Archive for July 2nd, 2021

July 2, 2021

The Circulo de Bellas Artes of Madrid!!

This wonderful monument spot in my dear Madrid was hidden in my many posts on the city. I feel close to it and been there on many moments including my team Real Madrid CF festivities with friends over the years. I have to tell you about it in a post of its own. Therefore, here is my presentation of the Circulo de Bellas Artes de Madrid!! or the Fine Arts Circle of Madrid.

I like to continue the saga of my MADRID! It is said, that once biten by its virus you never want to leave, well i did but always come back to it. Madrid has a lot to offer and often overlooked! I like to change you a bit …. Today, I will talk about a simple spot that will make you fall in love with Madrid. The Circulo de Bellas Artes of my Madrid!!

Madrid circulo de bellas artes roofstop credit-cba 2
The Círculo de Bellas Artes is located at the Calle de Alcalà 42 , at the corner with Calle del Marques de Casa Riera, in an Art deco building completed in 1926. The CBA (circulo de bellas artes) was founded in April 1880 by some artists who originally wanted to create a club where they could exhibit and sell their works. At that time, young students who would become important artists went there, like Pablo Picasso, while others, such as Ramón María del Valle-Inclán, attended its salons. In 1921,the CBA becomes a center for the protection of fine arts and public utility. The main social seat was finally installed here in 1926 in a building inaugurated by King Alfonso XIII.

The Spanish Civil War led to the suspension of its activities, and the Circulo de Bellas Artes became a place of detention of the CPIP (Provincial Public Investigation Committee) what was called a checa (police persecution) after the conflict, it was also there that for a time the seat of the Service of the falange (Franco’s party). It was only in 1983, that CBA was refounded thanks to the Association of Plastic Artists. Since then, it has been open to the general public and with and follows international cultural trends.

The Circulo de Bellas Artes best is the rooftop terrace in my opinion and open to the public, offering a panoramic view of Madrid. It is overlooked by the statue of Minerva, the Roman goddess of wisdom and art, the symbol of the institution. Moreover, the CBA retains a considerable artistic heritage with more than 1 200 paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings and ceramics, as well as furniture. The bibliographic and documentary funds, including the bequest of the gallerist Juana Mordó’, with more than 3 000 books and a collection of 150 autograph books. Finally, the institution retains a large fund of thematic art journals and historical documents.

Madrid circulo de bellas artes roofstop resto credit-cba 1

Some webpages to help you enjoy a visit to the CBA= Circulo de Bellas Artes are:

The official Circulo de Bellas Artes webpage:

The Madrid tourist office on the CBA:

And a view of Minerva the CBA magazine!

There you go folks, a nice trip up and down one of the best monuments of my beloved Madrid. The Circulo de Bellas Artes is worth climbing up to. Hope you enjoy the tour. Given credit when I could not take pictures or can’t find them in my vault, the pictures here are from the Circulo de Bellas Artes ok.

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

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July 2, 2021

The Somport pass/tunnel, France and Spain!!!

This is a memorable post no matter the date, I am updating an older post in my blog. IT brings back wonderful memories of always from that September 1990 I crossed the mountains with my then girlfriend later dear wife Martine , before the tunnel and now more stronger memories when she is not around anymore. Therefore, let me update text and links for this post for you and if I may even more so for me.  The Somport pass , tunnel always huge and friendly between France and Spain!!

I like to tell you about a wonderful spot that bring lots of good memories to me and my family involved mostly a road warrior experiences. This story started in 1990 and continues today… I like to tell you about the Somport.  A bit of wonderful souvenirs; as back in September 1990, I came down from Meaux in Seine-et-Marne dept 77 east of Paris to Madrid , and Toledo Spain. I came with my girlfriend then and later my dear wife Martine, which life has it our time together was cut short due to the lousy cancer. I wanted to impress her and show my roots right away.

We took off on her VW Golf car (she love her little car a lot) and off we went without GPS just old paper maps. Little did I know that were going to face the mighty Somport just south of Oloron -Sainte-Marie on the road N134, climbing this mountain pass of the Pyrénées mountain mostly on second gear as it was and is very hilly around here lol! The return trip was done by the same Somport mountain pass and all the sights were awesome, and the customs border police at Urdos (see post) was very nice as before the UE this was the customs control border with Spain.

