Archive for January 8th, 2019

January 8, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXIII

And here I am back on the news of my Spain! It is weird entry as my site is telling me to use HTML and not visual text lol! Will see how it come out!

Anyway, it is mild in my beloved Madrid; quite sunny at 58F or about 14C pretty much the same in my neck of the woods now a bit cloudier and cooler at 11C or about 50F. Well let me tell you about Spain!

The Altamira museum suspended this past Friday in exceptional way the visits to the World Heritage Cave by the increase of the levels of carbon dioxide (CO2) inside the cavity, an increase that is natural and seasonal and that is determined by the climatic situation. It had decided to maintain the regime of controlled access and limited to the cave of Altamira consists of a visit per week for five people of 37 minutes of duration, which is carried out under a strict protocol of clothing and lighting, and with a tour and times of permanence defined for each area of the cave. The visit to the cave of Altamira takes place every Friday at 10h40 and can participate in the selection procedure of the five participants all persons over 16 years who are visiting the museum between 9h30 and 10h30 of that same day..More info in Spanish of course:  Cuevas Turisticas de Espana on Altamira
The museum webpage in English: Min of Culture site on Altamira caves  And the local Cantabrian tourist site: Cantabria tourist office on Altamira caves

Banksy’s work arrives for the first time in Spain with an “unauthorized sample of works from private collections” that will be exhibited in the Espacio 51 de Ifema (51 space of Ifema) , in Madrid, starting this past Thursday. The exhibition : Banksy, genius or vandal?  will include more than 70 creations, including original works, sculptures, installations, videos and photographs. Of those selected by the Lilley Fin Art/Contemporary Art Trade Gallery,  the main curator of the British artist, highlights the original serigraphy of the series ‘ Girl with Balloon ‘, similar to that recently self destructed in London after being auctioned by more than a million euros. will also be present works of the series ‘ The Walled Off Hotel ‘, created last year in Bethlehem with views to the Israeli wall that surrounds the city, and photographs of the project ‘ Dismaland ‘, the dystopian amusement park that Banksy inaugurated in Somerstet, as well as pieces dedicated to ‘ Brexit ‘ and other topical issues.  In Madrid, visitors will be greeted by  an impressive audiovisual surround installation, specially created for this exhibition. More here:

The coolest neighborhood in the world is closer than we thought and specifically in the center of Madrid. Lavapiés or Embajadores in the end it is the same, a multicultural neighborhood where the mixture of ethnicities, countries and cultures prevails. At least it is the opinion of the magazine ‘ Time Out ‘, which on the occasion of its 50 anniversary was proposed to find the coolest neighborhood on the planet and see where it was in Madrid! See more here:

And from my angle to choose something unique and nice of Madrid you can go to

Taberna La Elisa  : This Castiza Tavern offers traditional Castilian cuisine without great secrets, hence the success among the neighbors and visitors of the area. Try your potatoes bravas, your pig’s ear or its version of the classic Pincho matrimonio (marriage) is immerse yourself in the usual gastronomy, although updated, from Madrid. Calle Santa Maria, 42.More here:

Sala Equis, here the gastronomy and the culture go directly from the hand. Not only is it a restaurant (located on the ground floor of the premises), it is a cultural center where movies, thematic clicks and other types of encounters are exhibited. A place where the tapas premium is the tapas: Pan bao of Bull’s tail, hummus of coconut and lime, or sandwich of black bread with squids. And everything while you enjoy a free concert. At Calle Duque de  Alba, 4.  More here:

La Fisna , (great place if you are into wines like me) One of those places always with tradition and solera that is still successful in Madrid. It stands as the ideal place for wine lovers, not only because it is a shop, it is also a tavern where to eat and pairing well are insured. In his menu a little bit of everything: homemade chicken marinade, Madrid tripe, truffled Bologna or Pacenta bao. And, of all, a lot of wine to choose from.  A cozy wine bar , beautiful bar hall with brick seen on the walls, aluminium bar and barrels as a candle-holder to enjoy the more than 300 references that propose, good stock of foreign labels, references of the Jerez, Champagnes.etc All wines are priced at store prices plus four euros of corkage. At Calle Amparo, 91. More here:

A bit of tourism into wine country of my beloved Spain

Haro, in La Rioja Alta, is much more than viticulture and wineries, although everything or almost revolves around them. These are lands of the Ebro river basin, which arrives here from Miranda, and continues to draw sinuous meanders, passing through the bridge of Briñas, Gothic and seven-eyed. It is this river water that waters the vines, this and the one of the Oja-Tiron river. But, in addition, Haro boasts no seven hills such as Rome, but three hills, which are the ones that escort the villa, and two mountain systems that shelter it, the Obaerenes mountains, which start in the impressive gorge of Pancorbo, and the Sierra de Cantabria. The lighting here dates from 1890, which is not bad, and took place-if you want to recall such a milestone-in the Plaza de la Paz, where eight spotlights and 260 bulbs were lit. The first particular house to enjoy light was… guess what? The Doctor’s! In 1891 the electrical installation was completed and Haro was placed on the route of the cities of Modernity: Haro, Havana,  Paris,etc.

What to see other than vines well;  from the medieval tower, next to the Arch of St. Bernard, which was to reach the village, converted into a museum (also the Santa Barbara), or the city/town hall, which is in the aforementioned Plaza de la Paz, which is 18C and neoclassical , the Church of Saint Thomas, Renaissance, known for its tower, passing through which was the Convent of St. Augustine of which today  is a hotel (Los Agustinos), or the Bretón de los Herreros theater. And do not leave, there is still more: the Basilica of Our Lady of the Vega, in the square of the same name, this of the 10C, although it is mainly baroque; The hermitage of San Felices, which is in the crags of Bilbio, in what is called Conchas de Haro, four km from the village. The famous wine battle is celebrated here. You said palaces well see the  Bendaña, also called “Terni”, Plateresque, with Mudejar gallery with stars and intertwined flowers; that of  Salazar, almost Herrera and Pre-baroque; That of the Counts of Haro, Renaissance lower  and Baroque details, and that of Tejada, emblem of the villa, rococo; the ones of Condestables, and Bezaras. Enjoy them.

But wait this is after all wine country par excellence.

An interpretation center of Rioja Wine, or Centro de Interpretación del Vino de Rioja where it was going to be but here. To know everything about the vine, its cultivation and the elaboration of wine, which has much to say also the neighborhood in question, which is the Estacion ( station), where they camp at its wide seven wineries, five centenarians, which make it a whole theme park!.More on the Center here:

Some of its beauty I have enjoyed for many years and now fruit of their labor are winning prizes galore.  It is no other than the Muga Aro 2015, which has just been named best wine of Spain 2018 with 99 points from James Suckling, awarded by the guru , in addition to being placed in the position 32 in the Top 100 of the world and be the only Spanish reference among the first 50. It was James Suckling himself who has described this wine as “supersexy, sophisticated and tasty.” And if you are pink, lean down the Flor de Muga, in the 19th place of the Top 100 of Spain and with 94 points on 100. This one with a hint of raspberry and some watermelon. You are in Haro, remember, Bodegas Muga, founded in 1932! Here is the bodega:

And you should walk and do some serious tapas rounds here and enjoya ll these and many other wines , do so at this neighborhood. The one at Herradura, the must area to be ;includes the streets of Calle de Santo Tomás (the Church’s tower on the back) and Calle de San Martín. Haro that is Enjoy it!!! Haro tourist office here:

Let me bring you back to an area very dear to me as spent many summers here with the family and dear late wife Martine.

Too mountainous if compared to La Mancha and little uneven rough in relation to the Serranía de Cuenca. This is the Manchuela, the region that extends between those  provinces of Cuenca and Albacete. With a river, the Júcar. Much of its course runs through a deep canyon that water has been carving in the limestone land for millennia. Gorgeous!

