Archive for November 24th, 2020

November 24, 2020

Madrid and my Calle Alcalà!!!

Ok so this one I need to update and revise from 2017. I have been to this city well I used to lived in it. Always memorable for me in fact if in Spain and not passing by it at least , then  I have not been in Spain. Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!!!

And of course, what can I say about the street I lived in and is part of my mind, my heart, my life’s history. A very famous street from songs to movies in Spain! My Calle de Alcalà!

It must be the rainy cloudy foggy cold day we are having but I feel nostalgically mindless and thought of times in the past where I was enjoying one of the best countries in the world to live=Spain and the best capital city=Madrid.

My first entry and my first apartment or piso in Madrid was at Calle de Alcalà 331, 2do A , Buzon 67, right as you came up the metro station of Quintana in the line 5 of metro de Madrid! Memories that will never go away even if in those early days of the 1970’s with my Mom Gladys,so poor had no camera no photos to show; it is all in my mind.

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And to go to Elipa to play baseball for the Real Madrid CF organisation!! I would take the bus P13 that after the EMT transport in Madrid was created it became the line 113, still running today! ok so here is the line today! https://www.crtm.es/tu-transporte-publico/autobuses-emt/lineas/6__113___.aspx?origen=2

Lots of walking especially going to the back park of Parque El Calero!  This is a great blog like to give credit as essentially they talked about the old movie houses in Madrid now gone; mine was the cine Aragon (as Alcalà used to be called!) it was almost next to me lol The good of the blog story is that it shows how it looks in 2005 on the last year open and what the spot looks today wow!! Look down the page to cine Aragon ok  Here is the  cinedemadrid blog :  https://cinesdemadrid.blogspot.com/2009/08/los-cines-de-la-carretera-de-aragon.html

I still emotionally remember how my dear late mother Gladys took me to Calzados Victor Calle de Alcalà 278 to buy me my first shoes in Spain! and the immense joy to have my 3 boys going there and buy them shoes as well , really a great feeling would love to repeat this summer.  No webpage just a news journal Diario Abierto site with a write up on it  in Spanish, 90 years in the spot and about 52 now doing shoes. A real family tradition and we are glad to be part of it. https://www.diarioabierto.es/204762/calzados-victor-zapatos-y-muchas-sonrisas

And well will need a book so many places there to remember and enjoy , even the wonderful Docamar in the sublime Plaza Quintana, the best patatas bravas in Madrid since 1963!  Our home away from home and do stop by now when visiting! Webpage: https://docamar.com/

Enough, what about Alcalà, the street that is.  Today the street is 10 200 meters long . It starts at the Puerta del Sol  and ends at the Avenida de América on the access road to the O’Donnell station. In the old days the street was named in different sections. The one between Sol and Cibeles was called Calle de los Olivares, between Cibeles and Puerta de Alcalà was named Posito (grain well of the mayor’s office had there) , and from Puerta de Alcalà to Ventas was called Carretera de Aragon and after Ventas was called Avenida de Aragon until 1992 where all became Calle de Alcalà. I left the city when the first beltway of Madrid was just about finish that is Avenida de la Paz or M-30 ! Today simply call Calle 30.

Some trivials anecdotes, you know that in 1754 there was a bull fighting arena here! spot hard to tell now ,  and it was on until 1874 after another was built on the same  carretera de Aragón (another name for avenida de Aragon) that works until 1934. When the Ventas Monumental was done in its first season in 1935 on the one we know today as Ventas Monumental!  An interesting house is at No 34 Calle de Alcalà built in 1779 and call the Casa de los Heros in honor of its builder ; the house became in succession the Real Fabrica de Cristales de la Granja, resident of the Infante de Borbon and painter José Madrazo,  later in 1914 it was host of the Council President or Palacio de la Presidencia, and currently is the home of the Ministerio de Educacion y Ciencia or ministry of education and sciences.

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Not to forget the Plaza de la independencia or independence square where the Puerta de Alcalà is located. The old Communication palace now call Palacio de Cibeles, and its Cibeles fountain (symbol of Real Madrid FC triumphs celebrations)  and the Circulo de Bellas Artes or fine arts circle with wonderful views of Madrid on its top floor café.

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You continue to see wonderful architecture and beautiful buildings such as the Ministerio de Hacienda or ministry of the Treasury, built in 1796.  And what about the gorgeous Real Academia de Bellas Artes San Fernando! And of course the Casino de  Madrid : Calle Alcalà ,15 just gorgeous!   Across from the Casino you have the building call Banesto and here was installed the first American bank in Spain; it has deco of elephants big ears in the front façade.

