Archive for ‘Europe’

April 5, 2020

Manchego Cheeses that is Huete!

And here I am in sublime monumental territory of my beloved Spain, Castilla La Mancha region and especially the province of Cuenca, and more precisely the quant town of Huete. Again, I have written before on the area and town but feel not enough on the most famous food from there, the manchego cheeses!!!

First a bit on what Manchego cheeses are all about! And we love them at home!

The Manchego cheese is one of the most famous in Spain and in all of Europe. These cheeses are known worldwide and historically have won numerous gastronomic awards for their quality and inimitable flavor. Manchego cheese is made from the milk of La Mancha sheep and has a minimum cure of 30 days and a maximum maturity of 2 years. These cheeses, if you have not yet tried them, are usually characterized by having a hard crust and free of plastics, a firm and compact paste and with a color that varies from white to ivory yellow.

The Manchego cheeses have a very pleasant, slightly acidic, tasty and strong flavor that evolves to spicy in the most mature cheeses. Its characteristic and intense smell varies according to the cure, as does its flavor. However, it should be noted that they do not only stand out for their flavor. They also have important benefits for our health.

The Regulatory Council of this Protected Designation of Origin. The requirements that all Manchego cheeses must have to be recognized as such are:

The cheese making, maturing and production process must be carried out in the area protected by the Denomination of Origin and which includes the provinces of Albacete, Ciudad Real, Toledo and Cuenca. The milk must come exclusively from La Mancha sheep and be free of drugs and impurities. Minimum maturity of 30 days for cheeses of 1.5 Kg or less and 60 days for heavier weights. Cylindrical shape, with flat faces and marked with a line drawing that divides it into four parts. The side is also marked with a zigzag pattern reminiscent of traditional esparto molds or ties. Hard crust, firm and compact paste, intense odor and slightly acidic flavor, strong and tasty.

For their corresponding badges endorsed by the regulatory council: A Manchego Cheese Denomination of Origin label must appear. The term Denomination of Origin Manchego Cheese must appear on the commercial label of the cheese. If it has been made with raw milk, the word “artisan” will also appear. Numbered and serialized case in plaque: On the opposite side to that of the commercial label, it will appear embedded in the bark with the terms “D.O.P. Queso Manchego and a series of five digits and two or three letters. Against numbered label: we will find it attached to the commercial label, with the Denomination of Origin logo. In the case of small-sized cheeses or wedges, this back label will be marked in its upper right corner by a blue or green band, respectively. European logo. Badge with which the European Union distinguishes quality figures. This is the one corresponding to the Denominations of Origin. They are raw milk note that if the cheese has been created from raw milk on the label, the term “artisan” will appear. If done with pasteurised milk the qualification of “artisan” will not appear on the label, since it will be considered to be an industrial cheese.

Depending on their curing time, Manchego cheeses can be semi-cured, cured, old or aged. The maturation of the cheese is the time that the elaborated product is resting at the appropriate temperature and condition for the necessary physical changes to be made so that we can consume it. To be La Mancha, as said above it indicate you must have at least a 30-day rest time. Fresh or tender cheeses usually spend a maximum of 15 days drying. From here we can already talk about Manchego cheeses that have a maturing process and, as we indicated before, depending on the time we will classify them as semi-cured, cured or old cheese.

Semi cured Manchego Cheeses are the least mature, they only need a maturation of three and five months, depending on their size. Cured Manchego cheeses are those that have matured for half a year. Old or Old Cheeses when the curing is over this period, it is already considered an old cheese. The old ones mature between 7 months and a year. If a cheese matures for a period of more than a year, it is already considered an aged cheese, also known as reserve cheeses, and which stand out for its firm and dry texture and its more intense and spicy flavor.

Now let me tell you a bit about our incursion into the motherland of Manchego Cheeses, the La Mancha and especially in the Alcarria area of Huete!  While visiting the area by car , which is a must we had visited a couple of Manchego cheese outfits recommended by local friends. So now you the best !

The Lacto Ganadera OPTA produces very good manchego cheese from the sheep young goat, we had the El Ermita brand from the supermarket before and we went to Opta on site, very good black label=etiqueta negra.These are the Manchego cheeses of world fame .They make them all, and sell them at the store in the factory.



Lacto Ganadera Río Mayor is a company that specializes in cheese making. It was created in 1965 and is located in Huete, located in the province of Cuenca. They are manufacturers and suppliers of high quality cheeses. A wide range of products, such as Manchego cheese, black label, red label and blue label. They have sheep cheeses cured in butter, rosemary, oil, etc. As well as mix cheeses and goat cheeses.


We went out outside city center into the Rio Mayor, these are the Manchego cheeses of  Oveja or sheep!! They make them all, and sell them at the store in the factory.  Here they also gave us a tour of fabrication halls, awesome!. Just magical. They are at Ctra Carrascosa Km 101 Huete. They have another factory at Carretera Caracenilla, between Huete and Cuenca, closer to Huete.


We shop always for the etiqueta negra or black label, queso mezcla tierno or young mix cheese with goat and milk as well as sheep blend, and the Romero or Rosemary. Just great still enjoying it!!

Now you know the basic information to come down and get the best of the Spanish cheeses for me of course. They are absolutely awesome and I get them even from Paris! When not in Spain. Hope you have enjoy the tour.

