Archive for January 26th, 2019

January 26, 2019

Casa de America, Madrid !

And of course, will love to continue on my beloved Madrid, the sun is out but still very cold and snow is everywhere ! not much though. Is time to tell you about a different place, cultural more than touristic but still worth the visit if in Madrid.

I have touch briefly before, but I like to tell you a bit more on the Casa America.

The Casa de America is a consortium created in 1990 and integrated by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs,  the community of Madrid and the city of Madrid. It is coordinated through the Governing Council, the upper management Body of the Consortium and the delegated commission of that Governing Council formed by a representative of each of the three institutions plus the Director General.

This consortium has the headquarters of the Palacio de Linares in Madrid.  It is located in the district of Salamanca, in the northeast corner of Plaza de Cibeles, on which opens the main entrance, between the Paseo de Recoletos and the Calle de Alcalá (my street!).  The Murga family’s fortune declined after the Marquis ‘ death in 1902, and the palace, damaged during the Civil war, was about to be demolished when it was classified as a historic monument in 1976. It escapes destruction but remains abandoned for many years.


This palace built in 1873 for the Murga family is impressive. Baroque style, it was completely renovated in 1992. One of the peculiarities of this palace is the Casa de Muñecas, or the house of dolls; Located in the interior patio of the palace, it was built by the Marquis de Linares for his adopted daughter Raimondita.

Casa de America is a public consortium that aims to strengthen ties between Spain and the Americas, especially with Latin America. This approach is encouraged through the organization of seminars, conferences, roundtables, exhibitions, lectures, projections, concerts, symposia, presentations, workshops, etc.


The Casa de America Consortium was founded in 1990, on the occasion of the preparations for the celebrations of the 5th centenary. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Community of Madrid and the city of Madrid were established as founding members of the institution.  The headquarters of Casa de America hosted the 2nd Ibero-American Summit in July 1992. S.M. King Don Juan Carlos I and the Heads of State and Government who participated in the summit inaugurated the institution.  The Casa America has since received the most important personalities of the continent: leaders, politicians, economists, authors, sociologists, artists, etc.


The activity of the institution is divided into two areas: American Tribune and American Athenaeum.

American Tribune: It focuses on the diplomatic and institutional sphere by emphasizing political-social, economic, scientific, technological and general thinking issues.

American Athenaeum: Focuses on the cultural field, and its activities revolve around cinema, literature, music, the visual arts and scenic.

Some webpages to help you enjoy this place fully are

City of Madrid on Casa America

Tourist office of Madrid on Casa America

Official Casa America

During the visit you can see the different rooms of the palace accompanied by specialists in history and art, and you can, also discover the stories and legends related to the building. Visits can be made in English, Spanish and in mixed groups. Saturdays and Sundays at 11h, 12h ,13h. Buy your tickets directly at Casa de América information point from Monday to Friday from 11h30 to 14h30 and from 16h30 to 19h30.  General admission: 8€.

There you go another jewel in a very nice area of Madrid, not far from my old home when living there. Its a cultural center in a cultural city, enjoy it

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

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January 26, 2019

Classic wine of France and the world!

And I embarque again on the wonderful world of wines. I have written several posts on the subject, maybe not as much as I like;so no need to repeat on what has been my trail.

Needless, to say wine is part of my life since that frutiful day at age 8 my maternal grandmother gave me a sip of Spanish wines from then on, the fable story of them and me has continue. Prohibited to lunch or dine without wines in our home.

And what has become of me, well a fierce loyal customer of the Médoc of France. Been around, visit and tasted on site many of the world best known and some unknown wine areas, but after my mind takes me always to the Médoc. Oh yeah, many call it Bordeaux, but this is just a city, in which many varieties and areas can be call as such. My pinpoint concentration takes me to simply the Médoc.  Oh yes, need to tell you, the best in the world, the rest just tries to imitates. Now let me tell you about two properties that have been with me for many years, tasted, drank, purchase, and aged them some of my favorites of them all ,and I have already told you some others too in my blog.

