Some news from Spain XCIIII

Well it seems to be away from Spain quite some time. Things are happening even surviving a resurgence of covid19 cases, and fighting as always. Let me tell you the lighter side of events in my beloved Spain.

Benito Pérez Galdós summers in Santander!!!  In Cantabria, in his home San Quintín, where he went almost every summer of his life since 1871. The first 20 years he spent for rent in the city, but in 1892 he began to build his farm in San Quintín, from which he had the company and the soft bath for the view of the Santander bay. The estate became a kind of pilgrim mecca for contemporary Galdosians. The writer secluded himself there for at least three months a year with his sisters, Carmen and Concha, and his daughter María, whom he had, as single, with Lorenza Cobián. The place served as a profitable inspiring refuge for him: he produced eight novels, 14 national episodes, and 11 plays there. He went to bed early and got up a lot early. It was installed in furniture designed by himself, as he did with the house, which he designed together with the architect Casimiro Pérez de la Riva. The large tiled fireplace from England was imprinted with a legend from Shakespeare’s grave. On the walls hung pictures with motifs of the National Episodes and there he transferred the portrait made by his friend Joaquín Sorolla. In the library he had a border inscribed with phrases from the Litany of the Virgin and passages from the Psalms were read on the curtains. All this, contemplated by a reproduction of Voltaire’s death mask and a portrait of someone as un-Christian as Richard Wagner. This contrast gave an idea of ​​his radically contradictory spirit, taken to the maximum in his decorative expressions. San Quintín was the only house that Galdós owned. His house … To such an extent it was that he kept all his manuscripts there while he was alive. He set San Quintín as the starting point for his trips to the north and the region, which he reflected in travel books such as Four leagues through Cantabria. There he embarked on ships that transferred him to his continuous European itineraries. He often departed from the port of Santander for France, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Scandinavia, and landed again at the same point. After his death, no one wanted to keep his legacy there. His body was extinguished and also his memory in the city. No one showed interest in claiming it. Their belongings were transferred to the Las Palmas de Gran Canaria House Museum in the 1960s. The property was sold to private individuals shortly after he died. They demolished the house. The retaining wall of the entrance to the farm is preserved, as well as a sign with blue tiles and Gothic letters that reads: San Quintín. No memory on the wall indicates that there, one of the greatest writers of world literature created much of his work and was reasonably happy. That is the sad part of history forgetfulness, we should not! Long live Benito Pérez Galdós!

The Real Alcàzar of Seville is a jewel to be visited. An intervention project will consolidate and restore the almost 1,600 square meters of tiling and tiles of the Sevillian monument from the 14C to the 20C!! The Patio de las Doncellas or Patio of the Maidens of the Mudejar Palace of the Real Alcázar of Seville, space in which are the 14Ctiles, the oldest in the complex. The tiled baseboards with star decorations in one of the rooms of the palace of Pedro I of Castile. Geometric compositions made by builders from the kingdom of Granada in the 14C. The Patio de las Doncellas, where the oldest ceramic wall tiles can be found. Intricate geometric shapes in one of the cloths in salón de los Embajadores or Ambassadors’ room. Each piece, in a single color, was cut with pliers, and had to fit right into the puzzle, without leaving a sore point. A divan in the Patio de las Doncellas, surrounded by the oldest tiles in the complex, from the 14C, contemporary with those of the Alhambra. The vaults room, part of the 13C Gothic palace that Felipe II ordered to be covered with tiles painted in the 16C. The set, the work of Cristóbal de Augusta, is the largest of the European Renaissance. Grotesque-themed panels in the sala de las Bóvedas or room of the Vaults. Next to the head can be read the date 1578 and below, the author’s signature: Augusta. Part of the sala de las Bóvedas, whose walls are covered with 243 square meters of tiles painted by Cristóbal de Augusta in the 16C. The ceramic wall tiles of the Gothic Palace, present in three rooms, have humidity problems due to capillarity, loss of enamel and as a result of the replacement of pieces that have been made throughout the last century. All will be renovated now!!! More info here: https://www.alcazarsevilla.org/en/

And for something for the true traditionalist Spaniards.

