Archive for June 13th, 2019

June 13, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXX

And here i come back to you with news of my beloved Spain. Many as the good weather is coming there and all sort of things pops up in my Spain, everything under the Sun! Not so much good chance weather here as cloudy and damp rainy and 61F or about 15C however, Madrid much better at 79F or about 26C and sunny. Here then the latest news from Spain.

Best pools or aquatic parks that I know and are good to recommend are

Puerta de Hierro Sports Park in Madrid (No 1!). With its three hundred thousand square meters this sports park is by far the largest in the capital, including a gigantic adult pool of 6,500 square meters in addition to another for children. It is the direct heiress of the Playa de Madrid, also known as the Lido Chulapo, designed  between 1932 and 1934. It was the first artificial beach in Spain, located in the Manzanares river on its way through El Pardo. It had spaces for rowing, swimming and other water sports. After the Spanish Civil War, at the end of the fifties, the area was reconverted into the trade union park, building the immense pools that have survived to this day. The entrance costs 4.50 euros. Memories still of my youth in Madrid still there!

Playas del Vicario in Ciudad Real.  In the surroundings of this Castilian city of Castilla La Mancha, very close to the reservoir of the same name, there is a spectacular complex of municipal swimming pools that represent the best kept secret of La Mancha during the summer. Although they are usually very busy, they are so big that you do not feel overwhelmed. They have very complete facilities including a spa with an interesting menu of treatments. Tickets between 1.50 and 4.40 euros.

In my beloved DNA Canaries Islands, we have

Santa Cruz Maritime park in Santa Cruz de Tenerife. The posthumous work of César Manrique (it was inaugurated in 1995) and the most modest of its maritime projects (22,000 square meters) has, however, very special characteristics as it forms part of an extraordinary landscape with the emblematic Auditorium of Santiago Calatrava as a backdrop, and being surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean in all its splendor and the Palmetum botanical garden. All this in the urban center of the capital of Tenerife. The use of volcanic rock further enhances the turquoise color of its two main pools. And this paradise is accessible to everyone, with a maximum rate of 2.5 euros.

Costa Martianez at Puerto de la Cruz, with its nearly 100,000 square meters and its sets of volcanic islands immersed in a gigantic lake, this leisure complex that includes the queen of Spanish swimming pools is an iconic place. Its origins go back to the mid-fifties, when a small pool complex was built, under the name of San Telmo, which would later be transformed, in the 1960s, into Los Aliseos, before Cesar Manrique took over the project, opening in 1977 . Its influence has been enormous and still attracts many ‘pilgrims’. Tickets from 15 euros.

Benicalap Pool in Valencia.  Among the public pools of the capital of th Turia,  the most attractive is undoubtedly opened in 1983 that is part of a large park located in this neighborhood north of the city, accessible by metro. It is very busy but it is very large and there is abundant vegetation. Its normal schedule is from 12h  to 18h30 but on Fridays it lasts until 01h  in the morning and thematic evenings are also scheduled. Tickets between 1.65 and 3.25 euros.

Oira Outer Swimming Pools in Orense, Galicia. The Ourense capital has no access to the sea, but its water supply is overwhelming. Its thermal offer is undoubtedly the most complete and accessible in Spain, including several outdoor centers of the highest level, with very cheap rates. It is also possible to paddle in Miño river itself, as in the many pools that dot the riverbanks. The best and most unique is the one found in the surroundings of the Oira sports complex that includes its own fluvial beach. And the most surprising thing is that its access is free.

The configuration of many of its streets, such as Barrio de Santa Cruz, attracts shade and causes drafts. In its many parks the fountains and shady corners abound. And at nightfall, there is no corner of the city that does not have any kind of cultural event. Nobody be alarmed, to enjoy Sevilla  with heat you only need a fan, organization and a lot of common sense. Indeed!! Some places for the shade and the fun.

