Archive for December 28th, 2020

December 28, 2020

Torrejon de Ardoz, Madrid!!

Ok so this is for the nostalgia of family times; and needs an update/revision of its text. I have other posts on sights in my blog. Not really a tourist attraction, just a regular local town with one nice big shopping mall outside. This, then, will be a black and white post. However, is part of my youth of living in Madrid. Let me tell you a bit about Torrejon de Ardoz in the Comunidad de Madrid region.

On my continuing quest to update, revise, add subtract pictures from older posts in my blog, I bring you back to Torrejon de Ardoz. Childhood memories of this town which was lucky enough to bring my dear late wife Martine and the boys to visit and buy toys here. Therefore, here is my black and white homage to Torrejon de Ardoz, memories forever!

On a rainy day , I am thinking of expanding my writings on a not really touristic town of my beloved Madrid. Yes the province or Comunidad de Madrid. I spent many summers here, when a young teen. Much later, came back with the family just for the memories and the shopping center of Toys R Us! and the boys love it. 

Torrejón de Ardoz is in the corridor area of  Henares  (Alcalà) and also has presence in the metro area of Madrid. ​ It really took off in the 20C as a city growing along the expressway A-2 Madrid-Barcelona.  In addition it is connected to the rail line Madrid-Barcelona, and the beltway roads of M-50 and M-45 as well as the  M-206  towards Loeches and Ajalvir.  It is only 19 km from Puerta del Sol in Madrid and 9 km from Adolfo Suarez Barajas-Madrid airport. There is a toll road, the radial or R2 Madrid – Guadalajara, the M-108 connects with Ajalvir;and the M-206 connects San Fernando de Henares with Loeches ; and finally the  M-300 connects to  Alcalá de Henares. This is too many roads,, but it has grown when I lived in Madrid coming here there was only one road, and we came by bus the 224!!

There is bus connection I took when a child and also tested my family on it on our trip back then in 1993. Of course, the buses still do the run. You take the 224 in avenida de América, Madrid bus terminal to direction Hospital de Torrejon at Torrejon de Ardoz, you stop at Constitucion and there take the local bus no 4 to Parque Corredor a huge shopping center my kids love it.

The suburbian train lines or Cercanías C-2 and C-7 have a city center station and another in the residential area of Soto del Henares (near the Hospital de Torrejón ,and the industrial park Casablanca). The city center station is at the Plaza de España. The line C-2 Guadalajara – Madrid Atocha – Madrid Chamartín (- Cercedilla/Segovia-El Escorial/Ávila), and the line   C-7 Alcalá de Henares – Madrid Atocha- Madrid Chamartín (- Las Rozas – Príncipe Pío).

The Centro Comercial “Parque Corredor” has an hypermarket Alcampo (from the French chain Auchan), and more than 180 stores including the famous Toys R Us and a children playground.  By car as we did lately is on the road M-108 Carretera or highway of Ajalvir-Torrejon between Km 2 and km 5 well posted on the road. See my post on the shopping center.

A bit of history I like on Torrejon de Ardoz

In the 11C, after the castle of Aldovea, the town of  Torrejón de Ardoz is created. In 1118, the kingdom of Castile under king Alfonso VII, reconquered Alcalá (Henares) and these lands of which included the castle.  On an anecdote history will said that in 1906, Mateo Morral  tries to assassinate the king Alfonso XIII, and his wife and was able to escape to Madrid  ,however he is notice by several persons in a lot not far from  Torrejón de Ardoz, where he had stopped to eat. These persons called the security guard of the lot,  Fructuoso Vega, that after some verifications followed Mateo. Eventually, he gave up peacefully , but when he was conducted by the guard to the police station of Torrejón de Ardoz, he was killed by the guard and later this one took his life as well. Maybe a complot never to be known the roots of it. In 1955 the USA air base came here as part of the agreement with Gen Franco and the USA . I came to play baseball here in the 1970’s and a team from the base form part of the baseball league of Madrid with 8 teams including Real Madrid (my team) Atletico de Madrid, Rayo Vallecano, Condepols, Piratas, and the Abraham Lincoln school from memory.  We played the games at the Elipa municipal fields (see post on the baseball story) which today it is still the Baseball federation base of Madrid and a baseball field still in use. In 1992 , the Americans leave and where the air base was now you see many installations, like a hospital, hotel, golf course, etc. all under the Defense ministry of Spain.

Things to see in Torrejon de Ardoz, me think ,nice to out off the beaten paths.

