Archive for June 9th, 2022

June 9, 2022

Centro Comercial La Vaguada of Madrid !

Well the city is very well known having even lived there for 4 years and visited almost every year since 1990. However, touristic places abound I will deal with a new subject that can ,also help some visitors as well. As we all need to shop someday and even browse the goodies of the country/city we visit and many times not having enough time to seek these needed things while indulging in our sightseeing, let me tell you about my favorite shopping center mall in Madrid proper. I am updating this older post with fresh text, links and old same pictures. (see newer post on la Vaguada) .Hope you enjoy it as I.

I have come here practically since it opened, and then came back to bring my girlfriend from France,and later my dear wife Martine (RIP),and my boys, and now young men. These places are nostalgic and sentimental for us as my dear wife passed away in 2018 and she love to come here as all related to shopping. Oh no she was a good buyer indeed. Hoping to have learned some shopping habits from her. I did!

However, let me go into happier themes, and tell you about the Centro Comercial La Vaguada (mall). It is located at Avenida Monforte de Lemos,30, metro Barrio del Pilar line 9 is the closest by far, but you can do Herrera Oria line 9 as well. Shopping center with all you need in one stop shopping plus great movies! Many bus lines passed by here or close, I know of 83.  The shopping center entrance is by the Avenida de Monforte de Lemos and Avenida de la Ilustración. The mall is as the metro station in the neighborhood of Barrio del Pilar , district of Fuencarral-El Pardo. The mall was the first shopping center that opened in Madrid!


A bit of history I like

In 1973, the construction company Banús sold the land where the commercial center would be built to the French company La Henin. Before its construction, the project had a wide rejection of the neighbors of the neighborhood of Barrio del Pilar. The offer of fifty-six jobs to unemployed of the neighborhood and the promise that part of the space was dedicated to the construction of the cultural center, the library, the municipal swimming pool, the health center and the park of the Vaguada resolved to a great extent the conflict. It has integrated natural environments inside the building such as resting areas with waterfalls and fountains and natural light entrance from the ceiling. It was inaugurated on October 24th, 1983.  In 2008, the shopping center La Vaguada went through an important and controversial remodeling in which the new logo was fixed, the name was shortened (which previously was «Centro Comercial Madrid 2 La Vaguada») and the marquee of the main entrance was added, among other changes.

A bit on the construction if I try the inside layout as well ok.  It is a rectangular building with 5 floors. Two of them, under ground , configure the parking (for 3600 vehicles), while the other three have the commercial area, in which highlights the vegetation through the use of hanging gardeners with a traditional market, in addition to various anchor stores, such as department stores and hypermarkets. In addition, it has pharmacy, tobacconist, post office,and on the terrace are the cinemas and most of the catering/restaurant offer.


Inside La Vaguada you can find around 250 shops spread over three floors. The shopping center is divided into several areas: the commercial, the catering, the leisure, cinemas and the hypermarket. But what really differentiates this mall from others is the feeling of happiness that intoxicates you when you are in it. La Vaguada is one of the most visited shopping centers of Madrid is by the presence of the El Corte Inglés, the hypermarket Alcampo (Auchan in France) ,and the cinemas La Vaguada with nine rooms. But this is not the main reason. People view the center thanks to the services it offers, which are unique. For example, each Sunday offers concerts in its facilities. In addition the shopping center is thinking for everyone and after a hard day of shopping with their parents the little ones can enjoy in the playroom or Ludoteca or in the Soul Park enabled to delight the little ones.  Indeed a wholesome family affair and for the visiting families as well; recommended.  My Dad below in Cañas y Tapas resto now resto gone, memories!!!


The La Vaguada mall appears repeatedly in the work of Fernando San Basilio, both in his novels my great novel about the Vaguada “Mi gran novella sobre La Vaguada” and “El joven vendedor y el estilo de vida fluido” , and the story of “El principio Dios creo La Vaguada” (at first God created the Vaguada).

