Archive for June 15th, 2019

June 15, 2019

Havana, La Habana, a beautiful postcard of vintage beauty,my Habana!

Ok so I would have like to reblog this post but could not do it so will just copy paste and reproduce here my post from February 2012. This is my Habana and would like to share it with my new readers as well as the old .Enjoy it!

Well sometimes surprises in life do happenned, and lucky me from work  I needed to go to Havana, Cuba. A whimsical place of many years and family memories, I was born there but left too young as a boy, came back once to see my grandparents who raised me, and now back again. What a change, what a shock full of wonderful memories and honest, too good people, humble ,nice, friendly, like been back into the family again.

This is La Habana Havana or the complete real name San Cristobal de la Habana; St Christopher the Saint in honor of Christopher Columbus and the indian taino word Habana meaning a savannah between two rivers the Cojimar (of Ernest Hemingway fame) and Almendares,(the best baseball team on the island,and my family’s team).

Upon arrival I had my cousin, husband there to greet me, but as in official company trip ,had a very nice friendly Cuban name Pedro Luis, who took me to the Casa Particular of his father Rogelio in the district of Playa, old Miramar, near the hotels Melia Habana,Commodore,Panoramico, and the Miramar Business Center. The house was built in 1923, and wonderfully renovated, huge bedroom,and bathroom with AC and TV, telephone on the hallways,central to all. The service was very friendly, the owner Rogelio chatted with me every morning for the ritual Cuban coffee expresso, strong and black and sweet!!! You and I were set for the day lol! His son Pedro Luis always in contact with me will come to pick me up for the business and took me around Havana for eateries and sightseeing a bit. Every night upon my return, the security person already knew me by name and hand me the key to the room!

I went to the wonderful Malecon, Plaza Vieja, Church of St Francisco de Asisi, saw the statue to the Caballero de Paris, gentleman of Paris a beggar who knew like Enstein and told wonderful stories to passerbyers from the 1950’s. We went by the bourse of commerce or Longia; and of course, we sip a daiquiri at Floridita Bar,(in 1957 Esquire magazine name it the best bar in the world!). We went inside the hotel Nacional, and walks it historical alleys and patio with its Aguiar canons, magical.

havana

havana

havana

havana

I saw my Morro castle, and the excavations of the Zanja Real or royal sewers now open and shown above ground to tourists.  Coming by grand Miramar on my way to visit my old native place, I saw the clock tower on 5th avenue of Miramar, the Palacio de Convenciones, and the wonderful old houses now occupy by foreign embassies.

havana

havana

havana

Foremost, wandering the streets of Havana, and Playa(Miramar),and Punta Brava took many memories of me, exciting and sad ,curious and forgetful; did not wanted to pass by the house I was born, too many strong memories,and better enjoy the sights tourists see. I am now a tourist in La Habana.

punta brava

We had lunch at El Bosque inside the hotel Melia Habana, Avenida  3rd. between  76 and 80 streets, Miramar , the Spanish chain of hotels have done a wonderful job here, by far the best in Havana. We ,also,, had our meetings there in the 9th floor breakfast business center with wonderful views of Havana.  I had lunch with the family at a parador private folks have at Parrillada 84  y 15, Playa, all done by charcoal, with my Aunt and cousins. The highlight was at El Palenque, near pabexpo Cuba, wonderful typical Cuban place and food, very nice lechon or pork with yucca,moro (blackened rice), and the local Cristal beer, address at Calle 17 & Calle 190 , Playa, La Habana  . In Havana we ate at Factoria Plaza Vieja, at Plaza Vieja, terrace outfit with shrimps and lobsters,pork,and chicken grilled platters. All very cheap compare to Europe.

havana

havana

havana

For a nostalgic trip we passed by El Potin resto, my Mom Gladys used to take me here as a little boy, just a sandwich and light platters place and ice cream,juice and soda drinks, still there!!! and it looks nice after 43 years!!!! Inspired by French immigrants! at Línea corner of Paseo, Vedado section of La Habana.

havana

Coming and going thru Madrid, I try for the first time the newer terminal T4 and T4S; very modern, spacious, lots of eateries, and shops, with a automated train between the two,and easy walking to the metro station of line 8 that ends there. 2,50 euros one way to Madrid. I had my lunch at Vinea, a nice tapas and wine place.

My return was to Nantes, almost by 11h (11pm) and took my car to arrive home here by 12h30 am. Very tired but happy to be able to see my family again (many of them most are already out of the country!) , even if now look more like a tourist than a native; the reception by all was very nice. Cheers,  enjoy the pictures from Feb 2012.