The webpages are for Rio Mayor Caracenilla : Quesos la Ermita Caracenilla Rio Mayor

And OPTA at closer to HueteQuesos de Huete

And this OPTA have a Facebook page here as sometimes their main webpage does not work: Facebook page of OPTA manchego cheeses

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


April 5, 2020

The Church Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Merced at Huete!

And moving on in my beloved Spain, this time back to the emblematic Castilla La Mancha and the little pretty town of Huete. Again, have written before on the town and its monuments but feel left this out and needs attention. This is the multiuse Church Monastery of Saint Mary of Mercy or Santa Maria de la Merced in the Province of Cuenca!


The Church Monasterio de Santa Maria de la Merced , or Mercy monastery is a Church from 1648-1684 and a cloister from 1645-56. The story goes fray Marcos de Salmerón, born in Buendía in 1588 but resident since childhood in Huete, where he studied and professed in the Order of Mercy in 1603, becoming master general of the order in 1642. Deceased in Madrid, his corpse was transferred to the Monastery of Huete and was buried in the chapel of San José, which he himself had built. The monastery is located at number 1 of Calle de San Esteban around Plaza de la Merced.


The whole of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Mercy constitutes a large construction structured on a roughly rectangular floor plan, the church occupying the northern half of said floor plan. Baroque in style, its facade is divided into three orders, two of them with balconies and one with bars. Inside it has two courtyards, the largest with the same style as the facades and the smallest, from the 17C with a closed cloister alternating between brick and stone. From the Monastery complex stands out its great chapter hall in which, being one of the best the Order had, several general chapters of the Mercedarian Order were held. The church has a Latin cross plan, with a transept topped by a large dome, side chapels and a high choir at the foot.


The main nave, the arms of the transept and the chancel are covered with a barrel vault. Along these vaults there are lunettes pointed at their intersection with the arches of the lateral hollows. The chapels are covered with a groin vault. The nave is topped by a dome supported on pendentives. At the bottom of the presbytery there is a dressing room that, originally, was located higher than the level of the presbytery, to emphasize the situation of the image located there, leaving below a small crypt that served for years as a cemetery for the monks of the monastery.  On the first two arches of the nave, at the foot, is the choir, which is supported on low arches. From the right lateral arm of the transept there is access to a chapel that, in principle, was the sacristy. This was then moved, in what was the connecting hall, with a staircase, on the way to the monastery. Above the right side chapels there are rooms for the sick, which have a south orientation and open a window over the interior of the temple.


Here is preserved the image of the Virgin or Virgen de la Merced of which festival is done in the month of September also known as the festival of Huete or of Merced that was before an important cattle fair. Founded by the end of the 13C,and currently the oldest part kept are the the central facade from 1639. the facade was renovated in the neo classic style in 1867 and the south corner next to the city hall entrance  renovated end of the 19C.  The cloister is one of the best baroque patios in the province of Cuenca done as said between  1645 and 1647, done with different materials. The Church was done from 1668 and in 1754 the sacristy was built that currently has a retable altar coming from the abbey of Caracena del Valle done in the second half of the 16C. In the last part of the 18C the Monastery was enlarged; the facades and wrought iron windows were done .Today, there are inside the Museo de Arte Contemporáneo Florencio de la Fuente ( a contemporary arts museum). Also, the city hall, and several administrative services such as the Tourist office upon entering, and the library.


The city hall of Huete showing it is the city hall: City of Huete city hall

The tourist office of Huete in Spanish on the Monastery of the MercyTourist office of Huete on the Monastery

The library of Huete on the city of Huete webpage: City of Huete on the Library

The museum of contemporary Arts Florencio de la FuenteTourist office of Huete on the museum

There you go a huge monument of great architectural and historical value right in a off the beaten path town of the Province of Cuenca, Huete. See it, very nice indeed, many memorable moments for my family there.

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

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April 4, 2020

Teatro Real Carlos III, Aranjuez!

So let me stay in royal Spain and tell you a bit more about the wonderful monuments of the princely city of Aranjuez, Comunidad de Madrid, and the wonderful  Teatro Real Carlos III. Of course, you can browse my previous posts on Aranjuez but I feel this theater was not mentioned enough in blog. This post will remedy that me think and I thank you for reading.

The Theater building was built in 1768 by King Carlos III. Therefore known as the Teatro Real Carlos III. The theater had a porticoes façade with five brick arches, and an engraving was placed on the frontispiece with the inscription translated as in Aranjuez the delights of the countryside are combined with the pleasures of the city, the king who built it and the year of its inauguration. The text comes from the official Theater webpage as below.


The interior vault featured frescoes by great artists. The theater was divided into four floors: the audience, the boxes, the amphitheater and the upper floor, and also had a stage and two meeting rooms. It had a capacity for about 500 persons and there, for years, operas, comedies and dramas were performed.  Its inauguration took place on May 14, 1769, attended by King Carlos III, Doña María Luisa de Borbón and the entire royal family, occupying the corresponding Royal box. Later in the years 1828 and 1847, various restorations were made.

Entered already in the 20C, this theater passed into private hands and was renamed Gran Teatro Maestro Guerrero. Theatrical works were exhibited in it, until in its last years it became a cinema, and even movies were shot. Its ended closing its door in 1989.

