Some news from Spain, CXXXVIII

This is yours truly with another episode of some news from Spain !!! thanks to you all. There is lots of things going on in my beloved Spain, and Winter is practically here already! I am eagerly looking forward to be back to Spain too!! Let me tell you the latest tidbits of news chosen by yours truly, By the way CXXXVIII is old Roman for 138, Enjoy it as Spain is everything under the Sun!

The rains that fell this past Wednesday afternoon in Madrid caused the partial cut of six Metro lines and flooding in various areas of the city and the south of the region. At 19h, Line 5 between Pirámides and Vistalegre, Line 6 between Lucero and Laguna and Line 7 between Gregorio Marañón and Alonso Cano were cut off due to rain. In addition, the trains did not stop at the Banco de España station either because of the falling water that also accumulated on the access stairs to the station ticket offices. Metro confirmed on its social networks that traffic was interrupted on Line 4 between Lista and Goya stations, in both directions, due to accumulation of water, and on Line 2 between Las Rosas and Elipa. There were also problems on Line 11 between La Peseta and La Fortuna. Outside Madrid ,the most affected areas were Móstoles, Fuenlabrada, Coslada, Rivas and Leganés,

The deterioration of the Puerta de Alcalá requires an “immediate” intervention, the restoration will last one year and will cost three million euros. After carrying out these previous studies, it has been determined that the two types of stone that make up the monument show signs of deterioration. . Thus, the granite on the façade and cornice is sandblasted and shows displacement. On the other hand, the rods, staples and metallic reinforcements of the sculptures present a high degree of corrosion. These elements have diverse origins; some, in fact, belong to the date of construction of the monument, the work of Francesco Sabatini in 1778, and others have been incorporated in subsequent restorations, Work is ongoing lastly!

Under the motto Tu Navidad está en Madrid or Your Christmas is in Madrid, nativity scenes, music, theater, parades, markets, ice rinks, crafts and gastronomy, among other proposals, will take place these days in every corner of the city. Beginning with the Palacio de Cibeles, which will come to life again with a videomapping (December 17 and 18, at 20h30. and 21h in which the star of Bethlehem will tell the story of Christmas. The Plaza de la Armería will host the light and sound installation Evanescent (21, 22 and 23 December, from 12h to 23h, which will explore the concept of the ephemeral on gigantic spheres. And in the Sabatini gardens there will be Spark, a light show (January 3 and 4, from 19h to 23h) inspired by fireflies and the Estrella galaxy made up of biodegradable materials. Matadero will host the fourth edition of Madrid, Christmas Meeting with the intention of once again turning this cultural space into the meeting point par excellence of these festivities. As a novelty there will be located El Gran Laberinto,or the Great Laberinh an installation that combines mechanical challenges and visual enigmas, and the Feria de los Imposibles, or Fair of the Impossible, a 350 m2 assembly where nothing is what it seems. everything that will house the Nave 17, destined on this occasion to Italy, the guest country this Christmas. Through a Neapolitan nativity scene, concerts by voices such as Emilia Zamuner or Daniele Sepe, their most international and multi-award-winning show, La Casa del Panda, or their most popular character on these dates, La Befana, Italy will bring its traditions closer to Madrid. In addition, for all audiences there will be workshops, games, shows, musical proposals, food trucks and skating exhibitions in this enclave in the large 600 m2 ice rink that is installed there every year for the fun of young and old. It will be innovative also what hosts the Serrería Belga or Belgian Sawmill, the last cultural space of the City Council, which will bring free activities for the whole family (from December 26 to 30), such as musical concerts, Christmas recipe gastronomic workshops or an interactive installation. And special prominence will be played by music, which will reach streets, squares, churches and cultural centers. To begin with, the Madrid Zambombada (December 18, 12h30) will go from Plaza de la Villa to Plaza de Oriente with its traditional rounds and quadrilles. And it will continue with the Navidad Castellana  or Castilian Christmas (December 23, 19h30), which will perform Christmas songs at the Puerta de Toledo Cultural Center. The jardines del Cabo Noval or Cabo Noval Gardens, in Plaza de Oriente, will also host a concert of traditional Christmas carols (December 22, 13h) and Felipa del Moreno (December 23, 20h) will welcome Christmas Eve with her flamenco songs , The music will also go up to the most emblematic balconies of the city, such as the Teatro Español, with the group Gospel Factory and El Combo Batanga (December 27 and 28, 21h); or that of the Casa de la Villa, with the band The Clams or the Dimensión Vocal group (on December 29 and 30, at 20h). And it will also come to Condeduque, with a wide proposal that will feature Combo Paradiso, Sofía Gabanna, Vega Almohalla, Chill Chicos, Sr. Chinarro, Marilia Monzón, Calequi and Las Panteras as protagonists. Not missing will be music cycle in the churches or the districts, in the CentroCentro auditorium. Christmas in Madrid sublime, !!! webpage : https://www.navidadmadrid.com/

