Archive for ‘Madrid’

April 23, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVIII

Ok so on a cloudy rainy day in my neck of the woods and the same at Madrid, except the rain temps of 53F (11C) there and 61F (16C)  with me. Its time to tell you a bit more about my beloved Spain!

The DGT’s (Direccion General de Tràfico) environmental label, which will be compulsory since April 24th, must be visible in your vehicle to enter the Madrid (more on the fashion in Europe to charge you more to come to the city without adequate public transports or park and relay garages), something that will be a minor infringement of the ordinance and that will be associated with fines of up to 100 euros. All labels can be purchased at the post offices, and also in several workshops, thanks to the agreement of the DGT with the Spanish Confederation of Workshops. To purchase it in person, it is essential to present the registration  of the vehicle for which the sticker is requested, and the DNI (personal identification Documento Nacional de Identidad) of the owner of the vehicle or the person authorized for it. In addition, you can buy  online ; the sticker has a price of five euros at any site. The label would reach the selected home address within three days, but due to the high volume of orders, it may take up to 10 working days.

There are four types of stickers, depending on the emissions of the vehicle: Zero Emissions,  ECO, C ,and  B.  Madrid delimits the motorized access to much of the center of the city depending on the levels of pollution. Cars with labels B or C can only access the Central Madrid area if they stay in a car park, but never to cross the perimeter. They will also be able to enter if they have the invitation of a resident registered in the area, since each one has 20 invitations per month. Cars with ECO or zero tags can access the Central Madrid area without any risk of fine. All registered in the area of Central Madrid, regardless of the label that have their vehicles, can circulate without problem and park in your car park or in the area , either blue or green. If at any time you need to access the city, either by tourism or for work, you will have to have visible the sticker of the DGT that corresponds according to the emissions of your car.So visitors if renting a car make sure it has the corresponding sticker! More on the DGT here:

New chapter in the family war of the Alvarez Mezquíriz. The family owned the Bodegas Vega Sicilia and Grupo Eulen again have the swords in high, this time, by the decision of the five litigious  sons ‘ of the founder,  Pablo, Emilio, Elvira, Marta and Juan Carlos, to modify the statutes of El Enebro SA Owner of Bodegas Vega Sicilia,(the most historically famous Spanish wine label)  to prevent a shareholder from forcing the sale of his or her share if the company does not share dividends. It has convened an extraordinary meeting, next May 24th, called to approve  “The modification of the social statutes. María José Álvarez, who controls 59% of Eulen through the company Daval Control, has a 16% stake in the El Enebro. In 2013, its five brothers sold their shares of Eulen with Enebro for 100 million euros, operation which is contested judicially. Info in newspaper The Confidencial 23/04/2019 .The wine here:

Premio Cervantes award given to her by the King Felipe VI  this  past April 23, Day of the Book, the Uruguayan poet Ida Vitale (Montevideo, 1923) has offered an ironical apology for an affirmation of the author of Don Quixote regarding the craft of poetry to which she has applied her whole  literary career that still today, at her 95 years, is still in full activity. A ceremony held in the auditorium of the University of Alcalá de Henares has recalled her readings “Libres y Tardias” or free and late of Don Quijote in an illustrated edition that already read as a teenager in her  native Montevideo and immediately fascinated by the respect that showed Cervantes for her character. Vitale’s speech has followed the usual model of the genre: Homage to his predecessors, Cervantes, Garcilaso, Baudelaire, vindication of the Spanish language, rejuvenated and revitalized on the American shores ,brief biographical exegesis and acknowledgments.  The spider’s thread woven by the poet has succeeded in trapping the author of Don Quijote, to pluck it from prose and recover it for poetry, the creative imagination of the award-winning poet. Well done! Official Culture Ministry of Spain:

And how about that weather huh! Always gives the current but what about a bit ahead , well call in the AEMET or the meteorological agency of Spain. They say, today Tuesday the rains and showers will affect the Atlantic and Cantabrian slopes and in the north of Aragon and Catalonia, where there are likely to be occasional storms before the crossing of an Atlantic front, reported by the AEMET. Rainfall may be extended to the rest of the peninsula throughout the day, except in the Levante coast in northern Huesca and Catalonia, rainfall will be locally strong and persistent. In the Canary Island there will be probability of rainfall in the north, without ruling out some afternoon showers in the rest of islands. During the Wednesday, temperatures will not vary too much, but if the wind blows strongly in many areas of the interior and coastline. In fact, the AEMET has already activated several yellow warnings (risk) by wind. On Thursday, another front will leave rain in the western half of the country, in the surroundings of the Pyrenees, and can be strong in the west of Galicia and Pyrenees. As of Friday,the Anticyclone will again act of presence and therefore the rains disappear. Temps will be accordingly low before going up by Friday. Official webpage here:

Beautiful and unknown off the beaten path places of my Spain:

The Manchuela, between the provinces of Albacete and Cuenca, this natural region comprising about 25 municipalities is a gem from all points of view. It includes wonders like the Hoz del Júcar with spectacular villages including Jorquera and Alcalá. But also the valley of the Cabriel that can be seen in all its grandeur from the lookout or Mirador del Ensueno. Official in Spanish more info on Manchuela:

The Pedroches, this region of near Cordoba hidden in the foothills of Sierra Morena that connects with Extremadura but also with Castilla La Mancha, is one of the best kept secrets of Andalusia. They call attention to their huge meadows where they feed  one of the best hams porks or  Pata Negra, best in the World. More on the Pedroches here:

And you have four towns of prominence of Castilla La Mancha because of their connection to Don Quijote have joined together to design ; the country of Don Quijote, a dream route, a new planning for your next trip and by car is glorious! More on the below towns in Spanish more info here:

Very glad to tell you that tonight on Spain TVE the route was shown in the program  España Directo that I watch every night; it is awesome do it. cheers

Alcázar de San Juan, this town in the province of Ciudad Real is the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, so they claim. In its Church of Santa Maria La Mayor (St. Mary the Eldest) , you can see a baptism game on whose margins a manuscript reads “This was the author of the story of Don Quijote “, words that Don Blas Nasarre would sign in 1748 when he found the baptism game in the name of Miguel. There you can also visit the Museum of Hidalgo, located in the old palace known as the Casa del Rey (king’s house), where the historical and ethnographic heritage of Castilla-La Mancha is exhibited and disseminated. The Formma Museum, where the Manchego pottery is shown, its spectacular palace and ecclesiastical ensemble or the windmills of the Cerro de San Antón are another of the attractions of Álcazar de San Juan.

Argamasilla de Alba;  in the cave of Medrano you can visit the place where Cervantes was prisoner and who saw the birth of the history of Don Quijote. The castle of Peñarroya, the Church of San Juan Bautista or the Pósito de la Tercia are another of the obligatory visits in this locality that serves as gateway to the Natural Park of the Lagunas de Ruidera, a place that hides one of the great wetlands of the geography  of Spain.

Campo de Criptana has the original windmills that inspired Miguel de Cervantes to narrate the most famous adventure of universal literature: Don Quijote against the Giants. Its Sierra and the district of the Albaicín are the zenith of the literary Cervantes universe and paradigm of the Manchego quaintness. There is no better place to contemplate all the stain in its splendor and one of the most beautiful sunsets on the planet. It is best to go through the Pósito Real, former bank to give loans in kind to farmers in times of shortage. The caves, the snow well or the Sara Montiel Museum (great Spanish actress and singer), complete this quixotic kingdom.

Finally, you get to El Toboso , the homeland of universal Love;  the home of Dulcinea. In its streets and squares we find phrases carved in the walls of the facades, which honor the chapter IX of the second part of the book, which narrates the visit of Don Quijote and Sancho to El Toboso in search of Dulcinea. The Casa de Dulcinea Museum, which belonged to Mrs. Ana Martínez Zarco de Morales, to which Cervantes immortalized as Dulcinea (sweet Ann or Dulce Ana or Dulcinea), maintains part of its 16C structure; Typical example of the houses of gentlemen and wealthy Manchego workers. Several museums, such as the Cervantino or the graphic humour “Dulcinea”, as well as the set of churches and convents make up one of the places that keep a love story without borders.

And finally, to find something classy, good, vintage, second hand, griffés stores in Madrid, my family swear to these ones; enjoy it the shopping!

