptiste » on the wall end of the baptism chapel is from the 17C. Passing the central nave you see two stained glass of modern work on the right dedicated to Notre Dame and on the left to Saint Yves. webpage:

We move on a bit uptown to see the Chapelle de la Clarté or Clarity, another historical monument in town. The Chapelle has great traditions, the main one tell us that from the 15C a Sir de Barac’h fell off the islands of the Sept Îles with heavey fog the death of the marines seems inevitable. All on their knees praying they made a vow to the Virgin of Notre Dame, they will built a chapel if they are saved from the fog. The miracle was done and Sir Barac’h built the Chapelle de Notre Dame de la Clarté. It was done in the flamboyant breton style and it has a block in the entry porch with a representation of the Annonciation facing a pieta. The traditions continue today with the Tantad (pardon/repent), done on August 14st by 21h  and the most solemn act on August 15 . Some of the nice statues inside are from the 17C in polychrome wood such as The Virgin and the Child, Sainte Anne (patron saint of the Breton since 1914, mother of Mary and grandmother of Jesus), and Saint Peter. Also , the evangelists Saint Matthieu, Saint Marc, Saint Luc, and Saint Jean(John) in the angle of the Ascension. On the windows in the main oak door you see the portraits of St John the Baptist, Saint Peter, the Virgin of the Annociation and Angel with the sceptre in hand, the Vigin and the Child, Saint Paul armed with a sword symbol of the power of God expressed by his letters. All wonderful. webpage :

The port marina is wonderful with classy boats and benches, including some on tour with the typical breton boat the Sant C’hireg webpage here; , and more info on the harbor (port) here

You can past across from the port on the side street a wonderful parc des sculptures Christian Gad and Daniel Chée or sculptures park with granite rose stone in statues of Breton significance. more here;

You can visit many beaches here, but our favorites  were the Plage de Trestrignel with free parking a seductive hilly road up the chemin de la messe, and the pointe du Château ;wonderful architecture in homes, and the Plage de Saint Guirec, with great shops, restos street parking and hôtels of beauty in nearby Ploumanac’h. There is Trestraou but in city center and bigger was not attractive to our tastes of a beach. webpage on beaches in France ;  ; and the area tourist office on the beach Trestrignel, , and St Guirec,

One thing, at the chemin de la messe you past a small park with a great view of the sea. This is the Square Per Jakez Hélias. Just in front lies at 80 meters of water the British naval vessel Charybdis, who perished with 800 sailors on board after been sunk by the nazis in October 23, 1943. It is a mémorial resting place at sea and the view from the square reminds you of them; RIP and thank you.

And last but not least, see the Sentier des Douaniers, you can go by car park for free and then walk along the cliffs of the coast with excellent views of the sea, its adjacent islands, and continue on the granite rose coast to Plouamanac’h. Superb!  This is a French site but gorgeous pictures :  ; the tourist office translates it into Coastal Footpath but its a lot better than just footpath me think;

Enjoy wonderful beautiful Perros Guirec, we know, we will be back.

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March 8, 2016

The commune of Ploumanac’h in Côtes d’Armor Breton

Well the intended trip was to reach this town of Ploumanac’h as we have seen on TV it was named the favorite town of the French , this was a Survey contest on France FR2 television voted by the French. So , in addition , one of my colleagues at work is a native of the area ,so more power for us to check it out.

The tourist office is on the city the village belongs to at Perros Guirec (wait for next post).

And you see the story of the pink granite blocks here;

We came following the D768  to the N12 then hooking up to Lannion again on the D767 ,and once pass it taking the D788 into the Ploumanac’h borough.

This borough or village is only about 3kms from Perros Guirec, and you can use the bus 15 coming from Lannion into Perros Guirec and Ploumanac’h. Coming to the village you see the parc des sculptures, and the harbor  or Port ,one of the most protected in all of Brittany.  You have the windmill or Moulin of Traouiero. There is a small beach call Bastille between the beach of Saint Guirec and the harbor of Ploumanac’h.

It has a better beach or plage de Saint Guirec with wonderful hôtels and restaurants all around it, plenty of parking,and it was where we parked.

