Archive for January 28th, 2018

January 28, 2018

Some news from Spain LX

Well on a cool Sunday  night and already thinking of another work week, my thoughts goes to Spain. My beloved Spain is kicking high on tourism this year ,record breaking year in 2017 and this one starts ok.  In Madrid tonite is 54F or about 12C very cloudy feeling colder with the rest of the week better with more sunshine and no rain.

Some news on my Spain:

A nice town and region known as the city of the three lies because no saint no valley and no sea on the name but is Santillana del Mar (ok Spanish joke maybe lost in translation) , it is very photogenics and ydillic population located only about 30 km from Santander.  The town was called Santa Juliana and became Santillana.  The king Alfonso VIII gave it city status in 1209. The main streets for walks and sightseeing are the Calle de Carrera, Calle Cantón or Calle del Río (they are all the same road but on each section are name different !). The main square is Plaza Pelayo at the center of town  with a triangular shape. Nearby at only 2 km are the famous caves or  Cuevas de Altamira, and inside there is the museum and center of investigations of or Museo Nacional y Centro de Investigación de Altamira. At this moment you can only go in five persons groups per week during 37 minutes for protection. However, you can visit the nearby it’s replica the  Neocueva , and the sixtine chapel of rural art in the museum or Museo de Altamira,a few meters from the original cave. More here: http://www.mecd.gob.es/mnaltamira/home.html;jsessionid=BD794FF3EF2116D36D86F675AD646181

The whole area town can be check in English here: https://www.santillana-del-mar.com/english/altamira.htm

Moving right alone, the Aller Mountains is a gorgeous spot in the Cantabrian mountain range; here you have wonderful ski resorts such as the one at Fuentes de Invierno in Valgrande-Pajares in Asturias.  The snow allowed the third oldest ski station in Spain to open 40 days before than last year with 30,9 km with four new trails The one in  Valgrande has a trail  skimo,  while  Fuentes de Invierno  is known for its trails.  Here it has  8,7 km of trails maybe small station but well supplied and the challenge of skiing on the sides and hills around it. You can reach this heaven in a bit over an hour from Oviedo o go with the train AVE from Leon,  those coming from Madrid can be here by car in about 3,5 hours.  More on my skinfo source site here: https://www.onthesnow.com/cordillera-cantabrica/valgrande-pajares/ski-resort.html

https://www.onthesnow.com/cordillera-cantabrica/fuentes-de-invierno/ski-resort.html

and the Valgrande station in Spanish here: http://www.valgrande-pajares.com/

The Fuente de Invierno in Spanish here: http://www.fuentesdeinvierno.com/

Ski stores in Madrid abound , over the years and I tried my at Navacerrada when I was 10 and boy did I tumble down like a yo yo; oh well; my sons have done better ::)

The one that over two decades have supply Madrid with more than 700 m2 of space divided in three floors with all you need is Ski Market . It does not rentals but has a repair shop. The owner is a former Champion of Spain  Luis Ruiz Muradas,  Calle  Mónaco, 47. (P.I. Európolis, Las Rozas).tel +34 91 626 61 51.  Best by car as public transport takes over an hours on metro line 3 and then bus 661 dir San Lorenzo de El Escorial; More here: http://skimarket.es/

Others pretty good ones, and recommended by folks who does skiing in Spain a lot including my cousins are Tornal Moya est 1985 offering all lines of ski and all types including snowboard. Located at Ronda de Valencia , 8 , Metro: Embajadores line 3 and cercanias C5. Tel +34 91 527 54 40. More here: http://www.tornalmoya.com/

And one with other sports in it as well is Deportes Alaska with over 25 years offering all the lines for ski you need in all disciplines. You have brands here like ATomic, Polaroid, Descente, Fischer, and Mammot etc. They offered rental service for a complete set,and a small shop for repairs etc all in one shop. Corner of the very popular neighborhood Prosperidad at Calle Cartagena 174, metro Cruz del Rayo line 9/Prosperidad line 4, and tel +34 91 561 16 33. More here: http://www.deportesalaska.com/

Something to fill that empty stomach on a winter day in Madrid, the wonderful dish cocido Madrileño. Where to have it best! My opinion of course.