The magnificent Museum of Fine Arts located in the former Convent of La Merced Calzada. An extraordinarily beautiful place conformed by numerous patios full of flowers where the air runs and that would be worth knowing by itself. But its great treasures are inside its rooms, protected by a perfect climate. Its collection of paintings by Murillo, Zurbarán or Valdés Leal is unique but they also feature works by Velázquez, El Greco or a chilling sculpture by Torrigiano. And at the moment access to all these wonders is free

Isla Magica, the Andalusian theme park par excellence that, in addition to a multitude of attractions related to the New World and discoveries around a large lake, has two immense swimming pools. One of them, Arrecife, dedicated to families, and another with waves, in a Caribbean environment with sand beach included. The rates include all types of offers, from 10-14 euros. .

After cooling off in the Patio de las Abluciones of the old Great Mosque of Sevilla, today magnificent Collegiate Church of the Divine Savior, lunch with tapas (do not forget one of snails) in the square covered with awnings of the same name where they say that it was invented to liven up the terraces with water spray

On July 21 and 26  2019 you can have one of those extraordinary experiences offered by this unique city. It is the verbena that the neighborhood of Triana dedicates to Santa Ana and the Apostol, on the left bank of the river, with the Calle Betis as reference. An opportunity to get to know this charismatic neighborhood, based on the most authentic flamenco, grilled sardines and many surprises. There is a pottery market, a flower offering, although the classic is to witness the Contest of the Cucaña in which a barge is placed with a fat-smeared pole crowned with a pennant that the participants have to reach before falling into the river!

The Nights in the Gardens of the Real Alcázar, which this year celebrates its XIX edition with 75 performances between June 14 and September 8 2019. Between the splendid gazebo of Carlos V and the Gallery of Grutescos you can enjoy flamenco, jazz, swing, blues and all kinds of ethnic as well as classical music. A real luxury that must be booked in advance.

The Guadalquivir river are protagonists of the summer nights and even more so since the old pier of New York has been rejuvenated and has already been filled with chiringuitos (food stands) and chill out terraces such as Muelles Nueva York ( Docks) and Mojitos Lounge from where you can see the sunset , mojito in hand but also have a drink with good music, already at dusk. Very close in the surroundings of Parque María Luisa, you can dine in great restaurants.

Although part of its structure is covered with scaffolding, the Giralda remains the irreplaceable reference of Sevilla and the image that is always engraved in our retina. That’s why there is no better way to end the day than having a drink in one of the privileged terraces overlooking the ancient Almohad minaret. If you are lucky, the perfect plan is to enjoy the Atico Dos Fuentes de la Marquesa de las Torres (Two Fountains Attic of the Marquis). But there are other alternatives such as the terraces of the Doña María, Fontecruz or Eme hotels. It is also worth consulting the concert schedule on the roofs of Sevilla site at

You can always check the latest at the city of Sevilla tourist webpage here:

The festival celebrates its 19th edition betting on the mixture between avant-garde and tradition From the Greek tragedies to the verses of Shakespeare or Cervantes, Clasicos de Alcalà (classics in Alcalá de Henares)  fills the city of theater with flavor to tradition . More information here:

William Klein. Manifiesto. First great retrospective in Spain of one of the fundamental figures of 20C photography. The New Yorker accurately portrayed the postwar society, helping to build our own vision of the world. The exhibition brings together 245 works and documents that make up the kaleidoscopic work of the creator, who also approached painting, cinema and graphic arts. The exhibition can be visited until September 22 2019. Where: Fundación Telefónica. More information  :

And the trivia question/answer of the post is:

The menu of the day, so common in the most modest restaurants and pubs , and in some that are not so much  has its origin, according to the most widespread version in Spain, in that ‘tourist menu’ imposed by the Ministry of Information and Tourism of the Franco regime in 1964, when the owner of that portfolio was none other than Manuel Fraga. But the reality is a little more complicated and it seems that some inspiration came to the Ministry technicians from the neighboring country of France (of course) who knew a very similar menu from a century ago. Among the promotional measures to attract more and more foreigners was that offer of an economic menu, which was initially mandatory in all restaurants, and at a price set by the Administration, according to the category of the establishment such as the most expensive, in the luxury restaurants, it was 250 of those pesetas from half a century ago! (166.386 pesetas = one euro !) And it was specified that specialties of the region should be offered. But, in any case, the reality is that from 1854 the concept had spread throughout France and, therefore, many Spaniards knew it. Initially it was not a daily menu, but simply a ‘plat du jour’, dish of the day, different every day, formula introduced that year by a chef who had been working in the United States, Pierre Fraysse, when he returned to Paris and opened his restaurant Chez Peter’s. It was a dish, yes, very abundant, often with vegetables and potatoes accompanying a meat or fish. In present-day France that tradition still exists, but throughout the 19-20C other establishments switched to a more complete ‘menu du jour’,or menu of the day like the one we have now! There you go a bit of Franco-American cooperation and now Spanish too :J

And now another trivia as we know most like hot sauces but not so much in Spain,however, lately immigration does its course and hot sauces are found in many supermarkets in Spain today. These are some popular ones

Tabasco Pepper Sauce.  Created in 1868 by Edmund McIlhenny in Louisiana (USA), this famous hot sauce is prepared with red tabasco peppers  hence the name , macerated with water, vinegar and salt in oak barrels . Its pungency according to the Scoville scale is between 2,500 and 5,000 SHU. My favorite :J

Sriracha Hot Chilli Sauce is  Sriracha or fermented chili is the name used to name this Southeast Asian dressing, very popular in Thailand. Take tomato, ripe chili, vinegar, garlic, sugar and salt and score around 2,000 SHU.Mild..

The Ruda and Technical Chipotlera . Recipes of the Mexican chef Roberto Ruiz (Punto MX restaurant Madrid), these sauces are made from mature serrano chili peppers manually destemmed and fermented for two years. La Ruda has a semi-liquid density and is aromatic, intense in flavor and medium spicy or hot.

Salta Picante Espinaler. agressive version of the mythical Catalan salsa created in 1950 by Ventureta Roldós, wife of Joan Tapias when he was in charge of Espinaler. Its main ingredients are vinegar, spices (a secret combination, never confessed) and red paprika.

Veneno del Bueno con Mango (poison of good with mango). This Spanish firm based in Granada specializes in spicy seasonings of all kinds. Among all of them, I take this  version of Veneno del Bueno, a free interpretation of Tabasco, with strong habanero chile flavor and citrus notes, with the addition of large quantities of mango from Motril , which provides texture and an excellent point between spicy , sweet and fruity. Eye, your scale reaches 350,000 SHU: it is not for everyone, indeed!

Frank’s Redhot Wings Buffalo Sauce. The secret ingredient of the recipe for Buffalo chicken wings (originating from Buffalo in the State of New York, USA) was always its sauce: different cayenne peppers crushed with spices, vinegar and garlic (but get the real texture, you have to mix it with a pinch of butter).

And to finish on a smoother note! Here are some wonderful museums gardens in my beloved Madrid to visit and enjoy them especially during the hot Summer months.

Museo del Romanticismo (Museum of Romanticism) at Calle San Mateo, 13). The Garden of the Magnolio that hides this 18C  palace, inside which recreates the daily life of the upper middle class during Romanticism, is one of its corners with more personality. After several years closed, last summer reopened, giving away to the public a postcard distributed in four streets with a circular fountain that dominates its intersection. Your Garden Café seems like a more than valid excuse to enjoy a snack spiced with one of the homemade cakes that appear in your menu. Although the cafeteria schedule coincides with that of the Museum, it is not necessary (although it is advisable) to visit it to access it.

Sorolla Museum  at Paseo del General Martínez Campos, 3. Planned and designed by the artist himself, Sorolla took care of the tonalities of his garden with the same determination as those of his canvases. In fact, several of his paintings are inspired precisely in this space. Under the influence of his travels in Spain and Italy, this colorful oasis that beats in the heart of Madrid is divided into three different spaces and distributed in an L shape. In them converge box hedges, geranium pots and an amalgam of styles in the one that is possible to recognize from winks of the Andalusian gardening until details of Florentine airs.