The Casa Grande is located in the Calle de Madrid in the old town of Torrejon de Ardoz. It was built in the 14C to beginning of the 15C. It was founded in the 16C by the Company of Jesus  to managed the Imperial College of Madrid. After the expulsion of the Jesuists in 1776 under the reign of Carlos III it had several owners. For a long time was the headquarters of the Civil Guard until 1974 on which Rafael Onieva purchased it and restored it to turned it into a lodging (4 stars) and artistic place that is today. It ,also ,house an important museum of byzantine icons with more than 1200 pieces.

The Saint John the Evangelist or Iglesia de San Juan Evangelista,located in the Plaza Mayor,was built from the 16C. At first ,it was a small Church with two Chapels and two nerfs ,and the dead were buried in the Church.  From about 1784, worked began to expanded as we know it today. A Basilical style with three nerfs and a dome. There is a famous portrait of the painter Claudio Coello entitled the martyrism of St John the Evangelist or El Martirio de San Juan Evangelista that dates from 1675.

Another big area for entertainment for the family but one we have not been is the Parque Europa that opened in 2010 as an improvement and enlargement of the previous park of the Ardoz.  It has many activities for the family and a huge complex in miniature of the famous buildings of Europe. For info webpage: https://www.parqueeuropa.es/

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here, and why not, something different from off the beaten path for Spain, and great for kids at the shopping center and Europa park.

The City of Torrejon de Ardoz on things to see: https://www.ayto-torrejon.es/ciudad/lugares-de-interes

The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office on Torrejon de Ardoz: https://turismomadrid.es/es/descubre/madrid-%C3%A1rea-metropolitana/7018-torrejon-de-ardoz.html?eprivacy=1

There you go another of my gems of youthful days and still memories that will not go away. Hope you enjoy Torrejon de Ardoz on something different. And remember, happy travels, good health,and many cheers to all!!!

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December 28, 2020

Jerez de la Frontera!!!

Well figure the title says it all on the wonderful town of historic Spain and the sherry fame! !I am updating this old post to bring out some newer links and memories of a wonderful trip down to Andalucia and Jerez de la Frontera!

Never amazed me in my travels the beauty of my beloved Spain. This is deep roots, in fact when visitors comes to Spain or hear about it, what they really see / hear is Andalucia. You heard of tapas, flamenco, bullfights well all started here as well as sherry. As we say Spain is everything under the sun ::)  I came here to see the famous sherry , horses, and flamenco all in one, mind you as Spanish these are not my traditions been from Tenerife. However, all refer to Spain with these Andalucian treasures. So, therefore, lets talk about Jerez de la Frontera.

Jerez de la Frontera is in the province of Cadiz, autonomous region of Andalucia ; frontera comes from the frontier between moors nazari Granada and the Crown of Castilla. Only about 12 km from the Atlantic ocean and 85 km from the Gibraltar strait. It can be describe in four words, wine/sherry ,horse, flamenco and motorcycles. The city is known for centuries as the capital of wine or sherry. Another trait is the horse or cartucian horse or jerezano a line of the andalucian horse from the 15C. The city is also known as the birthplace of Flamenco. The motorcycle Grand Prize of Spain is run here along the neighboring El Puerto de Santa Maria.

A bit of history I like

The name of Jerez is from the denomination Xera of the Phonecians in the area where the city is found today; later the Roman called it Ceret or Seret and after the  Visigoths it was called Seritium or Xeritium. After the Moorish invasion it was called Sherish and when the kingdom of Castilla took Jerez in 1264 the city came to be known as Xerez, and later added de la Frontera as it was in the frontier with the kingdom of Granada. It is said the origins go back to the city of Asta Regia founded by the Tartessos at about 8 km from the current location and could have been their capital. After the discovery of new world and the conquest of Granada in 1492 Jerez goes thru a tremendous growth period with trade with nearby ports of Sevilla and Cadiz. This made that king Felipe II ordered built a navigable estuary so the ships can reach the port in the city such as El Portal to the city of Guadalete,and that the city was included amongst the 480 cities of the world part of the  Civitates Orbis Terrarum or panoramic cities of the world. By 1890, Jerez  was the first city to have public electricity at least for the lighting together with Haro in La Rioja . From the 17C, time where Sherry was famous all over the world, many British companies settled here such as Garvey, Gonzalez Byass, William & Humbert as well as Spanish Bearn(France) such as Domecq; the strong close link to the  British remained constant today.

Some of the things to see from a religious standpoint are huge, some of my favorites are:

Convento de San José, now housing Franciscans Clarisas descalzas or no shoes ; Capilla de los Desamparados, Capilla de San Juan de Letràn, Capilla del Calvario, Convento de Madre de Dios, very good pastries here!!! with sisters of the Franciscans Clarisas , Church Madre de Dios (mother of God) Sanctuary San Juan Grande, Church of Santa Ana, and Capilla de Santa Marta.

