Archive for December 15th, 2020

December 15, 2020

Cuenca , we are here again, Castilla La Mancha!

Another lovely memorable visit and glad able to updated bringing back many nice time in our lives. Happy to share it with my reading public in my blog, thank you for reading me! Here I need to talk again about Cuenca!

And we came down the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca to visit the main city , Cuenca. Unesco World Heritage Site! Indeed is worth the trip and as we rented a house nearby , we came often here in our trip. I will try not to repeat pictures shown elsewhere already.

You have a wonderful local Adif train station at Calle Mariano Catalina 10 in city center, and an AVE or fast train station outside of town by Avenida Cerro de Estrellas s/n going out towards the N420 direction Mota del Cuervo  at about 5 kms or 3 miles; many buses connects with city center Cuenca. The main bus terminal is in city center by the train station adif with buses to many cities including Toledo and Madrid!

We were lucky while here to see briefly the Fiesta de San Juliàn August 24th,2017 ; the traditional feast of the town in honor of their patron Saint. Also, we saw the 7th stage of the Vuelta de España, the bicycle tour passing by Cuenca all the way to the Alto del Castillo (13C ruins see post).

In Cuenca ,there is plenty to see and even in two stays in the area we have not seen it all; time is precious. We have been by the Tunel de Alfonso VIII entrance by the Calle Alfonso VIII. Then, there is the emblematic bridge or Puente de San Pablo (see post) built in 1902 replacing one done between 1533-1589. This bridge connected with the monastery of San Pablo ,today a nice (see post)  it. Between the monastery and the casas you see the great canyon or hoz del rio Jucar river passing underneath.  Inside the Casa Colgadas there is now a museum of Abstract art (see post) showcasing many artists including Fernando Zobel.

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There are the Monasterio de la Concepcion Fransiscana, built in 1504, managed by the order of the immaculate conception the same as in Toledo. Monasterio de Madres Benedictinas, or the Religiosas de San Benito dedicated to the Our Lady of Contemplation built in 1448 at the corner of today streets of Gonzalez Francés, Posito ,and Esperanza.  The Convent of San Pedro de las Justinianas built in the mid 18C; Convent of Merced managed by the order of the Merced Calzada built between the 16C and 18C in baroque style. The Church of San Salvador started in the middle ages; a water fountain was built here in 1534 to bring water to the neighborhood. The Church of San Pedro, high up by the old castle very old church site of many battles for control of the city from the 15C. The Casa Consistorial or city hall in in the Plaza Mayor ,here since the 15C done in baroque style.

The bridge or Puente San Antonio or San Anton crossing the river Jucar and built in the 18C , and at the other end you see the Church of Virgen de la Luz that houses the divinity of the city. Hospital Santiago Apostol (St James) built in 1511 and still in use as a hospital today!!! Early 16C see the Casa del Corregidor and served as prison abandoned by 1541 today is just a building. The modern Museo de Cuenca museum opened in 1974 with the history of the area from earlier times to now.

There is so much to see many more museums and art houses , local craftman such as Fernando Moya where we shopped for souvenirs home decoration. The good old Confiteria Ruiz for sweet goodies, and the Panaderia Granier with great breads, sweets and pizzas to go. The La Licoreria offers a great selection of liquors , juices, sodas and wine from all over Spain and you can buy by the bottle or the case.

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Don’t forget to climb over to the Tour Mangana (see post) to see the city from an old site with ongoing excavations. Climb the old city narrow cobblestones to the old Castle and the Puerta de Bezugo gate (see post). The city has great public transportation in buses and now a tourist train little train that takes you all over the old town hilly streets . You can go to the modern world at El Mirador shopping center anchor now by Carrefour and many nice stores we buy shoes at Ulanka and video games at Game as well as fashion for the young men at Inside. More on the shopping here: https://elmiradordecuenca.com/

And of course, the one thing to see if time is short other than the Casas Colgadas is the Cathedral of Saint Mary and Saint Julian (Catedral de Santa Maria y San Juliàn). (see post) It is located in the Plaza Mayor in the old section of town on a hilly street leading to the old castle. It began as a gothic style as the builders came from Normandy France sent over by Leonor Plantagenet, the wife of king Alfonso VIII of Castile and sister of Richard the Lion heart. It has a huge amount of treasure of an inmense value since it began to be built in the year 1196; the exterior was renovated in the 16C and the façade renovated in the 17C. Finally, all was renovated in the 20C as we see it today.

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The new tourist office of Cuencahttps://www.visitacuenca.es/es/ciudad-y-paisaje-urbano

Again , a lasting impression of a nice town and friendly folks, nice family vacation, wish we had more days lol!!! Cuenca is in, we love it!!