One of the great attractions of Madrid during Christmas is the Christmas market in the Plaza Mayor. Strolling through this square and getting lost among the many stalls where you can buy handmade figurines for the Nativity scene, decorations for the house or numerous joke items is a perfect plan, There are others such as the one in the Plaza de España, the one in the Plaza de Juan Goytisolo or the one in the Plaza Isabel II. Don’t miss them! If you want to know the charm of Madrid at Christmas, Webpage : https://www.esmadrid.com/en/whats-on/plaza-mayor-christmas-market

It has been in the Guinness Book of Records as the largest Nativity scene in the world since 2019. And this year, the nativity scene of the city of Alicante continues to lead the planetary ranking of Christmas figures due to its dimensions: the Child measures 3.25 meters, while that the Virgin reaches 10 meters and Saint Joseph 17. But there is more, since this year, the City Council of the Mediterranean city goes one step further by adding the figures of the three Wise Men plus six angels that are distributed in different points from the city. In this case, Melchor is 11 meters high and 3.5 meters wide, Gaspar does the same with his 15.6 meters and a width of 4.75 meters, while Baltasar is the tallest of the three, reaching up to 16 meters and 3.6 meters wide. The Nativity scene will once again be located at the intersection between the Explanada and the Rambla. As for the angels, they can be seen at the city train station, as well as access to the Patio del Sol in the Plaza de Toros, the avenues Federico Soto and Doctor Gadea, at the intersection between the Explanada and Puerta del Mar, and the roundabout located between Teulada street and Jaime I avenue. The Belén or Nativity scene is not the only festive entertainment in Alicante, but its special program for these dates also include the House of San Nicolás, installed in Plaza Seneca, markets, concerts, children’s attractions, fireworks display, children’s workshops… There will also be a parade of Moors and Christians, as well as a camp of Royal postmen in the Plaza de Gabriel Miró, a Christmas carol contest and the 75th edition of the traditional parade of the Three Kings, among other activities. More and better in Spanish webpage : https://www.valenciabonita.es/2022/11/29/belen-monumental-alicante-navidad-2022/

One of the oldest editions of Don Quijote de la Mancha had been in a private library since 1936, that of Jorge Ortiz Linares , former Bolivian ambassador to France. The two volumes of the masterpiece by Miguel de Cervantes have been sold this past Wednesday in Paris for 504,000 euros at the Sotheby’s auction house. This is a third edition of the first part printed in 1608, and a first edition of the second part,printed in 1615. The first edition of his Novelas ejemplares or Exemplary Novels , from 1613, was also sold for 403,200 euros. The books were acquired on December 21, 1936 by the Bolivian diplomat Jorge Ortiz Linares, a fervent collector who lived with his family in a small palace in Paris. His wife, Graziella Patiño, was the daughter of one of the richest men of the 20C, the Bolivian magnate Simón Patiño, known as “the king of tin.” Ortiz Linares’s residence, located at number 34 Avenue Foch, was a true artistic center of the Parisian high society of the time. In his library there were not only copies of Cervantes, but also unique editions of the French Descartes, Corneille or Molière. The diplomat, appointed ambassador of France in 1947, was passionate about manuscripts and old books. the original edition of Cervantes’ Exemplary Novels, from 1613. The book had been bound for Jerôme Bignon, King Louis XIV’s first librarian. An original edition of one of the rarest texts by Cervantes and which belonged to an important person in France, The three books were part of a batch of 87 volumes from the Ortiz Linares library auctioned by Sotheby’s. Among them was also the first pirated edition of Don Quijote, printed in 1605 in Lisbon by Jorge Rodríguez and which sold for 56,700 euros. One of its particularities is that it contains the first graphic representation of the hidalgo and his squire. Other books auctioned were Francisco de Goya’s bullfighting illustration La Tauromaquia, from 1816. A copy that Valentín Calderera, a Spanish painter, gave to Théophile Gautier, one of the first French admirers of the famous artist. In addition, three copies of the Inca Garcilaso de la Vega, the famous chronicler son of an Inca princess and a Spanish conquistador, were also sold. Awesome !!!