La Cruzada at Calle Amnistía, 8. In what was the oldest tavern in Madrid founded in 1827 and with the same name you now have this restaurant with the same old good cooking philosophy. Offering a real cocido Madrileño  in three dishes for a price of about 30 €. More here: http://tabernalacruzada.es/cocido-la-cruzada

 La Bola  at Calle Bola, 5 my all time place in Madrid for a real  cocido Madrileño  and of course reservations are a must.  A family tradition and doing it with individual vases of terracotta and slow fire on wood with three dishes for about 30€. More here: http://labola.es/carta/

And why not paired with a wonderful Castilian wine from Marqués de Griñón Graciano  ,Dominio de Valdepusa, Castilla La Mancha of 2012 Tinto/red,  with the grape Graciano , to drink now to 2021 . A very dense black wine with a toasted oaky and vegetal flavors later it comes out with the blueberries and prunes to have in your mouth with warmst maturity all delicious. This is a prefered property for my wines from Spain.  Just out at the property they still show the 2010! More here: http://www.pagosdefamilia.es/html_en/vinos_graciano.html

However, at my favorite El Corte Inglés you can find the 2012  at 24,50€  in Spanish: https://www.elcorteingles.es/club-del-gourmet/A13408372-vino-tinto-marques-de-grinon-graciano-dominio-de-valdepusa/

Estampa has reached agreement to showcase contemporary arts in Spain for 2018. At the Feria de Madrid, on October 18 and 21 . This is again a primer, the webpage only show the 2017 event at Matadero de Madrid. The Estampa webpage is to follow for this artful event here: http://www.estampa.org/index.php/estampa-2015/la-feria/

And the Feria de Madrid or IFEMA ,how to get there; http://www.ifema.es/Institucional_06/informacion_general/como_llegar/index.htm

A historical fact now to be told. the memory of the basque Blas de Lezo who at Cartagena de Indias, Colombia defended the Spanish main against the biggest naval fleet ever assembled from England in 1741, and kept the whole continent for Spain. He was ordered to return to Spain by King Felipe V but he refused staying at Cartagena until his death in September 7, 1741. The Fundacion Blas de Lezo has prepared an exposition to tell of this marine in various parts of Spain. call the “Blas de Lezo y la Guerra del Asiento” showing with 400 miniatures the English assault on the castle or Castillo de San Felipe de Barajas. Shown at Casa de las America, plaz de Cibeles Madrid; more in Spanish here: http://www.acblasdelezo.es/

Something I have always known: “La Nación más fuerte del mundo es sin duda España. Siempre ha intentado autodestruirse, y nunca lo ha conseguido.” El día que dejen de intentarlo, Volverán a ser la vanguardia del mundo. ….cosa que a muchos no interesa. by Otto Von Bismark (simply translated it means the strongest nation on earth is without doubt Spain; always tried to auto destruct herself and never have been able to do it. The day that it stop trying will return to be the vanguard of the world something that many show no interest. Otto Von Bismark chancellor of Germany) .

And another historical fact I like. In the spring of 1877 at the Plaza de la Barceloneta, Barcelona was surprise to assist for the first time a bullfight from Madrid and observed that no music was played unless the matador pin pole flags on the bull banderillas or a cape movement something close that was done by Lagartijo el Grande.  It was here in Barcelona on May 13 1877 where for the first time music was played on a show by Lagartijo. He left the plazas on May 21 1893 with six bulls of Duke of Veragua. All written on the book ” Toros en Barcelona” by Rafael Lopez Chacon. And the story on the Spanish newspaper ABC here: http://www.abc.es/cultura/toros/abci-barceloneta-primera-plaza-toros-sono-musica-201801250155_noticia.html

And with that I leave my Spain for this Sunday. Wishing you a happy week ahead and happy travels. I will be back soon. Cheers!

 

 

 

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January 28, 2018

The Nouvelle Aquitaine, region of France

Ok this is Sunday quiet , sunny not so cold,and homey waiting for my big meal of the day Raclette Savoyarde homemade!!! Therefore, why not tell you about another fine region of France that have been a bit overlook by readers, very vast region.

I am talking of the new region of Nouvelle Aquitaine. The new region comprises the old regions of Aquitaine, Limousin and Poitou-Charentes, which was initially called until Sept 2016, the region of Aquitaine-Limousin-Poitou-Charentes. Finally, the regional council adopted the new name of Nouvelle Aquitaine or New Aquitania thereafter. The region is the biggest in France in territory, with the biggest metro area that of Bordeaux. It comprises 12 departments such as Charente, Charente-Maritime, Corrèze, Creuse, Dordogne, Gironde, Landes, Lot-et-Garonne, Pyrénées-Atlantiques, Deux-Sèvres, Vienne, and Haute-Vienne.