This Teatro Carlos III, an architectural jewel of the 18C, has already been recovered and is now call Teatro Real Carlos III de Aranjuez. The recovered theater has those original elements that had been preserved, such as the frescoes on the ceiling or the wooden beams on the roof of the theatre. The room has been made up of the original materials restored in the way also confirmed by the original foundations themselves. The halls and rooms between walls have been the subject of an “architectural paraphrase” that aims to outline the timelessness of the materials themselves and their union, in construction and systems, without any mimetic or stylistic adventure. Architecture in its purest form. It also has two levels of boxes on the ground floor and an intermediate level of continuous seats, and an underground floor where the cafeteria has been located. The Teatro Real Carlos III de Aranjuez reopens its doors on June 5, 2014.

The official webpage of the Teatro Real Carlos III of Aranjuez in Spanish: Teatro Real Carlos III of Aranjuez

The tourist office of Aranjuez on the Teatro Real Carlos III in Spanish: Tourist office of Aranjuez on the Teatro Real Carlos III

Another wonderful architectural and historical monument in princely Aranjuez. Hope you enjoy the tour and brief introduction on the Teatro Real Carlos III or Royal Theater Charles III in Aranjuez. Ah yes walking is better with the Palace on your back turn right into plaza San Antonio ,passing on your left the jardin de Isabel II, continue until turning left at Calle San Antonio to Theater on your righ hand side,about 10 minutes delightful walk!

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

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April 4, 2020

The Church of Alpajés ,Aranjuez!

So let me stay in royal Spain and tell you a bit more about the wonderful monuments of the princely city of Aranjuez, Comunidad de Madrid, and the wonderful Church of Alpajés. Of course, you can browse my previous posts on Aranjuez but I feel this Church was not mentioned enough in blog. This post will remedy that me think and I thank you for reading.

The Church of Alpajés ,also known as the Church of the Virgen de las Angustias (sorrows Virgin church) is a church located in the city of Aranjuez on the banks of the Tajo river. Its construction began in 1681, however, the execution of the works would take time, having to be ordered by king Felipe V its completion.


It was in 1690 when the inscription of its facade was placed indicating that its plant had been completed, remaining to build the main chapel. It has a Latin cross laidout. It was located in the old medieval neighborhood of Alpajés that was absorbed during the expansion of Aranjuez in the 18C.

The Church of Alpajés has a sober Baroque style façade with elements of classical architecture, with a brick façade and white apiary stone. The octagonal dome on the outside shows the heraldic shield of Carlos II with the date 1690. Inside is the Sacred Heart of Jesus. The church, completed in 1749 and modified in the 19C, would suffer a fire during the Spanish Civil War that would force the reconstruction in the late 20C of the dome, the choir, the roofs and the body of the sacristy, configuring the current volume that we can see today.

It is currently the parish Church of Our Lady of Sorrows (Alpajés) , patron Saint of Aranjuez.

There is a bit more in the city of Aranjuez on the Church of Alpajés in Spanish: City of Aranjuez on the Church of Alpajés

The Comunidad de Madrid region tourist page has more with the name of Church of Nuestra Señora de las Angustias in Spanish: Comunidad de Madrid tourism on the Church

There you go a nice church to stop by very near the Jardin del Principe or Prince’ garden of the Palace of Aranjuez. With your back to the palace walk up Calle del Principe in about 10-15 minutes depending longer if like us you are curious on your walks. Anyway hope you enjoy the brief post on the nice Church of Alpajés or de las Angustias in Aranjuez

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


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April 4, 2020

The Plaza de Cervantes , Alcalà de Henares!

So here I am again on a sunny day, and remembering the places I have been and really not given them the full credit in my blog. This is one beautiful town of Alcalà de Henares which we have enjoyed over the years even from my eternal Madrid. Walking this rich architectural and historical town is a must even if not into walking. The main street here is the Plaza de Cervantes and is gorgeous ; let me tell you a bit more on it ok. Hope you enjoy as we did.

The Plaza de Cervantes (Cervantes square)   is the center of the social life of Alcalà de Henares. This urban space connects directly with Calle Mayor and Calle Libreros, forming one of the main axes of the historic city. Initially it was the Plaza del Mercado , then the Plaza de la Constitución and, since 1879, it is the Plaza de Cervantes in memory of his favorite son Miguel de Cervantes. However, it is also popularly called Plaza Mayor, as it is the main and largest of Alcalá de Henares.

Alcala de Henares Plaza de Cervantes

In it the market of the town was celebrated and the annual fair of the same, granted by the Castilian king Alfonso VIII in 1184, for which it received the name of Plaza del Mercado. In the 15-16C, it was fully integrated into the urban area, by the expansion of the walls, first, and by the urban development of what would be the university neighbourhood, later. In this way the plaza became the main space of the town, the scene of all kinds of public celebrations, in addition to serving as a border between the jurisdiction of the town and that of the University. The Council headquarters were located there from the 16C. In the 19C the square underwent numerous changes. It received its current name Plaza de Cervantes   and several works were carried out for its beautification; such as the erection in 1879 of the statue of Cervantes that presides over it, and the construction of the Music Kiosk in 1898. The current appearance of the Plaza de Cervantes is due to the semi-pedestrianization process of its north and west sides, works carried out between 2018 and 2019.