A pair of portraits of a mother and her daughter portrayed by Goya will go up for auction in a single lot at an auction at Christie’s in New York on January 27 2023. They start with an estimated price of between 15 and 20 million dollars. They are owned by a private collection in London. These oil paintings on canvas, dated 1805, could set a new record for Goya, thus exceeding the 7.9 million dollars paid for ‘Suerte de varas’. The ladies portrayed by Goya are 15-year-old María Vicenta Barruso Valdés and her mother, Leonora Antonia Valdés de Barruso. Both portraits were dated and signed by Goya in the lower right corner. In addition, they include inscriptions with the name of the portrayed. The two pose seated wearing empire-line dresses and flowers in their hair.

Only a month ago the first client entered the door of the UMusic Hotel Madrid. A few days later, on November 17, Antonio Banderas premiered ‘Company’ in this historic venue in the capital. A theater in a hotel or a hotel in a theater. The Albéniz Hotel and Theater, which has two entrances, one at number 11 on Calle de la Paz and the other at Calle de Carretas (where the Madrid hotel was), 230 meters from Puerta del Sol, is in any case a special place: a hotel in a historic theater. The Albéniz theater was built in the 1940s ;it opened in 1945, with the work Aquella noche azul’ or That Blue Night, by Alfonso Paso Jr., and houses an enormous architectural and cultural heritage inside. Actually, they are two united buildings: the one in Calle de la Paz, where the theater is, has six floors and a terrace; that of Calle Carretas, five. UMusic Hotels, who took over the management, a new brand linked to the Universal Music group that intends to recover buildings linked to the world of entertainment. For now, UMusic Hotel Madrid is its first property in operation. The two buildings that make up the new hotel occupy the site where the Royal Printing Office was once located. In 1867 it became the Post Office and Telegraph House. The Carretas property was the Poymar hotel (inaugurated in 1930), later baptized as Madrid. The one on Calle de la Paz would have its time as a theater, in October 1942. And then, in the 21C, its closure and abandonment. The rehabilitation has reached, of course, the theater, huge, for 898 spectators, the which is accessed from the lobby, a disconcerting experience in this century where the curtain falls on so many cinemas and theaters. From some meeting rooms and from the gym you can see the stalls and the stage. The Hotel is a five-star hotel with 130 rooms and suites. In the corridors there are photos of Spanish artists and works of art related to the world of music. And on the upper floors, two surprises: on the fourth, a tempting pool, a pronounced rectangle that on summer days is probably what is now called a ‘must’. And on the sixth, a large terrace with views to the back of the Puerta del Sol clock, webpage : https://umusic-hotels.com/hotels/umh-mad/

For the nature lover in all of us, something I have done several years back, Just saw an article to worth it to include in the series, The Senda del Oso or the Bear’s trail, Known for the rock located on the highest hill, where King Felipe II used to climb to see the progress of the works of the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, in the forest of the Herrería The hermitage of Nuestra Señora de Gracia , located at kilometer 30.3 of the M-600 highway, is the best starting point of this excursion. Locate to the left of the road that goes up to the Silla de Felipe II or Philip II Chair , a path marked with white and red marks. It is the most strenuous section, luckily also the shortest. Already in the Chair of Felipe II and after contemplating the panorama of San Lorenzo and the Carpetanos mountains, continue along the path located in front of the steps that lead to the monument. It also has a few steps, which allow you to reach the highest point of La Herrería. Here are the ruins of the Casa del Sordo, former forest guard of the place. Behind the building, continue along a wide path to the right, with the Las Machotas hills occupying the horizon. You reach a barrier and a track. Follow it a few meters to the left and downhill it joins a road, which you take to the left. Along the quiet road closed to traffic, you come to the Ecological Path, opened by National Heritage. It has rest areas, fountains and billboards with Braille writing. Barely after 300 meters, a sign indicates the objective of the walk: the Cueva del Oso or Bear’s Cave. This cave that opens under a pile of large stones is several meters deep and another spring is located nearby. Vale ! You have done a wonderful walk in the mountains, hope you enjoy it one day, Webpage: https://www.turismomadrid.es/es/rutas/nivel3/108.html?ruta=1&etapa=