This is the biggest whim of the Júcar river  in the Manchuela conquense (Cuenca). The meanders of the river have chiseled the rock to give rise to a kind of peninsula on which the town was built. If we add the forests of pines, ramparts, towers, bridges, gorges and the castle, it seems a place out of the imagination. The majority of these elements overlook the path of the small circuit Hoz de Alarcón (see my post on Alarcon). In one of its recesses is created the town of Alcalá del Júcar, already in the province of Albacete. Start exploring the streets on the slope of this town built on the canyon wall, in the caves of Masagó you can see how they are, or how they were, those houses built by scratching the mountain. A tunnel enters its bowels to the other part of the rock. Inside, these caves house a bar, a restaurant and a couple of museum spaces. Like Alarcón, Alcalá del Júcar also has a castle. It was Muslim and from it comes its name: Al Qalat, fortified place. And, like Alarcón, it also passed into the hands of Juan Pacheco, Marquis of Villena, once the Christian conquest. You will arrived now at Jorquera or Sucro as  called by the Romans and Xuquer, devastator , the Muslims of Al-Andalus, in allusion to its indomitable character. To the bridge of Maldonado ,this bridge, precisely, leads to a very special place. The cave-houses of the other half-deserted river margin have now have  become stylish accommodations. Until Alarcón, the first stage of the trip, comes the autovia del Este (Madrid-Valencia)  or  A-3 and its link to the old national road  N-III, from which comes a small road. Afterwards, just follow the Júcar river, downstream. Well posted.More info here on the Cuevas:

Las Pinturas Murales de Jesus Mateo more info at

And at on the área of Manchuela tourism  in Spanish:

And back to my Madrid for more wines, simply awesome store and lucky I have it closer too in Paris (Madeleine). Lavinia at Calle José Ortega y Gasset, 16. The winery store of this establishment is one of the best in the world and in its small gastronomic space (that this year, in addition, it has premiered a terrace in the Madrid Milla de Oro (Golden Mile) ). It is possible to try any of these references at store price. In addition, it has a small tavern menu, with an offer of wines by glasses (some of them of high range, they are preserved thanks to the system Coravin) and dishes of season (salad, anchovies). Every Friday there’s bouillabaise! Awesome!!! More info here:

And to do credit for those that credit is deserve. The newspaper El Mundo of Madrid from which I get many of my articles has a section call El MundoVino or the world of wine and they offered prizes to the best winemaker and their work. This is the XXV edition and the winners were:

The Red wine of the year is the least named of the great wines of López Heredia, the Viña Bosconia Reserva 2006 R. López de Heredia-Viña Tondonia, (which is just darn good mind you oops sorry my words), which in this vintage reaches a particularly notable level of delicacy and finesse, and also represents one of the best relationships pleasure/price of the entire Spanish wine spectrum. A wonderful bargain and a classic. Classic is already the splendid  Do Ferreiro Cepas Vellas 2016 Gerardo Méndez Lázaro, in one of his best vintages, coming from the astonishing vineyard of more than 200 years that together with Jancis Robinson discovered two decades ago without being able to almost believe our eyes. Albariño as a great white wine worthy of those of the Rhine or of Burgundy. And finally that pink work of a French artist, Bertrand Sourdais, (and the French are here of course) who arrived at the Douro from another river, the Loire, where the tradition of the rosé is important. But here, in the Highlands, its Le Rosé de Antídoto 2016 Bodegas Antídoto collects and updates the local tradition of the clarets: two thirds Tempranillo, one third greater Albillo Mayor. The result is an immense and complex wine that surpasses the color classifications.

Honorable mention goes to these worthy liquid of the gods (seek them out wherever you are!) : Castillo de Ygay Gran Reserva Especial 2009 Marqués de Murrieta, DOC Rioja. El Misterio 2015 Compañía Lebaniega de Vinos y Licores, sin DOC.  Finca O Figueiral 2016 Coto de Gomariz, DO Ribeiro.  La Bota 83 de Manzanilla Pasada Bota Equipo Navazos, DO Jerez y Manzanilla La Plazuela 2011.  Las Beatas 2015 Cía. de Vinos Telmo Rodríguez, DOC Rioja. María 2013 Viñedos Alonso del Yerro, DO Ribera del Duero. Pago Valdebellón 2015 Abadía Retuerta, VT Castilla y León. Pedro Ximénez de Sacristía 2011 Alvear, DO Montilla-Moriles . Tilenus Pieros 2011 Bodegas Estefanía, DO Bierzo. Viña de Martín Escolma 2013 Luis A. Rodríguez Vázquez, DO Ribeiro. Viña El Pisón 2015 Viñedos Lacalle y Laorden, DOC Rioja.