Alcala de Henares

The Calle Mayor, Calle de los Colegios and Calle de los Cerrajeros (blacksmiths) end in the west; and that of Calle Libreros, Bustamante de la Cámara and Pedro Gumiel streets to the east with this last one leading to the Plaza de San Diego. To the south it borders Plaza Rodríguez Marín and communicates with Calle de los Colegios through Callejón de Santa María. In the center of it are walks and garden areas, in addition to the statue of Miguel de Cervantes 1879 and the Kiosk of Music 1898. Rectangular in shape, it has an area of11,900 m² (200 meters long, 60 meters wide) Its north and west sides are supported. Currently, the Plaza de Cervantes has 72 exempt vertical supports: 16 are columns and 56 are stone pillars.

Alcala de Henares

In the Plaza de Cervantes are some of the most important monuments and institutions of the city, such as: Círculo de Contribuyentes (restaurant casino and events); Hotel Cervantes Ayuntamiento   (city hall) Corral de Comedias (theatre) and and the ruins of the Church of Santa María, destroyed in 1936 at the beginning of the Spanish Civil War , of which its bell tower and its Oidor Chapel are preserved. In her numerous cultural, sporting, political, social and religious activities are celebrated. For example: The Book Fair, Horseback Riding in August and the Three Kings Day, Cervantino Market and Easter Processions. Also, the Municipal Tourist Office is in Callejón de Santa María, 1.

Alcala de Henares

It is indeed the center focus of the city of Alcalà de Henares and a must to visit. Lovely architecture and historic buildings all around it. Some webpages to help you enjoy further the Plaza de Cervantes are

The Calle Mayor webpage on the Plaza de Cervantes in Spanish: La Calle Mayor webpage on the Plaza de Cervantes

The tourist office of the city of Alcala de Henares in Spanish on things to see: City of Alcala de Henares on tourism

The tourist office of Alcala de Henares unofficial: Tourist office of Alcala de Henares unofficial on the Plaza de Cervantes

The tourist office of the Comunidad de Madrid on Alcalà de Henares things to see in Spanish: Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on Alcala de Henares

There you go a wonderful square in a wonderful city of my Madrid and Spain. Hope you enjoy the tour on these awesome places such as the Plaza de Cervantes in Alcalà de Henares.

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


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April 3, 2020

The Calle Mayor of Alcalà de Henares!

So here I am on a sunny day, and remembering the places I have been and really not given them the full credit in my blog. This is one beautiful town of Alcalà de Henares which we have enjoyed over the years even from my eternal Madrid. Walking this rich architectural and historical town is a must even if not into walking. The main street here is the Calle Mayor and is gorgeous ; let me tell you a bit more on it ok. Hope you enjoy as we did.

The main street of Alcalá de Henares is the Calle Mayor, as said,  one of the most important in its historic quarter, both commercially and socially. It is a supported street, on both sides. It owes its origin to the old Jewish quarters of the city, around the 12C, which was built following the layout of the Caesar Augusta Roman road that passed through Complutum (Alcalà de Henares). Like today, it was the commercial street of Alcalá de Henares par excellence during the Middle Ages, so it was supported almost entirely, to locate the shops at street level, while the houses were on the upper floor with a gallery that communicated to the inhabitants of the different homes without having to descend onto public roads.

Alcala de HEnares

The archbishops Tenorio, Carrillo and Cisneros changed the wooden right feet for round stone columns between the 14C and 16C, of which there are still enough copies even with remains of the painting in red and blue colors, as they were decorated at parties during the Siglo de Oro (Golden Age). Most were replaced by square pillars in the 19C. Six peepholes are preserved above the entrance to old Jewish houses. Today, Calle Mayor has 242 free or isolated vertical supports with 29 been columns and 213 are pillars and three pilasters.

Alcala de Henares

With a rectilinear and flat layout it goes from one of the corners of Plaza de Cervantes to Plaza de los Santos Niños, site of the Cathedral of Santos Justo y Pastor. It is 396 meters long, the longest preserved in Europe and its width measures 8 meters. In 1986 the Calle Mayor became pedestrian and, among other transformations, the asphalt was changed to cobblestone.

Alcala de Henares

It is currently a pedestrian street, and remains one of the main axes of the city.  There you find from hospitality venues such as bars, restaurants and ice cream parlors, to bookstores, fashion stores, banks and real estate offices. The interesting monuments some of which have written in other posts are: Casa Natal y Museo of Cervantes (birthplace and museum): A reconstruction of a typical 17C house on the site where Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra’s birthplace was built. It is one of the most visited museums in the Community of Madrid for its representation of daily life and the high-value furniture it contains. The Antezana Hospital: Founded by order of the Antezana couple in 1483, it is one of the oldest operating hospitals in Europe. Having less than 20 beds they called it hospitalillo (little hospital). Since 2006 the nuns gave way to the NGO of the Messengers of Peace. The Corral de la Sinagoga: In medieval times, when the street was located in the Jewish quarter, a synagogue was built that was destroyed in a fire. Only two entrances were preserved, one facing Calle de la Imagen, which has the old door with which the inner courtyards and small squares were closed at night, and another entrance around number 37 of Calle Mayor that conserves the original floor. . These entrances end in the Plaza de los Irlandeses,(Irish square) which was the center of the synagogue and a place of prayer.