Afterward, there were several repeat visits, and many lifelong memories of good cheers on the road, happy moments for all. We eventually got to the much improved Somport tunnel that is awesome as well and ease of driving par excellence. The memories were just as recently as August 2017. I did not have the will to travel this 2018 to Spain was spare, maybe next year , I will have the strenght to make the journey again with the boys. As for now….only memories.

Let me tell you a bit about the peak or col du Somport.

The Col du Somport is a mountain pass located on the border between Spain and France at 1 632 meters (5,354 ft) above sea level. It was one of the most borrowed passages in the crossing of the Pyrenees, by soldiers, merchants and pilgrims on Via Tolosane from Oloron-Sainte-Marie (Pyrénées-Atlantiques) and towards Aragon (Camino Aragones). The Col du Somport is the only passage of the central Pyrenees which is, except for exceptional snow conditions, accessible in any season.

At the beginning of the 5C at the time of the barbaric invasions that ravaged the Western Roman Empire, the Vandals, the Alains and the Suevi, soon followed by the Visigoths, coming from France, used this relatively easy route to enter Spain. The Roman road that leads to it, known as Via Tolosane, was also borrowed by the Muslims at the beginning of the 8C in their failed attempt to conquer France. The Somport peak was the subject of a division between France and Aragon, within the framework of the Treaty of the Pyrenees (1659), (current borders of Spain and France) incorporating the terms of the Vesiau Treaty (12C).  The pass was fortified in the 16C  by the Habsburgs to protect itself from an invasion of the French, which did not occur until the Spanish War of Independence and the arrival of Napoleon’s general Louis-Gabriel Suchet in 1808. The French left Spain by the same route after the defeat against General Francisco Espoz y Mina in 1814.

And now a bit about the Somport Tunnel!

The Somport Tunnel is a road tunnel linking Spain and France to the west of the Pyrenean chain. It is traversed by the Spanish national road N-330 and the French national Road N-134, elements of the European route E7 Pau-Zaragoza. The N 134 crosses the Pyrenees at the Col du Somport at 1 632 meters above sea level. Opened on February 7, 2003. Since the construction of the tunnel, the peak has a much smaller traffic. Its access to the French side is located in the town of Urdos (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), at the place of the forges of Abel (1 116 meters above sea level) in the Valley of Aspe; The exit to the Spanish side is located south of the town of Canfranc (1 180 meters above sea level). Its path runs along the existing rail tunnel. The Pau-Canfranc railway line was cut off after the collapse of a bridge on its route in 1970, it has now reopen (see post).  Its length is 8 602 meters, of which 5 754 in Spain and 2 848 in France. The border is marked by a logo of Europe painted on the walls of the tunnel. Its width of 9 meters comprises two tracks of 3.50 meters separated by a band of 1 meter, and 2 lateral strips of 0.50 meter. On the Spanish side, it is planned that the A-23 highway arrives to the tunnel, I saw the works in progress as an extention of the Autovia Mudejar (A23) .The last stretch of its construction will be to Jaca connecting with the A21 coming from Pamplona and Canfranc near the Somport Tunnel. Good to know  the stretch between Huesca and France  is one of the highest in Europe going over 1 280 meters of the peak or col de Monrepos (see post on the tunnel).



somportAnd a bit on the Port or Puerto of Somport. The Port of Somport. In the surrounding area are the towns of Candanchú, Astún and Le Somport. It is border between the Valley of Aragon, in Spain, and the Valley of Aspe, in France. Also, according to some sources it is considered the boundary between the western Pyrenees and the Central Pyrenees.

Further, there is a 34-kmcross-country ski slope on both sides of the French Spanish border running in the vicinity of the port. Part of the itinerary belongs to the skiable domain of Candanchú in Spain, and the other to the cross-country ski resort of Le Somport, in France. Le Somport webpage:

A site I use in France to help guide my boys who does some skiing is this Skiinfo or on the snow in Englsih, on Candanchu:

You can get a bus from Jaca up to Somport but never done as always by car there. There is a train from Zaragoza or Jaca to Canfranc and then hook up with the bus , again never done it just for reference. From France there are buses from Pau. Transports mavaragon  from Jaca webpage:

To get to the Alto de Somport you have to take a bus at the station of Jaca, located on Avenida La Jacetania, S/N on the line jaca Astun on the above link. Even Jaca can be reached by bus from Zaragoza, Huesca and Pamplona with the bus company Avanzabus. 