And from 1623 the convent and Church or Iglesia de las Calatravas , even after destroyed the Queen Isabel II had it rebuilt in 1872. Very near the Puerta del Sol on Calle de Alcalà, of course. More on the Iglesia de San José and the Apolo theater. Continue on the Ministerio del Ejercito or army ministry with a nice garden on what it was the Palacio de Buenavista built in 1769 for the Duques de Alba, that never occupy it.

This is Alcalà, the street that is. My street my spot on another part of the world. Calle Alcalà, 331 where the world seems different and harder to understand from an early teen point of view. I have come many times, lucky call me!

The tourist office of Madridhttps://www.esmadrid.com/en

I feel better, filled to finish this post, thank you for reading it along with me. Madrid is more than just a city. Hope you enjoy the post as I did

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

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November 24, 2020

Madrid ,is more than a word for me!!!

So continuing my updates, refreshing text, and new links I bring you to one that I have many many posts in my blog. This is my wonderful city of Madrid. I will leave you the pictures for the specific posts and will only show here those that I could not find posted elsewhere. Hope you enjoy this wonderful city ,capital of the kingdom of Spain! My Madrid is more than a word for me!!

Well Madrid for me is everything to come back to Spain for it. If you have read my posts/blog you know I used to lived in Madrid and visit several times a year now usually alone. Later came with family on several occasions and show them my love for the city they later claim the same. As our vacation time in Spain began, there is no way I would skip Madrid and even arriving the first thought was to come here and visit again. Madrid I never get tired of visiting, long story going back to my early teen years living there. Lucky enough to visited several times even more than once in the year. This time with the entire family was even more memorable.

We drove from Las Majadas ,province of Cuenca , Castilla La Mancha region on the A40 connecting at Tarancon with the A3 to Madrid and parking on the Atocha train station Saba parking lot. Then, we were all over walking at first, from Atocha to calle Atocha to the Plaza Mayor and onwards to Calle Arenal, Preciados, Carmen and back to Calle Bailén and the Royal Palace and Cathedral of Almudena!!

By Calle Arenal we past the old archives building of Madrid dating from the 17C. The Palacio Real is always wonderful to see even if been there several times, the Cathedral of Almudena is a wonderful monument that was seen again, and onwards along calle Bailén on the other side to the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande.

On Calle Atocha got in finally into the Church parroquia Santa Cruz , a wonderful Church that in the past had been close when passing by , this time it was fully open and wonderful.  I took the kids to my all time favorite since even younger than they, Chocolateria San Ginés, in my youth used to come here after the dance club next door ; Joy Eslava, which at the time was a community dance hall and theater, later becoming a chic discothéque. I past by it too. San Ginés is the famous churros con chocolate racion or the porros a bigger size churro. A must in Madrid!  We did went shopping at El Corte Inglés by calle Preciados 3 and had our lunch in the 7th floor cafeteria ,and later stop by my favorite store, the official Real Madrid store at Calle Carmen off Sol. We did shopping here too and got a nice beer mug ::)

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We came back to the Plaza Mayor a must to visit while in Madrid , always a happening ; see the Plaza del Callao and the famous cinema there, and got around the Teatro Real or royal theater, and the Puerta del Sol square.  We passed by the mercado de la Cebada market and the famous theater La Latina. A visit to the mercado San Miguel is a must and see the beautiful building of the museum of Anthropology and the Ministry of Agriculture. Down to the Puerta de Toledo where we took the C2 bus to get back after a long exhaustive day of walking to all the wonderful Madrid Streets always telling my sons where their Dad had walked before even younger than they! A nice neat family experience.

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We came back next day, but this time we headed to Cibeles and found parking in Recoletos underground garage just next to Plaza de Cibeles, very central and nice. We then as usual set out on foot to see the city.

Of course, when we parked at Recoletos (Paseo de) , we immediately took a look at the Fuente de Cibeles that was undergoing renovation/cleaning and the Palacio de las Cibeles, the old city hall of Madrid and now a great place to see and climb to the top for great views of the city.  At the corner you can see the Casa de America a cultural center sharing the heritage of Spain and the Americas, all in the Plaza de la Cibeles.

Of course, we ate all sorts of ice creams and sodas along the way and water from mini grocery stores, but the nice sit in was near my old neighborhood on a new outfit call Audrey Brunch & Coffee, Calle Alcalà 183.  This is a new place, nice clean and friendly full of locals in non tourist area. We had our chorizo sandwich and fanta lemon here as well as coffees and sweets to load up on the sugar content and survive the 35C weather in the city.

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A bit further walking and you reach my Puerta de Alcalà, the great gate of Madrid and I lived closed to it for four years! And from there, you go in to the fame Parque del Buen Retiro park another must and always a must for me, a wonderful memories of youth and still feeling Young just stepping into the park. ear here, in Calle Alcalà just across from the Retiro park before arriving at the Puerta de Alcalà lies the Church of San Manuel y San Benito where my mom used to take me as a boy. It is still nostalgic to see it and remind if need to of my mother again, always in my mind even if already 13 years of her passing.

