Archive for November, 2020

November 27, 2020

The St Johns river!!!

Ok so this is new, because I found me a picture! I like to document my memories in my blog if I can find a picture! In my road warrior ways I criss cross the State of Florida USA many times. I have great memories of youthful reverence in these towns going out and meeting friends, even long time friends that are still in touch with me.

Therefore, let me tell you about the St Johns river of Florida! For starter, my personal recollection tells me of my passing on the SR 40 from Ormond Beach (I lived) to Ocala (cousin lives there) near Lake George. Along SR 17 to Palatka and Gainesville (UF home!), and by Jacksonville (old school friend there) the river on the I 95 and driving a boat on the St Johns passing by Mayport the US naval base! Wonderful memories glad to add them to my blog!

The history and places I love to recount and great memories of passing by these towns for many years. Hope you enjoy it and thanks for reading.

The Saint Johns River from the Spanish; San Juan del Puerto is the longest waterway in the state of Florida. it stretches over a length of 500 km (about 310 mi), winding through or on the border of twelve counties!. The river is one of the few rivers in the United States to have a north-facing channel. Many lakes are formed by or drain into the river and the maximum width of its bed is 4.8 km, spanning several kms between the towns of Palatka and Jacksonville, the latter city being the largest urban area on the river. The narrowest point of the bed is at its source, a non-navigable swamp in Indian River County. With a watershed of 22,900 square kilometers, the Saint Johns is one of Florida’s major inland wetlands. The river has been the subject of journals by naturalist William Bartram, books by writer Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, and letters by writer Harriet Beecher Stowe.

Having its source in Indian River County and emptying into the Atlantic Ocean in Duval County, the Saint Johns is Florida’s main commercial and recreational waterway. It flows north from its source in the direction of Lake Wales Ridge which is located at an elevation slightly higher than 9.1 meters above sea level. Due to this reliable elevation, the course of water has little current. Indian River County is where the river begins. Originally, it was more of a swamp system, in St. Johns marsh (“swamp”) in west of the town of Vero Beach in central Florida. The upper basin measures approximately 5,200 square km. The river turns into a waterway in the next county, to the north, Brevard County. The stream passes close to Osceola and Orange counties, then crosses Seminole County and enters the Middle Basin north of the town of Titusville. The length of the river through the upper basin is approximately 121 km.

The middle basin of over 60 km long, the river passes through a basin of 3,100 square km mainly supplied by springs and stormwater runoff. This basin, covering part of Orange, Lake, Volusia, and Seminole counties, is home to the greater Orlando metropolitan area. Widening to a bed 2.4 meters deep and about 91 meters wide after leaving Lake Monroen the Saint Johns meets its most important tributary in the middle basin, the Wekiva River. Near this confluence are the towns of DeBary and Deltona.

The riverbed turns north again as it passes through a 190 square km basin through Putnam, Lake, Marion counties and the western part of Volusia County. Slightly north of the Wekiva is Blue Spring, the largest spring in the Saint Johns with over 240,000,000 liters per day. The Florida springs remain at a temperature of 72F or about 22 C throughout the year. For this reason, Blue Spring is occupied in the winter by Caribbean manatees which are protected in Blue Spring State Park. Bordering the northern Blue Spring State Park, is the State Park of Hontoon Island accessible only by boat. The Saint Johns enters the southern tip of Lake George, the second largest lake in Florida at nearly 190 km in area, 9.7 km wide and 12 km long. The Ocklawaha River flows into the Saint Johns and is its largest tributary, with significant historical significance. The Ocklawaha watershed stretches across Orange, Lake, Marion and Alachua counties for a total of 7,170 km2. The towns of Ocala, Gainesville, and the northern suburbs of the Orlando metro area lie within this basin.

Stretching 163 km from the confluence with the Ocklawaha River to the Atlantic Ocean, the Saint Johns lies in the lower basin with a total area of 6,700 km2 in the counties of Putnam, Saint Johns, Clay and by Duval. Twelve tributaries flow into the river in this area. The bed of the Saint Johns widens considerably at the north end of Lake George; between Lake George and the town of Palatka, the river varies between 180 and 800 meters in width and then between Palatka and Jacksonville, it widens between 1.6 and 4.8 km. This portion of the river is the most navigable and river transport is its main human use.The tides cause seawater to enter the mouth of the river and can affect the water level in the middle basin. As a result, much of the river water in Jacksonville is salt water, making it an estuary-like ecosystem.

sanford st john river passing by to Orlando 2009

The final 56 km of the river’s course crosses Jacksonville, a major city in Florida.The United States Navy has two bases in the Jacksonville area: the Mayport Naval Base at the mouth of the river is the country’s second port for the fleet of the Atlantic Ocean, while the Jacksonville Naval Air Station is primarily a Navy airport.

Some webpages on the tourism side are

The Florida tourist board on the St Johns river

The Jacksonville tourist office on waterways:

Some webpages on the technical side of understanding the St Johns river:

The environmental group St Johns Riverkeeps on its protection:

St Johns river water management district

And those who helps keep it clean as well as creating waterways ,the United States Army Corps of Engineers or USACE:

There you go folks, I feel better. A wonderful part of my Florida now is in my blog! The St Johns river is awesome and unfortunately only one photo afar but it brings memories to have in my blog. Hope you enjoy the story and again thanks for reading my blog. Appreciated.

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

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November 27, 2020

Miramar, FL and beach volleyball !!!