Bruno-Eugène Borie evolves the Domaine Ducru-Beaucaillou at Saint Julien, Médoc. This is his story. ‘ It is a wine of gourmand, as can be the greatest crus of Bordeaux (Médoc), and gluttony is universal. Behind Ducru, the name of the owner in the 19C, and Beaucaillou, a reference to the thrusted rocks by the Gironde giving its specificity to the terroir, here is a beverage of character, full of aromas and flavors, which does not forget to remain light, aerial like a 1995(my first bottle of the property!) , excessively fresh, but very present, vibrant even, a rich, aromatic, fragrant cuvée that caused the American critics to succumb to it. Or the 2005, combining finesse and power, a lesson of balance derived from worthy grapes, it is said, of the most beautiful manuals of Ampélographie, these books dedicated to the study of the vine and often accompanied by superb illustrations. Or a 2009, a 2010, with your eyes closed. The 2011, with the garnet dress, with spicy and floral flavors, is not lacking in charm, and the 2012 is a sublime sweet. 2013, difficult year, shows solar and sympathetic, closer to an Italian sangiovese than a Bordeaux… The last harvest gave very nice cuvées. As such, 2018 is very promising.

The use of only new barrels while looking for the most neutral wood possible, which does not mark. Wood is not a stylistic factor in his domaines. They want a robust wine but not a carpenter. As a general rule, they do not want the new entrants to shape our cuvées. They seek precision, and want to find the purity of the original grape in the wine. For this, the selected grains do not support any disadvantaged. The matter must be impeccable. Hygiene helps to strive towards this, especially when one goes further and further in the extraction.

Mr Borie presides over the Executive Board of the company that manages the Pôle Saint-Julien of the family vineyards with Château Ducru-Beaucaillou, Château Lalande-Borie, (this was my contact with the house, back in 1992! )also in Saint-Julien, and Château Ducluzeau, in Listrac.   Fifty pairs of hands follow each other on their bottles. Wine is an addition of manipulations, know-how, hours of sunshine. In the end, it is an accumulation of care and details that make a great cuvee. The place of the machines increased during the arrival of the harvest, in order to improve the sorting. So their yard lines are longer. Here, the most sophisticated technology to refine the work of the vine. They now have several weather stations. Tools allow them to know the thickness of the moisture layer on the sheets, and all this is viewable from a smartphone. They are also looking to use less significant products for the plant and the environment. This means that it is necessary to use treatments with a reduced lifespan-mainly sulphur and copper. A culture which is worth the property of an esteemed certification ISO 14001 high environmental value level 3!

Today they are too often in dogma. He would like to go towards more pragmatism and above all towards more benevolence. They must both have faith in man and believe in the genius of science. A form of positivism adapted to contemporary viticulture.

They have gone from about 16 000 cases of first cru wine per year (192 000 bottles) to 8 000 now. This corresponds to a general evolution of Bordeaux, to a process that they may have pushed a little further than others. He noted in passing that he is proud and fan of what he see today in their vineyard, where the owners are driven by the pleasure of doing well and protecting their environment, whatever some think.    Because Mr. Borie is one of those rare Médoc growers who live in their vineyards, summer and winter!. Inactivity does not seem to be problematic for the one who was a great international nomad. After having travelled a lot and enjoyed this, in the United States, he consider that we make good wine when you are in its vineyards, in the midst of its teams. Nobody harvest in an airport lounge. You have to agree to make yourself available to nature. Maybe at one time we thought the opposite.

Since 2005, the La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou, a former second wine of the property, constitutes a full-fledged Cru, while the Le Petit Caillou, born in 2007, now takes the place of second wine. It is concocted from the lots that were not retained for the other two cuvees.

They offer each year a collection of 21 different formats of Ducru-Beaucaillou, customisable. Good to see that 90% of the first wine is destined for export, and Asia accounts for about half of these volumes, with Hong Kong, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Macau on top. The Chinese love to banquet, drink and eat, celebrate the good bottles. The Americans are different, very tasters but perhaps less enjoyers. And those who take the time to take a break in Saint-Julien taste the cuvées in the best conditions. This is Ducru-Beaucaillou, go upper right hand side stripes menu to see more here: Official Chateau Ducru-Beaucaillou

A century already that the Cordier family owns the Château Talbot. In the adjacent tasting room at the château, a long topped white table gathers a remarkable vintage of every decade for a hundred years: 1919, 1926, 1934, 1945, 1955, 1962, 1975, 1986, 1995, 2005 and the very young 2010. The silence welcomes the bottle of 1919. It is the minimum of respect that one owes to the elders. The wine should not be shaken by too many wrist turns; It must oxidize smoothly. The taster must understand their relationship to the air that wakes them smoothly.

