Archive for July 23rd, 2018

July 23, 2018

Memories of a lifetime, Las Majadas!

And I make you arrive at our place in Spain for the last years. Oh yes we have to go to Madrid of course, used to lived there and memories of family and visits on so many years, but once we found out about renting a house in the mountains near Cuenca (see last post).  We as a family came to rent a house in the Serrania de Cuenca mountains at 1400 meters of altitude in the town of Las Majadas!

We said, Las Majadas? I even have to look it up as this is way in the mountain on really narrow roads max speed 50 KPH  (about 30 MPH) and that is too much very narrow, hilly, and curvy roads up to get to the town passing by huge extension of hunting forest. The house was fantastic and the owners superb!!!

Las Majadas

The house had bedrooms for all two bath, right in the town near restaurant , bakery ,bars on the main square. The people in town very friendly and the owners Maria Isabel and Luis just fantastic human beings that we have continue staying in touch. The Casa Pitu is the name given to the house in the Calle Anastasio Lasso of Las Majadas. A town that will remain in our hearts forever. Highly recommended, and if you are into walking, nature lover this is a must.

Las Majadas

I cannot say enough of Las Majadas we came back to repeat staying here, and my family love it as well. My dear late wife Martine love it, she spoked Spanish and immediately made friends with the locals and owners. We got pastries, wines, you name it as gifts always a friendly smile, and even Martine felled in love with the decoration in the kitchen ,utensils and paper towel holder, and the owner just simply gave it to her!! Amazing experiences.

 

I like to re post the previous blog posts on Las Majadas here as an hommage to the town, the people and my dear Martine.

Home base Las Majadas

Vacation time going to the Castillas

From Las Majadas back to France

Wines of Castilla La Mancha

Little mountain town of Las Majadas

Another year from las Majadas back to France

Going from France to Las Majadas

Home from the Castillas

Of course we always did the run by car from France, a wonderful trip, full of nice memories and encounters on the road, like the wonderful always stop at Bielle in the French pyrénées for breakfast, and the lunches on the A23 after Zaragoza with chorizo sandwiches my boys love it still remember fondly; the lunch and dinner in the different restaurants around Cuenca all wonderful memories on the road.

A bit on the town tourism from the Castilla La Mancha region webpage in English: Tourism on Las Majadas

Like I said we used the house as a base to run all over the Castillas and even into Valencia; for the nature lover, hunters, joggers, walkers, this is tops.

Because of fondness for the house this is the Top Rural renting site we got the house from in Spanish here: Top Rural on Casa Pitu Las Majadas

And the official site from the owners here Casa Pitu Las Majadas

The town of Las Majadas has officially 277 inhabitants but believe me we saw a lot less even if we went in summer. Winter the town is empty with the Rural Guard only around.

Some on the history and activities in the small town are

So called Majadas, because the first to settle in this area were sheperds who were there at night. It tells the tradition that the people had been settled here  by shepherds of Poyatos through cabins in the well of the Animas. In the 12C the manor came to the Jaraba family, linked to the conquest of Cuenca.  The Jarabas came from Ramon IV Berenguer, 10th Count of Barcelona, King of Aragon to marry Petronila, daughter of Ramiro II, the monk. By not having offspring they asked Our Lady of Jarabas to grant them a wish and so they put one of her children to her, forming this family. The eldest of the marriage was Alfonso II, King of Aragon who helped  king Alfonso VIII in the conquest of Cuenca.

In the book of Montería (hunting trips) of king Alfonso XI (1340-1350), speaks about the good hunting in the Majadas of the king. It was a villa of Relaxation or entertainment.  The patron Saint is the Virgin of the Tabernacle(Sagrario) since king Alfonso VIII, It consists of three bodies: The Belfry in the west, the nave and the altar, these two separated by a half-point arch with pillars of ashlar.  The altarpiece has different figures of different artistic style, with two bodies of columns with corinthian capitals.  The date of 1618 is listed.  The pedestal has reliefs of the adoration of the shepherds and adoration of the Kings. The paintings of the altarpiece are Saint Lucia (martyr), Saint Christopher and Penitent Monk, the Saint Veronica, the Immaculate, the crucified Christ and the Annunciation.  The well-preserved coffered ceiling is in mudejar style with Western roots. In the courtyard of the parish is the Roll of Justice where the law was taught in medieval times.  There were also four hermitages in the 17C: San Juan, Santiago apostle, San Bartolomé and San Sebastián.