Been an old territory, other than French the language of the Republic, there are many dialect and vernacular languages spoken such as auvergnat (from my father in law side::)); gascon ; béarnais; languedocien ; limousin ; marchois ;basque; poitevin;and saintongeais. Very diverse, huge in heritage and gastronomy, and my favorite region to retire in ::)

The official regional site is here in French: https://www.nouvelle-aquitaine.fr/

As of 2015 latest figures I can quickly find, from most to least, the principal visited places in this region are Futuroscope, Poitiers , old town of Sarlat, Dune du Pilat near Arcachon, cite historic of Saint Emilion, Aquarium of La Rochelle, Zoo de la Palmyre, (biggest private zoo in Europe) near Royan, medieval village of Collonges-la-Rouge, attraction park of Walibi Sud Ouest at Roquefort near Agen, petit train de la Rhune near Bayonne, memory center and village of martyrs of Oradour-sur-Glane near Limoges, the caves of Lascaux 2 and Lascaux 3, national park of the Pyrénées, writing city of Montmorillon, the international center of the Seas in Rochefort, the lighthouse of Chassiron on the île d’Oléron, and des Baleines on the île de Re ; and the animal park of Monts de Guéret in the Creuse.

The south of the region especially around the Gironde , Landes and part of the Pyrénées Atlantique have a tradition of bullfights either on the form of corridas either Spanish or Portuguese style or even local Landaises. The arenas of Bayonne, Mont-de-Marsan, Orthez, Mimizan, Morlanne, or Dax are the main ones but they total around 160 and if includes the smaller villages can go to 180

The cultural, heritage,natural places in this region are inmense and probably won’t be seen at least in my lifetime. The gastronomy is huge and clearly shows the France most come to know. They are divided into four great cuisines such as the gasconne/guyennaise, basque, limousine/périgourdine, and charentaise/poitevine. These together with the Provençal Mediterranean cuisine is what we call here the French Paradox on the benefit of eating and drinking simply the best.

In French but to know all about the region, food visits and purchases here you can see the Passion Aquitaine blog here: https://www.passion-aquitaine.fr/

Too many to go into them but to showcase my previous posts on the new region, listed not in any particular order. Check them out, they are a library of information for your visits, and everyday living à la Française !!!

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/24/the-trip-continues-monein-navarrenx-and-oloron-sainte-marie/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/26/deep-pyrenees-at-saint-jean-pied-de-port/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/04/09/agen-the-canal-and-aquitaine/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/08/20/and-just-about-arriving-in-spain-by-the-col-du-portalet-mountains/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/22/the-caves-de-jurancon-at-gan/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2016/06/19/ile-de-re-the-old-poitou-charentes/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/12/29/the-seafarest-of-la-rochelle/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/12/30/la-rochelle-continues-night-and-museums/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/21/pyrenees-atlantiques-still-in-aquitaine-the-trip-continues/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2011/05/11/the-frontier-of-the-pyrenees-mountains/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/20/pau-aquitaine-wonderful-region/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2014/08/23/more-of-the-pyrenees-atlantiques-in-aquitaine/

https://paris1972-versailles2003.com/2017/08/28/and-vacation-time-arrived-going-to-the-castillas-of-spain/

Enjoy the Aquitaine, A photo to showcase the tranquil beauty of this region. At Sauveterre de Béarn, the river bank from pont de la légende going to the feudal castle of Gaston VII Sauveterre de Bearn

Enjoy your Sunday , I am going for that raclette savoyarde::) Cheers!

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January 28, 2018

The old city of Marseille!

Going back again on my vault of my belle France, I came across Marseille. The old city by the harbor bringing in the civilizations of all Europe and beyond, a melting pot of old nations and new ones. This is Marseille.  On a clear cool sunny day at last, why not talk about the city of the Mediterranean and especially it’s old harbor or vieux port.

The city lies in the department 13 Bouches-du-Rhône in the region Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur. Oldest city in France founded in 600BC as Massalia by Greek fisherman. It has 57 km of coast including 24 km of rocky inlets or calanques, that are just magnificent. It is from Rouget de Lisle, in 1792,creates at Strasbourg an hymn calle the song of war of the army of the Rhine. This hymn was edited and comes to Marseille that had welcome the French revolution with enthusiast. This ,then becomes the La Marseillaise the French National Anthem.