The city of Jerez de la Frontera, has several castles/palaces some in not so good shape, again many, so my favorites are:

Palacio, Duke of Abrantes, here is the home of the Royal school of Andalucian Equestrian art. By the nice Plaza Benavente you have the Palacio de Camporreal, and Palacio de Bertemati, Palacio de Riquelme, 16C, Palacio Domecq baroque style built in 1778 with Italian red marble and decorated arches. Palacio Dàvial renaissance style, in the Plaza Rafael Rivero come to see the Palacio de Luna (moon palace) baroque style built 1777. Palacio Pemartin, home of the Flamenco Andalucian center. Palacio de Villavicencio inside the Alcàzar, the curious can see now a store but this is the Palacio del Marqués de Villamarta in Calle Larga! At the Calle Pozuelo see the Palacio del Conde de los Andes; Casa Palacio de los Ponce de Léon, now the home of the sisters of the Savior ; in the Plaza de Belén see the Palacio de los Condes de Montegil, and the unique Casa de los Basurto built between the 16C and 19C is now part of the Bodegas Domecq sherry house.  Plenty more I told you lots of palatial homes here.

There are several museum spread all over the city, my favorites are:

The Archeological museum or Museo Arquéologico in nice Plaza del Mercado with a corinthian center unique in the western world found near the Cartuja and the Guadalete river. Museo de la Atalaya, includes the mystery of Jerez (wine museum) and the Palacio del Tiempo ( watches museum). Museo Taurino on the bullfights and matadors! The Museum of the Andalucian costumes :dresses or Museo del Traje Andaluz. A unique museum for all is the Museo de la Fundacion Espinosa de los Monteros, with guitars, and musical instruments on strings; interesting indeed.

Some other interesting building in my opinion worth a detour are: City hall or ayuntamiento in Renaissance style. The Zoo and botanical garden, Alcazar old arab fortress and as mentioned inside it has the Palacio de Villavicencio and a hidden camera; as well as the ramparts walls with pieces of it on several streets, open or encrusted in buildings today.

And of course other then the horse, the best to come here is the sherry , or Jerez; in many forms. Many houses but in my opinion the best from a historical , architectural and wine perspectives are:

The Gonzalez Byass (visited), Domecq (visited), Grupo Garvey, Williams & Humbert, Sanchez Romate (visited), bodegas Lustau, and Bodegas Tradicion with wine cellars from 1666. Other aspects of a visit to this city is the vineyards festival or Fiestas de la Vendimia, celebrated since 1848, oldest in Spain, the first foot step of the grape is done the first 15 days of September. Another huge event here is Holy Week or Semana Santa, the biggest in Andalucia! with 42 processions averaging six per day, and several nativity scenes in town. The Festival de Flamenco de Jerez is considered the best in the world by many and including the prestigious Flamenco magazine: https://www.deflamenco.com/

See my post on sherry but a primer here: jerez-g-byass-arena-bodega-los-apostoles-barrels-oct15

The city of Jerez de la Frontera on its history and heritage! http://www.turismojerez.com/index.php/es/jerez-ciudad-7/historia-y-actualidad

The Tourist office of Jerez de la Frontera on wine and brandyhttp://www.turismojerez.com/index.php/en/what-to-visit/wine-brandy-2

The tourist office of the province of Cadiz on Jerez de la Fronterahttps://www.cadizturismo.com/municipios/jerez-de-la-frontera

And one major event the Vinoble de Jerez next May 30 to June 1 2021 in Jerez, more info here: https://www.vinoble.org/

There you go a full version on Jerez de la Frontera. Enjoy your visit here, it is all worth it me think. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

December 28, 2020

What else can I tell you on Madrid!

Oh that is a repeated line but first time on the title hehehe! Yes Madrid is sublime what more can I say? You know it if reading my posts in my blog. By the way, thanks for reading me over the last 10 years some of you and welcome the newer readers. Let me tell you an update older post on my Madrid or what else can I tell you on Madrid! I will tell you and see the pictures in individual posts unless not.

Indeed, this if you have been reading my posts , Madrid is the city I lived (1970’s) and enjoyed the times the most as it was early teens years fun and youthful wandering around the city ,and experiencing the first rays of love. The city that , so lucky, have been able to come back many times ,sometimes 3 times per year and every year since…2003. The city that only upon entering the youthfulness come back to me like a ray of force, the force is with me!!!  I came upon Madrid on several occasions on my last vacation trip to Spain last month of August; it was hot as much as 41C or 106F! ,but so what, it did not feel anything ,really. We just had bottle water with us and we cruise walking all over, some spots new to my family and all memorable places to me. I like to share many of these with you on this post. What else can I tell you on Madrid…!!!!!