Las Majadas

The culinary delights is awesome and the dishes are the Morteruelo (sirloin, liver, chicken, rib, ham, lard, rabbit, breadcrumbs, paprika, cinnamon, cloves and also with game meat). Porridge (flour, grass peas, bacon fat, garlic, paprika…)  , shepherd crumbs (bread crumbs, garlic, paprika, bacon fat, water…), they are eaten with grapes.  Red Beans  with chorizo and rib.  Shepherd’s Cakes (flour, salt, oil, water…) Bacalado (salted and soaked codfish), battered with egg and flour. At Easter.  Puches in los Santos (flour, water, sugar and croutons…)  Toasts of bread crumbs and egg (in sugar water with apple, honey, etc.) Anise Rolls (flour, sugar, aguardiente (heavy rum type made with grapes), etc.)  They make sausages, loins, ribs, etc. All good and with good Castilian wine see link above.

Hope it helps you come and enjoy the real Spain, and the birth of it in Castilla. We will go on carrying with us these marvelous memories and wonderful souvenirs of our trips as a family. And who knows, maybe we will make a nostalgic return one day.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

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July 23, 2018

Some news from France CXCVI

On a nice sunny breezy Monday I come back to you for the latest news gossips and whatnots of my belle France and especially gorgeous Paris.  The temp in my neck of the woods is 26C or about 78F and in Paris hotter at 87F no rain in sight !

It is becoming hotter and when you still need to work sad; folks asked me aren’t you at the beach, well I live here work here and not on vacation yet ok. It seems to me friends and family thinks that by living here we are on an eternal vacation time lol!

Anyway ,enough of my ramblings; here are the news.

Update:  More beautiful. Bigger. Enthroned in the heart of a garden facing the Museum of Modern Art, the Palais Galliera, which houses the Fashion Museum of the city of Paris, closed its doors last week. Objective: To make a new metamorphosis by doubling the area of its exhibition spaces thanks to the exploitation of the reserves. To develop new spaces in vaulted cellars in red bricks with a total area of nearly 700 m2. The new galleries will bear the name of Gabrielle-Chanel. Parisians and tourists will have to wait until December 2019 to discover the new face of the Galliera Palace which will become the only permanent Museum of fashion in France. More here: Palais Galliera

Just read in our nice little Parisian newspaper appropiatly call Le Parisien, that we will be for a long haul in parkings in Paris. At least as long as we have the immigrant from Cadiz in the Mayor’s office of Paris lol!  This is their reporting:  So far they were only used to park your good old car gas/petrol or diesel. Tomorrow, they will also be used to recharge your electric vehicle, to borrow or rent other cars, to park bikes or scooters, or even to… harvest mushrooms , this is in the underground parkings of Paris! The idea is  to equip with charging stations thousands of parking spaces. The objective of the city is to reach about 30% of the places equipped with terminals. A considerable upheaval when we know that Indigo(system)  currently has only 113 terminals on more than 57 000 spaces or… 0.2%;  diesel cars will indeed be banned in the capital in 2024 and it will take alternatives , well mine is due to be change in 2020 lol!!!.  The city of Paris plans to promote the parking of the two wheels underground (that is motos, scooters, bikes). According to our information, a “Multipark” pass will be proposed by the end of 2018. It will allow scooters and motorcycles to go down to park in any underground parking, from different operators, for about 70€  per month (50€ subscription for parking, plus 20€ to enjoy 4 hours of parking per day in other parks , without reservation). For secure car parks for bicycles, with offers of subscriptions around 10€ per month. In addition, with the failure of Autolib (car system similar to velib for bikes), new car-parting services are being deployed, and the underground parking lots will also have to be reserved for some places. The Saemes (parking group) thinks, for one of its next car parks, to create an urban farm on a level. The underground car park has little light and a constant temperature, which is an advantage for growing mushrooms or endive!! With all these new services, how to park your car “normal” like today? The city/town  hall of Paris is not worried. They claim the number of cars is dropping, and at the same time, the number of road places increases with the parking reform. they are at 12% of the “vacuum rate” in open spaces, the city is being assured. Source: Le Parisien