Those were the days of youth and glory! Memories flashing as I look at this old post in my last home in USA! Miramar, Broward county, Florida! And the wonderful corporate sports ambiance that I was part of.

One of the best moments were on the beach volleyball team of my company in the corporate league! This was fun times ,getting together with collegues and going out after work to play some beach volleyball and sometimes practices for the big game! Memories forever!!

Well just cruising on my older posts and came up with this one I like to revise update with the only photo I got as souvenir to remind me of my beach bum days in my dear Florida and playing that sport call Beach Volleyball.

By now establish as an Olympic sport in its two tandem teams we used to play it also, as a regular 6×6 only on sand.  The FIVB organisation for it is here:

Back in Broward county is where I began to play as an organize team event even if had played before in Volusia county.  I am going way back folks maybe 1998-2003.

Some of the rules are still the same today only we not only played 2×2 but also 3×3 and more regularly 6×6. These rules are : the terrain measure 16 by 8 meters, the net is in the middle at a height of 2,43 meters. The ball is play sending the ball on the two ways with the first two match played to 21 points and if a decisive third is needed we go to 15 points; needing two point difference to win the match if it goes beyond 15 points.

The team need to change side every 7 points and each team can touch up to 3 times the ball. As the service is done to the opposite team , and it is touch/block in any way it remains two touches to the receiving team to get the ball on the other side of the net.  The player who block or touch the ball first can do the second touch. The ball needs to be spiked and not handle with the hand or fingers.  Another thing we played it Co-Ed or mixing boys and girls/men and women on the team in a corporate league.


And the reason of this post was that I came across the name of my old park where the games were held and the picture. The park was Forzano Park at 2001 Douglas Rd, Miramar, Fl 33025!!! and the info on it from the city of Miramar page is here:

Who knows maybe some of the folks on the photo will show up here lol!! Helloooo!!!

I won’t give away the name of my company or names of players for sake of privacy, (well I am in front left ::))  but the bottom line is, go ahead and enjoy some beach volleyball ,it can rewarding and everlasting friendship. And memories to last ,photo from 2001!!!

The huge choices of parks are in the Broward county page on parks here:

Great to remind myself of these times, and thanks for following along with me on this memory lane journey. Miramar was a nice experience and always remembered

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

November 27, 2020

Valencia from the El Cid to now!!!

The black and white revise posts continue in my quest to provide in my blog up to date information on all my travels; a big task but easy does it. Hope you are enjoying them and thank you for reading in my black and white series, no pictures.  This time I bring you to Valencia , Spain in August of 2016.

It has been visited in my early teen when family were still in the area, and now many many years later came back to Valencia. It is a major city of Spain and many many things to see which our time could not possibly allowed for all. Nevertheless, well planned I think we hit the main areas that needed  to be visited and might encourage others to do the same; we will be back. And we did years later…

We came in by car on the A3 expressway  passing the viaduc de Buñol,  and getting by the Torres de Quarts and the Puente de las Artes straight to our underground parking garage as planned, this was the parking empart Colon at Carrer del Comte Salvatierra de Alava, 24 underneath the great Mercado Colon. Wonderful choice walk all over from here. New webpage here:

Therefore, the first thing we saw was the Mercado Colon.  Created as the market of the area of Ensanche and beautifully restored. It is a magical place with plenty of food stalls, and supermarket especialising in meats, seafood, cheeses, wines etc on the below ground floor and restos on the ground floor, way below is the parking. More here:

And more from the tourist office on Mercado Colon

From there, we move on by foot to visit as much as the main sights as possible.  Walking is always better than public transport for us;once we parked our car. They were many and we did pretty well and seeing them, we came back years later to see more, see the pictures in their posts.

Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados or Our Lady of the Foresaken; the city patron Saint as well as the Community of Valencia. This is a must  ,gorgeous in and out. More here:

We reach the Cathedral or Catedral Santa Maria, very nice but a long line so we skip the interior this year. More here;

We went by the Church San Juan de la Cruz, nice architecture of Baroque style ,indeed. Before it was the parroquial Church of San Andrés…More here from the city of Valencia:

We went to the Church San Martin, there since the Christian conquest of 1238. More here:

We passed by the Church Saint Nicolas y San Pedro, a nice Church with lots of history. More here:

We took a peek at the Church Santa Caterina and tower right around the Plaza de la Reina. The tower is impressive. More info here:

Again more history and architecture in the Church of San Juan del Hospital, claiming to be the oldest Church in Valencia. More info.

The Parrish Church San Tomàs Apostol and San Felipe Neri, borrowing the baroque from Rome, nice architecture . More here:

Government buildings are dull except the city halls of Europe that can be rich and ornamental sometimes former palaces and manor houses; this is no exception in Valencia where on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (city hall square) you have a beautiful city hall building before you.  More info:

There is a great statue here of Francesc de Vinatea a great heroe of the region opposing the feudal ideas of the king and serve as First Juror . One of his famous phrases and slogans of the time is this one “cada uno de nos somos tanto como vos, pero todos juntos mucho más que vos.” It reads something like ,Each of us is as much as you, but all together are more than you. Democracy rings! but this was in around 1300!