Casa Museo Lope de Vega(house museum) at Calle Cervantes, 11. Like Sorolla, Lope de Vega also spent many hours of his life taking care of the garden that adorned his home with taste and care, and which today hosts performances and concerts. According to his own verses, he even received orange trees, laurels, pomegranates and a fig tree. The roses, tulips, hyacinths and jasmines rounded the picture with the arrival of each spring.

Palacio de  Linares  at Plaza Cibeles, s / n , corner with Paseo de Recoletos. Famous for being the current headquarters of the Casa de América, it houses a space in its back where green is the main color. The summer nights are especially animated in this enclave, whose touch of mystery is in charge of the numerous and ghostly legends that, for centuries, circulate around the building.

Reina Sofía National Art Center Museum at Calle Santa Isabel, 52. Splattered by sculptures by Alexander Calder, Joan Miró and Eduardo Chillida, the Sabatini Garden shares its name with the building that gives it shelter. The Italian architect was in charge of designing the General Hospital of San Carlos, the first destination of this site. Today your parterre proposes a complementary way to enjoy the Museum.

There you go another go at my beloved Spain. Hope you are enjoying these news posts of mine own creativity ::)

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

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June 13, 2019

Convento de San Pablo, Parador at Cuenca!

So back into my lovely and sentimental Cuenca. I have spent several vacations in the area with the family over the years and we love it. Castilla La Mancha region of Spain of Don Quijote fame! There is so much to see here and Unesco site that have taken me several posts and still not done ! Today ,let me introduce you to an off the beaten path visit even thus you can stay in it ::) Let me tell you a bit of history on the Convent of San Pablo or parador lodging of Cuenca, Spain.

The Convent of San Pablo ,in Cuenca, is an old convent of the order of the Dominicans, is outside the urban walls, in a place of a great natural beauty, since it rises in a promontory on the sickle of the Huécar, to quite a height on the channel of the river and in front of the Hanging Houses (Casas Colgadas). The architects of the church were the brothers Juan and Pedro de Alviz and their architecture responds to some of the ideas of the first years of the 16C; Gothic structure and Renaissance decoration. It is popularly known as “los Pablos”. Since 1993 the convent functions as a national tourism Parador.


A bit brief on its construction tells us that the Convent of San Pablo is composed of the church, built in the bow, as advancing in the Huécar’s sickle, the cloister on its right and another series of buildings that have been growing attached to the main body according to the needs of the different orders that they have lodged in the convent. The church and the cloister are from the 16C, with the rest of buildings from a later period. The building is perched on a prow or promontory over the Huécar sickle (river). This unique building that emerges between the rocks and rocky shapes that festoon the Hoz del Huécar, between orchards and hanging houses that overlook the abyss, which has served as a monastery, convent, school, seminary, nursery, special education center and many projects that were not carried out, in addition to numerous celebrations of all kinds, both in the beautiful church, which was the concert hall of Religious Music, and now Espacio Torner, as in the convent building itself through which the Dominicans passed, the Redemptorists, the Josephites and the Vincentian fathers, and since 1993, the visitors who stay at the Parador.


A bit of history I like, it’s nice from my old books, so bear with me please.

He was a canon born in Almodóvar del Pinar (same province of Cuenca), Juan del Pozo, who was the promoter of this colossal building when on April 24, 1523 he requested the census from the Chapter Corporation.The primitive bridge of San Pablo (wooden bridge), that he himself cost to unite the convent with the old Basin commanded to begin the works of the convent and church that put under the trusteeship of the Apostle San Pablo (St Paul), supporting of his money the construction of both, and endowing the foundation with huge rents to attend the maintenance of the same.