Now here are two spots in my sentimental Tenerife that is worth visiting me think, Garachico On the northwest coast of the island lies this charming little town, shaped to the volcanic orography of the land. It was the first capital of Tenerife and its narrow streets flanked by picturesque white houses are part of its historical heritage, rebuilt in the early 1700s when a volcanic eruption devastated the population, La Orotava,located in the highest part of the beautiful valley of the same name, at the foot of Mount Teide and about 15 km from Puerto de la Cruz, the town is one of the most beautiful and most visited in Tenerife. Its elegant old town, full of palaces and mansions from the 17-18C with traditional Canarian architecture, Both worth a visit indeed !

The Tenerife tourist office on Garachico : https://www.webtenerife.co.uk/tenerife/the-island/municipalities/garachico/

The Tenerife tourist office on La Orotava : https://www.webtenerife.co.uk/tenerife/the-island/commecial-areas/la-orotava/

The legacy of Rome in Hispania (Spain) is overwhelming, I like to tell you about some of my favorites :

Roman villa of Almenara-Puras (Valladolid) Until in 1942 the area began to be excavated with scientific criteria. What was down there was a late Roman villa, inhabited between the 4C and 5C, with one of the best collections of mosaics in all of Hispania. Some 400 square meters of tiles in perfect condition that spoke of the opulence with which their owners lived. Today the Roman villa of Almenara-Puras has become the Museum of Roman Villas, a pioneering work in Spain, which recreates in situ and in a very didactic way what these agricultural factories of the Roman world were.

Roman Arch of Cáparra (Cáceres) a huge tetrapylon arch that rises in the middle of nowhere. It is the most striking vestige left to us by the Roman city of Cáparra, the fifth country house on Calzada XXIV (a road which linked Mérida with Astorga), which reached an area of 16 hectares, as well as notable buildings, including an amphitheater and two large temples. A bridge over the river Ambroz, still in use, linked it to the rest of the region with this magnificent quadriform arch or tetrapylon that gave access to the city and which has been miraculously preserved over time has become the emblem of the Vía de la Plata or Silver route,. It is almost nine meters high and has four pylons of granite ashlars that support as many semicircular arches covered by a groin vault. They have brought to light a good part of the Roman city and a section of the original Vía de la Plata as it passed under the arch, which coincided with the Decumanus, one of the two main arteries of every Roman city. On both sides of the road there were shops, taverns and businesses of all kinds, just as happens today with national highways. The Interpretation Center of the Roman City of Cáparra, open on one of the sides of the excavation, shows through panels, photographs and videos a virtual recreation of what was the City , take the A-66 Highway Exit 455 , the full address is Guijo de Granadilla ctra.- CC-13.3. Oliva de Plasencia, Cáceres.

Roman bridge of Alcántara (Cáceres) ford over the Tagus river, near the town of Alcántara . An inscription in a temple at the entrance to the bridge already says so:This bridge will remain perpetually for the centuries of the world. It is clear that the Romans also had no limits in terms of vanity. The Alcántara bridge has been in use for 2,000 years (it dates from the time of Trajan, 2C) and with a little love and a couple of coats of paint it can last another 20 centuries. There were partial demolitions of its arches in the Reconquista, in the wars between the Castilians and the Portuguese, in the War of Succession and in the War of Independence. And even today the traffic accessing the town via the EX-117 highway continues to pass over it. The Alcántara bridge is still there, elegant and slender, 57 meters high and 8 meters wide; Disproportionate dimensions for the time that seem to confirm that yes, the Romans had a vision of the future and used first qualities. It is 65 km from Cáceres on the road EX – 207.

Campo Valdés Roman Baths (Gijón) Beneath the most unique and traditional neighborhood of Gijón, Cimadevilla, the best evidence of the Roman occupation of this strategic peninsula that gave rise to the city is preserved. They are the Campo Valdés hot springs, Roman baths from the 3C that appeared by the sea and reveal the degree of development and well-being that the city reached at that time, despite being in the northwest corner of the empire. The first big surprise It was the enormous size of the complex for a lost city in the extreme north of the empire, which reveals that Gigia had to have some importance in that Romanized Hispania. You can see all the elements of Roman public baths, the frigidarium, the templarium, the caldarium, the saunas and changing rooms… There are areas, such as the hypocaust, with a unique degree of conservation among this type of building. One of the essential visits in the Asturian city. Campo Valdés, s/n., in the center of the city of Gijón.