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

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December 15, 2020

Coming home from the Castilla’s of Spain!

And if updating the going why not the coming from my beloved Spain! This is a work of love going over these old posts has brought a lot of good memories for us, and remember those no longer with us. Hope you enjoy the series, and thanks for reading.

This is our family summer vacation to the Castilla’s of Spain. Castilla Y Léon, Castilla La Mancha,and Madrid!!!  We came by car and left by car, the best way to travel!!! We took an extra day at no charge from our wonderful hosts in Casa Pitu in Las Majadas, in the Serrania de Cuenca at 1400 meters high in the mountains of Castilla La Mancha. Leaving on a Sunday at 6h53 (6:53 am). We decided this time been a Sunday and wanting to start the week at home before the work routine began to do this run paying tolls; something we rarely do but… time was of the essence.

We came back not listening to the GPS as I have done quite a bit of travel in my beloved Spain. Leaving by the A40 direction Madrid after coming down from the mountain into Cuenca. Shortly, I cut off into the N420 of Guadalajara on the N320 and Teruel on the N420. So I took Teruel. We drove into the outskirts of the town and then headed towards Zaragoza on the A23 taken the beltway Z-40 to continue on the A23 direction Huesca, then Jaca on the N330 getting under the Pyrénées mountain by the Somport tunnel at 1050 meters high!  (the days of going over is done but great views now you can go around the station of Canfranc). We passed by Fuentes de Jiloca  passing by the Church Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion or Our Lady of the Assomption. Once on the French side the road becomes the N134 and you past Urdos (before EU this was the custom house for border crossing !).  The Somport tunnel is 8 602 meters long with 2 848 in France and 5 754 in Spain.  There was big construction on roads going on all over, and I expect that by my next trip many will be change, the A23 is trying to reach directly here on a expressway….! Hoping for better times to travel!

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Once in my belle France we headed for Pau on the N134 passing by Jurançon and taken the D802 around Pau towards the D817 following panels for the A64/A65 autoroutes. We connect on the A65 direction Bordeaux/Mont de Marsan on this toll road we paid 23,20€ in tolls! Passing Bazas again we headed on the A62 direction Bordeaux but fearing the always traffic jams of the beltway of Bordeaux we got off at Langon on the D672 passing by Saint-Macaire and Le Pian sur Garonne, see Church Notre Dame passing onwards direction Sauveterre de Guyanne to connect with the D670 and passing by beautiful wine country and nice architecture along the way!! We pass again by wonderful wine country of many chateaux and heading on the D670 to Saint-Jean-de-Blaignac crossing the river Dordogne! Continuing on we pass just outside the medieval and rich wines of Saint Emilion then passing Libourne and crossing the river Dordogne again! Continuing on the Fronsac vinyards direction Saint-André-de-Cubzac on the D670 to connect with the A10 direction Paris for free!  Passing nearby Saintes and bear into the A83 direction Nantes! On this A83 paid 29,30€ tolls yikes! At Nantes got into the beltway N844 to connect with the N165 direction Vannes and home sweet home!!!

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The wines are great Pomerol, Saint Emilion, Fronsac , gorgeous terrain and vinyards; great ride!!! The anecdote of the return trip is the huge thunder and hail storm we had passing Langon, it was so hard we fell the car was been shot at with bullets of hail; concern we stop by a house subdivision to take cover and waited about 20 minutes before it was passed over, to continue our journey. This is definitively the biggest storm we have come across in Europe on the road.  It made our trip slower and paying tolls not well spent; reaching home by 23h30 or 11:30 pm Sunday! We are up and ready , however , already lol!!!

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And now we are ready to go on into our wonderful finds, many nice repetitions and some new visit with the family. I been an old fox, been there done that, but it is always intensively gratifying to bring my boys into places I have been as a boy/teen/men myself, family education!!!

Again, hope you enjoy the tour, and see around in the roads of Spain, yours truly ,the road warrior! I am lucky to be in the one two most visited countries in the world,and for a good reason! France and Spain!

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

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December 15, 2020

Going to the Castilla’s of Spain!

And my journey continue remembering old travel anecdotes and places of family visits over the years. What can be more beautiful than going back to our beloved Spain! In my continuing effort to update revise older posts which I believe were not given the proper text/pictures as early blogger was not up to par, this is the time to do it. I like to bring you back to August 2017 and my wonderful trip to my beloved Spain again.

Another year and another family decision to again visit my beloved Spain, I was happy. Deciding where to go is difficult from our base in France, but Spain hit the button again, and we repeat going there. The best decision we have made, Spain is well, everything under the sun. Even with those that wants to disturb the human race goes on without fears , and we enjoyed it fully.