So it was and in 1836 the Dominicans had to leave the convent and it was the Bishopric of Cuenca who later bought the building in public auction to install the Minor Seminary of San Pablo. In 1885 ,it was ordered the rebuilding of the College of San Pablo at the expense of the bishopric itself for diocesan studies. At the end of the 19C the PP. Redemptorists destined the house for the Apostolic School; but they did not fit easily. A few years after their entry they left leaving a bitter memory. In the early 20C the Seminary of San Pablo was ruled by the Sons of Mosén Sol, Diocesan Operatives, who were vulgarly known by the “Josefinos” (josephs). On January 3, 1912, the seminarians of San Pablo, and with them those of the Seminary of San Julián, rebelled against the superiors, who had to flee at night through the Huécar sickle and through the tunnel of the garden that gave to the San Pablo seminary . Faced with the events produced, the Seminars, expelled the students and intervening the Vatican itself. The “Josefinos” left Cuenca and the Seminary of San Pablo remained closed again.

On July 3, 1922, the concession of the Convent of San Pablo to the Community of Padres Paúles (pablos=pauls) was confirmed. The seminarians did carpentry, masonry and electricity and in September they started the course. On July 25, 1936, the undersecretary of the Ministry of Justice of the Republic sent a letter to the bishop of Cuenca stating that the Provincial Council requested the seizure of the building and transfer to the Provincial, in order to install a provincial sanatorium, after having been evicted by the community of Father-Parents. But during some months during the Spanish Civil War it was left without activity and the building suffered some looting.  In 1962 it was determined that the Internal Seminary resided in San Pablo and this required an improvement of the building, extending it with a floor. With this extension the Seminary could receive up to 200 seminarians.  In 1973 the Seminary closed its doors, handing over the keys two years later the Bishopric. On July 30, 1977, in the Church of San Pablo, which had to be opened for the occasion, the singer from Cuenca José Luis Perales (very famous and good singer we love!) contracted with Manuela Vargas, before a great expectation, and in the surrounding area hundreds of people gathered, almost as many as on April 19, 1903, the date on which the present iron bridge of San Pablo  was blessed and inaugurated.


On July 3, 1986, the Summer Course of the Catholic University of Santo Domingo was inaugurated. It was planned to permanently establish a series of Faculties in the Convent of San Pablo, which did not take place either. In  October, 1983 the news that prepared the signing of an agreement between the University of Castilla-La Mancha and the bishopric for the installation of the Faculty of Fine Arts in the Convent of San Pablo; this project did not work out either. The great building was still empty and the people crossing the bridge of San Pablo returned after walking before a closed and gloomy place at dusk. In November 1988 the Bishopric agreed to cede to the State the Convent of San Pablo for a tourism lodging Parador, and a few months later, on July 11, 1989, the cession of the property to the Spanish State was signed for a period of fifty years, with an extension clause and an exclusive destination for Parador de Turismo, except for the church with its front part or body of the sacristy, which years later it would become, through another agreement, in the Torner Art Space.  The works of transformation and restoration of the Monastery or Convent of San Pablo began in December of 1990 adapted the building for 63 rooms, two of them suite. The dining room was located in the old refectory that preserves the reading pulpit and the main hall bears the name of Vincentian hall in memory of the Vincentians(Vicenciano), also with a large pulpit for reading or speeches. The inauguration of the Parador took place on Thursday, April 1, 1993, on the eve of Holy Week and from the first day its occupation was full. The Parador can tell many stories, although the most impressive was the overnight stay of the Princes of Spain, Felipe and Letizia, on their honeymoon trip through Spain, with the first nuptial stop in Cuenca on Sunday, May 23, 2004.I said all a great monument and story,now we can try to stay there in the Parador!


Now as usual from me, some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Province of Cuenca tourism on the Convent

Region of Castilla La Mancha tourism on the Convent

Official Paradores of Spain on the parador San Pablo of Cuenca

Espacio Torner next to Convent

There you go, now you are loaded to come and enjoy this marvel of architecture and history in the comforts of a modern lodging building,a Parador of San Pablo in Cuenca. Hope you have enjoy the story!

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





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