And there you go we did shopping here and eat out so much beautiful architecture and history all around you, a pleasant spot for a nice family walk in Calle Mayor at Alcalà de Henares, Comunidad de Madrid! Hope you enjoy the tour and see some nice webpages on it here

A great webpage in Spanich La Calle Mayor on the Calle MayorLa Calle Mayor on things to see at Calle Mayor

And of course, the tourist office of Alcalà de Henares on Calle Mayor in Spanish: Official tourist office of Alcala de Henares on Calle Mayor

The city of Alcalà de Henares on things to see in Spanish: City of Alcalà de Henares on tourism

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


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April 3, 2020

Some streets of Alcalà de Henares!

So here I am going back to my beloved Spain and memorable Comunidad de Madrid region, where i spent most of my time in Spain and even lived in Madrid! This is one of the historical cities and even thus written many posts on it left out the wonderful walks in it and some of its streets so therefore ,here are some streets of Alcalà de Henares!

Let me tell you a bit more on the Calle de los Colegios and Calle Libreros of Alcalà de Henares. Two wonderful streets for you to walk fully and see architecture and history before your eyes.

The Calle de los Colegios or colleges street came out from the story of two bishops. A young student at the Madre de Dios School of Theologians commented on this street: ‘Famous place to build schools’, to which a colleague replied: ‘In this place we have to found two, each one of them.’ So it was. They were Archbishop Loaysa and Bishop Moscoso. Once called calle de Roma for the belief that the old road that linked Emérita Augusta (Mérida) with Caesar Augusta (Zaragoza) ran through it ; the name de los Colegios (streets of colleges) is due to the many who were founded in this axis of the old university city. Some disappeared and have not reached us, such as that of Santiago or the Manriques, that of the Military Orders or of the Maltese, that of Mercedarios Calzados, that of Bernardos Cistercienses and that of Trinitarios Calzados ,later a nursing home. Others have resisted the passing of the centuries and offer a beautiful urban landscape.

Alcala de henares

Some of these monuments, I have written before ,but now they are on this street and they are the remains of the Church of Santa María la Mayor. From the 15C, it was destroyed in July 1936. In one of its chapels there is a replica, with some original fragments, of the font where Miguel de Cervantes was baptized on October 9, 1547. Old College of San Ciriaco and Santa Paula de Malaga. It was founded by Juan Alonso de Moscoso, Bishop of Málaga. After its closure, it was a San Bernardino asylum and the Nuestra Señora de la Paloma school. Currently it is a Faculty of Philosophy and Letters. The legend of the lion’s mouth is famous at the source of one of the two courtyards, which are separated by an imperial-type staircase. Old College of Santa Catalina or Los Físicos y Artistas. Located in the Callejon Santa María alley, it was founded by Cardinal Cisneros. It has a Castilian patio with Tuscan columns on the ground floor, and a wooden balustrade on the upper floor.   Old College of Theologians of La Madre de Dios. Founded by Cardinal Cisneros, it enjoyed great prestige. After its closure, it was the headquarters of the Civil Guard. It is currently the headquarters of the Bar Association. The testimony of the errata of the first edition of Don Quijote de la Mancha was made in this school in December 1604.   Former Royal College-Convent of Agustin Calzados de San Agustin. Current seat of the courts. The name of ‘Real’ is due to the patronage of Juana de Austria, sister of Felipe II. The cover preserves the image of Saint Augustine and coats of arms of the Order and the House of Austria. Old College of San Jerónimo or Trilingual. It was founded for the study of Latin, Greek, and Hebrew. There may also have been an Arabic study. Its Renaissance cloister is the work of Pedro de la Cotera. On two of its sides is the Hostería del Student, the second oldest establishment in the network of hostels in Spain (it was created in 1929). On another side of the cloister is the entrance to the Auditorium, the place where the Cervantes Prize for Literature was presented.

A fine city webpage on the Calle de los Colegios in Spanish: LA Calle Mayor tourism on Calle de los Colegios

The Calle Libreros of Alcalá de Henares is a commercial street located in the historic center of the city. An important part of the Complutean history is reflected in its buildings. Its initial name was Calle de Guadalajara. But due to the large number of printers and bookstores that were installed in it from the 16C, it changed its name in the 17C. It is the extension of Calle Mayor. It begins in the northeast corner of the Plaza de Cervantes, and ends in the Plaza de Los Mártires or de los Cuatro Caños.

Alcala de henares

From the 16C, several minor colleges of the University of Alcalá were installed on this street. In 1551 the Colegio del Rey (current headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes) was founded, in 1563 the Colegio de los Vizcaínos, in 1567 the Colegio de los Jesuitas (current Faculty of Law), in 1568 the Colegio de Mena, in 1586 the Colegio de Leon y de los Verdes. This intense academic activity was accompanied by an important editorial activity, which was mainly located on this street. In 1585, La Galatea, the first novel by Miguel de Cervantes, was printed in Juan Gracián’s workshop. The decline of the University of Alcalá began in the 18C, an event that dragged the city’s publishing industry to the point that no original building that has been a typographic workshop is currently preserved.