En Vinos Veritas indeed!!  And I leave you this time with the fruit of the gods, enjoy it. Enjoy Spain, everything under the Sun!

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


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January 8, 2019

Spiritual birth house of Saint Theresa of Lisieux at Alençon!!!

And I come to the end of my journey in Alençon and the most simple and beautiful of it all, alone worth the trip to the city. Alençon is in the Orne dept 61 of Normandy region. It was little known that it is actually the native town of Saint Théresa. I have passed by it several times, and stop in it without really looking forward to its sights until this past weekend with the boys.

She is better known as where she created her convents and followers flock to Lisieux ,Calvados dept 14 of Normandy. However, she was born at Alénçon and made her first pass towards the life that will carry her in her little 24 years of life. IN Alençon she spent the first 5 years of her life. I like to tell you a bit more on her here, bear with me please.

A bit on her and the family i will put pictures of the house of course and the hallway pictorial, the inside of the house and chapel no pictures are allow.

Louis, Joseph, Stanislas Martin (b. Bordeaux, 1823- d.Lisieux, Calvados, 1894), watchmaker, and his wife born Azélie-Marie Guérin called “Zélie ” (b. Gandelain, near Saint-Denis-sur-Sarthon, 1831- d Alençon, 1877) Lacemaker, belong to the small Bourgeoisie of Alençon. They were beatified on 19 October 2008 in Lisieux, for the exemplary of their life as a couple, and canonized in Rome on 18 October 2015 by Pope Francis. They are the parents of Thérèse of Lisieux, in religion Sister Therese of the Child-Jesus and the Holy Face and of her four sisters, all religious.   In 1858, on the Pont de Sarthe in Alençon, their looks intersect, they immediately understand that they are made for each other. Here begins your pilgrimage in the footsteps of these Saints who are so close to us by time and space.

From 1860 to 1873, Louis and Zélie Martin had nine children (seven daughters and two boys), four of whom died at an early age. Their five daughters become all religious: Marie (b. 22 February 1860-d. 19 January 1940), in religion Sister Mary of the Sacred Heart, Carmelite at Lisieux; Pauline (b. September 7, 1861- d. July 28, 1951), in Religion Mother Agnes of Jesus, Carmelite at Lisieux; Léonie (b. June 3, 1863- d. June 16, 1941), in religion Sister Françoise-Thérèse, Visitandine in Caen, buried in the crypt of the Chapel of the Monastery of the Visitandines of Caen. (beatification trial is open);   Céline (b. April 28, 1869-d. February 25, 1959), in religion Sister Geneviève de la Sainte-Face, Carmelite in Lisieux; and Thérèse, (b. January 2, 1873- d. September 30, 1897), in religion Sister Thérèse of the Child-Jesus and of the Holy Face, Carmelite in Lisieux, canonized in 1925. Françoise Marie Thérèse Martin is the last of a family of nine children the Martin family. Very often the family spends their holidays in Lisieux with Isidore Guérin, the brother of Zélie, pharmacist, and his wife Céline. Zélie also has a sister, Elise, Sister Marie-Dosithée, Visitandine at the Monastery of the Visitation at Le Mans. The elders Marie and Pauline will be boarders. Therese loses her mother at 4 and a half years and remains very marked. Marie and Pauline, the two eldest daughters will then take over the three youngest; until they entered the Carmel of Lisieux.


Sainte Thérèse de Lisieux, Doctor of the Catholic Church known as Thérèse Martin, daughter of Louis and Zélie Martin, marked the Norman religious history, Ornaise and more precisely alençonnaise. It is in this same Church Notre-Dame (now Basilica minor see previous post and picture below) that St. Theresa will be baptized. Her baptismal dress is still on display. You can admire a contemporary stained glass window that represents the ceremony and the baptistery. The funeral of Zélie (her mother) will also be celebrated in 1877 at Notre Dame Church. Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face, better known as Saint Theresa of Lisieux or Saint Theresa of the Child-Jesus was canonized in 1925. She will also return to the Carmel of Lisieux at the age of 15 and remain there until she is struck by tuberculosis. The disease will take off on September 30, 1897 in her 24 yrs of life.