Vintalogy:  It is the largest vintage clothing store in Europe and boasts that there you can find accessories that are not in any other second-hand clothing store. Most of their garments come from the United States although more special ones, such as dresses and jacket and trouser sets, are selected by themselves one by one. At Calle Atocha 10. More info here:

La Mona Checa:  It is located at the beginning of what is known as the ‘ vintage ‘ shopping street of Madrid, Calle Velarde. From its beginning in Tribunal until its end in the Plaza del 2 de Mayo, you will be able to find all kinds of treasures among its different  locations .Calle  Velarde, 3. More in this blog of them:

So enjoy Spain, everything under the sun. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 15, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVII

In continuing my saga of making known some of the things to do in my beloved Spain here I am again with some of the latest tidbits. My 77th post since Nov 2010! thanks. The weather in my neck of the woods is sunny breezy cool, no rain! and in my lovely Madrid is 17C sunny nice , this is about 63F.

The Fifth edition of the initiative Welcome to Palace! Or Bienvenido a Palacio! Locals and visitors can get to know some of these architectural gems of the region of Madrid, such as the Palace of the Dukes of Santoña, the current headquarters of the Chamber of Commerce, industry and Services of Madrid; The Palacio de Buenavista, headquarters of the Army, and the Palacio del Infante Don Luis de Borbón, in Boadilla del Monte, among others. A program that extends until January 2020 and will allow you to know for free these properties through guided tours, concerts, theater plays, itineraries and conferences.

On this occasion, the recitals will take place in the Palacio de las Marquesas de Fontalba on the 9th and 10th of May at 20h; In the Palacio del Duque de Santoña, June 8th and 9th at 12h; In the Palacio de Buenavista, June 12 at 20h, and in the Palacio del Marques de  Amboage, 17th and 18th July at 20h30. The registration period, both for guided tours and for concerts, is now open at  Bienvenido a Palacio! official site

The dramatized visits, this year will be held again in the Palacio de Fernán Núñez, headquarters of the Spanish Railways Foundation. This activity, already indispensable on Christmas will be held between December 2019 and January 2020 in Madrid. The palaces that can be visited on this occasion are the Buenavista (headquarters of the Army), the Palacio de Don Javier González-Longoria (General Society of Authors and Publishers), the Palace of the Duke of Fernán Núñez, the palace of the Marquis de Amboage ( Residence of the Ambassador of Italy), the Palace of Godoy, (Center of Political and Constitutional Studies), the Palace of the Marquis of Rafal (residence of the Ambassador of Belgium), the palace of the Duchess of Parcent  (Ministry of Justice), the Laredo Palace (Center International Historical Studies Cisneros and Museo Cisneriano), the Palace of Joaquín Sorolla (Museo Sorolla) and the Palace of Infante Don Luis de Borbón, among others.

Marclay in Compositions, one of the most ambitious samples of the artist in Spain in recent years, which can be seen in the MACBA until September 24. In The images you can play the piano, the guitar, shout, sing, whistle, clap, roll on the ground or tap, among the endless attitudes related to sound, but in each of the four screens can be seen a different clip but synchronized  with the rest as if it were a perfect music quartet.

Marclay became world famous when his film The Clock (2010) won the Golden Lion of Venice the following year and became a masterpiece of contemporary art. The 24-hour film made with thousands of fragments (Truncates tiles) of films in which watches or people who watch or wonder the time synchronized with real time, is not in the MACBA for the desire of Marclay. But , you can see Screenplay (2005), another collage with silent movie images. More info here:

The reopening of the Teatro Salon Cervantes in Alcalá de Henares is 30 years old. The building housed a theater since the late 19C, but it was in private hands. After many works and years of inactivity, the City/Town Hall bought the parcel and rehabilitated the theater, which opened its doors again on April 14th, 1989. The belief that Cervantes was born in the garden of the Convent of the Capuchin Fathers was spread like gunpowder by Alcalá in the 19C. After the confiscation of Mendizábal in 1836 the land was acquired by individuals, who built a theater on the plot in 1888 in just 29 days. They placed two commemorative plaques on the façade and got the City Council to give the street the name of the author of El Quijote, a denomination it maintains. Its bad condition forced to reform it in 1925, which provoked an important aesthetic change in the facade and in the lower floor,  the capacity was widened and the wooden boxes of the second floor were replaced by a structure of work, which is still preserved. After the Spanish Civil War,  began to project films, but also served as a ballroom, hence its current name. There was nothing to guarantee that Cervantes was born there but a document was found  in 1943 and showed that he did was born  in the Calle de la Imagen (parallel to the one that bears his name Calle Cervantes). The Birth House of Cervantes opened in 1956. The Local was conditioned in 1979 as a bingo room, but years later they abandoned it. In 1985 the City Council acquired the property. The Teatro Salon Cervantes, currently integrated in the Network of Theaters of the Community of Madrid, has a rectangular layout and its facade tryptic is of modernist style. It has a seating capacity of 458 persons distributed in a rectangular patio, a tiered amphitheater and two boxes on the sides. More info in the network of theaters of Madrid here:

And the Alcalà de Henares Theater Salon Cervantes site here:

One up my alley while living there in Madrid is the Teatro Daoíz y Velarde that finally will see the light next year. After years of struggle and vindication, the neighbors of the Pacifico and Adelfas neighborhoods, in the Retiro District, see the theater promised them, a scenic space  located on one of the nave of the former military barracks Daoíz y Velarde  of Italian style, which will have two rooms and a capacity of more than 400 persons. The Theater will have an independent access to the rest of the cultural center and a central space for different uses and that contains a mural with images on the history of the Retiro District. More info here:

At the Teatro Real (Royal Theater of Madrid). Seven titles of the 12 planned for 2019 and 2020 will be completely new to the spectators. This is The case of Il Pirata, of Bellini, or Iris, of Pietro Mascagni. Titles to which one must add Into The Little Hill (George Benjamin), Three Tales (Steve Reich) and three clear bets highlighted by Matabosch as very risky: The passenger (Mieczyslaw Weinberg), Lear, of Aribert Reimann, and Achille in Sciro, of Coselli.

Throughout the 18C,Ma drid was one of the main centers of the creation of operas. The great casters Farinelli began together with Felipe V a series of productions that continued throughout the century with its successors. And among them is Achille in Sciro. It is a work of Coselli premiered in 1744 in the Coliseo del Buen Retiro (in the park), commissioned by Farinelli himself. But he never staged again. Also noteworthy are the recitals that will be offered by three stars such as Anna Netrebko (on November 1), Joyce DiDonato (May 15) and Philippe Jaroussky (May 25). In the section of ballet are scheduled the performances of the English National Ballet, the National Ballet of Spain and the Nederlands Dans Theatre  (Dutch theater co).More info here:

Go to Toledo is always sublime, many times there and never tired of seeing it. Now lets see it through the eyes of Eugenia de Montijo, (Impératrice of France married Napoléon III).

The conversion of the Palace of Eugenia de Montijo in the only five-star hotel in the Old Town of Toledo serves as a pretext to rediscover the imperial city and fall back in love with it. It is not known exactly when Eugenia Palafox Portocarrero de Guzmán y Kirkpatrick were for the first time in this city so attached to history and literature, but had to be before becoming Empress of France after her marriage to Napoleon III. It Is known that there were many trips between Granada, Madrid and Paris, and Toledo was the perfect place to take a few days off before entering the capital. Also still family castle at Belmonte in Castilla La Mancha as well. See my posts on items mentioned here.

One of the favorite places of Eugenia de Montijo in Toledo was the Palacio de Fuensalida, now the seat of the Presidency of the Board. She was interested in its architecture and, above all, its relationship with the Empress Isabel, wife of Carlos I and mother of Felipe II. In the interior of its Palace, converted into a hotel her spirit and, at the same time, play with themes such as fashion and design that were so important in her life Eugenia de Montijo, Autograph Collection. Her portrait is hang in  the bar-cafeteria located in the lobby.