This is supposed to be the biggest attraction in Valencia, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or the arts and sciences city actually just outside city center ;not really big on huge complex trying to be all in one , we skip it. However, it is here for content, and more information:

We, also, took a look at another novelty the train station, we are road warriors so the train is only when must on business trips. The estacion del Norte is very nice architecturally thus and it could be visited. Locals call it Estaçio Nord. More info:

And we arrive at the Mercado Central, now this is us, love it, vibrant live, great ambiance and great food and drinks… the center of it. The gorgeous hams was a tentation as well as the great wines to take back to the house. This is a must and for us just enough to be back.  The construction is marvelous and it was already pack with locals and visitors alike. More here:

The El Colegio del Patriarca San Juan de Ribera , but just call it the Patriarch. A gorgeous monument showcasing the work of Father Juan de Ribera (Saint).  It is a vast building, we took a peek inside and it is gorgeous. Worth coming back for a detail look. More here:

Another that needed more time was the Museo Nacional de Ceràmica y Artes Suntuarias “Gonzalez Martî” -Palacio Marqués de Dos Aguas. or simply the Ceramics and arts museum. A gorgeous baroque building richly decorated with what it shows. More here:

There is a Plaza de Toros or  bullfight arena here, and rather dull round brick building. It is next to the Estacio Nord train station. More here:

And we headed for the beaches, passing by the Puerta de la Mar arch. The weather by now was cloudy a bit of fine rain so not much action but the beach is long and wide, rather nice. We moved the car and park at the Paseo Neptuno parking garage, and then walk up and down the beaches of Arenal and Cabanyal, and continues into Malvarossa. The paseo maritimo walkway is rather nice with shops and restos and of course hôtels. Plenty of activities in sandy wide beach, something to think about next time with more time.  There is a nice statue mémorial to Antonio Ferrandis a great Valencian actor.

And we came back one more time to home base in the Serrania de Cuenca. Before moving the car from the parking at Mercado Colon we had lunch at Pantalan 5 in the ground floor of the market, nice cold beers and sandwiches of chorizo and potatoes, croquettes of ham and cheese and other goodies for about 8€ per person. Nice simple and grand style lunch in a beautiful place. The Facebook page works better today!

The Valencia tourist office

The city of Valencia with monuments link:

The Community of Valencia region on Valencia:

There you go you are now all updated and all set to see the best of Valencia me think, and do see the individual posts on these monuments. Hope it helps!

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

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November 26, 2020

Quick Champagne is coming!!!

hehehe well, this is the time of Champagne or about 70% of their sales is in the period now running to the New Year. I admit, to me it has become a special occasion drink maybe couple times a year like now. The rest is wine/beer! and porto!

I have written several posts on Champagne over the years. And talking about years, WordPress has just remind me with the best wishes of “Happy Anniversary with!  You registered on 10 years ago.” Indeed time flies when having fun, thank you to all my readers past present and future! Going over my many updates I realised many of you are no longer posting but I know who you are, and I thank you too!

Now , let me give some of the latest tastebugs in France on Champagne with the personal favorites in black. Happy Holidays to all!!

From some of these who grow their own grapes and do wonderful bubblies I bring you!

De SAINT-GALL Cuvée Orpale 2008, Blanc de Blancs, Grand Cru. Golden reflections to the eye as well as an effervescence of extreme finesse precede the intense nose of citrus fruits and candied lemon. The palate is dense, rich, the finish fresh and very saline, lemony with delicacy. Cuvée sold in an environmentally friendly box.

CANARD-DUCHENE 2012 vintage. From the golden dress escape scents of white flowers, lemon, toasted. Round and rich on the palate, with candied apple flavors, on the attack and mid-palate, the champagne then becomes more energetic, fresh and tense. This is certainly the most successful vintage from this house.

CHARLES HEIDSIECK Cuvée Blanc des Millénaires 2006. Made from 100% Chardonnay, this magnificent wine expresses remarkable aromatic complexity. Notes of violet, acacia and citrus intermingle with more intense ones of exotic fruits (fig, date, pineapple). The palate is creamy, full, full, intense. A little wonder.

AYALA Cuvée N ° 7, Brut 2007. It results from the association of seven grands crus (2/3 Chardonnay, 1/3 Pinot Noir) all from 2007. The color is golden, luminous, underlined by a fine effervescence. The nose releases aromas of mirabelle plum, honey and apricot. The palate is fleshy, spicy, generous, with some notes of candied lemon, stewed fruits, a nice freshness.

RUINART R de Ruinart 2011. Clear golden color with green reflections, extra-fine bubbles that run straight, a bead of persistent, creamy foam, all heralding signs of the quality of this great wine not denied by the lightness, the beautiful balance, the incredible freshness due to the minty notes, of antesite, anise that we smell on the nose, savor in the mouth and in the finish, mineral.

PIERRE GIMONNET & SON ; Cuvée Brut Nature “Œnophile” Premier Cru Blanc de Blancs 2010 An enveloping champagne, elegant, even sophisticated, chalky on the finish. Despite the total lack of dosage, a practice dating back to 1985 at Gimonnet, the complex wine shows good maturity.

And what about these wonderful bottles of always!!

JACQUESSON 743 Extra-Brut. The palate is perfectly balanced, with obvious repercussions on the flavor of this very great wine made in casks, complex, sapid, mineral and infinite, embellished with a fine and creamy bubble. As with each 7xx cuvée, the blend exacerbates the character of the base year, here the 2015 harvest

CHRISTIAN GOSSET Blanc de Pinot noir Loiselu Aÿ Grand Cru 2016 .After working in the family vines, Christian Gosset markets his first plot vintages. Golden color, persistent string of foam, nose of cereals, floral, iodine… The wine made from 100% Pinot Noir unfolds in the mouth with suppleness then with breadth, intensity, generosity. On tangy red berries, the finish stretches in length, chalky and saline.