Can it be said that there has not yet been a decent bullfight in 2020? ”. It depends, of course, on the moral conception of each one, but, decent or not, what we have seen so far causes an alarming disappointment. It’s not this, no; this is not what bullfighting needs to stand tall in the 21C!!!  For the inaugural bullfight of the season in Andalusia, on August 1, in Osuna, Ponce himself included in the poster a friend of his, Javier Conde, a returned bullfighter, possessor of old wilted muses, gripped by a clamorous absence of technique and a heavy heart. In Huelva, eight bulls, two for the rejoneador Andrés Romero, and six for Juan Pedro Domecq, for Ponce, Castella and David de Miranda. The journalist Carlos Crivell wrote the following on his blog Sevillatoro.es: “The future of the Fiesta cannot be supported by bullfights as embarrassing as the second in Colombinas. When a renovation of the structures of the bullfighting network is requested, in moments in which an attractive bullfight is needed in which the bull is the real king to be fought by capable bullfighters, who are heroes, it is a disaster to witness the game of bulls without life, almost dead on the way out, that give more pity than fear, that come to give real pain, so that everything ends in a continuous embarrassment that there is no fan who can endure in a square. With bulls like those of Juan Pedro that were run in Huelva, the festival has no future ”.

As if that were not enough, a heated controversy has arisen over whether or not companies comply with the sanitary measures on the allowed capacity. The photos can be deceiving, but the impression is that in the celebrations held there was more public than allowed. The bull is the foundation of bullfighting; the only element with the capacity to excite and hook new fans. And until this axiom is apprehended by bullfighters there will be no solution for bullfighting. If this is the normality that bullfighting people and their journalists prefer, let them know that the bullfighting business will not give them for retirement. If this is the new bullfighting, the party has a short life left. The bull, only the bull, will save the party from certain death. Only the bull, the real one, and not the current cartoon. José Ortega y Gasset already said it: “The day the epic is lost in bullfighting and everything is aesthetic, the Fiesta will have its days numbered.” Indeed!

The Festival de Artes Digitales Mira or the Mira digital arts festival announced yesterday that it was postponing its tenth edition, which had to be held this November, until a year from now, in November 2021, in order to guarantee the health of attendees, artists and workers from the covid-19. The MIRA Festival is structured in three connected areas: exhibition, dissemination and education, and it takes place every year in the city of Barcelona since 2011 and in Berlin since 2016. Focused on the confluence between art and digital culture, the festival offers a programming proposal that includes audiovisual shows in classic formats, digital art exhibitions, immersive screenings and conferences and workshops. More info here: https://mirafestival.com/en/mira-postpones-tenth-edition-until-2021/

Those who go to the Prado Museum until September 13 2020 will not be able to visit all its rooms, but the ones they visit will provide a unique experience. For this, a spectacular assembly has been conceived in the Central Gallery and adjacent rooms, an emblematic space that, due to its architectural characteristics, guarantees compliance with the recommendations of the health authorities and provides a safe visiting model for the public and employees. The assembly, made up of 249 works, follows a preferably chronological order, from the 15C to the dawn of the 20C, but given its exceptional nature, it dilutes the traditional distribution by national schools and proposes dialogues between authors and paintings separated by geography and weather; associations that tell us about influences, admiration and rivalries and point out the profoundly self-referential nature of the Prado Museum collections.
The Prado National Museum Reunited. Madrid 06/06/2020 – 09/13/2020. See specially :The Annunciation by Fra Angelico and The Descent by Van der Weyden, brought together for the first time, welcome visitors on a generous tour of exceptional dialogues.  Goya and Rubens’ Saturns can be seen together, and Las Meninas and Las Hilanderas will share space in Room XII, along with an exceptional “altarpiece” made up of the jesters by Velázquez More info here: https://www.museodelprado.es/en/whats-on/exhibition/reunited/1027b51a-a7dc-4199-7ce6-5ff4a2710f74

And to brag of my beloved Spain here is some facts.