It is the second biggest city in France and it has everything Paris has for leisure cinemas, theaters, operas, parks entertainment ,all. The city tourist office in English is here: http://www.marseille-tourisme.com/en/

But let me update on the old harbor or vieux port where I spent all my time as my office was nearby.

Marseille

There are two fortress at the entrance to the old harbor or thereafter Vieux-Port built by king Louis XIV to protect the city in the 17C, the fort Saint Nicolas remains now occupied by the French army. The fort Saint-Jean built in the 15C is now host of the museum of civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean or musée des civilisations de l’Europe et de la Méditerranée. From the old arsenal galleries today only remains the harbormaster house.

marseille

The Ferry Boat which was so dear to Marcel Pagnol sets off from the City Hall several times a day across the Old Port. It launched in June 1880 and thus began the famous Mairie-Place aux Huiles journey. In 2010, a more eco-friendly Ferry Boat with an electric solar propeller took to the water. Now two ferry boats share the Vieux-Port.

The Knights Templar commander stood on the site of the church Saint Ferréol in the 12C. After the suppression of the Order and the disappearance of its members, Augustinian monks bought the buildings in 1369. They began building the gothic church which was consecrated in 1542 but only completed in 1588. The Italian-style bell tower dates back to the 18C. It was built as a parish in 1803 in the name of Saint Ferréol in memory of the collegiate of the same name which was destroyed in 1794. The building originally had 5 bays and 12 lateral chapels but urban planning destroyed two of the bays in 1804. After the opening of Rue Impériale (now Rue de la République),the new Neo-Baroque façade was done. The religious site is here:https://marseille.catholique.fr/Saint-Ferreol,302

The entry to the harbor was protected by a long chain across it and closed at night. It was taken by the Spanish during an attack and pillage of the city in 1423. The chain is now in the Cathedral of Valencia Spain. And something the Spanish used later on the new world cities such as Havana harbor.

The quays or quais were built in the 15C to 17C and by the end of the 16C the two oldest buildings in town were built, the hôtel de Cabre and the Maison diamantée. In 1666 king Louis XVI ordered the extention of the city with ramparts destroyed and the city extended to the borders of the harbor.

A final extension happened in 1844 with a new basin or bassin de la Juliette and two link the two a new road is built called rue Impériale, today call the rue de la République. In 1849, the waters of the Durance river arrived and to honor it the palais Longchamp is built in 1869; a whole industrial heaven in Marseille. In 1845, the train station or Gare Saint Charles is built on a hill; in 1848,the promenade de la Corniche was created. To move about in the old harbor what do you have…well plenty other than walking which is great I used to walk from Saint Charles to the vieux port! you have by vélo stations at the quai du Port are to from Hôtel de Ville, Beauveau / Suffren , and Place aux Huiles. The metro is at Vieux-Port to Hôtel de ville on line 1. And if go by car done once too, you take the tunnel Prado Carénage exit:sortie Vieux-Port. Several underground parkings available such as mine Parking Vieux-Port la Criee entrance at 129 quai de Rive-Neuve.

Right around the above parking I used you have the museum or musée de savon de Marseille (or marseille soap museum) ;more here; https://www.musee-savon-licorne.fr/

For a grand gastronomic meal à la Française try the restaurant La Nautique in a floating peniche boat, really nice indeed more here: http://www.restaurantlanautique.fr/

A bit more on land on the same quai as the above parking ,museum, and restaurant you have a more inexpensive but good resto in the Au Vieux Port; more here: http://www.restaurant-au-vieux-port-marseille.com/

If we take the other side of the harbor on quai du port going into the place Vivaux, you have the museum or Musée de Docks Romains or the museum of the history of Marseille (a must); more here: http://www.musee-histoire-marseille-voie-historique.fr/

and right on the quai du port, you get the start of the little train or petit train (take circuit 2) always a family favorite. More here:http://www.petit-train-marseille.com/circuits-petit-train-marseille.html

Back to the other side , there is another Church worth going to see this is the Church of Saint Laurent at 16 Esplanade de la Tourette near the Forst Saint Jean spoken above. Very nice old Churh with foundations going back to 840AD more on the religious site : https://marseille.catholique.fr/Saint-Laurent

Hope you entjoy the tour, small one but believe enough to tell you Marseille should be in your travel plans; it’s a vibrant city, and if stayed around the Vieux Port is a magical experience.

marseille steps lead to st charles train station

Have a great day and do come to enjoy Marseille. Cheers!!!

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