The tourist office showing Havana is here in English: Official Cuba Travel on Havana

Tourist office of Cuba in English

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

 

June 15, 2019

Monasterio de Uclés, Uclés, Province of Cuenca!

And again in my beloved Spain, and favorite region of Castilla La Mancha, of Don Quijote dreams and stories! One can never have enough here in the my Spain, everything under the Sun! I have written bits on Uclés before but needs a special attention and this is it. I will tell you a bit on the Monastery,castle of Uclés in the province of Cuenca.

In our tours as road warriors in Castilla La Mancha region we stopped at a wonderful in country off the beaten path hilly and countryside Monastery of Uclés. This is located in the Province of Cuenca on the cutoff almost of the A3 highway to Madrid-Valencia.

We did the trip by car and did it across sunflower fields of dirt/stone terrain to reach it by the south side where it can be seen in its entire splendor.  However, for the less daring….you can come here on the A3 autovia Madrid-Valencia if coming from Madrid exit/salida 90,and from Valencia exit/ salida 91,  You can do so easier by the road from the A40 taking exit or salida 244. Follow the first two traffic circles direction Carrascosa del Campo. On the third traffic circle take the first exit towards Uclés, continue for about 12 km, crossing the town of Rozalén del Monte. Once you reach Uclés, take a right road bordering the town until you see the access road to the monastery.

Ucles

Ucles

A bit of history I like

Founded in pre Roman times, was part of an important Arab/moors enclave with castle, mosque, and spas. It went several times changing hands between Arabs/Moors and Christians until 1057AD; and finally in 1174 under King Alfonso VIII the city is given to the Order of Santiago (as in St James the way a military order to protect Christian lands) that made it their principal house.  In 1493 the Catholic Kings (Fernando y Isabel I) asked the Pope to declare them administrator of the Order and which Fernando the Catholic held from 1494 to 1516 at which time king Carlos I unified the military Christian orders as there were no further needs to fight the Arab/Moors after the conquest of Granada in 1492. In 1528 the works begins on the Monastery and by 1548 the refectory is already built. In 1577 king Felipe II spent Holy Week here as well.

ucles

ucles

That is a bit of history on the city. Many battles were held the most important and with a nice plaque in the patios of the Monastery today was the one held in January 13 1809 known as the Battle of Uclés between the invading Napoleonic troops and those of the Spaniards in what is known as the war of Independence; the French after winning the battle committed many atrocities to the city and monastery and the homes were sacked and many burned in the Church.

ucles

 

ucles

On the site of the Monastery, there was a castle from the 11C of Arab/Moors design. The Monastery is built from 1529 under the reign of king Carlos I and finished in 1735 under the reign of king Felipe V. Due to the long period of construction, the monastery is dotted with three periods of Spanish architecture known as Plateresque, Herrerian, and Churrigueresque; the Church is done in the Herrerian style in 1602 is  similar to that of San Lorenzo de El Escorial.

After the end of the Reconquest, the buildings underwent a radical remodeling, which ended with much of the defensive elements of the castle and gave it the current aspect. Not so with the walls, which are still preserved: A first wall protected the old orchard, irrigated with the waters of the Bedija river; a second, currently in a very bad state, still reveals its disposition in the form of serrated teeth. From the old fortress of the order of Santiago are three towers remaining. The three towers, in north-south direction  are: The tower of the Pontido, joined by a bridge with the tower of the Palomar, then a moat dug in rock, which was conquered by means of a drawbridge and that with elevated with a wall leading to the Tower Albarrana.

ucles

ucles

ucles

During the Spanish Civil War it was used as a Republican hospital and later prison (until 1943) where recently on a well were found the remains of more than 300 persons. In 1949, the seminary menor of the bishops of Cuenca under the name of  «Santiago Apóstol» was established. The bishopric of Cuenca now uses it for several functions such as encounters, camping, group meetings, educational activities amongst some.

There are rooms dedicated to the local founding on Roman and pre Romans artifacts and remains of the old Arabic castle as well as the history of the Order of Santiago.

ucles

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

More info in official page of the Monastery of Uclés  in  Spanish here: https://www.monasterioucles.com/visita

and more in Spanish from the region’s Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha here: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/monasterio-de-ucles-28064/

The city of Uclés tourist page: https://ucles.es/turismo/el-monasterio-de-ucles/

It is a wonderful side in country Manchego of Castilla La Mancha and a historical place. There are findings of pre historic excavations here too and many Roman artifacts found. In all it is fun for a day of sightseeing and driving on country road, the real travel ! Enjoy the Monastery of Uclés as we did!

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

 

 

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