Eugenia liked to recommend the route that begins with the Puerta de Bisagra (Hinge gate), modified under the reign of Carlos V to make it more ornamental than defensive, to go later to the Plaza de San Vicente before reaching the Cathedral. Next to the Puerta de Bisagra stands the Church Santiago del Arrabal, the largest and most beautiful Mudejar church in Toledo. From here you can go up the Calle Real del Arrabal towards the city center. Before reaching the Cuesta de las Armas (Slope of the arms). It is worth observing the Puerta del Sol, on the right, and the Chapel of San José, a Renaissance work usually closed because it is privately owned that houses inside Greco’s paintings. Not far from the Archiepiscopal Palace stands the Church of San Marcos (St. Mark), the only existing remnant of the convent of the Barefoot Trinitarians back in the 13C. Nowadays it is the exhibition center of the Caja Castilla-La Mancha Foundation. At the end of the  Cuesta de las Armas is the Plaza de Zocodover, the neuralgic center of Toledo, place of appointment and meeting of its neighbors since the Moslem period (the origin of its name, Suk-al-Dawad, the market of the meat animals). Nearby are the Hospital and Museum of Santa Cruz and the Alcázar.Lost in the sunset that is contemplated from the Alcazar, a magical panorama on the Tajo river. Although , I would also propose to look in the morning to the viewpoint of the plaza del Conde from where another extraordinary vision of the river is contemplated with dozens of cicadas sounds as backdrop. As to the hotel itself , here is more info:

Quant visits holes in my beloved Madrid. Enjoy the walks!

Incursion in the Montmartre of Madrid. Every Sunday morning and for three decades, the Plaza Conde de Barajas, located next to the Arco de Cuchilleros, off the Plaza Mayor , and a few steps from the Mercado San Miguel (market), becomes the exhibitor of dozens of artists. The painters who meet here show off their painting works. Watercolors and oils coexist with the drawings, acrylics and sketches that give color a large palette of genres and formats.Nice indeed.

A visit to  the Sistine Chapel of Madrid!. The frescoes that cover all its walls, from the roof to the ground, have earned this nickname to the Church of San Antonio de los Alemanes (Germans), located in Calle Ballesta. Its elliptical layout  is another of its major peculiarities.

Since 1839, the halls of Lhardy have been silent witnesses to the history of the capital. Benito Pérez Galdós mentioned it in his National Episodes. Isabel II visited incognito in some other occasion, and Alfonso XII did the same in his meetings with the Duke of Sesto. Located in the Carrera de San Jerónimo, Lhardy was the first hotel in Madrid to allow the entrance of women alone. Its cocido (stew), as famous as its callos (tripe), includes in its three overturns chickpeas, carrot, potatoes, cabbage, chorizo, morcilla (blood sausage), sausage and stewed meats. More on the institution here: Restaurant Lhardy

The Valencian confectioner Luis Mira began to sell turrones (nougats) in a street post in the Plaza Mayor. Today, the house that bears his surname , stands, a few meters from Lhardy, as a sweet reference. Although their specialty is turrones made from traditional ingredients, their artisan recipes also include cakes, buds, marzipan or polvorones (Spanish shortbread). Casa Mira heirs site here: Casa Mira Madrid

In the Madrid neighborhood of La Guindalera, belonging to the district of Salamanca, still resist some of the curious Villas of modernist airs that brought together the modern Madrid colony, which was said to be the most European enclave of all neighborhoods Madrid  Of the more than 60 homes that were built between 1890 and 1906, only a dozen survive. A very nice walk indeed here.

Popularly known as the Cuesta de los Arrastraculos, an explicit nickname that alludes to the times in which it was a ravine of dirt, the stairway that shorten the biggest slope of Madrid connects the Calle  Segovia and that of the Calle Moreria. The origin of this name is divided between two possible beliefs. On the one hand, the presence in the past of blind neighbors who dwelt in the humble houses that dotted the hillside. On the other, the visit of St. Francis of Assisi, in which, according to tradition, returned the view to two indigents after ungirded eyelids with oil.

And last tip but not least,this hidden mirador (lookout) framed in the area of the Vistillas presents, behind the Basilica of San Francisco el Grande, a few sunsets that have nothing to envy to the Temple of Debod. The more than 4,000 square meters of this botanical garden host up to 724 specimens of all kinds of dahlias which reach its greatest splendor in the month of June. Enjoy them all in my lovely dear Madrid!

Vestidos Simultanios or Simultaneous Dresses ,three women, shapes, colors, of 1925, is one of the works that stand out in the exhibition Pioneers: Women Artists of the Russian avant-garde, in room 43 of the National Museum Thyssen-Bornemisza. It is a sample that reveals the importance of these artists, who not only participated in complete equality in this crucial movement of the avant-garde of the early 20C, but in many cases were names that led some of their currents to follow. They are key figures of the essential Russian avant-garde. The exhibition brings together 12 works, selected from the permanent collection of the Thyssen, by the artists Natalia Goncharova, Alexandra Exter, Olga Rózanova, Nadeshda Udaltsova, Liubov Popova, Varvara Stepanova and Sonia Delaunay. These creators did not become a group, but many of them met and influenced each other. Along with their paintings, photographs of the artists are exhibited and a small review of their trajectories. More info here:

And here is a find! Hear all about it in my blog! Two valuable 13C manuscripts by Bernardo de Brihuega, collaborator of King Alfonso X, have been located in the Provincial Historical Archive of Ourense (AHPOU). This is a folio and a loose sheet, in Castilian, of the lives and passions of the Apostles , of the end of the 13C or beginning of the 14C,  and that constitute the oldest preserved testimony of this work, of which until now only some late copies were known. Such as from the second half of the 14C to the beginning of the 16C, in Latin, Castilian and Portuguese. The fragment located in the Historical Archive shows that De Brihuega’s work would have been disseminated and translated into the Western peninsula. The Historical Archive of Ourense is state-owned but is transferred and depends on the Department of Culture. In its five linear km of its deposits it guards 221 funds, of which 153 are of private origin. It is headquartered in the former Episcopal palace.The webpage for the Historical Archive of Ourense is here in Castilian or Galician:

There you ,and now is the best times to visit Spain, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is on and the cofradias prepare for the march on the streets of the great Saints/Virgins of my Spain. Happy Easter, Feliz Pascua, Joyeuses Pâques! 

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



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April 5, 2019

And wines of my Spain, it is!!!

Ok as I was cerfified on both commercial offices of France and Spain, on wine knowledge and expertise, and citizen of both countries … I did a previous one on the latest news on France,and why not on Spain! An always exciting country for wine, for many years left in decay and from the last 20 or so slowly coming back out with its great potential. I love the Riberas, Rias, Riojas, Toro, Jumillas, sherries, and especially all of the Castillas with especial emphasis on Castilla La Mancha. Ok so that’s me bragging, now for the news!

Uclés (also famous for a great monastery see my previous post) is a small denomination of Castellano-Manchega origin that seeks to be noted in a sea of bulk and table wines of low profitability. Conditions are not lacking, from its more than 800 meters of height to the continental climate with strong thermal differential, passing through the soils that both give quantity and, suitably cultivated, quality. Finca La Estacada, of the family Cantarero Rodríguez, started in 2001. A large family rooted in the Cuenca área of which some created Bodegas Fontana, a landmark renovator in its time; Others follow the trail with Finca La Estacada, which has its greatest achievement in this selection of varietals. They are part of a successful combination of grapes that bring their seal to the aromatic range laden with ripe fruit, which is adorned with spices and roasted oak, perhaps too present. Powerful, juicy, fresh and long wine, not surprising but convincing. Finca La Estacada. Tarancón (Cuenca) DO: Uclés Red Reserva, 14% Cabernet Sauvignon, Tempranillo,Merlot and Syrah. One of my best finds lately staying in this área of Castilla La Mancha. More Info click here:

Rigorous, restless, imaginative, convincing, Victoria Pariente and daughter Martina offer masterful elaborations with the Verdejo variety. And they do it in all forms: young crianzas, aged on lees, fermented in ovoid deposits of clay cement, fermented and bred in oak. And now they surprise with this farm wine that represents the culmination of a pioneer saga in the difficult task of dignifying the whites of Rueda when few believed it possible. For this they have chosen the grapes of a small vineyard in the plot Las Comas, where vegetative strains planted in 1910, have waited to have an exceptional vintage, and finally, fermented and bred with its lees in a barrel of 2,250 liters for 12 months. On a reverberating surface of gravel, ripe fleshy fruit covered by the fresh balsamic touch of the herbal fields, and enriched with subtle floral notes, in discreet wooden background suggesting toasted spices. Slender, soft, full, long. Jose Pariente La Seca (Valladolid) DO: White Rueda crianza, 13.5% Verdejo.More Info click here:

It began by opening the way of the Albariño, soon surpassed by the Verdejo, which now feels the breath of Godello. It is not surprising that the most dynamic wineries in Rioja, Ribera del Duero or Penedès have expanded their offer with wines from Rías Baixas, Rueda, Valdeorras and Bierzo. The last one to bet on Godello is Emilio Moro. They began buying vineyards and land in the highest area of Bierzo, then building the winery. They begin by enticing the terrain, with small productions, and two marks, The El Zarzal and the La Revelia. It is a white fermented in French oak barrels of 500 liters, aged on eight-month lees. Precise elaboration that achieves a cleanly varietal aroma, with the bone fruit wrapped in leaves and dry flower notes, and a citrus freshness in the shaded atmosphere of the smoked oak. Tasty, enveloping, leaves an elegant fruity memory. Emilio Moro. Pesquera de Duero (Valladolid) OD: Bierzo Blanco crianza, Godello 13.5%  More Info click here:

Point apart. As above El Zarzal, Bodegas Emilio Moro, Castilla y León (Bierzo), 2017, White Godello, 13.50 º . Aromatically fine, with laurel, dried flowers and a stony background. Very greedy, powerful and with good persistence and texture. Notes of green figs. It will improve in bottle even more. Lovely tasted good. More Info click here:

The Ribera del Duero denomination of origin, which houses vineyards located in Castilla y León, has become one of the most vibrant Spanish wine regions. Each of these bottles can be purchased on the Internet for less than 10 euros, but it depends on your geographical region.

Viña Sastre Roble 2017 14%. This emblematic winery of La Horra, founded by the Sastre family in 1992, is characterized by its traditional style, faithful to its terroir and vineyards. 45 hectares of property located at a certain altitude. Viña Sastre Roble is characterized by being 100% of the Tinta del Pais, the local name of the Tempranillo variety, and for its long ageing, of nine months in American and French oak casks, which gives the whole complexity. It is a wine of deep cherry color, of elegant nose of black wild forest with a touch roasted and of licorice; Deep and sensual in the mouth, of great fruitiness, fresh for its good acidity and balanced bitterness. More Info click here:

Melior de Matarromera Roble 2016  14%. Carlos Moro founded its Matarromera Winery in 1988, in the heart of La Ribera, in Valbuena de Duero. At present, there are 90 hectares of vineyards mainly of the Tempranillo variety, whose ripe bunches are harvested by hand to prevent their breakage and to express their best quality. The 2016 Melior Roble performs a six month ageing in oak casks, and its color is a deep dark cherry red color, fruit of its youth. On the nose displays seductive notes of red and black wild, blackberries and blueberries, and interacting touches with notes of quality. It is tasty, juicy and very fruity, with a medium, fresh-pitched body, very aromatic and fine; fluid, with volume and full of sensations, of elegant bitterness, very balanced, with a pleasant mineral finish. It is a very elegant, harmonious, round and balanced wine. More Info click here:

Celeste 2017 14%. Celeste is the definitive bet of the Torres family, of the well-known bodega of Penedés, on the Ribera del Duero. Its winery, baptized as Pagos del Cielo  with vineyards located at high altitude, is located in Campos de Peñafiel (Valladolid). Celeste 2017 is made of fine red and a three month ageing in French and American oak casks. It has a deep dark cherry color of youth, and displays a fine aroma of blackberries with a floral touch of violets, and a pleasant end of cocoa and bitter chocolate. Greedy, with an attractive rusticity, half-bodied, with fine bitterness, fruity finish and pleasurable persistence. These characteristics make it a very balanced wine, and with a delicious final minerality.  More Info click here:

La Planta 2017, 14.5%. The La Planta is the oak wine of the famous Bodega Arzuaga Navarro, well known for its spectacular winery in the Golden Mile, between Peñafiel and Valladolid. The Arzuaga Family founded it in the early nineties, surrounded by a spectacular spot with vibrant native fauna and flora. Its vineyards, of which 150 hectares are owned, are located in the prestigious Valladolid region where the Tempranillo grape variety continues to dominate. The 2017 La Planta is made from vineyards located at an altitude of 900 meters and the grapes are macerated in cold, which then ferment at a controlled temperature of 25 º C (77F). Finally, the wine performs a 6 month ageing in American oak casks. To the eye it possesses the typical color of its youth, an intense cherry color and bruised. In the nose it displays pleasing notes of black wilds of forest, blackberries, currants, blueberries, with a pleasant toasted oak bottom. Meaty, of ample craving, with notes of vanilla of cast wood , being tasty, of ample fruitiness and with body. In short, a satisfying wine, with the final memory of the sweetness of vanilla. More Info click here:

Valtravieso Finca Santa María 2017 ,14%. Very close to Peñafiel, in one of the most stony and high moors of the Ribera del Duero at 915 meters, stands the Bodega Valtravieso. Founded in 1985, it has some 60 hectares of vineyards, where it not only cultivates the emblematic fine tinta del pais variety, but a small extension of the grapes of French Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The peculiarity of its oak-type wine Valtravieso Finca Santa Maria is that the grapes come exclusively from this farm, where it intervenes in 95% of Tempranillo with a touch of 5% Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot, and the final blend of wine makes a six month ageing in oak barrels. Its cherry color, very concentrated, makes you think of a wine with a body. Its aroma is of fresh fruit, with strawberries of forest and currants, and a touch of black plum, as well as balsamic country herbs. The entrance of the mouth is different from the other Riberas, by the French varieties, very potent, tannic and virile, with body and a vivid bitterness in equilibrium with its vibrant acidity, which brings freshness, and very marked end of currants. It is a very tasty wine, corporeal, powerful and balanced, long remembered. More Info click here:

The climate, the grape variety and the elaboration process are essential for the wine, yes. But so is the land where the vine is cultivated. As a general rule, the most suitable terrain should have a proportion of limestone, clay and silicon components so that the wine has finesse, potency, intensity, character and freshness. Having this in mind these wines selection below will tantalize your taste bugs!

Navaherreros 2016 . San Martín de Valdeiglesias (Madrid). DO: Vinos de Madrid. Red Crianza, Garnacha 14.5%. Into from old Garnachas bred in French oak. Intense aroma, with candied notes of red wild, flower and spices. Tasty, fruity finish. More Info click here:

Teneguía Caletas 2015 . Fuencaliente (La Palma). DO: La Palma. Canary Islands. White Crianza, 13%.With local grapes Vijariego, Malvasia, Albillo, Sabro, Gual and Listán. Go back to my roots!. Achieved a combination of white varieties of free standing for an aromatic landscape of elegant fruity complexity, with floral notes and pastries souvenirs on a smoked background. Soft and greedy. More Info click here:

From the Rioja wines to the Parmesan or Manchego cheese and the Spanish turrón from Jijona (nougat), the European products with denomination of origin must be protected before the Brexit or risk that third parties will appropriate their brand and reputation. This was raised in statements to EFE agency by Massimo Vittori, director of OriGIn, a non-profit organization that from 2003 represents more than 500 associations of producers of goods with Denomination of Origin(DO) or Protected Geographical Indication (PGI), in they are of forty countries. However, note the pact has not been approved by the British Parliament. And, if by April 12 there is no agreement, the United kingdom could leave the block with nothing, which means that legal protection over the PGI’s would disappear in a coup. He said “All appellations of origin must register as soon as possible as a mark in the UK ” More info about OriGIn Click here:

Already past but interesting. In the Circle of Fine Arts (Circulo de Bellas Artes)  in Madrid the First International Congress on Traditional Wines of Andalusia (CIVTA), was held. The objectives of this Congress are basically three: to claim the common historical origin of the traditional wines made in Andalusia and transmitting it’s personality; to defend the singularity, exclusivity and quality; and define and discuss the current situation of wines, as an important factor in the economic and social development of the production area. The four regulatory councils that have promoted this Congress are Denomination of Protected Origin (DOP) Montilla-Moriles, DOP Jerez-Xérès-Sherry, DOP Malaga and DOP Condado de Huelva. They are highly recognized at the professional level, but very little understood by the final consumer.Indeed as to most wines of Andalucia.  And that is the great handicap that they have, because they are wines that have always been associated also to a moment of consumption that is not the table. However, this is changing now to joined them now to the gastronomy, to the great chefs, that in Andalusia are right now a reference, is the fundamental aspect that they want to emphasize . Thus, there has been an interesting pairing by four chefs with Michelin stars: Xanty Elías (from the restaurant  Acánthum, Huelva), Kisco García (from Choco,Cordoba), José Carlos García (from the Malaga restaurant of the same name) and Juanlu Fernandez (who after spending ten years with Ángel León decided just over a year to open Lú, Cocina y Alma (Lú, Kitchen and Soul) and in a few months got his star. The four have presented a gastronomic fusion, elaborating dishes that have paired with the wines of their provinces. They have probably the best driest wines in the world and also probably the best sweetest in the world. More Information click here:

There you go, come to the sunny Spain and indulge in its superb gastronomy and each time better and better wines. Spain everything under the sun! Drink in moderation but keep the traditions alive, wine is part of our every day lives, en vino veritas!!!