The years 1926, 1934 and 1945 followed this first anniversary. Ah, 1945! As if the wine had kept in him the hot breath of the cannons, recalled by deep smoky notes, a minerality that draws on oil and which leaves room for a mouth still ample to the final peppery and ironstone. 1955 is very different, charming, the fruit is riper and dominates the spices by scents of strawberry filled with rose and sandalwood. The mouth is dense, sensual, held by an acid weft, spine of the wines of Château Talbot.

The vintage 1962 follows the 1975, very refined, with an Earth profile, pronounced aromas of pepper and a great dynamism. It is the one that performs best its final, of an astonishing length and elegance. The character of the 1986, (my first bottle of Château Talbot) ,the blood side of the 1996, the musculature of the 2005 and the finesse of the 2010, while juicy and spiced with a beautiful bite at the end of the mouth, are held.

If the production techniques used in the past century were very different from those which are today, the wines retain an air of family. The imprint of the terroir gives them a pronounced minerality, an invigorating acid weft, a flax grain and a peppery finale. Mr Désiré-Nicolas Cordier purchased the fourth Grand Cru Classé de Saint-Julien in 1918. In 1934, then mayor of the town, he organized the “Feast of longevity” in the presence of the President of the French Republic Albert Lebrun. If the longevity celebrated is that of the inhabitants, the diners drank with the centenary vintage 1834. Désiré Cordier, the man and his wife Nancy Bignon-Cordier are today the attentive guardians of Château Talbot, whom they gradually transmit to their three children; Philippine, Marguerite and Gustave, the fifth generation. The succession is assured. This is the Château Talbot : Official Château Talbot

And if these two powerhorses of the wine world and my world are not enough, we have more by Paris, capital of the world.

From February 11th to 13th , 2019, discover the first edition of Wine Paris, the first major international meeting of wine professionals to be held in Paris: World Wine Capital! Wine Paris was born from the union of Vinisud, the world of Southern wines, and VinoVision Paris, the International Exhibition of Northern Wines. Wine Paris will host from this first edition with more than 2000 exhibitors representatives the completeness of French terroirs and a variety of international vineyards.

These vineyards reps are

France: Alsace, Beaujolais, Burgundy, Bordeaux, Champagne, Corsica, Jura, Languedoc, Provence, Roussillon, Savoie, South-West, Rhône Valley, and the Val de Loire.

Algeria: Oran.  Croatia: Slavonia, Continental Croatia, Istria, Dalmatia.

Spain: Andalusia, Aragon, Castile-La Mancha, Castile and Leon, Catalonia, Extremadura, Galicia, Murcia, Navarra, Basque Country, La Rioja, and the Valencian Community.

Greece: Elide, Achaea, Korinthia.  Italy: Veneto, Piemonte, Friuli, Lombardia, Trentino Alto Adige, Emilia Romagna, Liguria, Il Lazio, Abruzzo, Puglia, Sicilia, Sardegna, le Marche, Campania, Basilicata, Calabra, Molise, and Toscany.  Lebanon: Bekaa Valley.  Israel: Golan Heights.  Moldova: Codru. And  Portugal: Douro, Dao, Bairrada, Valpaços, Alentejo, Madeira, Minho, and Bucelas

All this as per above dates February 11-13 2019 ; at the  Parc des Expositions Porte de Versailles, 1 place de la porte de Versailles, Paris 15éme : Hours Monday and Tuesday 9h30 to 18h30 and Wednesday 9h30 to 17H30. Admission is 20€ reserving online or 40€ on site. More here on Wine Paris: Wine Paris

Also, at Vinosud :

And VinoVision Paris:

The above material translated and taken from my favorite wine journal Le Figaro VinLe Figaro Vin journal in French

Hope to enjoy it as much as I/we do. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!





January 26, 2019

The nice beaches of San Sebastian!

On a rather sunny cool day at 8C and rainy night, I sat over my blog and realized as in many that have written briefly on these two marvelous family past times of the past. They really deserve more ,so, a single post on them should be the remedy.  There is snow in Spain as well and my favorite areas are covered already so why not bring on the beaches of San Sebastian!

I came here with the family including my Dad (Mom had already passed away in France 2007). Even while living in Madrid never made it here, so ironically finally went to these wonderful beaches from France. I am talking about the Zurriola and La Concha beaches of San Sebastian.