This is a walk I once thought of doing and not yet, one of this days if health allows me. However, for walkers , this is a must as well.  In Spain, the Camino Francés (The French Way) starts in Roncesvalles, you leave from Navarra, or in Somport if you depart from Aragón. This is the most well-known and traditional steeped route to Santiago de Compostela to the point that it has become a cultural, artistic and sociological landmark . Those coming from Somport through the provinces of Zaragoza and Huesca, the French Way passes through such significant towns as Estella, Logroño, Santo Domingo de la Calzada, Burgos, León, Astorga, Ponferrada or Villafranca del Bierzo. The county of El Bierzo opens the gateway to Galicia through the inspiring mountain hamlet of O Cebreiro. From this point, a week of walking though enchanted greenery will lead pilgrims to the Praza do Obradoiro and the attainment of the Compostela Certificate.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here is the area covering Jaca/Somport are:

The Jaca jacobea French way to Santiago in Spanish:

The Jacetania area tourist board in English:

The Jacetania area tourist board on the Somport tunnel Spain side

The Jacetania area tourist board on the Somport tunnel France side

The National park of the Pyrénées on the Valley of Aspe (Somport area) in French:

There you go folks, this is nature’s heaven and one of the highlights of my travels always. A nice place up in the Pyrénées of my beloved duo of France and Spain; a solid one two punch for tourism. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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July 2, 2021

The Piazza Navona of Rome!!

Another wonderful spot in eternal Rome! We had a great time there and now many memories forever of going with the whole family. This was a nice square of the many in Rome, and we have good memories of it, therefore, here is the updated post on the Piazza Navona of Rome!!

In my family trip to Rome, we walk a lot, we find it the best way to see the city after arriving there. We arrived by air in Fiumicino airport, took the bus to final destination in Nomentano and then the rest on bus or foot. Above ground is the best way always!  We love to see the history and architecture of the cities and towns we visited and in the eternal Rome we love our times by the Piazza Navona square. It is superb and a must to visit while in the city. You can see all my posts on Rome and I thank you for reading me since Nov 2010! 


I like to tell you a bit more of this wonderful Navona square. On a cloudy day not so good pictures sorry.

Piazza Navona is Rome’s largest tourist square. Located in the northern part of the Campo di Marte, near the Pantheon, it is built on the ruins of the Domitian Stadium of the 1C, of which it retains the exact form. It is, with its monumental architectural décor  one of the most beautiful ensembles of Baroque architecture of Rome. The Piazza Navona is originally a stadium built by Emperor Domitian in 86AD. Domitian introduced a cycle of Greek games: running, fist, javelin throwing and discus-throwing. In the 5C, the stadium is no more than ruins. Until Mid-19C , every summer the drains of the three fountains were blocked and the center of the square was flooded to make the Lake of Piazza Navona !



The present square is adorned with three fountains. The center, known as the Fountain of the Four Rivers, built by ordered of Pope Innocent X and completed in 1651. The four rivers symbolize the four parts of the world: the Danube for Europe, the Nile for Africa, the Ganges for Asia and the Río de la Plata for America. In the center of the Fountain is the obelisk of Piazza Navona bearing in Egyptian hieroglyph the name of Domitian, which is surmounted by a dove, emblem of the family Pamphili (Roman noble family giving many Popes such as Innocent X).  The obelisk is 16 meters high (about 52 feet) which originally was part of the Circus Maxentius found in the Appian Way regional park. It is a masterpiece of Baroque art, full of curves, effects as the obelisk appears to be placed on the void, a cave being built under its base and movements; It is a theater to herself, a spectacle in action.


Two other fountains adorn this square: the Fountain of Neptune and the Fountain of the Moor, dating respectively from 1574 and 1576. The figure in the Fountain of the Moor was initially called Seashell Fountain; this fountain is located on the southern side of the square. The basin of the Neptune Fountain, arranged at one end of the Navona square, received carved ornaments at the end of the 19C approximately in 1878.


This Navona square is one of the main tourist places of the city with its monuments, restaurants, terraces, artists and street animations. Other monuments on the square are the Stabilimenti Spagnoli, Palazzo de Cupis, Palazzo Torres Massimo Lancellotti, Church of Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore; Palazzo Braschi (Museo di Roma museum), Sant’Agnese in Agone, and Palazzo Pamphilj.  One of my best recollection of it in the movies was on the National Lampoon’s European Vacation.


The Rome tourist office on the Piazza Navona

And a nice place to see on the spot with webcam skyline on Piazza Navona!

It is a very nice square indeed, and a highlight of our family trip to Rome.  Hope you enjoy the post on the Piazza Navona of Rome! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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