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






March 30, 2019

Hostal Restaurant Palacios ,Toledo!

Ok so today will go into again uncharted territory for me. I do travel whether business or pleasure always try to sneek in and see things in our beautiful world. Spain is like my home, I am Spanish citizen since birth from my grandparents of Tenerife.  I have lived in Madrid and still cousins there and near north of Toledo. I do visit Spain at least once every year since upteem times. All said and done.

However, when I write I tell you about experiences and things to see eat do, but I like to bring one dear place to give it the credit it deserves in my arsenal of memories ,hoping they become yours too. My family was taken to Spain by my insistance for several years now and they became to love it too; no question every year vacation time Spain came out on top and get away from our beloved France where we have lived for the last 16 years.

The visit to Toledo is a must for all, and no different for us Spaniards to see the history of our country ,the tolerance of Toledo is awesome(search my many posts on it). While walking its narrow cobblestone streets in the center and beyond and got to the point of been hungry we stop at a restaurant that is also a hostal (inexpensive hotel) right in the tourist central! We thought would be crazy to eat there but the price was right, amazing even 7,95€ complete meal with wine/beer so we took the opportunity.

It has been our must stop each time in the city for lunch for the last several years except 2018 when my dear late wife Martine passed away from pancreatic cancer. She loved this place so much. I would tell you briefly on Hostal Restaurant Palacios in Toledo!


The magic lunch menu price has been kept from 7,50€ to 7,95€ over the years and always fully loaded with entrée, main dish, dessert, drink of juice sodas/wines/beers and coffee! It changes every time often. The food is terrific and the place very quant with very nice people we have come to know, they even remember us!!


This Small and modern Hostel-Restaurant is located in the heart of the old town of Toledo next to the Cathedral and 200 meters from the Plaza de Zocodover and the Alcázar de Toledo.


Restaurant Palacios is part of the facilities of the Hostal Palacios, located in Calle Alfonso X the Wise. In this restaurant they have been satisfying the tastes of the most exquisite palates with their wide variety of dishes and portions and the excellent quality of their products. Enjoy homemade food and typical Toledo dishes.


In General, Toledo eats well. It Is true that not always cheap, as many stand out, but if you look a bit, you will find gems like Palacios.

Hostal Palacios (this not tried yet) offers comfortable accommodation in this impressive city. The air-conditioned rooms are decorated in a warm and rustic style and feature a plasma-screen satellite TV and views of the old town of Toledo. The hotel offers an Internet point from where you can organise your excursion to the beautiful Alcázar and other sights.

I like to give you handy some webpages to help you plan your trip to this wonderful property worthy of my recommendation.

Official Hostal Palacios

Tourist office of Toledo on the Hostal Palacios

And two of my favorites sites already mentioned in my blogroll end of my front blog page are The Fork or Tenedor or Fourchette ,and Yelp

The Tenedor or fork reviews on Restaurant Palacios

Yelp reviews on Hostal Restaurant Palacios

There you go, I feel better now, it is worth mention good memorable places when we travel even if humble places, they are part of the thrill of traveling and family stories to last a lifetime. I know Martine would be happy to tell you about it too!


One for the memories forever my dear late wife Martine!

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


March 28, 2019

Some news from Spain LXXVI

And here I am back at you on my beloved Spain, oh yes and times are getting warmer !!! It sunny and 15C in my neck of the woods or about 58F but in Madrid it is also sunny and 65F or about 18C. Enjoy the latest and see you maybe this summer there!!!

The biography, the Nature, the topicality of the tradition, the biography as impulse of the writing, the music like shelter and as space of coexistence in the classrooms, in the parks, in the street. In life. That’s the date. That’s what MarPoética will deploy in Marbella. Because poetry is of all.  Every day in the afternoon y 18h30, the famous Park of the Constitution (Parque de la Constitución) will unfold the Cycle ‘ Words of the Sea ‘, in which they ask the voice and the word the youngest, recognized and award-winning poets. Another of the great scenarios of the meeting will be the Royal Hospital of Mercy (Hospital Real de la Misericordia) where from the 20h30 will develop the ambitious ‘ Poetic Dialogues ‘, which call the debate to authors of first line. More here:

The culture of cheese, so deeply rooted in the Spanish tradition, needed specialized establishments to nurture and nurture it. Fortunately, we have some temples with experience and expertise.One of the best in Madrid at Poncelet , Calle Argensola 27 More here:

A free marathon with the best works of Garcia Lorca. On Wednesday March 27th is celebrated the World Theatre Day, a day that since 1961 remembers the importance that this art has to create a free and committed citizenship. The Royal Post Office (Real Casa de Correos),home of the Community of Madrid, hosts this Saturday a marathon of Lorquianas works to commemorate the centenary of the arrival of the Andalusian poet to the Residence of Students. The Act will commence at 18h.

It has Been more than two decades since, in 1994, a score of sculptures by Fernando Botero took the Paseo de Recoletos of Madrid, and enjoyed such a welcome among the pedestrians during their stay that one of them was finally gifted to the city, achievement that they did not get New York or Paris, where it had traveled before this same exhibition. His Woman with a Mirror rests, since then, placidly and face down beside the Paseo de Recoletos, turning her back to the Calle Génova. Now, a large selection of canvases by the versatile Colombian artist, who in the decade of the 70’s came to consolidate as the most quoted living sculptor on the planet, he rushes his last days in Marlborough. Considered one of the great exponents of contemporary figurative painting, his balances of composition also speak of his understanding of the mechanisms of abstraction. The same is true of its color management, another of the features of its canvases, in which humor and critique always walk by hand. Gallery Marlborough (Calle Orfila, 5).Until Saturday, March 30th.

Some curiosities of my beloved Madrid:

If today’s Retiro park seems like a fascinating place, at the time it was a much more impressive place. The Royal Site of the Gran Retiro (Great Retreat) came to count, centuries ago, with 20 buildings, five squares, six ponds and eight hermitages.

Anyone who has gone through the Puerta del Sol knows that everyone, of any creed or condition, has a hole in it. Something that is also true in a physical way, because it has an area of about 11,000 square meters.

In the Plaza de Colon area are the Gardens of Discovery, a space full of symbology. For example, the three large blocks that we can observe next to the pond represent the three caravels of the famous Columbus expedition of 1492.

We go now with a disturbing fact, and that in Madrid there are more dead people  than alive. Only in the Almudena cemetery can we find the remains of some five million people!.

The disputes in the 17C in Madrid could be caused by the slightest reason. For example, not giving up the seat in the Church or passing in front of another by a door could be reason enough to end paddling in mourning (duels).

Located in the Alameda de Osuna, the park of Capricho is almost with total security the most beautiful in Madrid. One of the great surprises that it has prepared to the visitors is a bunker of the Civil War of 1500 square meters that can be visited by means of previous reservation, the so-called Jaca Position.

Did you know that Madrid has a castle? This is a fact that very few people know and with whom we encourage the reader to investigate a little more, visit included. We refer to the Castle of the Alameda, erected in the 15C, and located in the district of Barajas.

Robustness and agility, have strong and clear voice and not have been processed by racketeer or disturbing. These were some of the requirements required to be able to be a Sereno in Madrid in the mid-20C. Sereno, the men who guarde the streets of Madrid and many times thought to be a watchdog of the government system. However, very handy of opening the door of buildings late at night if forgotten the key or came too drunk!

If you walk through any neighborhood of the city you will not advance too many meters until you run into a gym. And it is that these places have experienced a real boom in the last decade. The first Gymnasium in Spain opened in Chueca in 1859.