TARLANT La Lutétienne 2005, Brut Nature. The cuvée takes its name from the Lutecian limestone subsoil and wants to be Parisian if we refer to the old Lutèce (Paris) built of Lutetian limestones … Made from chardonnay (80%) and pinot noir (20%), it is full-bodied, round and plump. The finish goes on forever, mineral, of course! Limited edition of 2,800 bottles.

LARMANDIER-BERNIER Les Chemins d´Avize Grand Cru Blanc de blancs Extra-Brut 2013 Straightforward, rich, crystalline, biodynamic wine reveals itself in a flight of extra-fine bubbles but it should not be drunk too cold to appreciate its complex flavor, its long and lively finish, its finesse and freshness.

And of course, for la vie en rose folks need to show some of the gems of Champagne!

LAURENT-PERRIER  Grand Siècle Iteration N ° 24. Blending the best with the best to obtain the best, such is the motto of this cuvée resulting from three beautiful complementary years (2007, 2006, 2004) and 100% grands crus. We come close to perfection with this immense champagne of great purity, mineral, distinguished, melted. Lace

DOM PÉRIGNON  Vintage 2010. We no longer present this mythical cuvée which, in the 2010 vintage, is of rare elegance. A divine wine, intensely aromatic, which imposes itself with superb on the palate thanks to a silky mouth feel. Ample, full, all in finesse until a crystalline, peppery, saline, chiseled, slender finish.

LOUIS ROEDERER  Crystal 2012.  A brilliant and luminous cuvée in every way. From the color to the finish, everything is elegance, complexity, balance. Added to this are power, concentration, vinosity and tension embellished with an incredible chalky freshness and infinite length with notes of candied lemon.

POL ROGER  Sir Winston Churchill 2009.  Each vintage of this prestigious champagne is a new tribute to the British statesman and is meant to be in his image: robust, ripe and structured. With the 2009, everyone can add flesh, gluttony and generosity, which would not displease Winston. Dried fruits, vanilla, citrus fruits intermingle in a remarkable and tasty harmony.

TAITTINGER  Comtes de Champagne Grands Crus Blanc de blancs 2008. An exceptional cuvée and a vintage to seize since the next one will not leave the cellar until the 2011. Aromas of orange blossom, peach, liquorice … Very straight and pure on the palate, crystalline, grandiose. A full, round, open wine, which forms a splendid accord with a crushed potato and Sologne caviar.

POMMERY  Cuvée Louise 2004.  A divine champagne with a silky touch of superb freshness, mineral, complex and salivating. The next day, always so distinguished, he left aside some of his effervescence to make way for a very great wine, of tremendous flavor. This year, it slips into a box called “Introspection” in a limited edition.

VEUVE CLICQUOT PONSARDIN’S  The Great Lady 2012. The effervescence of extreme delicacy announces the distinction of this great lady with a white gold dress and crystalline reflections. The nose is intense (jasmine, frangipane, mirabelle plum), the mouth refined, chiseled, all of finesse and complexity. A wonder. Endless and mineral finish.

PERRIER JOUET Cuvée Belle Époque 2012.  In its iconic bottle, adorned with Japanese anemones imagined in 1902 by Émile Gallé, it does not go unnoticed. It also stands out for its roundness, its flexibility, its brioche, pear and floral aromas, which join the flavors on the palate, fresh, elegant, tender, harmonious and long.

And how about those that are from one grape variety only!

DE VENOGE  Cuvée Princes Blanc de Noirs.  The magnificent carafe reminds us that the great European aristocracy at the beginning of the 20C decanted champagne in a crystal bottle. Created in 1864 in homage to the Princes of Orange, this cuvée now blooms on the palate with vinosity and richness, complex, intense until the finish is long, fine, delicately tense, on red fruits.

EGLY-OURIET  Brut 1er Cru “ The Vines of Vrigny ”.A cuvée composed exclusively of old Pinot Meunier vines. At 1 g / l, it offers the eye an old gold color tinged with amber reflections streaked with ultra-fine bubbles. The aromas of pear and brioche precede the vinous palate enhanced with notes of persistent red fruits in an infinite length.

BOLLINGER  Cuvée PN VZ 15.  A brand new special cuvée: PN for Pinot Noir, VZ for Verzenay (dominant village), 15 as of 2015, the base vintage that makes up the wine imagined as the little sister of the priceless and miraculous cuvée Vieilles Vignes Françaises. Opulent, vinous, rich, elegant palate with a strong personality, an interminable finish. It will hold its own against a sweetbread.

LANSON  Blanc de Blancs.  A 100% pleasurable Chardonnay, very aromatic on the nose (pastry notes, frangipane) as well as on the palate that is initially soft. The smoothness is then offset by a nice acidity and notes of citrus zest for firmness, the candied lemon prevailing on the finish, pleasantly persistent.

BESSERAT DE BELLEFON  Cuvée des Moines Blanc de blancs.  An exquisite champagne whose signature is now BB and with which we enjoy from the beginning to the end of the tasting. Intense, iodized, floral (acacia) and fruity (citrus) on the nose, it opens up with width, full, round, petulant, with flavors of lemon candy, chalky and chiseled.