Saint Theresa will be considered one of the greatest nuns of the 20C, following the enthusiasm aroused by her posthumous publications. Pope Pius XI saw in her the star of her pontificate. In 1997, Pope John Paul II made her the 33rd Doctor of the Catholic Church. It is at the origin of a new theology called the “Little Voice” which consists in carrying out trivial acts of everyday life for the sake of God. In 1877, her father moved to Lisieux in the House of the Buissonnets with his 5 daughters. It is a retired home, where the Martin family lives in solitude away from the city. In 1887, Louis Martin took his daughters Céline and Thérèse to the diocesan pilgrimage to Rome, and she claimed Ah! … these beauties of nature… I didn’t have enough eyes to look at. Standing at the door I almost lost my breath; I wanted to be on both sides of the wagon. During this stay, Theresa has the audacity to ask the Pope for permission to enter the Carmel at age of 15 despite the opposition of the superiors. The bishop finally gives her their permission. Thérèse pronounces her final vows on September 8, 1890, at the age of 17 and a half, in the hands of Mother Mary of Gonzaga, her protector Mother.


In 1894, Thérèse wrote her first pious recreations or small plays, played on the days of big parties by some sisters for the rest of the community. She also writes spiritual poems.   On July 29, 1894, Louis Martin, her father died. Her sister Céline enters the Carmel of Lisieux on September 14, 1894. In August 1895, the four Martin sisters were joined by their cousin, Marie Guérin. At the end of 1894, Thérèse discovers her little path and experiences it more and more, to offer herself to the merciful Love. On June 9, 1895 at the request of her Sister Pauline, Mother Agnes of Jesus, she undertakes the writing of her childhood memories, which will become a part of the book of memories Histoire d’une âme (History of a Soul).


On the night of Thursday to Friday Saint 1896, Therese spits blood.. A few days later, she is plunged into the thickest spiritual darkness of which she will no longer come out. On 30 May, Mother Mary of Gonzaga entrusted her with a second missionary after Abbé Bellière, Father Rathod, of the Foreign Missions of Paris, who was about to leave for China. He will be a true soul brother to her. Therese’s health is deteriorating quickly, she suffers a lot. She is located in the infirmary of the monastery. Mother Agnes and sister Geneviève begin to note the words of their sister. In June, at the suggestion of Mother Agnes, mother Mary of Gonzaga asks Therese to note her Carmelite memories. What she does during this month of June, using her last forces. It will end the manuscript with the word Amour (love), as each of all her autobiographical manuscripts. On September 30, 1897 at night, she died at the age of 24. She says “I’m not dying, I’m entering life.” Built in her honor, the Basilica of Lisieux is the second largest pilgrimage site in France after Lourdes.


And the place still under the ownership of the Bishop diocese of Sees, and religious folks is very moving with a touching personal tour. Hope you enjoy it and do visit is also part of the history of France,and many French do follow it. In been there ,there were mothers with little girls been told how to pray and follow up the tour,then they ask to go back to the Chapel alone.. Alençon is  nice indeed



Passing quickly on the sidewalk, it is difficult to locate the chapel dedicated to St. Teresa of Lisieux. It is nestled between two houses, one of the two being the house of the Martin family, the parents of St. Theresa, a house that is possible to visit. It is also the birthplace of the Future Saint . The Chapel is built between 1925 and 1928. It obviously gives access to the house of Martin. We see a room from the chapel. The place is obviously dedicated to the Holy One, died of tuberculosis at 24 years old! . One of the walls is covered with an impressive cloak of ex-voto. The altar and its beautiful altarpiece are contemporary creations. The Chapel was built on an annex house purchase by the Bishop of Sees to created it next to the house where she was born. 52 rue Blaize is her native house, next the Chapel is at 54 Rue Blaize.


Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and more info are

tourist office of Alencon on Sainte Theresa

official parents site on jubilee 160 yrs

Tourist office of Alencon on the native home of St Theresa

Tourist office dept Orne 61 on native house of St Theresa

Official Religious site on St Theresa of Lisieux

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





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