We came by our car into the heart of the city this time and parked at the parking Descalzas Reales next to the grand Monastery of the Descalzas Reales; a must to see while your first time in Madrid.  Near see the wonderful architecture of the Casa de las Alhajas in Plaza San Martin, if you want a great family event in a historical place ,get on calle Maestro Victoria and  while at it , do some shopping in El Corte Inglés dept store !!

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Right around here at Calle Maestro Victoria see the quaint architecturally beautiful building of the Casa del Libro or bookstore of Madrid, the one to go with branches in the city and elsewhere in Spain. My favorite book store coming here since 1971!!! Do not forget or fear walking in Madrid is full of surprises, great architecture and the best movida lively street scene in Europe! See Calle Princesa, there is another El Corte Inglés dept store here; come back to Calle Arenal (Pasadizo de San Ginés) to eat your churros at Chocolateria San Ginés as my family has done for generations there.  Another memorable place keep coming back to see even if not enough time to go back in is the wild discotheque or teatro Joy Eslava on Calle Arenal. To think that this was a simple community theater where plays were done and dances held for teens and now has become of the leading dance places in Madrid and Spain very chic is unbelievable.

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See the wonderful building of the Air Force building (Ejercito del Aire) by Moncloa up Calle Princesa and marvel at it’s architecture and the little airplane in front! You should check out past the Faro de Moncloa (post coming up) the wonderful Museo de América, a museum on all Spain relates to Latin America and our cultures, a must for any but especially for those of Hispanic heritage.

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Why not walk on the marvelous beautiful Gran Via a  marvel of construction since the 1930’s. And a stop at Plaza de España simply for its great monument to Miguel Cervantes Saavedra the author of Don Quijote is a must. Walk from there to Cuesta de Santo Domingo , Plaza de Santo Domingo, and the see as in Plaza de España the great metro/subway/tube entrances!

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See the wonderful architecture of a little square Plaza de Santa Cruz, great buildings and good ambiance around it, and continue to the eternal Plaza Mayor! Nothing can be said enough of this major square of Madrid! Here at plaza mayor see some of the businesses of generations of Madrileños and my family favorites, I came here as a teen and later many times even to buy hats for my grandfather!  Such eternals as Casa Yustas, La Favorita, El Gran Bazar, and the restaurant first took my girlfriend then wife in Madrid, Las Cuevas de Luis Candela past the Arco de Cuchilleros! And repeat visits over the years; memories forever here of my dear late wife Martine!!!

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Move on to another very popular and the center of Spain, at Puerta del Sol; unique place and a must; here you have the Casa de Diego another generational store. And the Magroño honey eating bear the symbol of Madrid. Nearby is the Real Madrid store we like to go at Calle de el Carmen.

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For the nights and arts , the Teatro Real (Royal Theater) , celebrating 200 years in 2017, and the Real Cinema (Royal Cinema) now inactive, at plaza Isabel II , both good to see and the theater is a must;and many memories for me especially in the Real Cinema, even if now only sporadic plays are shown and no movies. It had closed by April 2019 and was demolished in summer of 2020. Sadly another historic building gone from Madrid!

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Cannot be in Madrid without stopping by the Santiago Bernabeu stadium of  my forever team: Real Madrid FC, simply the best ever, Hala Madrid!!!. The la Esquina del Bernabeu with its shops and restaurants. And of course, a drink at least at the Real Café Bernabeu is a must. The Esquina del Bernabeu is been demolished in the new renovation complex of a covered stadium Santiago Bernabeu. Something had to pay and the shopping complex is it.

Ah yes of course, we ate something other than drinking lol!!! We have some delicious refreshing Horchata at a kiosk in the Plaza Mayor. This is a drink originally from the Valencia area consisting of water, sugar,and chufas ( a plant  tigernuts) and generally mix in with cinnamon or lemon and of course plenty of ice. And for a more formal light lunch in the heat we went to 100 Montaditos resto on Calle Princesa,7  , small sandwiches with omelette chorizos hams etc potato chips and plenty of cold beers!!! This is a wonderful inexpensive chain very lively place!

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In all, another wonderful memorable trip to my Madrid, never tired of seeing you, and remember that we lovers of the city know very well that ; from Madrid to Heaven, and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day!!! Hope you enjoy the post.

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

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