And more work… During the work, the trains circulate and the station is open! The RER A station has, at Vincennes, major restructuring work which will take place there for three years, until 2021 ,of course for the comfort of the passengers, namely the creation of a public bathroom, a bicycle set-up Véligo along the passenger building, rue Aubert, the improvement of accessibility for people with cognitive disabilities and the creation of an opening on the place Pierre-Sémard. The press kiosk will disappeared in the works, the city plans to install a newsstand on the place Sémard.  The extension of the passenger building on the place Pierre-Sémard, but also the expansion of the two secondary accesses located on Rue de la République, the complete renovation of the quays and, in the end, the main access will be by place Pierre-Sémard, facing the Rue du aprés-midi and not by Rue Aubert. As far as the pedestrian pathway is concerned, the signs have just been laid. A crosswalk, marked in yellow, was created to reach the north sidewalk of rue Aubert, so as to avoid walking on the roadway and to cross safely across the entrance to the station. More in French here: city of Vincennes on RER A works

The Butte aux Cailles, an authentic little village hidden behind the Place d’Italie(13C). In the enclosure of the butte by an open passage on the Boulevard Auguste-Blanqui. First, the inescapable historical reminders, like the worker’s past of the small enclave built on quarries. Here were turning factories and small shops of old trades thanks to the water of the river Bièvre (now buried ,you can walk on top at rue de Biévre near St Germain-des-Prés). It was in 1860 that the former Hill of 62 m in height, once attached to the nearby town of Gentilly, incorporates  into the City of Paris,  before playing an important role in the battle of the Commune of Paris, in 1871. In the previous century, it was also there that landed in 1783 the famous first balloon flight of Pilâtre de Rozier. Street art artists love to express themselves on the walls of these places. We pass the famous Rue des Cinq-diamants, or the cute place Paul-Verlaine has us the facades of the charming little Alsace, this set of half-timbered houses that once housed workers.  Next  photo Stroll call the  “quails and scoundrels” of Atypic’Photo will be July 29. Price:39€ (and 16€ for accompanying persons without a camera). Registration at A Typic Photo

Goodbye, Marks & Spencer. Long live the Galeries Lafayette. The department store will set up in the Beaugrenelle Shopping Centre (15éme) in the second half of 2019 in lieu of the British store specializing in ready-to-wear and food . While waiting for the opening of the future store, Parisians and visitors can discover the new store of 52 Avenue des Champs-Elysées (8éme) which should open its doors in March 2019.  Stay tune here: Galeries Lafayette

And my nostalgic beautiful Yvelines dept 78 , we have good news.    The mansion in which Georges Bizet composed and orchestrated “Carmen” was awarded the “heritage of regional interest” label. A new step in relaunching the site. This heritage of regional interest label is a label that covers the unprotected regional heritage of which “heritage value is a regional interest”. 30 sites in Île-de-France region  received this label: the house where Georges Bizet is the only one in the Yvelines. This boost allows the city of Bougival to advance on its great project of European Music Center on this site. It will be distributed in several places. First of all, Bizet’s house, which will host an artist’s residence, and the “Espace Carmen”, in which excerpts from the opera are broadcast in conference rooms. Also located in Bougival, Villa Viardot, which belonged to the soprano Pauline Viardot, will be part of the project. In ruins, it must, above all, benefit from important restoration work. This is a great effort and here are the other sites as well in French: Heritage sites of regional interest Ile de France