I will tell you something extra on them and plenty of webpages to help you plan your family trip here.

The beach of Zurriola is one of the three beaches of the city of San Sebastián . It is located between the mouth of the Urumea river and Mount Ulía, and has an approximate length of 800 meters. Facing the elegant and quiet profile of the beaches of Ondarreta and La Concha, the beach of Zurriola has been consolidated as a beach with a younger profile and suitable for the practice of surfing (it is the most open beach and with strongest swell in the city) and to have  the Jazz Festival of San Sebastian and of competitions of bodyboarding, surfing, skateboarding and similar events. The practice of nudism is allowed since 2004, being one of the few Spanish urban beaches that allow it. Of course need to verify if still does no idea.

san sebastian

Some webpages to help you enjoy your visit here are

Tourist office of San Sebastian on Zurriola

Tourist office of Donostia on Zurriola

Tourist office of Euskadi on Zurriola

Plages TV beach site on Zurriola in English

Webcam site on Zurriola

This is the beach area where we parked each time there by the Kursaal Congress area Gros neighborhood , really across from the beach. The parking is shown here:

The more popular beach but we still preferred Zurriola of all the beaches there, more intimate, and local. Of course, better for the younger crowds.

La Concha Beach is located in the Bay of La Concha in the city of San Sebastián. Located west of the mouth of the Urumea river, separated from the same by Mount Urgull and the center of the city and housed in the Bay of La Concha, the island of Santa Clara closing the bay. It has an average length of 1 350 meters, an average width of 40 meters and an average surface of 54 000 m².  It is a sandy beach and shallow, in which the tides travel often limits the surface useful for use. It can be considered a beach of urban environment and massive use. Of the same bay form f the beach of Ondarreta, more familiar, and not frequented by us.

San Sebastian

The shell railing (barandilla) extends from the city/town hall of San Sebastián to the Ondarreta beach, and only changes design in the area of the Caseta Real (Royal Hut) . To know the origins of this architectural element we go back to the time when queen Isabel II reigned and in which San Sebastián was visited by royalty. The handrail was  built in 1910 and inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII in 1916. It was placed by sections and the previous railing was moved to the Paseo de France. There is a stretch of railing totally different from the rest is where the Caseta Real was formerly. Right next to Thalassotherapy La Perla.

san sebastian

san sebastian

It is the most popular beach there and one of the best in Europe. Some webpages to help you plan your visit here are

Tourist office of San Sebastian on La Concha

tourist office of Donostia on La Concha

Tourist office of Euskadi on La Concha

Plages TV site on La Concha in English

Webcam site on La Concha

There you go plenty to pick and enjoy your beach family trip to pretty nice San Sebastian or Donostia (basque). Always a pleasant visit by my family. And important to know the weather in advance you can count on Spain official meteo service AEMET. I have on la Concha but if you to Beach, you can change to see the others :enjoy it

AEMET meteo service of Spain on beaches of San Sebastian

Enjoy your time here in Summers of course. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!



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January 26, 2019

Memories forever, Las Majadas!

And on this sunny bright cool  8C day in my new Morbihan breton dept 56 of Brittany, in my belle France; I like to be nostalgic if I may please. Spain is in me no matter where I go, or live, and so lucky to found a French women who spoked Spanish and like the idea of vacationing there even already thinking of retirement. Well the luck of the devil it could not be done as she passed away last April 30th 2018 from pancreatic cancer. My hopes were dashed and a new life is slowly coming together. However, the memories ,the souvenirs, the joys of the past with my dear late wife Martine will always be there intact.

las majadas

I like to bring back our magnificent lately Summer vacations we had in Las Majadas, Serrania de Cuenca, Province of Cuenca in the Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of the Kingdom of Spain. I have several entries on the area around Cuenca.

We have come here in 2016 and 2017 , we love it!!!  My dear late wife Martine did not mind coming back again to same house, she love it too . We always  enjoyed our summers family vacation . We quickly always decide it must be Spain again !!! There are other places in Europe but when it comes to decision time, it seems we have a magnet on Spain, and a lot of blood roots!!!. Last year 2018, we did not go as was too sad for me and the boys to go back, maybe next time.