The growth of Madrid led to the development of neighborhoods on land that used to be a very different function. For example, where today is Moratalaz, there was a meadow in which King Alfonso XIII liked to play polo. Ok

What would be Lent and Easter without French toast (Torrijas)? This sweet, of European origin but of long tradition in Spain, consists of a slice of bread of several days that, once soaked in syrup, milk or wine, is battered in egg and fried in a frying pan with oil. It is usually sweetened with molasses, sugar or honey and sometimes it is aromatized with cinnamon… It looks pretty much like French toast, but it’s not the same. The III Contest of French Toasts of the Community of Madrid,( III Concurso de Torrijas de la Comunidad de Madrid) which, on this occasion, has been organized by three associations (Craftsmen Artisans of Pastry-Confectioners of Madrid, Association of Cooks and confectioners of Madrid and Hotel Business Association of Madrid) and it has developed in three different categories: traditional, innovative and gluten-free elaborated by bakers as well as by cooks and food confectioners.

The Latasia Restaurant has not had a rival. Among the innovative proposals, the restaurant Koma, made with iced horchata or the Barra Dulce (sweet bar) with tea chai and chocolate. Café de la Opera (in the lower floor of the Hotel Opera, opposite the Teatro Real) to taste its classic French toast. In addition, the reinterpretations that can be tasted in Catalonia Atocha (a pair of brioches inspired by breakfast and in the afternoon snack that children usually take) and the one presented by the restaurant El Etxeko of the Hotel Bless (French-toasted ingot, caramelized and perfect flavor and texture, with almond cream and pistachio ice cream)

The best for me its still the Viena Repostería Capellanes (Vienna Pastry Shops Chaplains) at Calle Alcalá, 127 ,and other locations in Madrid, Also, the Patiseria La Oriental calle Ferraz, 47. From April 5 to 21 , you can taste the best French toasts in the pastries, restaurants and hotel that have participated in this contest. More on the contest here:

If you fancy the famous American dish (burgers) and don’t want to resort to the battle burgers, investing just a little more skyline diner is an option to contemplate. Always among the listings of the best burger, in their flirty and central local feel like staying and their burgers bet on quality ingredients. It can be created to taste, for those who start by removing the greener part or fleeing the sauces. Its Strenght is the artisan bread and the three types of meat to choose (D.O. Avila Veal, Black Angus and Pollo Campero (farm chicken). At Calle de Jesús, 14. Tel. +34  913 89 67 00. average Price 15-18 euros. More here:

During the 1930s and 40’s of the 20C, the border towns of Alcoutim (Portugal) and Sanlúcar de Guadiana (Huelva), separated by the river, were dark and abrupt places, where smuggling was rampant. The porters defied the law to pass merchandise from one side of the Guadiana to the other in wartime, both day and night. This cross-border activity marked the daily lives of the inhabitants of both populations and, at the same time, established a cultural and emotional link between their people. In memory of those times, and twinned by a tradition and a common feeling, Alcoutim and Sanlúcar jointly celebrate the third edition of the Festival of smuggling, (Festival del Contrabando,) an event in which, for three days from Friday 29 to Sunday 31 March, its inhabitants revive the past through a program full of activities, with ingredients as important as art, culture, gastronomy and natural heritage shared by both villas. The official start of the festival will be on Friday 29th by 15h30 with the opening of the Market of Trades and Fair, a traditional rural market that has become one of the attractions of the event. The most anticipated moment of the festival is the inauguration of the Floating Bridge on Friday 29th, at 16h, an ephemeral platform that connects both municipalities (the rest of the year, to access from one side to another must be done by boat), which has become a tourist attraction. Thousands of people will cross the bridge in the water, between the pier of Alcoutim and the one of Sanlúcar, the three days that is installed, which facilitate to the public the access to the different events of the festival on the shores. Places like the Castillo de San Marcos, in Sanlúcar de Guadiana, or the Castle of the Villa and the Hermitage of Our Lady of the Conception, in Alcoutim, accommodate some of the festive activities, but it is worthwhile to visit them with tranquility. The complete program is here in Portuguese:

The Old Convent of Santa Fe receives 250 works of modern and contemporary authors little represented in Spain. One of the works of modern and contemporary art of the Roberto Polo collection that from this Wednesday 27th March, can be seen in the old convent of Santa Fe. The meeting, which has been possible after four years of work between the Government of Castilla-La Mancha, the Cuban-American collector Roberto Polo  and the journalist and art expert Rafael Sierra, assumes that for 15 years a renewable period by the one who signed the free transfer of 475 works of 171 artists will remain in the region. The agreement, signed last July, includes the opening of another headquarters in the old Court of the Inquisition of Cuenca, a 16C building that will house the rest of the cession and whose rehabilitation is not completed until 2023. From the beginnings of the abstraction with Kandinsky, the constructivism with The Lissitzky, the new realismes and the surrealism with Max Ernst. It is a bridge that allows us to recover the relationship between Spain and Flanders, which was lost in the 17C.

The Old Convent of Santa Fe ,closed since 1973, whose construction began in the 9C as the palace of Rahman III, then passed to the order of Calatrava and, in the 16C, Isabel the Catholic gave it to the Mother Superior of Santiago. After 15 years of restoration, the space has recovered the palatial Andalusian part and the caliphal Qubba, of which the poly lobular arches of the vault are still preserved, since that small chapel of Bethlehem, currently with mural paintings of the 16C has always been a place of prayer. Corpo also has a temporary exhibition hall, which shares with the Santa Cruz Museum and presents, for the first time in Spain, a large exhibition (60 canvases and 135 drawings) by Belgian artist Werner Mannaers. The visit to both spaces will be free until March 31st.

The bullfighter José Tomás Toreará this year at the Granada Corpus Fair on Saturday 22nd June. This will be the first paseíllo of the Spanish season of José Tomás, who wore lights in national arenas for the last time last year 29 June 2018 in Algeciras. More on Corpus Christi in  Granada here:

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

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March 16, 2019

The sierras , mountains around Madrid!

One thing that escapes many is the sierras or mountain passes and outdoors available just outside the city of Madrid.  In my youth I used to come by Navacerrada, Cercecilla,Villalba, Guadarrama, and San Lorenzo a lot with my family and friends.

These were nice moment spent outside the grinder of the city, and especially in summer it was great. In Winter too, but my first encounter with the snow trails at Navacerrada turn into a twisting roll down the mountain that almost cost my life, luckily came out ok, but took me away from the slopes forever. Now my boys are into it, and they have been with our family there, and I have gone back to drive thru and see the beautiful scenary.  The idea of this post is to let you know a bit more of glorious Madrid, and its Comunidad de Madrid and its sierras.

First the Navacerrada mountain pass and ski resort is fantastic, and the only medal winner in the Olympics games of Sapporo 1972 came from here.  The Navacerrada is a complete resort nowdays with all modern facilities.  You have 9 slopes in the zona alta or high hill and 7 slopes in the zona baja or low hill; the zona baja is for beginners and such and the zona alta is for pros. It has 9 lifts to carry you all over the mountain. At this moment the station is close for maintenance but its the end of the season, really, be ready for next winter. However for summer splurges and walks into the valleys or a ride by car it is still wonderful. Most folks visiting arrive here by train, leaving from Estación de Chamartín in Madrid you take the cercanias or suburbian train C-8b to Cercedilla ,and the the C-9 or train of Cotos to Puerto de Navacerrada. Info tel +34  902 240 202, and train webpage RENFE ,  . There is a bus service as alternative but never taken it,it is every day from the  intercambiador de Moncloa in  Madrid on line  691 of the group Avanza Intercambiador de Moncloa bus station. webpage bus company

Then you have it by car, my way. You have two ways recommended, from Madrid on the A-6 to Collado Villalba and here take the road M-601 direccion Segovia until you reach Puerto de Navacerrada.  A better way off expressways is to take the road  M-607 (the ones from the north of Madrid direction  Colmenar Viejo, and follow the signs for Puerto de Navacerrada. The Madrid route planner is good on Repsol for all of Spain here

This is the official site for the Puerto de Navacerrada in Spanish,



The other towns are smaller but plenty of outdoor activities around the embalse or water reservoirs especially around Cercedilla as well as mirador or lookout points to see farther into the Sierra. In addition walk trails such as the Siete Picos, in the village of Adesgam for 5 kms and low density for all. And for the more experience and with good weather the 17 kms of Puerto de Navacerrada to Manzanares El Real.