The Promenade des petits ponts,(walks of small bridges) in Chevreuse, is certainly the most romantic place in the Yvelines, Ile-de-France region. Imagine a trail along a canal that spans about twenty flowering walkways, not two alike. Beautiful stone houses and antiques. More vivid testimony of this story: The Château de la Madeleine, and its 12C dungeon, perched on a mound of land offering an incomparable view of the city. Chevreuse, it is also a city very quickly turned on water, with the Yvette river crossing it, and its canal not far from the beautiful Church of Saint Martin, the Place des Halles recalls the large wheat market, one of the largest in Ile-de-France which stood there until the French Revolution. The city has also seen many personalities: the beautiful Marie de Rohan, Duchess of Chevreuse to the many lovers, the sulphurous poet and revolutionaries Fabre of Eglantine, or the playwright Jean Racine. Chevreuse,  guided visits contact  email:  charonmi@wanadoo.fr.  More information on  Memories of the Chevreuse

Since the death in 1975 of Baron Guy-François de Roig, the last owner of the premises, the Château de Jossigny had only opened its doors on rare occasions. It is therefore an exceptional visit of this 18C castle that the Heritage Festival of Seine-et-Marne (dept 77) proposed in recent days the 35th Heritage Days scheduled on 15 and 16 September 2018. For this reopening to the public, several rooms on the ground floor of the building were refurnished the “bean” sofas, closed to the public due to the collapse of the floors, thus took place in the alcoves of the Grand Salon, under the portraits of the castle’s sponsors, Augustin Leconte des Gravels and his wife Marie-Anne de Bragelongne. The vestibule, the gentleman’s Lounge, the dining room and the kitchen are also filled with precious testimonies of the life of a pleasure house, partly destroyed by the Prussian occupation in 1870. More here: Official site of the Chateau de Jossigny

Another great event at Chantilly is back!   On track. Warm lights, Oriental music… The horses and their riders follow each other in the great stables which will propose from this Wednesday the show “On the steps of Marco Polo”. Rehearsal started. For an hour, we witnessed the travels and meetings of the Italian merchant, first embodied by Moroccan rider Ibrahim Chihi. Eight riders accompany him from Wednesday to August 26th, at 14h30 (2:30pm), at the grand stables or Grandes Ecuries de Chantilly. admission 21€ adults. Information at tel +33 (0) 3.44.27.31.80. More here: Domaine de Chantilly events

A dandy with new chef, admit been here on business lunch ,but the mounting of the top is great with wonderful views of Paris. Set on the roof of the Théatre des Champs-Elysées Theater in the 8th arrondissement, with its dining room and two terraces, each offering a sumptuous view of the capital, the Maison Blanche (white house) is one of the mythical places. The new chef is Fabrice Giraud, has nothing to envy  the previous ones. The light for lunch niçoise salad that has blown me away by the freshness of its ingredients and the tart-fruity balance of the seasoning. See it at the La Maison Blanche,15, avenue Montaigne, 8éme. Tél.+33 ( 0) 1 47 23 55 99. Formules lunch two dishes at 49€, three dishes at 59€.  Menu carte about 100-120€ with a half bottle of wine per person. More info here: Restaurant La Maison Blanche

Summer in Paris is without concession. Pushing us to look for the trenches. And we find this small square lined with roses with eternal flowers, protected by the Hotel du Grand Veneur, historical building reminiscent of the petticoats and corsets before the take of the Bastille. Great for a late afternoon picnic and escape the heat of Paris.  square Saint-Gilles du Grand Veneur 9, rue du Grand-Veneur, 3éme. Bring your baguette et voilà. More info here: Tourist office of Paris

And last but not least, we have away from Paris in beautiful historical stunning Rouen.

To mark the 50th anniversary of the death of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the Museum of Fine Arts of Rouen in partnership with the Centre Pompidou and the  Metropolitan Museums,  presents an important exhibition devoted to his work, Until September 24th, 2018. Entitled “ABCDuchamp: the Expo to understand Marcel Duchamp”. It proposes a course in the form of an ABC to better understand the magnitude of his work, its impact on the artistic scene of the time and its influence on the different currents of Contemporary art and current creation.  Such work as the ready made and iconic fountain that created a veritable shockwave in 1917 in the art community. Nice.  More in French here: Musee des Beaux-Arts de Rouen

There you go for now folks, that’s is all … Stay tune as France is a movable feast ::)

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

July 23, 2018

My beautiful Cuenca!!!