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One park that used to be my hangout and so far until now no pictures is the parque Eva Peron off the Plaza Manuel Becerra. There is a Church parroquia de la Covadonga right there too.  There is one by Doctor Esquerdo going towards Plaza Conde de Casal and another one by Menendez Pelayo and Calle del Alcalde Sainz de Baranda across from Retiro park, this is the Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, is another of the typical one in my Madrid away from tourist central. Right diagonally from the brewery restaurant and before crossing the street to Retiro park there is a nice archicturally done Church the Parroquia del Santisimo Sacramento. 

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In no particular order, we had to go see the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of my lifetime team Real Madrid FC, and had a beer and tapas at the Real Café Bernabeu with wonderful views of the stadium field.

Of course , we walked a lot see Madrid soak up its air, feel the city , once again is beyond words for me. We took the metro this time from the fame  Plaza de España to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. line 10.

We had the opportunity to try the bus network taken bus 21 from Plaza de Toros (Ventas) to Paseo Rosales .This get you a nice overall view of the city and go from the wonderful historical Plaza de Toros very near of my old home to Paseo Rosales and the Teléferico (cable car) and the Temple of Debod Egyptian gift to Spain.

I used to hang around the Plaza de Toros when as an early teen lived here and always a pilgrimage to this cultural and historical mecca of Spain. The teléferico or cable car, my mother used to take me to the Casa de Campo attraction park and the temple de Debod a gift of Egypt to Spain for helping in the flooding of the Aswan Dam. The temple sits on the Cuartel  de la Montana park, and old establishement military base during the Spanish Civil War and now practically part of the Parque del Oeste along Paseo del Pintor Rosales.

And we took bus 14 from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to paseo de Recoletos parking spot to recover our car.  Oh well once again, had to leave my Madrid. I never get tired of visiting even repeat places. I have lived/worked in 5 countries, visited 81 countries and countless cities of our world but Madrid is touching, virus like proportions, again I never get tired of visiting it.

The tourist office of Madrid for reference: https://www.esmadrid.com/en

I have no words Madrid is more than a city to me, it is part of my life and a happy nice life indeed; always Madrid or From Madrid to Heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day !!!

Hope you enjoy the tour of my Madrid, and remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

November 24, 2020

Memories of Villalba de la Sierra!!!

So here I am updating my older posts in my blog, and again came across a spot barely mentioned or not at all me think. This is a memorable town if writing brings to life sad moments in my life. For the soul is good to have it, for the memories, for the good times we spent together as a family with my dear late wife Martine.

Let me introduce you to the mountain town of Villalba de la Sierra!

Villalba de la Sierra is located in the province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, in the area known as Serranía de Cuenca (see post) and, more specifically, within the El Campichuelo area. It is located 20 km from Cuenca,(see posts) the capital of the province by the same name, on the banks of the Júcar river.

Many mountain roads access the town of Villalba de la Sierra. The most important, according to locals is the CM-2105. This road is well known, as it is the one that leads to such emblematic places of the province as the Ventano del Diablo, Uña, Tragacete (see post) or the Nacimiento del Río Cuervo (the birth of the Cuervo river). The CUV-9115 road, which runs to Zarzuela, and the CUV-9114, which leads you to Portilla, also start from the urban nucleus. The one we took the most of course, was the road CUV-9113 , as it brings us down from our house in Las Majadas (see post) which is also, known for its famous Callejones (big road in the mountain alleys). For reference, the CM roads are Castilla La Mancha regional roads while the CUV roads are provincial roads.

In the town of Villalba de la Sierra there is a hydroelectric power station in the place called El Salto, inaugurated in 1926 by King Alfonso XIII, which works thanks to the water supply of the Laguna de Uña (see post) through a channel that connects it with a water tank located on a hill near El Salto.

The most well-known places in Villalba de la Sierra are the Ventano del Diablo (or window to the devil) viewpoint, the Cambrón valley, where the remains of an old Carmelite convent are preserved, and the cuttings of the Júcar river. El Ventano del Diablo, an impressive natural viewpoint in the shape of a cave over the Barranco del Júcar where you can enjoy the beautiful views. From the viewpoint you will be able to see the Ventano del Diablo via ferrata, which passes through the lower part of the cut above the Júcar river.