And I leave you with the extre brut, those wonderful bubblies with no sugar added. Straight we call it!!

BILLECART-SALMON  Les Rendez-vous N ° 1, Meunier Extra-Brut.  Very fresh, this sensual, airy, floral, fruity, tense and salivating wine has been aged on lees for five years. Ephemeral and confidential, the first cuvée of the new range already gives an appointment next year to discover N ° 2, another experiment carried out in the cellars of the house.

DRAPPIER  Brut Nature, No Added Sulfur.  This 100% Pinot Noir cuvée shines with its freshness and elegant flavor. A wine as close as possible to nature, pure, precise, unfiltered, without sulfur or added sugars and therefore without makeup. A vibrant and energetic experience in the mouth, harmonious, mineral, very long and salivating. We never tire.

LECLERC BRIANT  Premier Cru Extra-Brut. Dominated by red grape varieties (70% Pinot Noir and 15% Meunier), we are no longer surprised by the intensity of the wine on the nose as well as on the frank, long palate, on freshness without untimely acidity. Notes of citrus, salinity, good persistence. Low dosage (2 g / l) and grapes from the 2014 harvest.

Well, finally, the classics Champagne

GOSSET Brut 12 years in the cellar at least.  Cellar master Odilon de Varine has allowed this cuvée to age for twelve years on lees in the freshness and depth of the cellars in order to deliver a full and complex wine. An unprecedented cuvée blessed with a fine, abundant bubble, an astonishing freshness, a sacred tension and whose saline finish calls for iodized dishes

DEUTZ  Brut Classic.  A great elegant wine with undoubted charm, a sure bet in Champagne. It envelops and caresses the palate with its silky texture and its open, seductive aromas (brioche, ripe white fruits, almond paste). Expressive, it is also complex and smooth.

G.H. MUMM  Brut Cordon Rouge.  You have to rely on the blend of around 120 vintages to successfully develop this emblematic cuvée of the house. It will appeal to the greatest number, both lovers of Brut champagne without year and those of Brut Nature, because it is precisely balanced between fruity roundness, power and freshness.

DE TELMONT  Cuvée without added sulfur.  The grapes (90% chardonnay and 10% meunier) were vinified without sulfur, in oenodynamics (same principles as biodynamics applied to oenology). A myriad of bubbles sparkle delicately in the mouth, suave, elegant, fleshy and deliciously tight for this brut dosed at 5 g / liter!

PHILIPPE GONET  Brut Reserve.  The 7th generation at the head of this house presents its brand new Brut Réserve. On the power, the nose exudes pastry notes. A wine of character, supple, crunchy, easy to access, very long in the mouth. The chalky and spicy finish goes well with a carpaccio of sea bream or scallops.

And there you go folks, have yours, take a pick, go quickly this is Champagne time all over the world! And toast a bubbly , the real one of Champagne for your best moments. Wish I could be there but in consolation I bid you rememberance with these.

“Remember gentlemen, it’s not just France we are fighting for, it’s Champagne!”  Winston Churchill

“I only drink Champagne on two occasions, when I am in love and when I am not.” Coco Chanel

“Champagne is the only wine that leaves a woman beautiful after drinking it.”Madame de Pompadour

“I’ll drink your champagne. I’ll drink every drop of it, I don’t care if it kills me.”F. Scott Fitzgerald

And I leave you with another of this great men quote: “Champagne is the wine of civilization and the oil of government. Winston Churchill!

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

November 26, 2020

La Granja de San Ildefonso, Versailles in Spain!!!

And I continue my journey of black and white posts revising, updating and giving you the current links of the things and towns we traveled in the past This one was from our family trip to Spain in August 2016 to the royal town of La Granja de San Ildefonso!

On our way back from Segovia we came up the mountain of Navacerrada to see La Granja de San Ildefonso and its Palace. I have to say ,never been here, even if heard all about for it yeeears even from the time of living in Madrid, and coming down to Madrid several times a year. Been with the family and already at Segovia , I said ,this is the closest I will ever be so let’s give a visit. It is about 11 km from Segovia.


We arrive on time, but the palace was getting some facelift, and we did not go in , and believe or not ; I was not impressed. Maybe so used to the best castles/palaces in Europe , especially France and Spain, seen this one was a bit letdown. Nevertheless , the gardens are gorgeous and a brief visit while from Segovia will be good.  We were able to find parking just outside the property gates around the corner restaurant.  The we set out to walk inside. We saw the palace and the rénovations and proceeded to the gardens.

King Felipe V (who is the Grandson of King Louis XIV of France and was born at Versailles–1683) acquired the land and building of the Jeronimos in 1721. He wanted to re create the splendeur and ambiance of his native Versailles but really felled short.  Construction continues into the reign of king Carlos III.

The garden are the best part of it and are surrounded by several fountains with the best looking one the one call Fuente de Neptuno. The gardens have more than 12,000 trees in-line, 70,000 trees in total , and 30 km of lawn with 26 fountains It has a total area of 146 hectares and a high wall of 6 km around the encercle garden. The highest point is at the Ultimo Pino at 1325 meters high and the lowest point is at the Puerta del Vivero.

la granja de san ildefonso fountain gardens aug16

la granja de san ildefonso garden big fountain aug16

The work on the Palace of San Ildefonso, continues from 1725  to 1732,and the Patio de Coches (carriages) is built where today visitors entered the palace.  Next to the palace you see the Real Colegiata de la Santisima Trinidad Church where the tomb of Felipe V and his wife Isabel de Farnesio are laid.