These webpage will help seek out all the information you need on this vast area, that will need several visits to know it all. Even I ,admit have not seen it all here,its a huge Sierra. For the Guadarrama Sierra in general this site is great ,

If you like to go further north in the Sierra Norte and reach Buitrago del Lozoya then you will be thrown back to medieval times in an authentic Castilian town , just perfect wonderful , the webpage for the area is

You will have a wonderful open country forest, mountain, lakes, rivers, and plenty more here just as little as 25 minutes outside Madrid. The Comunidad de Madrid tourist office with info in English on all these towns is at

It all start with a bit of open space at Casa de Campo next to Madrid where we spent several trips with the family.

Hope you enjoy the openness and natural beauty of this region easily reach from Madrid. Enjoy the Sierras around Madrid.

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

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March 16, 2019

Plaza de Toros de Cuenca!

And why not bring you back down to my beloved Spain, I had to say is the second most visited country in the world according to the UN-WTO statistics with about 85M visitors last year! And on Unesco World Heritage Sites we have Cuenca too.

However, I have written several posts on the town and surrounding, we love it there and spent several summers with the family high in the mountains of the Serrania de  Cuenca. This time let me tell you a bit more on the Plaza de Toro or bullfighting arena a real tradition of Spain even if nowdays not practice in certain areas.

The Plaza de Toros of Cuenca (bullfighting arena) is located at Avenida de los Reyes Catolicos, s/n on the road out of town near the Parque de Santa Ana. It was first built in 1848 with two floors and 5,000 spaces. Later, in 1913, another enclosure was built, which lasted only a few years.


The city council built the current enclosure or arena in 1926 with the present of Santa Coloma bulls, for the right-handed Marcial Lalande, “Valencia II ” and Martín Agüero. The square, of reinforced cement, has pens, twelve stalls and the necessary dependencies to make bullfights easier. The San Julian Fair, the last week of August, comes with a fairground installed and a series of activities take place such as theater, parade of floats, bullfights, circus, etc…. In addition to a wide and varied sports program that includes an equestrian competition. As a culmination to these festivities, you will see great fireworks.  We were lucky while here to see briefly the Fiesta de San Juliàn August 24th, the traditional feast of the town in honor of their patron Saint.


A bit of history I like

Cuenca had counted on three other bullrings before the current was built. The first was known as the Pintado or painting, located on the grounds occupied by the delegation of Finance of the local government, in the parque San Julián, annexed to other areas where the cinema Palmeras was.

The second arena, known as La Perdigana or, which was located on the site of what was then Cine Xúcar and Hotel.  The third plaza, in the neighborhood of Casablanca, to which it was known like the one of Caballeros or knights, inaugurated in 1913, and in which they acted the torero with swords ,the first of the 20C, among them Juan Belmonte, in 1915.  This square was shot down after the 1920 fair. Six years was Cuenca without bulls during the Fiestas of San Julián, occupying  the bullfighting part in the Plaza Mayor, as was done annually by the fairs of San Mateo or on the occasion of some extraordinary event. On September 5, 1927, in the new bullring in Cuenca as we know it today. It is good to tell you that the first special mention was the presence of Manuel Rodríguez “Manolete” three times, in the years 1943 and 1944. One of the greatest bullfighers of all time.

The bullring of the city of Cuenca, with a century of history, will conclude its works of consolidation of the structure and waterproofing, because of the numerous humidity’s that it presents, before the next bullfighting fair, in of August 2016.



Some webpages to help you plan your trip or you can ask me are

Tourist office of Cuenca on heritage sites

Maxitoro for info in season in Spanish

Entradas Toros Cuenca for info and ticketing in Spanish

The Fairs are in summer so as the time approaches look up the site Maxitoro  or Entradas Toros Cuenca, for ticket information and more on the contenders. It is an experience to live it at least once, and then some more… depending on your personal views which are many. The Plaza de  Toros of Cuenca another gem to see in the historical town. Hope you enjoy the post.

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



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March 14, 2019

Colmenar de Oreja, Comm de Madrid!

So as I am in the neighborhood of Comunidad de Madrid why not tell you about another gem not far from the capital and full of the nice things of my beloved Spain, everything under the sun!

Again, written in general about the things to see in Colmenar de Oreja but feel obligated to tell you about some of its best gems such as the Plaza Mayor and the Church of Santa Maria la Mayor. Hope you enjoy the ride as we do.

First, some orientation on the town and region ok.  Colmenar de Oreja  is in the Comunidad de Madrid region and Colmenar is only about 50 km from Madrid and you can only come here by car ,no train station. You come by the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia and take the entry into the road M-404 by km 50 at Villarejo de Salvanés (see other post) until Belmonte de Tajo and here take the M-303 to Colmenar de Oreja.  There is another way from the A3 take the M307 at Km 21 before reaching Arganda del Rey, and by it follow continuously the M311 and before reaching Morata de Tajuña the M313 to Colmenar de Oreja (also take you to Chinchon, see other post).

A bit of history I like is that between the years 1500 to 1700 the successive kings of the Habsburg (Austria) ordered the most important works in this town such as the enlargement of the Church of  Santa María la Mayor (1517), repairs to the wall ramparts  (1517) the irrigation of the fields of Vega  (1572), and the foundation of the Franciscan Monastery of San Bernardino de Siena (1570) , and the founding of   the Monastery of the Incarcanation of the Recollects Augustinians (1685).

One of the nice things to do and see here are the building of the Plaza Mayor in 1676, a wonderful example of Castilian squares finished in 1794 and on it you find the Casa Consistorial ( served as city hall)  and Posito (old food depot).

The Plaza Mayor was started building it in 1676, as one of the magnificent examples of the typical porticoed Castilian squares when it was finished in 1794. It comprises the city/town hall and the Pósito. Its south cloth gives to a majestic architectonic ensemble formed by the Gardens of Zacatín, the mouth of the tunnel of Stone of the same name (which crosses under the square of part to part), and, the troughs. It has been the framework of a multitude of films and television series. In the popular festivities both in May and September, a portable wooden square with tenders is installed, so that they can celebrate all kinds of bullfighting events, something that the people continue with great devotion and tradition.

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

The Church of Santa Maria la Mayor, built by the order of St James in the third part of the 13C, enlarged in second half of the 16C. A beautiful organ with great concerts here. The Chapel of the Christ or Ermita del Santisimo Cristo del Humilladero, patron Saint of the town , different architectural styles and periods with a beautiful chapel of the 16C, all in a Latin Cross and a small dome.

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

Colmenar de Oreja

In 2008 ,the paintings were restored and the floor changed. In addition, since  2009 it has a prestigious body worth admiring, donated in its entirety by the neighboring Maria Perez Garcia, who wanted to contribute in this way to the patrimony of Colmenar de Oreja. Thanks to his gesture you can enjoy beautiful concerts.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

Tourist office of Colmenar de Oreja

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on Colmenar de Oreja in English

Tourist office of Madrid on Colmenar de Oreja in English

There you go another gem in the off the beaten path roads of the Comunidad de Madrid, again just south of the capital , Colmenar de Oreja , an easy ride by car all worth it for a pleasant afternoon away from the city. Hope you enjoy it as we do.

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

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March 14, 2019

Torre del Homenaje and Iglésia de San Andrés in Villarejo de Salvanés, Madrid!

So let’s stick with my beloved Spain and gorgeous Madrid community region that is just wonderful me think. Again, these I have written before a while back on a general passing sense, and I feel they need a bit more exposure in my blog.

Therefore, I will like to tell you a bit more on the Torre del Homenaje (homage tower) and Iglesia de San Andrés (St Andrews’ Church) at Villarejo de Salvanés in the Comunidad de Madrid, just south of the capital city of Madrid!

A bit of orientation first just to tell you ok. Villarejo de Salvanés is located at the km 48 of the expressway A3 Madrid-Valencia.  Some anecdote on the town I like on my history was that here in 1866, General Prim rose up against the government of O’Donnell and the Isabeline regime, failed coup.  Ahh for those in public transport you can easily go from Atocha in Madrid to the town on bus lines 351: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid)  Estremera – Barajas de Melo, bus line 352: Ronda de Atocha (Madrid) Fuentidueña – Tarancón,  and bus line 353: Atocha (Madrid) Villamanrique – Santa Cruz de la Zarza.