And I have reach out in my soul to speak about Cuenca. For many years, I have convinced my dear late wife Martine to come to Spain on vacations. She was always very gentle in agreeing with me and we came to my beloved Spain, Madrid and the Castillas, the soul of the kingdom of Spain. Over the years, she became very attach as well, and who would’nt , Spain is very friendly very family very traditional and just great!  She love it as I do; and of course our boys too.

From friends I gather forces to bring them all and rented a house in the adjacent mountains (the theme of my next blog post), and of course our base for all was Cuenca. Very nice memories with the family walking its streets not only from a tourist point of view but from a local enjoyment of eating and shopping like the natives. Do not know when will be back here, but no matter the time, it will always be special to me, the boys and rememberance of our dear Martine.

I have written before on it of course, see my previous blog entries on Cuenca for reference below

Casas Colgadas de Cuenca

Home base at Cuenca

Cuenca is UNESCO

More on the hanging houses of Cuenca

Magnificent Cathedral of Cuenca

Now let me tell you briefly on Cuenca. A bit of history I like.

Cuenca is in the province of Cuenca, it’s capital and in the autonomous region of Castilla-La Mancha.  It is one of the most beautiful medieval Spanish cities and an UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the mountains of same name (Serrania de Cuenca) on the canyons of the Júcar river and its tributary the Huécar river.  The city is divided in two sections, one is the old town located in a rocky hill surrounded by the  canyons of the Júcar river on the north and the Huécar river on the south that throws itself on the lower part of the old town  just before the bridge of  San Antón.  On the west and south of the old town  separated by the Huécar river, you have the new town. The altitudes here are high from 920 meters in the new town to over 1000 meters in the old town.

By the 9C there was a fortress here called Conca  built by the Moors that were under the emir of Valencia in the times of the king of the  Taïfas.  This fortress passed later to the king of Sevilla  Al-Maramit,later to the  Almoravides, and finally to king Alfonso VIII of Castilla.

It has many things to see you will find in my previous posts above. However, you cannot missed under any circumtances the St Mary and St Julian Cathedral built in gothic anglo norman style unique in Spain; next to it you find the Episcopal palace and a nice museum.  The Casas Colgadas or hanging houses are another must to come here ,built in the 14C and very nicely restored, plunging on the rocky canyons of the Huecar river. They now host a restaurant and a museum of Spanish Abstract Arts.

Cuenca

Cuenca

There is the wonderful Plaza de las Angustias (square of the sorrows) in the lower old town near the Júcar river, small and tree lined where there is an image of the Virgin of Angustias in baroque style. Go up and down to see the Clock Tower or Torre Mangana  built in the 16C on a defensive style architecture like a middle ages bunker. Today it is a symbol of the city of Cuenca.

Cuenca

There is so much else to see and do, again take a look at my previous blog posts. The main festivities here are those of San Mateo (St Mathieu) by September 18-21 commemorating the conquest of Cuenca by king Alfonso VIII of Castilla in 1085. During this festival the groups or  peñas filled the streets with colorful costumes, music and the traditional Zurra ( a drink of wine, fruits and other secret ingredients) ,and you run around the cows in a place on the big square. The other is the Holy Week or Semana Santa celebration declared of international tourist interest of Spain.

Again so much to see and do. Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourism info from the city of Cuenca in Spanish : http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__9376/default.aspx

UNESCO world heritage site on Cuenca : http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/781/

Tourist office of the Province of Cuenca in Spanish: http://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/rutas/la-capital/la-capital-7#ficha

Tourist office of the region of Castilla La Mancha in English: http://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/cuenca/

You will do good to visit Cuenca, it will stay with us forever in my minds.  Many good times and many memories here for our family.

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

ps for the anecdote, I just realized this is my 1502 post in my blog; wow, cannot believe done this, thank you all for your support since 2010. Cheers

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