Some news from Spain XLX

And after a great August summer vacation in my  beloved  Spain, here I am back for an update on the scene there. The weather has been nice still even going into the 30’s C there. In my neck of the wood is beginning to be like Fall, rain (heavy at times), clouds, gray and cool around 13C and even 8C in the mornings. Oh well, got to give a rest for a while;but can’t , travel is on the horizon to the Americas and south of France coming up.

As for Spain, here are the latest.

The tourists come to Spain for the beaches and the rest is almost empty. I did took advantage of this,with easy flowless traffic and great prices not to mention all the sites we were looking forward to see were open. ON a study done by Eurostat where the density of trip per km2 in 2015 the top spots were the Baleares islands, Canary Islands, Comunidad de Madrid, regions of Catalunya, Valencia while one of the least visited was the one I went last August, Castilla La Mancha with only 55,09 visitor per square kilometre. The region is ,also, the third least visited in the European Union! Lots of info here official EU site:  Eurostat tourism

The town or old town of Belchite (Zaragoza) devastated by the Spanish Civil War and where one of the fiercest battles were held with over 5K dead in only 14 days. There were people that stay here afterward until 1964. There , many films were done such as “EL Laberinto del Fauno” of Guillermo del Toro in 2005, a videogame started by Arnold Schwarzenegger and a photo shot session by Monica Naranjo. Only 19 km from Belchite you find Fuentedetodos (Zaragoza) here you find the birth home of famous painter Francisco de Goya born here in 1746. The house is kept in three levels and was identify in 1913 by painter Ignacio Zuloaga and a group of artists. The great admiration of Zuloaga for Goya . There you see the Sala Zuloaga design to host temporary exhibitions and on which walls you can see great painters such as Picasso, Miro, Chillida, amongst others. You can visit the Museo del Grabado, graphic arts in homage to Goya that currently has two of the originals by Goya, the La Tauromania and Los Disparates.. You can see as well the Ornitologic reserve of El Planeron or the reserva ornitológica de El Planeron, a wonderful place to know the natural scenery of the region   with 700 hectares of wild birds such as   Royal Eagle or the Mochuelo; by the Hoz Mayor de Fuendetodos. You see the fallen off a a ceiling of an old cave and in addition you can see foxes, wild pigs, bears and mountain goats. From Madrid by car you take the highway direction Barcelona and go out on the exit or salida 271 once reach Almunia de Doña Godina, you take the road A 220 until Belchite. More on the old Belchite here: Old Belchite

To see the Goya of Fuentedetodos in English here: Fuentedetodos Goya

This year there is celebration of the Centenary of the first boutique of fashion designer Cristóbal Balenciaga opened in San Sebastián. It was exactly at Calle Bergara, 2 and he called it Eiza,in memory of his mother, Martina Eizaguirre. In the neighborhood of the Ensanche that began to be built by the end of the 19C   after the wall that surrounded the town was destroyed; there is a plaque to remember this on the buildings now available for rent. There is a museum in his native Guetaria where the exposition “Rachel L. Mellon Collection” under the direction of  Hubert de Givenchy, brings together the legacy of this American socialite that was one of his favorite clients . You can see the exposition until January 28 2018. More here in English Balenciaga museum

And for a bit of winegrowing in me, the harvest the vendimia the best time of the year, in Spain and elsewhere. Here are some of my favorites.

One nice one is at Ribera del Duero with the big Gran Fiesta de la Vendimia Sept 23rd a whole day dedicated to the wine, music ,and many traditional activities like the prayer, stepping on grapes, and first tasting. The activities are held at the Plaza Mayor and other points even with Cuban Salsa music. Also the first concert of Tequila on their tour of their last record Maldita Nerea. More here in Spanish : Vendimia Ribera del Duero

In the patron Saint festivities of Nuestra Señora de los Remedios celebrated until Spet 17 in Tequeste (Tenerife) ( a bit late I know sorry) there are many activities of vineyards and winegrowers such as the traditional Vendimia de la Esperanza that is done by schoolchildren in a contest of farmers on the 17th. Agricultural trucks, tractors equipments etc are taken to the road with decorations like a carnaval and plenty of paella, wine , music for all. More here Vendimia de la Esperanza

By a place I past this last August, Cariñena (Zaragoza) the weekend of Sept 23rd they party celebrating the initial of the harvest or vendimia. Stepping on grape, and lighting of the fountain or Fuente de la Mora from which wine comes out not water! ; you end up the party with Bodega visits , wine tastings and tapas. There is ,also a tourist bus of wine leaving every Saturday and Sunday from the center of Zaragoza. More info in Spanish here: Fiesta de la Vendimia de Cariñera

