Archive for October 24th, 2017

October 24, 2017

Some news from Spain LIII

I am back on the Spain trend, this is a natural. Lots of goodies going on with the cultural tourist side of my beloved Spain. It will survive as it has for centuries together.

The temp in Madrid tonight is  67 nice sunny that is about 22C and no rain in sight with plenty of good weather for the rest of the week.

I did a big post on things going on in Spain last LII but figure there are still plenty more nice ones for the Fall season and even Winter coming up , so, therefore, here they are:

You like to do bicycles in a city well Madrid has BiciMad.  And it has become bigger and better with 42 new stations. Some of the district even got multiple stations such as Arganzuela, Salamanca , and  Chamartín.  As well for the first time going outside city center into past the M-30 beltway and into my  Ciudad Lineal, and Puente de Vallecas. Arganzuela, even goes from 11 to 22 stations!!! with one near the bus station or  Estación sur de Méndez Álvaro and another in Legazpi. Salamanca,already has 27 stations but will add 10 to bring closer the interchange transports area of Avenida de América.  Chamartín  will add 6 more stations such as in  Tetuán,(4) and  Retiro, (3).  With these new additions BiciMad will have 468 new bicycles for a grand total of more than 2.500 for about  62.000 users .  The city /town hall is looking forward to have double the service by 2019, reaching 4.000 bikes and 350 stations. It is been look into connect the service with the University or Universidad Complutense de Madrid. More here in Spanish:

Another anecdote and of course we all have used it one time or another , I know I had even this past August in Cuenca. There are 21 968 pharmacies in Spain. The country of the OCDE with the most pharmacies per 100K inhabitants with 47.3 while the median is 25,1 according to the General council of official colleges of pharmacies or in Spanish : Consejo General de Colegios Oficiales de Farmacéuticos. In these pharmacies you have working 49 429 pharmacists and if count the technical staffs as well giving direct employment of 80 000 persons; this from the enterprise federation of Spanish Pharmacists or Federación Empresarial de Farmacéuticos Españoles (Fefe).  There is a pharmacy for each 2.119 inhabitants while in Denmark it is for each 15.000 ,Sweden one for each 7.500.  Today, pharmacies cover about 98% of all municipalities in Spain. You are well covered!

Let’s get back to the Arts! There is a new play call weddings of blood or Bodas de Sangre from a work of Federico Garcia Lorca showing at the Teatro Maria Guerrero until December 10 2017.  It speaks of the relation between the fiction and reality.  You get to the theater by metro Colón, Banco de España or Chueca. More here in Spanish:

And how about a whole neighborhood or district full of Arts, well there is one in Madrid. It is call the Barrio de las Letras or literature neighborhood. The Barrio de las Letras  takes its name from the many writers that had lived there over the centuries.  In this neighborhood you had met Lope de Vega ,Quevedo,Tirso de Molina , Ruiz de Alcarcón, Moratín , and Bécquer.  To honor them, there is a spectacle that will presented by the Compañía Nacional de Teatro Clásico (National company of classical theater) in the room or Sala Tirso de Molina; until October 29th.  This is a trip by its streets to discover literary pages.  This is the neighborhood of most talent per square meter in Madrid . The spectacle is divided in three parts ; the first one is from writers from the 16C and 17C such as Lope de Vega, Cervantes,  Quevedo ,and Góngora.  The second part is centered around the world of Cafés such as the Fonda de San Sebastián , and the talks or  tertulias del Parnasillo such as in the Espronceda, Larra, and  Mesonero Romanos as well as the black cat or Gato Negro in Benavente, and Valle Inclán). The third is from the action in the 19C with writers like Gustavo Adolfo Bécquer, Espronceda, the composer Eusebio Blasco , Galdós, Benavente, Echegaray, and  Elena Fortún. See more here in Spanish:

More on the neighborhood Barrio de las Letras here in English:

Moving right along into drawings and David Aja, who once met the master Will Eisner in a summer course at El Escorial and told him ,you will be a comic designer one day. Well Davis is today one of the most renown and complete of its genre and header of the American comics Marvel where he worked on the series «Hawkeye» («Ojo de Halcón»), «Harnak» ,and «Scarlet Witch» («La Bruja Escarlata») and recognised with prizes. Now you can see his latest work at the Patio Herreriano de Valladolid, «David Aja. Primera Retrospectiva»  to January 7 2018 with 350 pieces showing the positive side and his principal influences such as David Mazzucchelli, Alex Thot or Frank Miller. In addition, the last graphic novel still undone will be  «The Seeds» and will be arriving at the shelves in March 2018. More here in Spanish:

More into drawing expositions is MartinMorales, El Dibujo Inagotable, 50 Años de Contribucion al Humor Gràfico Español.  Running until December 10 2017.  Francisco Martinmorales is one of the designer drawers of the gold half last century together with Forges, Màximo Peridis and El Roto.  This exposition will be divided into 6 sections resuming his life and as well a humoristic tour of Spain in the last 50 years.  First section is the origin of the censure showing drawing about free expression, prohibit drawings and old jokes from the old days such as Tejero, and the 23-F. Then, the period of Felipismo such as dedicated to Felipe Gonzalez, and then from Aznar to Bambi and the election of Rodriguez Zapatero.  All drawing published in the newspaper ABC from 2007 to 2010; the last drawing been digital with the computer. All can be seen at Museo ABC calle Amaniel, 29-31. Tel  +34 91 758 83 79; from Tuesdays to Saturdays  from 11h to 20H and Sundays 10h to 14h, admission 3 euros. more here:

Another anecdote of a wonderful Spanish tradition, as told by the entrepreneur Simon Casas who handle the plazas of Las Ventas, Nimes, Valencia, Zaragoza , and  Alicante. On a conference at the Centro Cultural Miguel Delibes, Valladolid ; where he said «la tauromaquia es el arte donde conviven la vida y la muerte». Or the toro tradition is an art where life and death live together.  As told during the XXII Jornadas Taurinas de Castilla y León, organized by the  Consejería de Cultura y Turismo de la Junta.

Let’s take a ride in Castilla y Léon. We can visit Pedraza, province of Segovia. Just hour and a half by car from Madrid. And only  37 km from Segovia. To come to a medieval town with walls ramparts with just one gate to access it, a gate from the 11C rebuilt in the 16C by lord of Pedraza. A castle as well from the 13C with all trimmings including a tower , well, levy bridge, and exterior wall with canons emplacements .  It was in the hands of the Fernández de Velasco, dukes of Frías, and constables of Castilla,  You see the atelier of famous painter Ignacio Zuloaga, that purchased it in 1926, restored it as well. Today, it is a museum with works by the artist including a portrait of the Countess of Baena by Goya, a Christ by El Greco and a Flemish one of the 17C.  Each Friday of the month you have a guided visit as well as the museum with prior reservation.

There you have the typical central square with romance Church of San Juan, baroque with its tower; the square for the families to walk to see the bullfights from the balconies since 1550 until today and its patron saint feast in early September ; the mansions and blazon houses from the 16C and 17C, on which one of them lodged king Carlos IV, and each July it is celebrated the Concerts of candles or Concierto de Velas,  where all the lights of the town are turn off  and windows are closed while playing music.  It is said that it houses a house for the emperor Trajan and the cave showing paleothic drawings named the Griega or Greek . And the gastronomy is excellent here known as the restaurant of Madrid  especially on Sundays and festivals where the  lechazo (roasted lamb) and cochinillo asado (roasted pig) , white beans from la Granja, and the drink ponche segoviano. You can try all of these in my favorites places since young the restaurante La Olma de Pedraza, a mansion from the 16C with two terraces in the square or plaza del Álamo. Another equally good alternative is the El Yantar de Pedraza, at the Plaza Mayor with its own balcony, where you can ,also ,try the patatas revolconas (potato dish), sopa castellana(Castilian soup)  or the huevo de oca del Duratón (goose egg from Duraton. Restos here:

Tourist office and city hall of Pedraza in Spanish:

Another wonderful area of my beloved Spain is Jàtiva, (Xativa) Valencia. In the interior of the Comunidad Valenciana only 60 kms south of Valencia. You come to the monumental Jàtiva.  Guarded by an impressive fortress and an old town with an enormous heritage lineup.  Here it was the episcopal seat of the Visigoth era, birthplace of Popes Borja 15C and stalwart of the Austria’s in the war of Succession 18C. It is known the town has canals and sources dating back to the Muslim times and sometimes call the city of the thousand fountains! All divided into 3 forms , the royal, monumental, neighborhood/individuals such as the Fuente Real of 25 water spouts with a dozen water handles of bronce in the form of snakes where water comes out constantly. It is located in the square or Plaza de la Fuente Real, done in 1806 to replace an Islamic spout from the 11C. Here in the old town you see the Plaza de la Trinidad, and the fountain or Fuente Real de la Trinitat (last third of the 15C), the oldest in the city with a rare gothic fountain still preserve; located right in the old royal road where you will see meeting the buildings of the Palacio de Alarcón (1730), now the courthouse and the antiguo Convento de la Trinidad (15C), now the municipal archives .  In nearby you see the basilica or  Colegiata Basílica de Santa María, or La Seu (16C), of which the construction of it took 400 years. It houses an important collection of sacred art.  The fountain or Fuente Real de San Francisco was renovated in 1764 and located in the square of Plaza de San Francisco, baroque style and on the cup there is an image of  San Francisco, replacing the original lost end of the 19C.  The fountain or La Fuente Real del León (1818 neo classic style) , and the  Fuente Real de los Peces this one from the mid 19C located in the Plaza del Trinquet, was built to give drinking to the animals and the people. The castle or Castell is located in the heights of the sierra Vernissa, worth a detour with steep roads of 2 kms, and you see the emplacement of the people Iberic, Romans ,Visigoths, Arabs and Christians, where it is recommended to stop to see the beauty of the country.  The first stop should be at the lookout or Mirador del Bellveret, where the old wall ramparts ends with fantastic views of the city . You continue your journey to the ermitage or Ermitas de Sant Josep (end  18C ) and the Ermita of  Sant Feliú,one of the oldest Churches in the region dating from  1265.  It was built on the old place of the Saetabis , Roman and Visigoth place .  Between way of the two Churches you have the arqueological park with the remains of a Islamic palace from the 12C now only visible the tower or  La Torre Ametlla, of gothic origins, and the  Torre del Sol (almohavic style  1201) on the edge of the mountain. Finally, you reach the castle a double fortress form by the minor castle the oldest part of Iberian roman origins and the major castle or Castell Major, next to the  Plaza de Armas,built in a medieval period and better preserve. Here you find the entrance gate, lookout tower, water depot, chapel, prison cells and gardens. Admission is 2,40 euros . If you do not like to walk or can’t there is a small train ride by all the old town and the castle days out at 12h30 and 16h30 from the Fuente del León. Price 4,20€. More on tourism here in English:

And let’s talk about one of my favorite subjects, wine. Spanish wine is very good and much improve in the last few years. One of the best are Capataz, fino, solera de la familia, Montilla-Moriles, Bodegas Alvear, 24€ a new bottle from the oldest bodega of Spain!!! that is big words. an old fino or amontillado young, fresh and powerful, biological upbringing for 12 years and now electric!  More here: The other is Fino del Lagar, Saca spring 2017, Bodegas Toro Albala, Aguilar de la Frontera, 10€, created in honor of the old wines of Lagar with 10 years ageing , powerful, strong aromas of bread, dry fruits, olives and glicerine good acidity, lots of corps with character and personality of its own. Magical!  More here:

And a bit of news from the wine groves, we have; the  Grupo Peralada announced the purchase of the Navarra group of Grupo Chivite, and as well the labels  Gran Feudo, and  Viña Salceda. This as well as the acquisition of the ecological cellars of Privat and the bodega Oliver Conti, to increase its coverage of the  La Rioja,where it already had the firm of  Fin de Siglo, entering now into  Navarra, Ribera del Duero , and Rueda.  The Grupo Peralada has ongoing construction of a new bodega in Empordà, where it will be introducing their wines with a production of 2,8 million kilos of grape ; the opening is expected for  2019 . This fusions solidify the Grupo with sales of 60 million euros and presence in about a hundred markets in the world. More in English here:

The newspaper El confidencial section Gentlemen shows again for 2017 the best 50 wines of Spain from reds, whites and sparklers and sweets. They do this every year, and the selection I cut it down to my favorites that I have tried. This is the whole lineup in Spanish:

Porrera 2014 Vi de Vila.  this is from the  cariñena and some  old garnacha  in new oak barrels and then another fermentation in vases and amphora’s of terracotta. Great find indeed.

Alabaster 2014.  a heavyweight Toro with fruity elegance complex and unctuous , very old grapes of tinto del pais ; superb.

Pago Garduña 2013.  This is a great syrah from the high elevations protected by trees around the vinyard. From bodegas Abadia Retuerta;

Others are in no particular order;  Viña Pomal Vinos Singulares Graciano 2012 ; Gran Reserva 890 2004 ; Mauro VS 2012 ;  Pago de los Capellanes 2010 Parcela El Picón;  Viña Pedrosa 2011 gran reserva ; Marqués de Griñón 2013 syrah ;  Enate Uno 2010 ; and  Ramón Bilbao Viñedos de Altura 2014.

Two sweet wines that I adored are:

Jorge Ordóñez nº 2 Victoria 2012.  Once in the region 15 years ago Mr Ordóñez  took all the grapes used to make pasas in the axarquia of Malaga area and turn it into wine 100% Moscatel de Alexandria, sweet white of immense complexity, just superb.

Pedro Ximénez de añada 2014 PX.  A precious amber color for this sweet of the grape Pedro Ximénez  a notable generous wine . Very aromatic notes that settles into the glass with notes of figs, toffee, almond liquor, critics and other memorable moments that bring to the mouth a seditious texture.

Pazo de Señorans Colección 2012 ; great notes of quince paste or membrillo and honey wonderful from Galicia.

And they you have it. I told you Spain is everything under the Sun. Enjoy it, have a great week y’all. Cheers




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