The official La Vaguada shopping

The Madrid tourist office on La Vaguada shopping

There you go folks, a little shopping in Madrid off the beaten path, a bit away from the touristic centro/center but well worth the visit if shopping is in your mind and kids alone the ride;mine enjoy it still today. La Vaguada is one of those spots , one is never tired of visiting while in town.

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

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June 9, 2022

Wines news of France XXIII !!

And the days are getting warmer, it seems like Summer is around the corner yeah!! Anyway, always good to bring the best of Wine news of France. First ,thanks to all my readers and/or followers! Spring was/is nice but looking forward to Summer without the canicule if you know what I mean! We have done quite a bit of work around the house, and still some more until September , Oh yeah, the wines of France are just super simply awesome and a great tradition. Often imitated, some time equaled ,but never surpass! Let me give some news shall we; hope you enjoy it as I.

After the announcement of the withdrawal of Château Ausone, Château Cheval Blanc and Château Angélus, it is the turn of Château La Gaffelière, Saint-Émilion Premier Grand Cru Classé B, to leave the classification of which it has been part since its creation in 1955. Unlike the classification of 1855, which is almost immutable, that of Saint-Émilion wines, dating from 1955, is in turmoil. In addition, said many, the rating system put in place for tasting contradicts all the ratings given to the châteaux by critics in recent years. A remark that resonates with the criticisms aimed at the tasting panel set up by the commission to taste the wines. Some were suffocated when they discovered that Bureau Veritas, selected as the organization in charge of the tasting and analysis of applications, was looking for independent professional tasters by posting advertisements on the Vitijob site, a site for job advertisements for all the wine sector, or on the website of the Union de la sommellerie française. For many castles, this recruitment process remains difficult to understand. In the vineyard, everyone knows the 30 professional tasters capable of correctly evaluating the Saint-Émilion wines by having a vision of the last 20 vintages, that is to say a real expertise. And the controversy continues folks, and no end in sight. Too bad for the Saint Emilion wines.

In a wine tourism guide which will be published by Éditions Flammarion on June 15, 40 Grands Crus Classés of the Médoc and Sauternes open their doors to 170 years of history. The reflection of an epic that began during the Universal Exhibition organized in Paris by Napoleon III, on the occasion of which the Bordeaux châteaux presented the fine flower of the French wine region. This initiative will result in a ranking of the most sought-after grands crus, divided into five divisions. While many of the castles featured in it have already published illustrated books retracing their history, here they are for the first time brought together in a travel-size guide that smacks of desacralization. This is followed by an invitation to travel over nearly 250 pages, which begins with a laudatory preface by Stéphane Bern, in which he praises the extraordinary historical, architectural, natural, gastronomic and intangible heritage of the Bordeaux vineyards. With a format inviting you to slip it into your bag, its beautiful book iconography and a fold-out map recalling the time when you used IGN maps to trace your route on the eve of going on vacation, this book also appears as the brilliant result of more than twenty years of editorial complicity with Flammarion, the favorite house of a certain number of châteaux, to which they already owe the publication of a work published in 2005 celebrating the 150th anniversary of the famous classification, which has passed more than 100,000 copies worldwide. The book call Bordeaux Route 1855, Editions Flammarion, 256 pages, 26 euros in France. Info webpage:

The general meeting of the Crus Bourgeois du Médoc last June 1,2022 was an opportunity to unveil new commitments. In sight: the next ranking, in 2025! Remember that 30 million bottles are sold each year! One of the outward signs of this new roadmap is the creation of the first Festival des Crus Bourgeois du Médoc. Good Wines Only, that’s its name, will be launched during the music festival in Bordeaux. The aim is to have an expression in Paris by 2024! (Olympics) Finally, the Crus Bourgeois continue to dig the furrow of sustainable viticulture. After integrating the environmental criterion into the classification, all members of the Crus Bourgeois, 250 properties spread over seven appellations (Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Listrac-Médoc, Moulis, Margaux, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe) will have to commit to HVE criteria 3. (High Environmental Value (HVE) certification). More on the Crus Bourgeois:

The Château Cantenac Brown Cru Classé de Margaux called on the American artist David Popa to create an ephemeral fresco visible only from the sky “an earthly fresco”. The spray bottles are filled with natural paint, made from chalk, wine lees, green clay, black earth, the same materials used by the first artists of humanity to make the cave paintings in their caves there. This is a painting of several tens of square meters which represents two open hands carrying a bunch of grapes. Superb and completely invisible from the ground floor. Even if the discovery of the fresco is done on screen, the emotion is real. The family is creative. Son of a graffiti artist of Romanian origin married to a Frenchwoman, grandson of ballet dancers, who attended a New York art school, David Popa combines in his work ancestral techniques, cutting-edge technologies and a deep desire for nature. The Château Cantenac Brown bought at the end of 2019 by the Le Lous family, the estate is currently under construction. Both levels of the Tudor-style castle are renovated from top to bottom. Right next door, a building that housed around fifty rooms and a swimming pool will be transformed into a vat room. For the sake of eco-responsibility, the walls have not been knocked down but will integrate the next building. Everyone is surprised to discover these buildings from the 1990s supported by dozens of props, like the remains of Pompeii. Soon, these walls will become those of the vat room, after being lined with compressed earth or earthen briquettes in order to naturally guarantee a constant temperature of 15°C all year round, without artificial air conditioning. The cooled air will come from Canadian wells dug into the ground. The work should be completed before the 2023 harvest. Amazing worth the detour eventually. Webpage:

After two years of absence, the Hellfest festival, in the heart of the Muscadet appellation, is back even stronger by organizing two editions in a row. For those who will be part of this double part, the Hellfest organizes various wine tourism activities. The largest extreme music festival in Europe. Every year since 2006, tens of thousands of fans have gathered to revel in Hard Rock, metal and all the derivatives of these musical genres with, on the program of the various editions Def Leppard, Iron Maiden, Kiss, Metallica, Scorpions, Deep Purple, ZZTop…etc. In short, all that is best. But now, after the cancellation of the last two editions due to Covid, the organization has decided to make up for some of the lost time by organizing two festivals in one, the first part taking place from June 17 to 19, and the second from June 23 to 26, 2022. What to do during the 4 days off? Wine tourism, of course! Because the particularity of this event is to take place in Clisson, (see posts) near Nantes, in the heart of the Muscadet appellation area. The festival and local winegrowers have also, from the outset, forged an unprecedented partnership allowing spectators to taste local wines during the various concerts. Metal and Muscadet lovers will therefore be able, between the two editions, to explore the vineyard for 4 days to deepen their knowledge as part of an operation called Hell’Tour. On the program, the discovery of estates and the vineyard on foot, by minivan, by small train, by bike… embellished with tasting, it goes without saying, visits to castles (Clisson, Goulaine, Tiffauges – where the famous Bluebeard lived ), distilleries… (see posts) The programme, set up in partnership between Hellfest, the tourist office and the Nantes wine federation. A good way to discover the richness of Muscadet wines, from the simplest to the most complex, including muscadets on lees and the various vintages, of which Clisson is one of the standard-bearers. Webpage:

Nicely hidden here, how about the Bordeaux en primeur 2021? What are our favorite dry white wines at low prices in 2021? Some of favorites and still going strong over the years were/are: Chateau Olivier, Pessac-Leognan. Chateau Talbot – Chateau Talbot Caillou Blanc, Bordeaux. Château Cantenac Brown – Alto, Bordeaux, and Chateau Latour-Martillac ,Pessac-Leognan. Note their red has other appellation names.

And , I had them before knew it but now its official appellation ! The announcement came through a decree published in May in the Official Journal: the Pinot Noir from Kirchberg in Barr and Hengst in Wintzenheim obtained the controlled designation of origin “Alsace grand cru”. It’s official, Alsace now also has its great red wines. The Alsatian vineyard has 51 plots classified as “grand cru”, appellations until now reserved for the Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer grape varieties from these terroirs meeting strict criteria and production rules The first mentions of Pinot Noir Grand cru will be able to appear on labels in 2023. The wines of Alsace webpage:

The WST (Wine & Spirit Tourism International Trade Fair) is coming to Reims in March 2023 with the ambition of welcoming 300 exhibitors. More info official webpage:

Something I enjoy a lot, and will tell you a bit more of it. Whether it is called squid, Calamares (in Spain), Chipiron (in the Basque Country), Supion (in the Midi of France) or Encornet, it is indeed the same thing: a marine mollusc of the order decapods, with a fusiform body dressed in dark membranes and surmounted by a globular head. However, the animal is one of the stars of our holiday plates, accommodated in a thousand and one ways: in salads, in donuts, with garlic, lemon, stuffed (à la sétoise), fried (à la Marseille), sautéed (à la basquaise), American style, en su tinta (in a sauce made with the contents of its ink pouch Spanish ). Also fried in a sandwich delicious!!. The Spaniards invite it in their paellas and zarzuelas; and the Japanese even dare it in sashimi, that is to say raw! The preparation of the mollusk is immutable: you have to remove the film that covers the body, then the feather-shaped bone, cut the bottom of the head to remove the beak and the eyes, empty the soft parts, and recover the pocket ink if you’re going to use it for sauce. If this is not the case, it is better to ask the fishmonger to gut the animal. The secret is to cook the animal over very high heat and very briefly. The choice of wines will depend on the preparation: iodized enough to join the squid, fruity enough to face the aromatics that enhance the taste. From this point of view, Mediterranean wines are essential. And that can be from many countries but especially from France and Spain. Enjoy it!

The movie “Champagne!” Coming out yesterday Wednesday,June 8 2022. The Nicolas Vannier’s film takes place in Champagne with Elsa Zylberstein, a winegrower in organic conversion, as its central character. Elsa Zylberstein plays a winegrower in Champagne, who invites her fifty-year-old friends to come and celebrate the bachelor party of Patrick, played by Stéphane de Groodt, the last bachelor of the band. The future wife, who arrives unexpectedly, sows trouble in this troop which has known each other for thirty years. This smiling film highlights the values of friendship with a cast that makes you dream: Elsa Zylberstein, François Xavier Demaison, Stéphane de Groodt, Eric Elmosnino, Sylvie Testud, Valérie Karsenti, Stéfi Celma, etc. Nice bubbly romantic funny movie to watch indeed ! Allôciné webpage and preview:

And now a worthy cause, very nice indeed. A wine tour of France by bike is the somewhat crazy project of Yann Dufouleur, agent and wine merchant, to finance the relaxation area designed by the artist Robert Einbeck for the patients of Professor Pascal Leprince‘s service in La Salpêtrière Hospital. Top start on June 20 on the forecourt of Reims Cathedral! Robert Einbeck designed the “Serenity” project, a virtual reality room immersing patients in an environment of color and light that should lead them “to the most complete relaxation” and participate directly in their therapy. Intended for patients at the Salpêtrière Hospital, this installation requires funding. has therefore imagined carrying out a solo, on the eve of his fiftieth birthday, a wine tour of France by bicycle, crossing all the high places of wine heritage in three weeks (Le Phare de Verzenay, the Hospices de Beaune, Le Pic Saint Loups , the City of Bordeaux wines…), i.e. a loop of 3000 kilometres. At each stage, he will meet a winemaker who will choose a special cuvée from his production in large format, which will then be decorated by the artist Robert Einbeck. All the bottles repatriated by Dyvin will be exhibited in Paris and then marketed at an auction, the proceeds of which will be donated to the Robert Einbeck’s Friends association. Yann Dufouleur also hopes in the long term that the “Serenity” program can be adopted in other hospitals and in particular the CHU of Reims. (CHU= Centre Hôpitaliere Universitaire). More info and source Terredevins webpage:

And last, but not least. The Oenologists of France, experts in wine and tasting, are at the initiative of Vinalies, the international benchmark for wine competitions. The Vinalies Internationales and the Vinalies Mondial du Rosé distinguish the best wines in the world by category. The Vinalies Internationales and Vinalies Mondial du Rosé competitions are among the most rigorous and are organized according to an extremely demanding scheme. Such as wines tasted and evaluated only by professionals: French and international oenologists, tasters and wine professionals recognized in their country (36 nationalities represented in 2022). Impartiality of judgments. The wines are tasted blind and presented in homogeneous series. There is no question of judging a brand or an appellation, only the quality takes precedence.Anonymization of samples throughout the tasting chain. A rate of medal-winning wines strictly less than or equal to 30% in accordance with the international standard of the OIV (International Organization of Vine and Wine). Writing detailed tasting comments on the wines tasted and awarded. Each international competition awards the following medals:
Grand Gold: score of 93 to 100/100
Gold: score 89 to 92/100
Silver: score of 85 to 88/100
The best scores of the Grand Or medals are awarded a Palme, rewarding the best wine in each category.
The Vinalies Internationales list the best wines in the world according to their category: white, red, rosé, sweet (+12g/l), sparkling, spirits, ciders and fruit wines. In 2022, 36 countries were represented. Webpage:

There you go folks, another wine episode of my belle France! The wines of France that is, superbe, sublime, wonderful, gorgeous, enjoy without moderation but accompanying a meal, family table just perfect. See you in the vineyards of France.

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

June 9, 2022

Again, the Royal Palace of Spain !!

Let me take you back to my Madrid , and Spain, always memories and wonderful times of old and new. When I lived in the city going to the Royal Palace was a treat, we had no money to go in back then in the old regime.  It took me to leave Madrid and Spain , spent some years in  the USA; and finally come back to it in 1990 to see it inside. It was a treat I will always cherished for me and for the fact that I was there with my girlfriend , later wife of 28 years, my Frenchie Martine !!! and 3 wonderful young men !!! 

The Royal Palace is used for protocol functions, and they are own and maintain by the Spanish government. The palace is bordered on the east by the Plaza de Oriente, from which it is separated by the Calle de Bailén It is the official resident of the king of Spain even if only uses it for protocole functions and the rest is open to the public as a museum. I have other posts on the Royal Palace but this entry is using old pictures from my vaults taken from paper pictures and shot with my digital camera; hope you enjoy it as I.

Madrid palacio real from plaza de oriente

The architecture and history is huge here of all my dear Spain. I like to just touch base on the main things to see as much of the history is on the other posts.  The current palace was built on the ruins of an old castle which dated from the emir Mohamed I (i.e. 9C). At that time, Madrid was not yet the capital of Spain. This construction served to protect Toledo against the advance of the Christians. It was not until the 14C that the first kings of Castile began to use this building, then called Antigua Alcazar.  But in 1734, a fire destroyed the building. King Philip V asks for a new palace to be built.  Construction began in 1738 and lasted 7 years. King Charles III was the first monarch to reside there in 1764. He was also the first to take charge of the interior decoration.

Madrid palacio real side calle bailen

The current Palacio Real or Royal Palace has more than 3000 rooms. Some places deserve special attention such as:  The majestic main staircase with its 70 steps, created by Sabatini; the royal chapel and its collection of stringed instruments that we owe to the famous Italian, Antonio Stradivari!. The Salon de Trono and its fresco by Tiepolo on the ceiling; the Royal Chapel is accessed through the Palace Gallery. In 1742 it was decided to place it on the first floor, instead of in the space initially planned and which is now occupied by the Halberdiers’ Hall. In 1748 it was built just as it has remained for posterity  ; the royal kitchen, open to the public since 2017 after a long restoration. This place is one of the finest examples of royal kitchens. Vast and including exceptionally well-preserved utensils, the kitchen is in the first basement of the palace; the Royal Pharmacy in which there are medicinal plants, prescriptions prescribed to the royal family, ceramic containers etc. The Alabarderos room or Halberdiers hall, this ballroom which was transformed into a guard room by Charles III; the Royal Armory in which one finds one of the finest collections of its kind in the world, including weapons and armor used by the kings of Spain and other members of Spanish royalty since the 12C; the Salita Gasparini and its magnificent plant decor; the painting gallery alone is worth the detour. Comprising around 70 works by masters, most of them Spanish, such as Velázquez, Goya, Federico Madrazo Rubens, Greco, Caravaggio and Sorolla, it has been arranged in 9 rooms of the palace, which includes dozens of them spread over 6 floors.