In addition to being the place with the most coastal spaces with this distinction blue flag beaches as 589 this year, Spain has such a varied coastline that it can hardly be seen elsewhere. Spain is the country with the most blue flag beaches in the world since 1987. A total of 8,000 kilometers of the Spanish geography are bathed by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, the Cantabrian Sea and the Mediterranean Sea. The European Foundation for Environmental Education has awarded the blue flag to 589 of the 662 candidates (89% effective) for meeting the criteria that this organization requires in terms of information and environmental management, water quality, safety and services . It is the country in the world with more of these awards ahead of Greece, with 514; Turkey, with 508; and France, with 507, a ranking that Spain has led since 1987. Within Spain, the Valencian Community is the autonomous region with the highest number of blue flags (134), followed by Galicia (107), Andalusia (100) and Catalonia ( 95).
The Costa Blanca, which covers the entire Alicante coastline, in its 244 kilometers you can find more crowded coastal cities, such as Alicante and Benidorm, other smaller ones, such as Denia or Altea, and a total of 73 blue flags this season, the tourist destination of Spain that accumulates the most. In the province of Valencia, Gandía offers extreme measures in its six kilometers of beach both for visitors and for all the personnel who work there. In fact, it has come to be classified as the safest beach in Spain. The islands are the ones that are suffering the most from the consequences of the pandemic this summer, especially the Canary Islands, where currently reservations do not reach 15% of the figures they used to have at this point in other years, especially due to geographical distance. The Islas Canarias ski lift since, in addition to having a tropical climate that maintains a constant temperature between 20 and 30 degrees Celsius throughout the year, it has one of the widest coastline offers in Spain. Of particular note are the Playa de Maspalomas, on the island of Gran Canaria, bordered by the Special Natural Reserve of the Dunes of Maspalomas and with an area to the west for nudism, or the Playa de Telesitas, in Tenerife, a paradisiacal place with crystal clear waters and shallow waters that are always calm thanks to the breakwater that was installed, which makes it the ideal beach to go with children. Plenty to go around!

Spain is the third country with the most places declared a World Heritage Site by Unesco, with a total of 47 and behind the 54 in Italy and 53 in China. The list ranges from the Alhambra palace in Granada, the Gaudí buildings or the archaeological complex of Mérida, to the Altamira Caves, the historic centers of Ávila, Segovia, Santiago de Compostela and Córdoba, the Mudejar architecture of Aragon or the Burgos cathedral. And without forgetting that Castilla y León  the region in the world with the most cultural assets included in this list. The mysterious atmosphere of the Romanesque Soria such as San Juan de Duero, Santo Domingo, the monastery of San Polo on the banks of the Duero ,etc etc!!! Today I am fascinated by walking the cobbled streets of many Aragonese towns: Alquézar, Alabarracín, Darosa, Tarazona. Its houses, its stone walls, its wooden gates remind us that we are beings of time. Awesome!!!

And I continue with my best most beautiful lakes in Spain to bathe this summer or any summer. 

The Laguna Grande de Gredos (Ávila). Hikers and people traveling with children go to this complex in the Circo Glacial or  Glacier Circus to enjoy the Sierra de Gredos Regional Park in all its splendor and end the day with a dip. El Tobar (Cuenca). This district located in the Alto Tajo region allows a charming rural getaway. This aquatic place that is reminiscent of island landscapes is known as the Laguna Grande or Big Lagoon, which together with the Little Lagoon and the now-disappeared Ciega are full of vegetation to breathe fresh air. They are accessed by a road at a distance of one kilometer from the town. The Sanabria (Zamora) With its 369 hectares of fluvial surface -one kilometer and a half wide by three long, approximately; it is the largest natural lake in the Iberian Peninsula and one of the largest in all of Europe (being the largest of glacial origin). It reaches 53 meters deep and has several sandy and stone beaches interspersed with trees and nature. The Lagunas de Ruidera (Castilla-La Mancha) This turquoise and La Mancha oasis is presented in one of the quietest and most secluded areas to enjoy the calm and forget all that name you don’t want to remember, paraphrasing Cervantes. In travel publications this panorama is compared with the Balearic Islands and even with the Plitvice Lakes of Croatia. And we have them here next door, between Albacete and Ciudad Real without going any further. Waterfalls and beautiful waterfalls worthy of Instagram. The Lagunar de Villafranca de los Caballeros (Toledo). Regional media report the worst drought in this wonderful place, with a minimal sheet of water. It is a protected area whose third part is reserved for bathing and the rest only for biodiversity. There are rural houses, hostels, spas … A beautiful wild natural site indeed!