We went by car, the best way to travel if possible ; leaving early from home by 6h40 (6:40 am) we were out on the road. We took the trip into two parts; one was the one to go without paying tolls into our night hotel for rest and a break on the long sideways roads trip.  First, we took the trip from home to Pau, where we stayed at the same hotel we had stayed in our previous visits to the area, this is the Ibis Budget hotel by blvd de l’Aviation. Simple and nice for a night stopover just at the entrance to the city center/downtown of Pau. Their webpage is here: https://all.accor.com/hotel/3498/index.en.shtml#origin=ibis

There is an Auchan hypermarket at a bit over a km from it and just what you need to get some groceries snack food for the night and next day’s trip.

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The trip lasted on about 678 kms for 10h35 of duration. If with tolls you can do it in about 7h35…. but we always try to avoid tolls. It takes you by the Nantes airport area that I am very familiar with on the D201 into the N844; from getting around here on the D137 direction La Rochelle, there are briefs roading on the D763 and D1173 which are basically the same road direction La Rochelle and then around Niort; you get back into La Rochelle on the N237 and later connecting on the A837 direction Rochefort nord before getting back on the D137 direction Saintes, La Rochelle, Rochefort Niort etc; you go into Saintes and continue direction Bordeaux, Pons, Jonzac. We continue on the D137  until going thru Saint-André-de-Cubzac on the D1510 to connect here briefly with the A10 and getting off the exit A62 to Toulouse, Pau getting off in the exit 1,1 for Langon, Pau and getting into the D1113 direction Pau, etc. Go into Barsac, Langon always direction Pau , here get into the D524 and go into Bazas, getting out on the D932 but quickly taken left on the D934 to go into Villeneuve-de-Marsan out of it get on the D824 direction Pau. Go into Aire-sur-l’Adour and continue on the D2 always direction Pau; go thru Auriac on the D834 and follow direction Pau into the boulevard Olof Palme and get on the direction Toulouse, Tarbes, Lourdes. Get into Pau along this beltway that is the D834 direction Pau Centre on the D943 to our hotel and on bld de la paix you can go on into old town Pau.

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As you can see you are able to passed by many pretty towns and we love it this way. The next day we took off again without paying tolls on familiar roads into the Pyrénées mountains.  Before we got there we had our breakfast in our usual place now at Bielle, the boulangerie  Laloubére facing the mountains where pastry, coffee and orange juice cost 2,30€! (see post)

Taking the inner beltway of the D817 by Bizanos and Mazéres-Lezons into the D802 direction Zaragoza (signs in French says Saragosse) passing great wine country of Jurançon and Gan along the N134, follow Laruns on the D934 into the mountains looking for the col du Portalet mountain pass wonderful views real driving pleasure and into Spain on the N260 to Huesca to take the N330 into the wonderful road A23 to Zaragoza here take the beltway of the city,  the Z-40 direction Madrid but get off on exit 28A to Teruel/Cariñera ; and then exit 176 into the N211 direction Montalban/Caminreal/Alcaniz.  Near the town of Caminoreal take left on the N234 ,and near Monreal del Campo continue on avenue de Madrid still on the N211 passing by nice Molina de Aragon  (gas/petrol  station here) to connect with the CM210 that becomes the CM 2106 into the Serrania de Cuenca mountains and our home at Las Majadas!

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We arrive in town early by 14h15 so we had our late lunch in the town of Vega del Codorno right next to the natural environment of the birth of the river Cuervo!  Restaurante El Nacimiento del Rio Cuervo! highly recommended, see the nice lunch food served. On the site of rural houses here: https://www.escapadarural.com/que-hacer/vega-del-codorno/restaurantes/restaurante-nacimiento

We rented again from the same wonderful folks owners of Casa Pitu in Las Majadas which is super and by now very good friends/owners in the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca at about 1400 meters and 36 kms from the Unesco world heritage city of Cuenca. house site here: http://: http://www.casapitu.es/

Finally, we headed to check in at our house, four bedrooms one full bath, kitchen , pantry, living and dining room right in center of town near the library and pharmacy as well as restos/bar. Sad to hear the bakery closed down but they deliver bread to the school in summer vacation time.  The owners are more than good ,they are excellent human being. Upon our repeat visit they had a Tarsus 1999 Ribera del Duero red wine for me as welcome! This is Casa Rural Pitu, at Calle Anastasio Lasso street. (see posts)

And pushing onwards to the AlCampo (Auchan in France) hypermarket for groceries for the next few days, and have discounts for gas/petrol paying only for diesel 0,988!!! per liter. More on it here : https://www.alcampo.es/empresa/tienda/Cuenca

Lots of walking trails and nature lovers’ paradise up in the mountains, even if we are not forest walkers the area is prime and inviting for that. We went on from here to see the Castilla’s of Spain in our road warrior ways! Hope you enjoy the story of our travels in my beloved Spain

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

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December 15, 2020

And Madrid again, again home!!!