The town of Villalba de la Sierra  (go to “conoce Villalba” °on things to see with emphasis in the Ventano del Diablo here: http://www.villalbadelasierra.org/el-ventano

It is an area good for natural river fishing on the Jùcar river on two spots call the Coto de Villalba, and  El Tablazo

The town been on the banks of the Júcar River, has one of its greatest claims, the enjoyment of the bathing areas and its nature which is a unique experience and highly recommended if you are thinking of visiting this area. From the town of Villalba de la Sierra you have dozens of routes for hiking.   The most famous ones are in this pdf file for printing from JucarAventura: https://jucaraventura.es/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/folleto-senderos-parque-natural-serrania-de-cuenca.pdf

This town we passed all the time for several years and sometimes stop in it for refreshement before going up to our house at 1400 meters (6600 feet). The sad story is that here my dear late wife Martine was treated for pains in the medical center or Centro de Salud in city center while on vacation, the first signs of her terrible cancer. Villalba de la Sierra will be only sadly remember I am afraid.

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So even if it brings back tearful memories, I have to have it here as this blog is the soothing time for me over time, and have many memorials to her and pictures that will stay with me forever. She was a great wife and one heck of a mother, my Martine.

The things to do and see here in a more happier time. Villalba de la Sierra was a nice spot and very friendly people which I thank always. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers!!!  

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November 24, 2020

Cuenca is quant and an Unesco world heritage site!!!

And I continue my black and white revision and even with some pictures not repeated, me hope . I bring you to my lovely stayed in historical beautiful Cuenca in the region of Castilla La Mancha. Hope you enjoy reviewing these wonderful trips with me; thanks.

And following our blazing trails on the road in my beloved Spain, we came down from the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca to the town of Cuenca, a world heritage site by Unesco.  This is the biggest town near our rental house, so for leisure walks and shopping this is it before going up to the mountain home every day.

We drove into the town with our big Kuga into very narrow and steep streets but that was the fun of it. Parking was precious so we continue climbing up in town! until finally finding a spot by the Arco de Bezudo in the Castillo or castle now in ruins with ramparts where you can see the whole town and beyond .

The castle dates from the 13C and large parts of its walls are still visible as well as the wonderful Arco de Bezudo that you can climb for wonderful views below; it is now the site of the ministry of culture of the region of Castilla la Mancha where Cuenca is a province and Capital city of same name.

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Coming downward you first see on your left the Church of San Pedro (St Peter) going down on Calle Trabuco. You come into the Colegio de los Jesuitas from the 16C (jesuit college). Further find the Church of San Nicolas 13/14C. On your left side further down you come to the old cementary , there is a statue sitting there in the middle now, and to the side there is a restaurant!

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We took the bus Line 2 !! yes we did!! from the castle to the outside of town on the shopping center or centro comercial El Mirador where there some stores ,an Eroski hypermarket (now closed there is a Carrefour) and the cheapest gasoline in the area at 0,9899 euro!! . We took the bus back into city center, and then wandered into the town hilly streets and downtown or city center/centre ville shopping districts where our sons loaded up on DVD/CD/Video games on the CEX exchange store.

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We walked past the nice Diputados provincial building or the regional government where our house owner worked as secretary!  And, right around it there was the Cafeteria Boni with terrace sitting that is set up in the parque/Jardines de San Juliàn by Calle Caballeros.  The service and food was good but it was the most expensive experience in the trip! Only 15.90€ per person for arroz a la Cubana, small  steaks, fries, omelettes, croquettes of ham and cheese, and beers for all.

We continue our walks into the valleys below such as the Hoz de Jucàr very nice views indeed; walking more we came into the Church de Santa Cruz.  Right there is the Theater but just looking above it into the mountains you see a huge Christ statue very nice indeed.

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Now we are walking again, heading for the most famous monument in Cuenca, the Casas Colgadas or hanging houses. First, you need to cross the bridge or Puente de San Pablo to get a good look at the best preserve house. As you come back into town you past by the Museo Abstracto de Arte Contemporario or contemporary abstract arts museum. You see the treasury museum of the Cathedral and the Casa del Rey (King’s house); come into the side of the Cathedral into Plaza Mayor see the equestrian statue of king Alphonso VIII of Castile.  Next building is the Episcopal Palace attach to the back of the Cathedral.

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Then, you see the next famous building here, the Cathedral of Santa Maria y San Juliàn (St Mary and St Julien) where we walked back up to Castillo parking to get our car and came back to our  mountain house. One day at a time easy does it in Spain, where everything is Under the Sun…..

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There is more to see in Cuenca and we will be back later on with our blazing trails in Spain.

The tourist office of Cuencahttps://turismo.cuenca.es/Default.aspx?lang=en&tabid=9376

And there you go folks, a wonderful town to do on foot up and down with gorgeous architecture and great historical stories. This is Cuenca, our second home away from home! Hope you enjoy the ride as we did.

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

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