How about French in Madrid if can come up to me! 

Lafayette made us learn the Camino de Las Tablas a few years ago, a new, remote and somewhat disconcerting neighborhood, but which became something like the Camino de Santiago for lovers of French cuisine in Madrid. He moved to a place next to the Glorieta de López de Hoyos roundabout, which is also much larger and has a shady terrace covered with vegetation that will become an irresistible magnet for the nights of next summer. Sébastien Leparoux is the soul of the restaurant, renamed Brasserie Lafayette .We remember the good work of the first chef from the founding era, 11 years ago, in Las Tablas: Vincent Huber. The move to the center, last summer, has marked the debut of a Spanish chef, Juan Suárez de Lezo, (not try yet) trained in Cordon Bleu and in stages in large French houses, and we think he is a good signing. Very interesting winery that Leparoux maintains and cares for, with a collection of French wines of great interest as few will see in Madrid. See it taste it at Brasserie Lafayette, Calle Recadero 2 .More info here: https://www.brasserielafayette.es/

And finish with a nice Summer dish of my beloved Spain: Salmorejo Cordobés!

The Salmorejo Cordobés is a very typical cold soup of Andalusian cuisine, specifically from the city of Córdoba, which has spread throughout the Spanish territory. These types of cold cream recipes are perfect for summer. The salmorejo recipe is very simple to make, we will only have to buy quality ingredients and use a good kitchen robot or blender since the traditional recipe for salmorejo was made in a mortar by hand, a bit heavy but in some Andalusian houses it is followed keeping the tradition.  Use tomatoes as being a raw dish you have to use high quality tomatoes. What bread does is give texture and soften the tomato while thickening it. The best bread is the Cordovan Telera or muffin type, with a lot of bread crumbs and soft crust.  The oil, always from Extra Virgin Olive, and garlic only one for garlic lovers but better half a head.  The eggs if it comes from raised chickens on better soil. It is best to finish the salmorejo by adding chopped hard-boiled egg.

The ingredients: 1 kilos (about 2,2 lbs) of ripe pear tomatoes, which are red but not overdone. 200 grams (about 7 ounces) of stale bread. It is best to use a very white and thin crust bread. Half a clove of garlic. 160 ml (less 6 fl oz) of Extra Virgin Olive Oil, we will always try to use a very mild one.  Water, a splash (optional for those who like it less thick). Salt to taste. 1 boiled egg, and Iberian ham in cubes or Serrano ham spread on top.

Ok so begin by washing the tomatoes, remove the peduncle and crush them.  Now pass it through a strainer to remove all the seeds and skins and thus be able to get a much smoother salmorejo. Add the bread to the beaten tomato and let it soak well for about 10 minutes.  You will do this so that when beating it more easily although we can beat directly if you have a powerful mixer. It is best to use a food processor for the salmorejo. Now add the half garlic without the core and the oil. it is better to add a drizzle of olive oil to emulsify. We do this so that the salmorejo emulsifies and takes on texture. Rectify the salt little by little until you reach your desired taste, and that’s it. It is served in a deep plate with ham and chopped hard-boiled egg on top. Enjoy, buen provecho!!!

And that is all for today on news from Spain, hope you enjoy my rants as well lol!!! Spain ,everthing under the sun! And we will resist, here is the youtube video of Duo Dinamico with the original song Resistere! 1989.

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

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