We always sit around the kitchen table and decide where to go in our long Summer vacations , but at the end we came back to the same place as always with little exceptions over the years. The house we always rented from Luis and Maria Isabel is wonderfully roomy cool and in the center of the town; the owners are wonderful human being very laid back country folks who enjoyed talking and sharing stories.

las majadas

The town is Las Majadas in the Serrania de Cuenca mountainsabout 1400 meters up and 36 kms from the Unesco World Heritage site of the city of Cuenca. The house is Casa Pitu at calle Anastacio Lasso near the clock tower which houses the pharmacy and library of the town.

las majadas

For a change , will post some webpages that will help you plan your trip here, and I highly recommended.

The city/town hall of Las Majadas has a site in Spanish here Ayuntamiento de Las Majadas

Casa Pitu again is here in Spanish Official Casa Pitu in Spanish

The autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha has more in Spanish here Castilla la Mancha on Las Majadas

The Guia Repsol (sort of the Michelin of Spain) has more in Spanish here Guia Repsol tourism on Las Majadas

Serrania de Cuenca site in Spanish where on the bottom you can print in pdf a brochure on the mountains is here: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on the Serrania de Cuenca

And the province of Cuenca tourist site in Spanish in here  tourist office province of Cuenca

The town is very friendly and easy to walk, with great pathways into the mountains for the courageous runner/walker/hiker is a paradise.  We were always tucked to the city and the great bars and restos in it. Sad to hear the bakery has close down and now bread is deliver after 10h at the local school.  We were at 1400 meters altitude (about 4593 feet) and the driving down and up is winding and zig zag’s roads with gorgeous mountains views with lookout stops along the way to enjoy the scenery more.

In all, it was a great place to be at. We are always remembering and réminiscences of times past where we had so much family joy here. It will be with me for the rest of my life. There are several posts on the Las Majadas/Cuenca area , but sorry if it is repeated, I will never be tired of writing about it in my blog. For now ,enjoy Las Majadas, Province of Cuenca, autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha in the  Serrania de Cuenca mountains of my beloved Spain.

las majadas

This is one previous post just on Las MajadasOne of my previous post on Las Majadas

And this was our first impression from the first visit in 2016: Just to say it has been our best vacation ever ,not only because the location was great, the house fanstastic with all the trimming ,and the price right, but the host Luis and Maria Isabel were fantastic beyond the call of duty to make our stay a wonderful one full of great memories and even friendship. You will do well to rent from them in the future as we will definitively look forward to another opportunity. And we did!

And this is one way on how I wrote to get there from south of Pau by Gan,  along the N134, follow Laruns on the D934 into the mountains looking for the col du Portalet mountain pass wonderful views real driving pleasure and into Spain on the N260 to Huesca to take the N330 into the wonderful road A23 to Zaragoza here take the beltway of the city, the Z-40 direction Madrid but get off on exit 28A to Teruel/Cariñera and then exit 176 into the N211 direction Montalban/Caminreal/Alcaniz.  Near the town of Caminreal take left on the N234 ,and near Monreal del Campo continue on avenue de Madrid still on the N211 passing by nice Molina de Aragon  (gas/petrol  station here) to connect with the CM210 that becomes the CM 2106 into the Serrania de Cuenca mountains and our home at Las Majadas!

las majadas

And this is how I wrote one way back to France: This time we headed first to Guadalajara , passing by one special town of Calatayud. This is the town I stopped with my then girlfriend for gas and something to eat at the next door restaurant/hotel that had a wedding going on ! appropiate it seems.  We sat in the middle of the restaurant with the wedding party on one side and always remembered by us. At the end of town  ,we link up with the A2 direction Zaragoza that we bypass on the beltway road Z40.  We took the A23 direction Huesca where we link up with the N330 direction Jaca passing by Sabiñanigo.  We continue on the N330 direction France and the Somport pass tunnel. This was memorable too as when I first started traveling by car between Spain and France there was no tunnel but had to go on first gear with a VW Golf  (owned by my girlfriend later wife Martine) up the Pyrénées mountains over the Col de Somport mountain. Here passing Castiello de Jaca, and then Vilanua ,a great memory as usually we had stayed at the Faus Hutte mountain hotel here,now it is call Lacasa. We remember arriving very late like 10PM or 22h and the hotel owners opens up the restaurant to give us something to eat and stayed for the night before continuing on to France !!! Memories never to forget.


So travel soothes everything and is doing me so, writing this blog helps a lot. Las Majadas will be forever in my mind. Thanks for the memories!!!!  I thank you for your support. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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