Spanish history here is a bit intro: At this palace was the summer residence of the Bourbon kings and held the wedding of Carlos IV with Maria Luisa de Parma, the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and France, the sargeants in the revolt obliges Maria Cristina de Nàpoles of proclaimed the Constitution of 1812.  Here too , was a place for receptions of embassies, births and baptism amongt them those of the Infanta Isabel (la Chata) and Don Juan (father of former King Juan Carlos I of Spain) Grandfather of the current one Felipe VI.

The tourist office of  Madrid on La Granja de San Ildefonso:

National Heritage of Spain on La Granja de San Ildefonso:

The tourist office of the Royal sites of Spain on the La Granja de San Ildefonso:

Yes , is a nice high mountain range, very regal but the palace is smallish even thus it was thought of as a little Versailles. Don’t they all try to match!!! Anyway for the architecture and especially the historical value it is worth the detour. Hope you enjoy it

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

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November 26, 2020

Always my dear Huete !!!

There this is my dear Huete passing by with the family on our road warrior trips. I have several posts on the town with plenty of more pictures. This is updating this older post in my blog. Hope you get to see the real Spain with towns such as Huete. And, of course, hope you enjoy this post as I

For reference, Huete is in the province of Cuenca, and Autonomous Community of Castilla La Mancha. To continue our story with our beloved Spain , we went by our own car on the roads of Castile=Castilla. We went to Huete to visit a cheese factory , and instead saw many more. I am a road warrior, I am telling you !  Going down to Huete and the manchego cheese factory we got in on time for the cucumber festival! There was a pepino de Huete festival on August 9th, and we had a blast with the cucumber tasting and local white wines, on a market ambiance festive (see post). We had time to wandered the streets of Huete and see its arquitecture richness for a small town, very good. The Antiguo monasterio de Santo Domingo de Guzmán founded in 1620.


The Casa Palacio de los Condes de Garcinarro; built mid 15C, here stayed the King Felipe III in 1604. There is a nice Torre del reloj (clock tower) build on the old city hall and done in 1795 ,right alongside the wall encircling the old town of Huete.



Once taste and see, we hit the road back to our home base in the Serrania de Cuenca at 1400 meters cool mountain air at Las Majadas (see posts). Ready to plan our next trail blazing outing in my dear Spain.

The tourist office of Huete

There you go folks, a quick overlook of  wonderful,memorable Huete, and will invite you to see my newer posts on them for detail on things to see. Hope you have enjoy my road warrior trails of my dear Spain.

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

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November 26, 2020

Alcalà de Henares, Cervantes was born here!

This is getting fun, love these posts of mine, bringing back beautiful memories of family travels in my beloved Spain! I like to take you now to Alcalà de Henares back in August 2016. Hope you enjoy it as I do writing it

And we arrive at the wonderful historical beautiful and educational Alcalà de Henares in the Community of Madrid. We arrive straight from our house in the mountains at Serrania de Cuenca, on the A40 then A3 towards Madrid where we took the M50 and A2 Zaragoza until the M300 and arriving at our parking in plaza de San Lucas underground and nice easy walk to all over the city.

From Via Complutense we set out on foot to see the city. You have wonderful Arch of San Bernardo and into the parque O’Donnell park , and right into Plaza de Cervantes. Here you have the wonderful music kiosk and the statue to Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra the Creator of Don Quijote ,the utmost story of the Spanish language and a native of the city (b.1547 d.1616).


Right around it is Calle Mayor and we went looking frantically for his House Museum Cervantes at no. 48 ,opened to the public since 1956. You come in for free!!! and right into the courtyard or patio.  You take the walk tour into the surgery room, from his father’s trade; then the dining room, kitchen, ladies’ drawing room, a puppet show of the novel Don Quijote, his bedroom, bathroom private parlour, children room,and exhibition hall. More info here:


Then, we headed for the Cathedral or Catedral Magistral de los Santos Justo y Pastor, children martyrs of the faith. This was a great Church and wonderful belltower that you climb 140 steps right from the spot where the children Justo and Pastor were massacred and became Saint Justus and Saint Pastor. It offers a spectacular view of the city after climbing the helicoidal staircase.  You will see wonderful chapels and the tomb of Cardinal Cisneros that together with Queen Isabel I the Catholic were instrumental in Columbus discovery of new lands in America.  The cloister also has a nice collection of statues and stones found in the area. More info here:


You will do well to visit the Church Santa Maria la Mayor ,this one has a wonderful belltower overlooking the plaza de Cervantes and  inside has spectacular altar to the Virgin as well as a beautiful Chapel.  You see wonderful architecture such as the City Hall (Palacio Consistorial b.1870), and the Convento de las Clarisas de San Diego.  The great University of Alcalà de Henares ,the University: founded in 1499 by Cardinal Cisneros.

Coming out from the Cathedral I saw this quant Church and decided to take a closer look, the Ermita de Santa Lucia: This is a barroque Hermitage from the 17C that has its origins in a medieval Church from the 12C where the city Council convene to discussed business. In 1515,on this site Cardenal Cisneros called for the concordat of Santa Lucia to resolve conflicts between the nobility and the people. Inside there is a chapel that welcomes all the Polish immigrants to the city and the thriving community today.