The Torre del Homenaje or tower of homage or castle of Villarejo of Salvanés, constitutes a unique architectural site in Spain. It belongs to the town hall of Villarejo de Salvanes. The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was part of the defensive system that protected the passage by the old way of Toledo, as well as by the so-called Senda Galiana (Roman road that linked the Galia (France) and Hispania (Spain), in use during the Middle Ages). The castle of Villarejo of Salvanes was the seat of the special court of the military orders and, in the 19C, was accommodated as a refugee to Gen. Juan Martín Díez ,the subborn one ( Empecinado). Hero of the Spanish War of Independence, El Empecinado participated in several episodes, which became legendary, where he routed the Napoleonic army.

This is where we parked and walked around and my dear late wife Martine found a lady who told her where to buy groceries just around the corner….She could talk Spanish too. My memories thanks.

Villarejo de Salvanes

Villarejo de Salvanes

The parish Church of San Andrés Apostol or St Andrew the apostle. Built in the 14C has high towers and on the front the shield of the order of St James (Santiago) as well as on the lateral door. The Church is on the Plaza del Castillo square. At the beginning of the Spanish civil war it lost its artistic heritage. After an earthquake in 1969, the roof and vaults were demolished and completely restored in the 1980’s.

Villarejo de Salvanes

The Church of San Andrés Apostol, consists of a polygonal apse with high buttresses, which make it similar to the castle. It is a single nave and has two side chapels, sacristy and tower, recently topped by a slate spire. In its main façade we see a pediment with a shield of the order of Santiago in the center as in the side door. Other shields, like the Aponte’s, flank the building.  It is presided by San Andrés, patron Saint of Villarejo de Salvanés, the image is framed in a plaster altarpiece inaugurated in 2000. The images of the Blessed Nicanor Ascanio and José de San Jacinto, both illustrious sons of the locality, complete the ensemble, which is crowned by a carving of Christ in its color. In the ample presbytery stands out the neo-Romanesque tabernacle, the altar, the seat and the pulpit in white stone.

Villarejo de Salvanes

The interior of the Church of San Andrés, also has two side chapels. The one on the right or the Aponte chapel is closed by a Renaissance gate and contains two altarpieces with the images of the Immaculate Conception and Jesús Nazareno. In it you can contemplate the founding headstone in addition to the images of the Virgin of Health (Salud), the Resurrected, San José de la Montaña, San Juan Bautista and the Naked Cross, which is called here  “La Sabanilla “. In the chapel on the left we find the baptismal font of 1959 and the altarpieces of Nuestra Senora  Del Carmen, wood carving, and Nuestra Senora De la Soledad with the recumbent Christ. In the nave of the church are the images of Jesus attached to the column and the Holy Christ of the Faith, as well as a Holy Supper. The sacristy, which was one of the old side chapels, is the one that preserves the ribbed vault and there is a size of San Andrés from the beginning of the 17C.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here as an off the beaten path of my Spain are

Tourist office of Villarejo de Salvanés on heritage in Spanish

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on Villarejo de Salvanés in English

Lovely town we love to pass by and come in for a relaxing afternoon and walks on our road warrior ways in old Castile!  Villarejo de Salvanés is a nice clean town with friendly folks! and nice monuments. Hope you try it and enjoy it as much as we do.

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


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March 14, 2019

Plaza Mayor and Castillo de los Condes, Chinchon!

So keeping up with the rides… heck I am taking you back to my beloved Spain, everything under the sun! And my favorites areas since childhood, Comunidad de Madrid or old Castile, of which Madrid is part and also Chinchon.

I have written before over the years in my blog on Chinchon of course. However, there are two spots I love the most ,and would like to tell you a bit more on them. These are the Plaza Mayor (main square) or Castillo de los Condes (Counts’ Castle). Hope you enjoy it.

First a bit of Spanish geography and directions.  Chinchón is a town located in the southeast of the Comunidad de Madrid , in the region of Las Vegas, 44 km from the capital. From Madrid you can reach Chinchón by the highway A-3 taking the detour of the M-307, shortly before reaching Arganda. From there take the roads M-311 and then the M-313 to Chinchón. It can also be reached by the A-4, taking the turnoff of the M-404, shortly after Valdemoro, which takes us through Ciempozuelos and Titulcia to Chinchón. From Conde de Casal (next to metro station same name) bus stop in Madrid you can take bus line 337, to Chinchon terminus Valdelaguna.

The Plaza Mayor of Chinchón is an example of popular architecture. The first houses with arcades and balconies were built in the 15C, and was completely closed in the 17C. It has a circular shape ,covered with sand, and a simple structure, clear, tidy and hierarchical. The buildings are of three floors, with white houses on arcades, wooden balconies painted in green and red-tiled roofs, it’s like the Middle Ages! And 234 wooden balconies called Claros or clear, supported by standing with shoes type columns offering a breathtaking view of the bullfights and other regularly-held shows on the square. Bars, restaurants and other taverns hide behind the arcades. Since its construction, the Plaza Mayor has hosted numerous activities such as Royal celebrations, proclamations, corral of comedies, games of canes, bullfights, executions, sacramental rites, religious, political and military acts, as well as serving as a set for the  Cinema such as the bullfighting scene of the film Around the World in 80 Days, circus show in The Fabulous World of the Circus.

Tourist office of Comunidad de Madrid on the Plaza Mayor of Chinchon




The Castillo de los Condes or Counts’ Castle or Castle of Chinchon. In Chinchón there were two fortresses; The first, apparently, of the 15C and now disappeared. The current castle was built in the second half of the 16C by order of Diego Fernandez de Cabrera and Bobadilla, third count of Chinchón after being the first destroyed during the communal riots.

A bit of history I like tells us that the Manor of Chinchón, held by the Cabrera family since the time of King Henri IV of Castile. The original castle suffered damages of consideration in the attack made by the communal troops in the year 1520. The square was delivered with all its artillery in 1521. The third count of Chinchón, Diego Fernandez de Cabrera and Bobadilla, decided to demolish the remains of it. On its plot, it ordered to raise a new castle, taking advantage of the materials of the old. It is known that its construction lasted from 1590 to 1598. The Castle of Chinchon was well preserved until 1705, year in which it suffered the consequences of the War of Spanish Succession. At that time it was occupied by the troops of the Austrian Archduke’s army, led by the Marquis of Mines. Its dependencies were used for the installation of abundant artillery. Later, it suffered a fire in its northwest part, as a result of the storage of hemp.  A century later, in 1808, during the three days of siege to Chinchón, it was plundered and burned to the hands of the Polish Brigade of the French Marshal Claude Perrin Victor, in the context of the War of the Independence of Spain.

The castle of Chinchón is built in concerted limestone masonry, filled with mortar and stones. The spans and moldings are made in ashlars, except the access door, partially lifted in masonry. It exhibits the blazon of the Counts of Chinchón, framed by padded ashlars. The building is of two bodies, which overlap each other forming a large rectangular plant. It is topped in cylindrical towers, which are located in the corners of each of the bodies. Its appearance responds to the characteristics of Renaissance architecture. Rugged and very horizontal, he sought to avoid enemy artillery fire. The walls on the slopes are intended to hinder the access of sappers .It is surrounded by a moat, which is partially conserved. The castle was abandoned in the 18C after being the residence of the Counts of Chinchón for two hundred years.  Access to the interior of the castle is not allowed.

Tourist office of Madrid on the Castle of Chinchon




You have a nice day in Chinchon a typical Madrileno town not far from the capital and yet in the country. Some webpages to help further plan your trip here are

City of Chinchon on heritage things to see in Spanish

Tourist office of city of Madrid on Chinchon

And to add, it is good to get lost in the labyrinth of cobbled streets that go up to the Church of Nuestra Senora de la Asuncion (Our Lady of the Assumption), which contains a painting by Goya, the Assumption of the Virgin, painted in 1812. Just next door is the superb theater of Lope de Vega, built in the 19C, which sometimes serves as a cinema. The village has thus inspired two great names of the arts: Lope de Vega and Francisco de Goya. A little further is the Torre del Reloj or tower of the clock, which watches over the village. Surrounded of a rampart, the esplanade flanked by its three monuments overlooks the Plaza Mayor and offers a splendid panorama on Chinchon. The village also houses a charming Parador de Turismo (lodging hotel), in the Convent of San Agustin, erected in the 17C.

There you go come on over, nice weather is coming and Chinchon is waiting for you. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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