Oh yes ,si si si I was back in Madrid. I am updating this older post from 2017. Madrid is a lot fun , emotions, memories, good times. It was good single, married and widower all the time wonderful. Madrid again, again home!!!

And I did came back home to my Madrid. Ever since living there in the early 70’s in another era ,and coming back for visits often enough to know it very well. Coming with my girlfriend in 1990, then wife in 1992, and later with our boys from 2003, and continuing luckily every year since , Madrid is big in my world map.

I came back home to Madrid again. We drove from our base in the Serrania de Cuenca along the A40 and into the A3 by Tarancon, and then up to Atocha and then right into Paseo del Prado up to our favorite parking at Recoletos (paseo de Recoletos past Cibeles). This is a great spot for transports as there is metro nearby and many bus routes pass by here including the Airport Express Bus stop at Cibeles and a nice BiciMadrid bike rental station.

We were to meet an old friend from Tenerife that was there to see the SuperCup of Spain football/soccer match of our Real Madrid vs Barcelona (we won 2X0! Champions!!!) , and had lunch with him at Terrimundi restaurant calle Lope de Vega, 32 up from Paseo del Prado, where we had our fish soup, and octopus Galician style, and red wine from Rioja, well just superb and great company just to start our day in full swing. I have known him since 2004, and I let him choose the restaurant. More on Terrimundi here: http://terramundi.net/

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We needed just to walk this Madrid , the best way to see a city any city and Madrid is marvelous to walk it. We came around Atocha and up Paseo del Prado passing the famous museums of PradoThyssen-Bornemisza , and the Botanical Garden. Reaching Cibeles fountain and the great CentroCentro or Palacio de Cibeles now the city hall and events congress (with a popular note at the time) ; seeing again the wonderful building of Banco de EspañaCirculo de Bellas Artes, and the entrance to Retiro Park, as well as my beloved Puerta de Alcalà down Alcalà street!!! The great Metropoli building at Gran Via and Alcalà!

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With my Tenerife friend we walked into the CentroCentro or Palacio de Cibeles to continue our talk before we departed ,us into our extended vacation and him back to sell his apartment in Madrid! And back to Tenerife.

The walks took us to paying a thirsty return to Cerveceria Cervantes in Plaza de Jesus, and the visit to the house museum of Cervantes on Lope de Vega as well as the unique building of the Church Santas Eucaristas in same street, and further on the La Fàbrica with its famous souvenirs glasses of the great Mahou beers of Madrid, corner of Calle Jesus, and Lope de Vega.   The historical Fuente de Neptuno of the opposing team,and  by Plaza de la Lealtad. The nice building of the Real Academia de Historia (Royal academy of history) at Calle Léon.

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The always wonderful Casa America, showing the best of Latin America and Spain links.  The helios horses status on top of the building Abanco in Paseo de Recoletos , visiting the Westin Palace Hotel (to show to family as I stayed in a convention there)  ,the Congreso de Diputados (parliament) , the great Statue of Cervantes in Plaza de las Cortes across the street, the unique Plus Ultra Seguros insurance building next to the hotel with the figurines coming out and playing a tune at hour intervals just a nice touch, and had a light snack of small sandwiches or montaditos in the 100 Montaditos restaurant just across from the Westin Palace Hotel.

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Visiting again the wonderful Plaza de Colon, with it’s underground centro cultural de la villa( a cultural center with restaurant underground) , the wax museum and the nostalgic Mélia Fénix hotel  (where I stayed with girlfriend in 1990 then wife) at calle Hermosilla, 2. We didn’t realized how expensive the hotel was and needed to share the cost (I try the macho effort to pay it all but it was veryyy expensive) lol!

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Up the road in Paseo de Castellana passing by the Plaza de Castilla and before that the great KIO twin towers leaning as if falling on you! The building of Nuevos Ministerios where normally I come in as others from the Adolfo Suarez Barajas-Madrid airport on metro line 8. On our way out of the city from the north into the M30. I try to put up here pictures not repeated elsewhere ok.

The Madrid tourist officehttps://www.esmadrid.com/en

In all a wonderful day full of family memories, good company of friend, and well just walking these streets of Madrid is enough, already happy. Madrid to Heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!!! Well , I am lucky can still see on the ground at least once per year! You too will enjoy it , see all of Spain in one city, the whole Kingdom of Spain!

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

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