By Calle Mayor, you have the Hospital de Antezana, in the old Jewish quarters. This hospital is one of the oldest in Europe and continues to functions for the elderly. Here San Ignacio de Loyola, founder of the Jesuits and maybe too, Rodrigo, father of Miguel de Cervantes. Previously it was called the Hospital de Nuestra Señora de la Misericordia, founded in 1483 by Luis de Antezana; and the new one took his name.

Right around the Plaza Cervantes, do not missed the free admission the Interpration Centre, The Universes of Cervantes (previously the building was the hermitage San Juan de los Caballeros where the nobility were buried and those in prison paid their penalties as well as a burial for the cavalery.  This is now an eye opener into the life and times of Cervantes where you can even see the baptismal vase where he was baptised on the wishes of his father Rodrigo and mother Leonor.

The Monasterio de San Bernardo and the Palacio Episcopal are two other great architecture buildings to see while walking in this area. These we just passed by taking a picture and move on. Another we did came in and it’s a must is the Museo Archeologico Regional (archeological museum) ,also, free admission.  It is house in the old convent of the dominicans Mother of God (convento de frailes dominicos de la Madre de Dios) built in 1565. It is opened since 1999 and the permanent collection opened in 2003. You have nine themes from the entrance garden of antiquities to the patio of glass (patio de los cristales) to areas of knowing and not inventing, Madrid and the Courts, medieval Madrid, hispano roman history, agriculture, early towns, before humanity and another section on temp exhibition call the Los Escipiones: Rome conquest Hispania. (Scipios). Many artifacts and statues, stones, drawings Tools of the time of the Romans in Spain. Again, this is a must visit.


Oh yes , we did eat of course lol!  We left the mornings with breakfast at home and come back in the evenings for dinner at home, the way to go with large families, and for lunch we eat out local, nothing touristic, so we headed for one right smack in tourist lane yet it was great!!! Go figure it/ The resto tapas bar La Gitana Loca is just across from the Cathedral. An umpretentious place that look more like a bar than a restaurant but the service was very friendly and the food sublime and cheap, tapas for one euro and beer for 50 centimes attack attack, (last was at 70 cents!!) and we came out for about 7 euros per person full bellies and delicious Spanish fares. See the picture for the glorious menu. Well it seems the branch in Alcalà de Henares is no longer but the chain webpage is here for the memories:

And yes at the end of the day it was time to head back home and quickly get on the A3 then A40 flowlessly back to Cuenca , always little or no traffic at all especially on the A40. We arrive home late time for the Mahou cinco estrellas cold beer and ibericos, manchegos and chorizos and listening to our neighbors heavy metal music practice, yes a band lol! Our boys were in heaven, and I am dead lol!!!

The tourist office of Alcalà de Henares

Again hope you enjoy the ride into wonderful Alcalà de Henares!! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!

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November 25, 2020

Aranjuez is more than a concerto !

So by now it has become a regular series of mine to look at my blog and go over old posts to update links, revise the text, and insert the pertinent pictures. It has been a wonderful route for me and I hope it has help my readers to get up to date information for a future travel plan.

I like to bring up to date my passage with my family to the city of Aranjuez in the comunidad de Madrid region last August 2016. Enjoy it!

And we came to the wonderful city of Aranjuez, a princely town made very famous by all Spaniards for the concerto created by Joaquin Rodrigo on an old story of love between a prince and princesse, hear it, sublime music of Aranjuez. My dear late mother Gladys made me come into it when a boy and it has always stay with me up to today.

We follow by car the A40 from Cuenca all the way to Aranjuez that is  just south of Madrid and closer to Toledo.

We came right into the the Church Chapel of San Antonio after passing the arches that hold the Church together on each side. This is right next to the Royal palace or Palacio Real. Here we took the chiquitren or litle train ride all over town for about 50 minutes; which we usually do not take but were in nostalgia land to take a quick trip around the city to start.


We did thereafter, our usual walking around town soaking in the local life after the litle train ride into Calle Principe where we found free parking, and Calle Postas right by the Mercado del Abasto or food covered market.

The Calle Postas takes you right into the Plaza de Toros on your left at corner with calle Mirasierra. Its not a major arena so we just walk around it. We headed back walking to see the garden or Jardin de Isabel II and a nice statue of the Queen.

The Palacio Real we did not go in as already seen lots of palaces including this one before, but for first timers is a must. We rather had some granizados crushed ice with flavored drinks for the heat and continue walking into the jardin del Principe and Parterre of the castle behind it. This is pristine beautiful natural area with lots of statues and fountains.


The highlight for us is the local food and off tourist trails we headed for one closer to the plaza de Toros, the De Cañas en Fedario, at Calle Postas ,68. This was great menu for 7,50€ included a first plate of Arroz con Tres Delicias, Gazpacho, ensaladilla Rusa, and then second plate of chicken breasts, roasted pig a la plancha, or hake fish rounds in spices, all with french fries, dessert we had arroz con leche and flan, beers of mahou very cold , a great deal indeed. I cannot confirm if they are still open so check.



While in town you notice a nice looking Church on end of calle Principe, this the Church of Alpajes (also known as the Señora de Angustias) and see the wonderful fountain of Apolo at Plaza de la Mariblanca right in front of the Palace.


It was a quick visit that we combine with our next town, and of course we were back eventually . In the meantime, enjoy Aranjuez and its concerto !