Another thing to see is the Chapelle Saint-Guirec from the 16C and restored in the 18C.  The lighthouse or phare de Ploumanac’h or better  phare de Mean Ruz originally from 1860 ,destroyed in 1944 and rebuilt in 1945! From this lighthouse you can see nicely the castle of Costaérés , and islands or île Renote as well as the Sept-îles.

The best part and the one we walk all over is on the pointe du Skewell that follows on the Sentier des Douaniers. Lastly ,on to the Oratory of Saint Guirec, done on a rock in the bottom of the Anse Saint Guirec.

Enjoy the pictures, it is heaven.We should be back in summertime. Cheers

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March 7, 2016

Lannion in the Côtes d’Armor up there in Brittany!

Ok so last Saturday we got up early to do some errants for the house, and after finishing by 11h , we said let’s hit the road. We took off for first Lannion in the dept 22 of the Côtes d’Armor taking in the area (more posts to come); and staying overnight in a nice country hotel.

We took off on the D768 taking the N24 direction Guingamp and later the D767 all the way to Lannion. Nice ride,no rain and cool, pleasant. The tourist office for Lannion is here,

We went into town first for a quick look around, the wonderful parking at Gunzburg was great and then move along the river Léguer and the parking Aiguillon with the wonderful wooden houses was superb. Many here around the square.

You can see the nice Church of  St John du Baly in city center place de l’église, started built in 1519 and finished in 1548. .  In the 15C it replaces the chapel in the castle dedicated to Notre Dame until 1625;then in 1760 we take away the Arrow tower. It has a wonderful Calvary done in 1867 outside back side. Many portraits and statues of different Saints, pulpits from the 17C, and stained glass from 1925 in art deco style done at Sacre Cœur in Paris. Very imposing building in a mount hilly area with looks at the place de l’Aiguillon and the river Léguer downway.

From the above Church you go into a down way road steep and you can get to the Church of the Trinity in Brélénevez. There is a stair with 142 steps downward that we did not took. This is a Roman style Church done at the end of the 12C to early 13C with rénovations to the 14C. There is a mise au tombeau from the 18C , portraits and statues of Saint Gilles and Saint Loup with a retable in marbre white and black in the altar.

Nice Hôtel de Ville and Les Halles behind it or covered market very nice; as well as a carrousel in the place de l’Aiguillon with kiddier rides overlooking the river Léguer. Here across the river you see the magnificent building, this was the Monastery of Sainte Anne. First there was a hospice here in the 12C until replaced in the 17C by a convent housing the order of the Augustinians (misericordia of Jesus) . In the French revolution, they were expelled only to come back in 1805. In 2006, it was converted into the Library or mediathéque of the city. You can now rent the Chapel Sainte Anne done in 1902, and the Chapelle des Ursulines from the 17C is also attach  offering a cultural exhibition space today. City of Lannion page on it,

Next to the Church of St John du Baly, you will see a statue of Charles Le Goffic,  born and died here in Lannion, he was a poet, romancier, literary critic who dedicated his times and work celebrating Brittany/Bretagne. Member of the Académie Française in 1930.

We had a nice lunch near home in Camors before leaving for Lannion, that is Worth mentioning here, Au Coin du Feu, excellent for about 28 euros per person. This is on the road D768 near our house and well recommended.  In the forest of Camors, Breton longére house traditional with great owners serving and host all local products from the farm to your table.

For dinner, we went the family way and shop at the Intermarché Super in Saint Quay Perros on our way in road D788, getting all the usual  Sodas, sandwiches, cheeses, yougurts, cookies, orange juice,etc for about 40 euros to feed a family of five.

We stayed overnight at the Brit Hotel Aux Hortensias , Route de Perros Guirec , where very quickly we found a family room for 5 for 80 euros the night and took it. Very well located on the road D788 between Perros Guirec and Lannion, nice bedroom/bath, and breakfast for 7,20 per person buffet nicely stock. Very warm friendly service greeting by hand shake, and free parking.  Brit is a nice local chain I have used before and never disappointed. webpage here;

Nice night sleep and ready for the road again, coming home on the D767 to the N12 to Baud on the D768 back to the house for a nice weekend in my Brittany. Enjoy the photos ,and do stop by Bretagne/Breizh.

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