You will enjoy the festivities at San Mateo from Sept 21th in Logroño in the Paseo del Espolon ,grape harvest or vendimia with stepping on grapes with two men holding arms and grapes deposited in a vase that they dance with. The must of the grape that is taken out is offered to the Virgen de Valvanera. All week you have carriages in a carnaval atmosphere ,tastings, food extravaganzas organise by the different associations, bullfight events, basque pelota game, concerts, stree music, firecracker shows over the river Ebro etc. Complete program downloadable in pdf file here: Fiestas de San Mateo Logroño

Back in Madrid, and enjoy some nice quaint markets . You can stop by the old railroad station of Delicias and where some of the scenes from the movie Doctor Zhivago (1965) was done, and today houses the Museo del Ferrocarril or Railroad museum.   Several expositions and of course trains. You find design furniture, arts, gourmet products, leather shoes, hats, toys, original items as well as vintage clothing, records, photo cameras etc. They held here on October 7/8, and November 11 to 22, from 11h to 22h a great flea market call the Mercado de Motores; free admission. Paseo de las Delicias 61 : more here : http://mercadodemotores.es

Another big flea market type in the Barrio de Las Letras and they celebrate the Frog’s Market on the first Saturday of the month. The market takes its name from the street or Calle Cantarranas – currently call Calle  Lope de Vega-, because in the 17C there were many frogs in the potholes of the vegetable gardens of the Convento de San Jerónimo that occupied the place. Again first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 21h. Done by the Asociación BDLL at Calle de las Huertas 39 free admission/ more here! http://www.barrioletras.com

The first Saturday of the month except August and from 10h to 14h30 in the Centro Comercial La Ermita., and the 3rd Saturday of the month except August from 10h to 21h in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche. Centro Comercial La Ermita, is at Paseo de la Ermita del Santo 66, and the Toy market in the Centro Comercial Plaza Aluche at the Avenida de los Poblados 58 all free admission. More info here: http://www.juguetedemadrid.es

Then, we come to celebrate something dear to me, the Casa de America , a place to share, learn , and understand the fabric of Spain and Spanish America since 1992 the year of the 500 years anniversary of the discovery of new lands by Europeans.  For the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Casa de América there are many activities, my favorite is on until Sept 23rd 2017. Plaza Cibeles, 2 Mondays to Fridays from 11h to 19h30 Saturdays from 11h to 15h and Sundays and Holidays closed. Free admission more here on the Casa de America 25th Anniversary Casa de America is 25 yrs old

New findings in Cantabria. The management of the Museo de Prehistoria de Cantabria, have announced the discoveries of four small caves with new rustique paintings of 20-30K years old so older than those at the famous Cueva de Altamira that are between 12-15K years old . They have found paintings at the caves of El Rejo, in the municipality of Val de San Vicente; also, in Los Murciélagos, Entrambasaguas; Las Graciosas I and II, Medio Cudeyo; and Solviejo(Voto). The paintings are in red color with isolated points or threads that in some case figures are form of animals. To find out more about this museum and others in Cantabria check this site in Spanish ; Museo de Pre Historia de Cantabria

Ok so you come to Granada to see the Alhambra. Fine. However, there are many nice things to see in the city. These are ; going to the lookout at El Carmen de los Martires and at Realejo , you can take a look at the Mirador de San Nicolás. The laundry, Squares and buildings around it all very well preserved from the 17C given you a medieval ambiance see it for free and very romantic. Go over to the Las Cuevas de Sacromonte and see the museum in front of the Alhambra and half of Sacromonte. You can walk around the caves, there are guided tours and a space dedicated to the history of Flamenco; in summer ,there is an open air cinema with a terrace foodies. See the wonderful La Madraza a palace founded by Yusuf I caliph in 1349 hidden behind the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel. It was the first University of Granada where laws, maths, and medicine were taugh in the Arab/moors period;also, served as a city/town hall during a long period and today houses again many dependancies of the University. Go see my favorite spot at the Corral del Carbon , the oldest monument left by the Arabs/Moors dating from the 14C, at the time it was a warehouse of goods for the sale of medicine and also house persons and animals. During the Christian era it was changed into a corral de comedias or comedies circle with a central patio that hides the story in the heart of the city. More on visiting this wonderful city from the official tourist office here: What else to see in Granada

In all, it’s an avalanche of choices, inmense historical value, and the best quality/price ratio in Europe. Come to see Spain, everything under the Sun. Cheers, and enjoy your weekend.

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