The city of Aranjuez on tourist info in Spanish:

This is a private initiative with tourist information and can be seen in several languages, I find it very good:

And there you go folks, a quick introduction to a nice princely city of Spain, Aranjuez. Hope you get the taste and see my other posts on it, worth the detour.

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

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November 25, 2020

The mythical beautiful Toledo!

And I continue my hard head way to update revise and show new photos of older posts in my blog. A loving work and time well spend me think. Hope you are following along and I thank you.

This time will do the mythical city of Toledo in Castilla La Mancha! A city I came way back many years as had family living outside now they have passed away. I did took my family there for a family reunion and later to visit the mythical city of Toledo.

For those on public transports the train station is very nice and just on the outskirts of town with great bus service inward. We did try the bus no 61 to get us from the back of the Church of Santiago del Arrabal (puerta bisagra stop) back to the Plaza Zocodover after an exhaustive day of walking , the ride was nice.


And I made it back to Toledo this time with the family and it was one of our best expériences from our trip to Spain. Believe or not , I have come here often on my rounds by Madrid , but this time came with the wife and kids!  Toledo is magical but been to many places and little time for it, this time with the family finally made it back and it was very special.

We came by car on the N400 after going most of the way on the A40 from the mountains north of Cuenca. The drive was easy with little or no traffic ,and the parking was easy to find and plenty of spaces available in the Corralillo de San Miguel just next to the Alcazar.


Of course, the first building was the Alcazar and the museo del Ejercito or army museum.  We are not into muséums preferred the street walks and soaking in the local flavors of the gastronomy and shopping.  However, this is a must for museum goers. More on the museum in Spanish:

We quickly moved to wonderful Plaza del Zocodover, full of life and great eateries and shopping, we loaded up on Swords and pennants which the boys soaked up pretty quickly; even a musket pistol! The shop is just across from the entrance to the army museum, the name escapes me as usual on these things duh!


We ,then, took the calle Comercio full of shops and restos very colorful, we love it came by here many times sometimes in circles so be it ,it is wonderful. I can stay here all day ,you walk. This street takes you on the back of the Catedral Primada. Now, again not into seeing buildings but if not been in it you should see it.  more in Spanish here:



In our walks, we passed by many Churches with lots of history but we just walk by them soaking in the architecture and the sights even of other tourists…. One that was worth it was the Church of del Salvador or Savior built on a mosque and Christian by the 12C. Of interest Queen Juana of Castile was baptised here, been the mother of Carlos V.   The Church of San Idelfonso an original Jesuit Church that took 150 years to built, following the example of  Il Gesú in Rome. Next we came to the Church of San Romàn, located on one of the 12 hills of Toledo! on the foundations of a Roman building, and Inside it has a Visigoth museum or museo de concilios. Another, was the Church of Santiago del Arrabal, considered one of the best example of Mudéjar style architecture in Toledo.

We came into a nice square Plaza de San Vicente where the Circulo del Arte building is located; this is a nice example of old, religious like building used to expose great works of arts in temporary and permanent expositions. More info here in Spanish:

The nice  Convento de Santa Isabel de los Reyes, a convent where nuns sells the sweets of the area is quite nice and very inviting to eat even in the heat of 35C. An interesting building was the Posada de la Hermandad or brotherhood created to protect the farmers from bandits even if today is used for exhibitions by the city. The city hall or town hall (Ayuntamiento) is always attractive in many cities and one to look at its architecture, this one in Toledo is no exception.

A super site just by the puerta de Valmardon is the Mezquita Cristo de la Luz.  The Cristo de la Luz mosque is the most perfect example of islamic art in Spain ,kept almost intact from the time of the Caliphs by around 999.  Another interesting gate is the puerta de Alcantara and the Puerta de Bisagra.


There is a nice Teatro de Rojas in Toledo not stay overnight to try it but it looks very nice and good alternative for the day activities of anyone. From 1578 a comedy theater to the one now from 1878. More here in Spanish:

And of course, we did delves into ice creams and granizados or granitas best can translate, its syrup of different flavors to choose on crushed ice great for the heat of the day. However, for a formal lunch we could not resist the 6,95€ menu from Meson Palacios part of Hostal Palacios on Calle Alfonso XI El Sabio (the sage) no 5 corner with calle Navarro Ledesma. We had first plate arroz a la Cubana, judias blancas con panceta y rabo, croquetas Roquefort, then 2nd plate, bistec a las finas hierbas, hamburguesas con patatas, pollo en pepitoria, also bread, dessert like rice pudding, a glass of beer and coffee tax included all this for 6,95!!! The best bargain in our trip and all deliciously serve with great friendly funny service. A memorable family moment to last. Indeed we came back next year and by now a fond family spot in Spain. Webpage in Spanish:



On the way back, we stop for more shopping and ice cream at the shopping center or centro comercial Luz del Tajo on the N400 road, follow centro comercial and then luz de tajo ,further there is Fusion shopping plaza but not as good. Something to use as a rest stop as well. The Luz del Tajo webpage:

And our first trip to Toledo with the family ended good. Memories for me and especially for the other half as 30 years ago I brought her here searching for a hotel and could not ,all booked, we end up back in Madrid where we found one, driving on the road with no réservations, never again. Toledo is now seen by our sons and we pass on the thirst for more in the future as they like it too !!! Enjoy it,  and may it bring you the thirst to come here too, Toledo is magical, mythical, beautiful.

The tourist office of Toledo:

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

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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.


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!

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 :

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.

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:

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.


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.


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 Madrid

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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