Again have written before on some of these monuments but these are on this street and they are: Old College of León or Santa María de la Regla and of Saints Justo and Pastor. Founded in 1586 and closed in 1781.It is currently the Graduate School of the University of Alcalá. Old College of the King or of San Felipe and Santiago. Built during the reign of Felipe II, it was inaugurated in 1551. It was attended by the children of the employees of the Royal House, such as Francisco de Quevedo (son of the assistant to the Infanta Isabel Clara Eugenia). Since 1991 it has been one of the two main headquarters of the Instituto Cervantes. The Church of Santa María la Mayor. Parish located on the old chapel of the Jesuit College. Its granite façade features four sculptures carved in 1624 by Manuel Pereira. Inside, its baroque altarpiece, the work of Francisco Bautista, and the decoration of the vault of the chapel of the Santas Formas (Holy Forms) , painted by Juan Vicente Ribera in 1699, stand out. Former Máximo Colegio de la Compañía de Jesús or de los Jesuitas. Founded in 1545, and with that location since 1620. It highlights inside, the imperial-style staircase. After the confiscation of the University of Alcalá in 1836, it would eventually become the Mendigorría barracks. Since 1990 it houses the Law School of the University of Alcalá. Former Colegio Menor de San Cosme y San Damián, or Colegio de Mena, founded by the doctor Fernando de Mena in 1568 and closed in 1759. Today they are private homes.

A fine city webpage on Calle Libreros in Spanish: La Calle Mayor webpage on Calle LIbreros

The tourist office of Alcalà de Henares in English: Tourist office of Alcala de Henares

And this is the tourist office of the Comunidad de Madrid on Alcalà de Henares in Spanish: Todo Sobre Madrid tourist office on Alcala de Henares

There you go a wonderful way to get lost in history with beauty and old world charm all around you; this is Cervantes’s town, this is Alcalà de Henares! Hope you have enjoy the tour.

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

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April 3, 2020

Stop at Hong Kong!

Ok talking about airports, well been to a few. Some been not too long but are very memorable for x reasons, and I thought rather than just barely mentioned them in my blog giving it a bit more credit in a single post. This is the case of the Hong Kong International Airport. Here is all about it!

I first flew with Cathay Pacific for the first time; and it was a nice ride indeed. This is the airline of Hong Kong and I was going to the airport there for connection to a final destination. The Hong Kong International Airport was my first time too, but as connections were made tight, really had no time to see Hong Kong. Even if passed twice by it on two different trips! This will be for another time. OF course, with the times that will be a bit further away.

The Hong Kong International Airport is the airport of Hong Kong, about 30 km from the city center. Inaugurated on July 6, 1998, to replace the former Kai Tak International Airport. The current airport has become a major global center for freight transport, a connecting platform for passengers and a gateway to destinations in mainland China, east and southeast Asia. it is the first platform for the companies Cathay Pacific and Dragonair, but also for smaller companies like Hong Kong Express or Hong Kong Airlines. It also houses the Hong Kong Government Flying Service aircraft.

The airport was erected on a large artificial island called Huan Fu Zu, built from the mountainous islands of Chep Lap Kok and Lam Chau which were razed to the ground and joined together in part by their own embankments. It is connected to the north coast of Lantau Island near the historic village of Tung Chung, now in a new city. The construction of the new airport was part of a larger program which also included the construction of a new road and a railway connecting the city to the airport and comprising many bridges and tunnels. The airport is managed by the Airport Authority, which is controlled by the government of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. The airport has two parallel runways, each 3,800 meters long and 60 meters wide. The southern runway belongs to the “Category II Precision Approach”, while the northern runway belongs to the higher category (“Category IIIA”), which allows pilots to land with only 200 meters of visibility.

The Hong Kong International Airport has a total of 90 boarding gates,with 77 jet bridge gates (1–12, 23–36, 40–50, 60–71, 201–219, 501–506, 508–510) and 12 virtual gates (228–230, 511–513, 520–525) which are used as assembly points for passengers, who are then ferried to the aircraft by apron buses. Of the 66 jet bridges, five (Gates 5,23,60,62,64) are capable of handling the Airbus A380. Besides T2, the SkyCity Nine Eagles Golf Course has been opened in 2007 whereas the second airport hotel, the Hong Kong SkyCity Marriott Hotel; and a permanent cross-boundary ferry terminal, the Skypier, began operations in 2008 and 2009 respectively. Development around T2 also includes the AsiaWorld-Expo which has started operation in late 2005. A second passenger concourse, the North Satellite Concourse (NSC), opened in 2010, followed by the Midfield Concourse in December 2015.

hong kong

Hong kong

Terminal 1 of the Hong Kong International Airport is the third largest airport passenger terminal building in the world. Terminal 2 together with the SkyPlaza, opened on 28 February 2007 along with the opening of the Airport Station’s Platform 3. It is only a check-in and processing facility for departing passengers with no gates or arrival facilities (passengers are transported underground to gates at Terminal 1) So far most low-cost carriers and some full-service carriers have relocated their check-in operations to T2. A two-storey North Satellite Concourse (NSC), this concourse was designed for narrow-body aircraft and is equipped with 10 jet bridges. There is a shuttle bus service between the NSC and Terminal 1 every four minutes. The midfield area is located to the west of Terminal 1 between the two existing runways This includes 20 aircraft parking stands, three of these are wide enough to serve the Airbus A380.   Passengers reach the concourse through an extension of the underground automated people mover On 31 March 2016, the Concourse was officially inaugurated.

hong kong

hong kong

The Hong Kong International Airport is renowned for its quality among tour operators and passengers. It is one of the three world airports to have received the 5 stars of the classification made by Skytrax. The airport is accessible with the Hong Kong Metro Airport station on the Airport Express line. The Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao Bridge arrives in Hong Kong near the airport island.