Every Wednesday and Saturday morning, visitors will rush to watch the changing of the Royal Guard in front of the monument around noon. Every first Wednesday of the month, a special changing takes place: the majestic Solemn Changing of the Guard.

The National Heritage of Spain on the Royal Palace

The Royal Family of the Kingdom of Spain

The Madrid tourist office on the Royal Palace

Needless but worth repeating, this is a very popular monument and lines are long, so need to prepare for it and come early. If you like the freebies there is free admission from 16h to 18h from Mondays to Thursdays and from October to March, and from 18h to 20h  from April to September for citizens of the European Union. However, do come anyway, it is worth the admission and an opportunity to see the architecture and history of the kingdom of Spain in Madrid! 

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

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June 9, 2022

The former Centro Cubano of Madrid !!

I seldom write about restaurant although I should do more. And never a whole post on one no longer in existance, but with so much history and beautiful moments. Again in my nostalgic run on Madrid! This is a city that pulls you, attract you , trapped you, and won’t let go. Its a vibrant open funny, lively, friendly city for all. Oh well can’t say enough of it, you have read me you know it. The pictures of the restaurant Centro Cubano are from their old site and public pages.

As my roots are all over with many years in different countries as citizen of Spain, USA, France,and working time living in Brazil and Nigeria, the one I was born long ago in another era was Cuba. When i came over to lived in Madrid in 1970, the place was humming with Cuban exiles from the communist dictatorship existing there, and still unfortunately.  We had our little huddle, talks, souvenirs, nostalgia in itself by coming to this place for lunch or dinner. The poorer Cubans were given free meals by the owners! 

I like to tell you about an institution in Madrid as the oldest Cuban restaurant in Europe, founded in 1967. It finanly closed its doors somewhere in 2011 due to the family line not willing to continue. I heard a nephew or in law did open another one not far from it at Calle Ortega y Gasset, 69 , call Gasset Habana,but has since closed as well. The one I went with my dear late mom Gladys was the Centro Cubano or Cuban center restaurant at Calle Claudio Coello, 41, almost corner to Calle Goya, Salamanca district,metro Serrano line 4. When I took my dear late wife Martine it was at the old Centro Cubano and later with my sons visit the Gasset Habana, not the same…


The old Centro Cubano founded in 1967 was the oldest Cuban restaurant in Europe. Since then it has been a faithful ambassador of Cuban food and cocktails in Madrid. It had two rooms with capacity for more than 200 people, a private room for celebrations and events and an art gallery. In its specialties it had the Ropa Vieja (old clothes)  with rice and beans and the fried cow(vaca frita) with congrí (black beans colored rice) and tostones (green plantains). Among its entrees were well known its tostones stuffed, tamales(corn tamales)  and ladybugs of plantain. It had a wide variety of Cuban desserts like the guava shells,  and the sweets of coconut, milk and grapefruit. In its ample bar were prepared those that are considered by many the best mojitos, besides flavor daiquiris , Cuba libre, and other cocktails like the piña colada. At noon, from Monday to Friday there were, also a menu of the day Mediterranean style in addition to the Cuban food. Sublime and lots of talking memories of our old land.


I used to come sometimes with local friends for lunch as well and introduce them to the food. Those were the days of my nostalgic Madrid early 70’s. Of course, things have change today. Many of the old places are no longer, and the city is with more people, but the aura of its air just been there is enormous and always ready looking forward to go. In a sense, Madrid is my Spain, even if by blood I am from Candelaria and Pajarà in Tenerife, Canary islands.

 Now my fav reviews site Yelp has a listing of Cuban restos in Madrid, which only tried the La Negra Tomasa, very good too. webpage:

Another good site RestaurantGuru on Cuban restos in Madrid

This post, of course, its just for the memories,the nostalgia of my Madrid to record in my blog. As said, the resto is no longer there. Enjoy Madrid !! anyway anywhere anyhow!  Memories forever !!! For my curiosity, there is now El Bar 41 which of course not been and folks do not even notice what it was there before, the famous Centro Cubano! 

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

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