Ruinas of Bilbilis (Zaragoza), Bilbilis Augusta, the embryo of present-day Calatayud, homeland of the Roman poet Marcial, was a large municipium of Roman Hispania that spread out in stages over several hills bathed by the Jalón river. It had a forum with a porticoed square, temples, theater, baths, a network of pipes for drinking water, large private mansions… We have learned of that splendor through excavations that since 1971 have been revealing part of the urban fabric that once existed here. private mansions, mosaics, temples, taverns, wall paintings, ceramics and all kinds of objects. Unfortunately, Bilbilis was used as a stone quarry for many of Calatayud’s churches and palaces and only a small part of its original splendor has survived to this day. You get there on Exit 237 of the A-2 highway from Madrid, continue on the N-234 to the destination.

Las Medulas (Leon). The area of Las Médulas is fascinating not because of what was built, but because of what was demolished. The combined action of man and nature in these old gold mines resulted in an unreal landscape of pinnacles and reddish mountains covered by an extensive chestnut forest. You have to climb up to the Orellana viewpoint, the last point that can be accessed in car, and then walk the last 600 meters on foot, before the sun disappears over the horizon. When you finally look over the railing of the viewpoint, the spectacle that unfolds before your eyes is unique and unrepeatable. It is 24 km southwest of Ponferrada on the N-536 and CV 191-2 roads.

This is something that came up in Spain, but good everywhere, and I follow it never a problem in 47 years of driving , According to the data handled by http://www.cleverea.com, the leading online insurance company for automobiles and motorcycles, around 9 million journeys are expected on the December long weekend and more than 20 million during the Christmas holidays in Spain. The most important thing when planning a trip is to make sure that the car is in optimal condition. It is essential not to stay up all night the night before, so it is better to have the luggage ready and everything that we are going to take with us a day in advance, a good list never fails, so we can go to bed early and be rested for the big trip , GPS are wonderful inventions that have made our lives so much easier, but that doesn’t mean we let technology decide for us. It is advisable to make a 20-minute stop every two hours of travel or when we have traveled between 150 and 200 km , Since fuel has risen so much, planning the trip allows us to search in advance for the cheapest gas stations on our route or at which we have more advantages if we have a loyalty card. Creating several playlists will help us stay clear (singing while driving is better than coffee to avoid drowsiness this I admit dont do !!!) and we will be able to keep all the passengers happy., There are few things more annoying on a long trip than spending several hours dizzy and nauseated so eat light and the most vulnerable person in the front seat. It should be reserved, if possible, for people prone to motion sickness ,Seek distractions ,Hydration Driving. Slowing down and trying to drive smooth and fluid will also help a lot for people who suffer from motion sickness. Good points indeed.

And to finish the French and Breton touch in Madrid ! In a small place on Calle Conde de Xiquena, 2 street, they only prepare two hamburgers, the Classic and the Pacifico, and fried jalapeños. His fame spread like wildfire inside and outside the Salesas neighborhood. Pierre Antoine Chevallier, a Frenchman from Brittany, came to Madrid for love. “My girlfriend was from here and you know…”. In Paris, where he lived, he ran the hotel business and, since he was clear about his transfer, he thought of taking advantage of his ‘savoir faire’ in the new stage. He found the place and, after an (eternal) year of renovation and paperwork, he opened Pacífico, a minimalist hamburger restaurant. Behind the bar, two cooks make sure that the hamburgers and jalapeño poppers -filled with cream cheese and breaded with panko- come out just right. The menu offers only two burgers (both with a vegan option), the Classic and the Pacific. The meat they use is from Grupo Los Norteños. They have also joined the ‘pet-friendly’ trend. Webpage : http://pacificoburger.com/

There you go folks, another dandy tour of my beloved Spain ! We have reach the practically Winter and cold weather and snow are showing up, and will be colder from now on ; just enough to be cozy and homey again. Time to enjoy my dear Spain once again, and we are gear up for it! Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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