Hong Kong

On 2 July 1998, Air Force One, carrying United States President Bill Clinton, landed at the new airport and became the first foreign visitor to arrive at the new airport.

The official webpage of HKIA here: Official Hong Kong International Airport

The Airport Express Services here: Official Metro Airport Express Services

The Hong Kong Zhuhai-Macao BridgeHong Kong Zhuhai Macao Bridge

The tourist office of Hong KongTourist office of Hong Kong

There you go all you need for a wonderful stop over or longer stay. I have done the first one;looking forward to do the second one. Enjoy the Hong Kong International Airport

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


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April 2, 2020

Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria!

A few years back I had the opportunity to do a consulting job for an important fuel company base in the south of France. The mission was carried out in Lagos ,Nigeria for several months. I lived in Ikoyi a district of Lagos. I have told before the historical part and the restaurants and hotels of the area but and again, missed telling you about my residence. Well now is time to tell you all about it ok. Hope you enjoy the off the beaten path trip at Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria.

The best areas are east of city center at Ikoyi (where I lived), and Victoria Island. The district of Lagos Island is the business area with an artificial island named Eko Atlantic City. I must tell you that even thus I was not there as a tourist and not many sites that can be tourist oriented at least at that time, I enjoyed very much the stay  ,travel all over even further away from Lagos and made many friends still in contact as much as this week, the reason to do this post. Friends forever, and they know my blog!

First, a bit about the district of Ikoyi.

Ikoyi is the most affluent neighborhood of Lagos, located in Eti-Osa Local Government Area.It lies to the northeast of Obalende and adjoins Lagos Island to the west, and at the edge of the Lagos Lagoon. Popular with the extreme upper class residents of Nigerian society, Ikoyi is arguably one of the wealthiest communities within Nigeria.

The area that makes up Ikoyi was originally a continuous land mass with Lagos Island, until it was separated from by a narrow waterway that was dug by the British colonial government. This canal has now been built over or filled so that the island is fused with Lagos Island once again.  During the colonial era, the island was developed as a residential cantonment for the expatriate British community and still retains many of the large colonial residences built between 1900 and 1950. Upmarket residential properties continued to be built after the colonial period, and the Island and its Dodan Barracks became the residence of some of Nigeria’s military rulers

One of the main attractions in Ikoyi is Awolowo Road, which is a high street lined with upscale shops and boutiques. Due to its proximity to Victoria Island and Lagos Island, much of Lagos’s business tourism is centred on Ikoyi, which has a mix of excellent 4-star hotels. The area is now home to several large luxury apartments,estates, and upscale office developments. Lagos Preparatory School (13+), regarded as Africa’s most highly accredited British School, is located in Ikoyi . The Lagos Jet Ski Riders Club, an elite club for the wealthiest of Nigerians is located in Ikoyi. Also, the Ikoyi Golf Club.

Bourdillon Road, Alexander Road and Gerrard Road, is a long stretch of road, that is considered to be the most prestigious not only in Lagos, but in Nigeria. Ikoyi includes the newer suburbs of Banana Island, Parkview Estate, Dolphin Estate and other luxurious blocks of flats that are springing up.


The Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge,wonderful to ride it over and more beautiful spots on that side;  is a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge in Lagos State. It links the Phase 1 area of Lekki, with Ikoyi district of Lagos. The bridge was commissioned on the 29th of May 2013. The bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge to be built in Nigeria. The bridge has a 9-meters headroom above water level in order to allow for the flow of maritime traffic.   Tourists and other visitors also find this bridge as one of the places to visit and the bridge is the most photographed place in Lagos . The founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg went on a morning run on the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge on his visit to Lagos.

And now for my accommodations at Somerset Court, Ikoyi!

I stayed in a very nice compound, Osborne Foreshore Estates, call Somerset Court ,very well protected as it is the home of many armed forces personnel. The place is at  Ikoji, one of the nicest districts of Lagos, very nice with all amenities including a pool, billiard room,bar, restaurant, sports TV all over, exercise room, and very friendly staff.


Somerset Court is a top class luxury hotel situated at No 2, Asejire Close, Osborne Phase 1, Ikoyi, Lagos. It’s a tourist favorite due to its proximity to a lot of business outlet and also Ikoyi Golf Club among other leisure centres.

Somerset Court has rooms with classy and home feel with designs incorporating modern furnishing. Room categories include Executive Room and Suite. Some rooms have a view overlooking the city. Each room features a spacious bathroom, king-sized beds, cable connected LCD TV sets, refrigerators and air conditioners. A number of facilities are available, these include free WiFi, a swimming pool, a body spa, a restaurant and a bar. Guests at this hotel will have more time to enjoy their stay at the hotel. The hotel offers additional services on request such as 24-hour front desk, shuttle service, Concierge service, Luggage storage, Express check-in/check-out, Cleaning services, Room service, Free Parking Space, Ironing service, Car Rental, Dry cleaning/Laundry service and business center. All was wonderful!


Some assorted webpages to help you plan your trip here and know more about Ikoyi are

The Private Property guide on IkoyiPrivate Property on Ikoyi Lagos

A New York Times magazine article on Ikoyi that i found very informative. New York Time magazine on Ikoyi

And a very good local youtube video on Ikoyi  area of Lagos ,enjoy it

I like to again thanks all the staff at Somerset Court for a memorable stay and many nice souvenirs that won’t be forgotten. In the meantime, hope one day to return as really enjoyed my stay in Ikoyi, Lagos, Nigeria. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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



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April 2, 2020

The Gauchos of Porto Alegre!

So, lets stay with Brazil shall we. A huge country of many faces and sights which I had the opportunity to see over the years from north to south and even lived there for several months and speak the language, Portuguese. Many souvenirs and friends over these years that are still in touch!

I like to bring from the vault a visit and friends that made the trip and the introduction to Brazil much more enjoyable. Porto Alegre was the first city I visited in Brazil, and they are the Gauchos of Brazil! Let me tell you a bit about it ok

A bit about the State of Rio Grande do Sul!

The Rio Grande do Sul is the southernmost of the 27 States of the Federative Republic of Brazil. It is separated from the State of Santa Catarina by the Rio Mampituba, is bordered to the east by the Atlantic Ocean and is bordered by the Argentina and Uruguay. Its capital is Porto Alegre. The inhabitants of the state are called Rio Grandenses or, more commonly, Gauchos!

A bit of history to set up the State of Rio Grande do Sul (big southern river)

In 1627 the Spanish settled near the Uruguay river, but were expelled from it by the Portuguese in 1680, who founded the colony of Sacramento on the Rio de la Plata. However, Spanish Jesuits established missions in 1682 in a geographical area straddling the contemporary states of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil.  In 1737, the Portuguese arrived in present-day Rio Grande do Sul with the military expedition of José da Silva Paes. Many conflicts later broke out with the Spanish for the possession of the land and did not end until 1801.  In 1816, the Portuguese extended their presence in the region by seizing the Banda Oriental (en. Eastern Band ,the old name of Uruguay), which became a Brazilian province, the Cisplatin Province. But in 1825, the independence of Uruguay is proclaimed; a war ensued until its recognition by Brazil in 1828.

On February 28, 1821, after the proclamation of the Republic in Brazil, the State of Rio Grande do Sul was formed. In the 19C, the Rio Grande do Sul was the scene of several federalist revolts, such as the Farrapos War (1835-1845). During the Revolution of 1893, left-wing insurgents occupied the states of Santa Catarina and Paraná, occupying the city of Curitiba, but were ultimately overthrown due to their inability to obtain war ammunition. Then in 1923,a civil war broke out again between supporters of the President of the State, and the opposition. In 1930, the president of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, Getúlio Vargas, after having presented himself without success in the presidential elections against the candidate of São Paulo, took the head of a revolt against the federal government and succeeds in overthrowing it. This led to the dictatorship of Vargas in 1937 and the period known in Brazil as the Estado Novo (en New State, same new and similitude with the one in Portugal); the  Third Republic which ended the dictatorship of Vargas in 1945. And the rest is the modern history of Brazil.

Coming now to my city of Porto Alegre the first city ever visited by me in Brazil , as well as been the Capital of the State of Rio Grande do Sul, and the largest city in the southern region of Brazil. The city was established on the east bank of the Rio Guaiba, a bay within which converge five rivers that form the Lagoa dos Patos. The latter is a huge lake that faces south on the Atlantic Ocean. It is thanks to it that Porto Alegre is in constant contact with the sea, even if it is not by the sea. The activities of the port are so important that every year, the locals celebrate a feast dedicated to Our Lady of the Navigators or Nossa Senhora dos Navegantes. This event is held every February 2.

The first inhabitants of Porto Alegre were the Amerindians Minuanos and Tapes who were mainly cattle breeders. The Portuguese from the Azores then arrived who brought in the African slaves. After the abolition of slavery in the country and especially its independence, new immigrants also came to settle there, including Germans, Poles and Italians.   As the city is very close to Uruguay, its history is also linked to it, including that of Gaucho culture. This term describes the culture in which the Gauchos evolve every day, cattle breeders who also specialize in rodeo. the majority of the inhabitants are strongly anchored in the gaucho culture which implies musical traditions as well as the famous rodeo or throwing a bottle intended to capture the cows. The gaucho are in Argentina, Uruguay and in the south of Brazil, a guardian of herds of the South American plains or the pampa, in the same way in Paraguay, in the south-east of Bolivia by Tarija   and the south of Chile . In Brazil, the term is at the origin of the gentile Gaucho, which is used to designate the inhabitants of the state of Rio Grande do Sul.

My wonderful introduction to the Brazilian Gaucho tradition at Porto Alegre was at the magnificent Churrascaria Galpao Crioulo ; Rua Otavio Francisco Caruso da Rocha s / n and praça Mauricio Sirotsky Sobrinho square. The official webpage in Portuguese here: official churrasqueria Galpao Crioulo in Porto Alegre

Porto Alegre

I was with local friends and their families and had a great meal, wine of the region and a great Gaucho show. The youtube video below best show this wonderful tradition.


The tourist office for Porto Alegre in Portuguese with contact info: Official govt tourist section with contacts info for Porto Alegre

Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre in Spanish (cant seen to find others) : Tourist office of Brazil on Porto Alegre

Tourist office of State of Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre in Portuguese: Tourist office Rio Grande do Sul on Porto Alegre

And there you go a wonderful world different from what most think of Brazil. Lucky to have been there and won’t mind going back, time will tell…For now enjoy the Gauchos of Porto Alegre.

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


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