Archive for ‘Spain’

September 15, 2016

There are wine notes, tastings and then there is Parker

BordeauxWell it hit me saw an article on the last tastings rounds of a genius and prompted me to write this post. I love wines, I have been drinking it tasting it since birth, from my grandmother first at age 8 and then onwards to all the levels.

I tried them all, from obscure wine labels and lesser known countries such as Viñales from Cuba to the great ones of France and the Rothschilds. I used to work in a liquor store in Florida, and was in charge of the wine department ordering and replacing bottles, and attending the old fashioned income tax burning parties AND wine tastings.

From attending many wine tastings at different locations and have the privilege of meeting the best growers in the world from several countries most from France.  The pleasure of choosing France the mother of all wine tastings experts, knowledge, foundations. Where else would you see a French grape, or a French winemaker giving their expertise, or French investors on vineyards, or using French oak barrels for ageing, to using the same methods as in France, and then creating a wonderful bottle, à la French even if sometimes ego claims it to be better than the original French wine.

Now it hit me, Robert  Parker is retiring from wine tasting notes; oh mine. I was an original follower who signed up to his newsletters and purchase his books the moment it hit the bookstore; this was the genius of wine and especially French. What would Bordeaux becomes without him?

Robert Parker was a lawyer by profession born in  Monkton, Maryland, USA ;today he is 70 years old!!  He started writing his columns in the fame US magazine The Wine Advocate. He sold his empire to Singaporian investors many years ago.

Between April and June the most glorious of Bordeaux wines are presented to the tasters as each year , this time in 2016 Robert Parker is not there to taste the 2015 crop.  Bordeaux is orphan for the first time in many years; no more the 100 points scores.  I remember when the Château Pavie was given 100 and was helped to raised to premier Grand Cru Classé A of Saint Emilion, at the same level as Ausone, Cheval-Blanc or Angélus!!!

The great French consultant and winemaker of many Michel Rolland said of Parker « Si vous n’aimiez pas les vins qu’aimait Parker, vous n’aimiez pas grand-chose de bon ! » OR If you do not like the wines that Parker liked, you did not love nothing good! He had the world at his feet when announce a wine; such as Chateau Smith-Haut-Lafitte when in 2011 re evaluating the 2009’s he took the note from 98 to 100 , in one night he push the the sales of this wine by 3X the world over!

He has left some followers such as Neal Martin in The Wine Advocate magazine; and then James Suckling with a great following and after his depart from The Wine Advocate another takes his place such as James Molesworth .

With the retirement of  Robert Parker ,others takes or tried to take his place such as Antonio Galloni (USA) and even the French team of Michel Bettane et Thierry Desseauve . Others such as Tim Atkin, Jancis Robinson in the UK, Jacques Perrin in Switzerland, Jacques Dupont in France or even Decanter magazine, the most international of magazines from UK. But any arrives of combing world opinion on wines as did Robert Parker.

Now , it is not the explosion as before of reading a 100 by Parker as before .Even is some merits such in the 2015 vintage such as Pontet-Canet , Pauillac, Brane-Cantenac, Margaux, Haut-Bailly ,Pessac-Léognan, Pétrus,  Pomerol, Cheval-Blanc and Canon ,Saint-Émilion..etc.

Now, new horizons are happening in the expressway of Napa and Sonoma,  a boulevard of Bordeaux Crus opens up not only of the most prestigious labels but also of those of the Fronsadais or  côtes de Castillon , are founding their place in the Sun.

Saddened ,however, that Bordeaux has lost with the retirement of the guru, “the greatest Ambassador she‘s ever had”, an important trader of the place is difficult to turn the page. Bordeaux must forget Parker because it must. And regret because it‘s worth…Robert Parker.

The lessons are always remember , the memories of his newsletter full of love and energy will not be forgotten,this is my humble homage to a great wine guru of our time. Follow the wine, it is good for you and the soul. It is our blood.

Cheers and in Vino Veritas.

https://www.erobertparker.com/sitesearch/rparker.aspx

inspirational  source in French: http://www.lesechos.fr/week-end/gastronomie-et-vins/vins/0211263727310-les-bordeaux-apres-la-revolution-parker-2026127.php

September 9, 2016

Real Madrid FC is on the move, as always!!!

Talking about nostalgia, this was my teen years living in Madrid and playing for the Real Madrid FC both in the alavin division and on the sponsored Baseball team at the Elipa.

When lived here, I started out playing baseball for the Real Madrid at the Parque Municipal de la Elipa complex, remember taking the P13 bus (today is the 113) from Alcalà street to the Elipa. Today baseball is still played there and the seat of the Madrid baseball/softball federation. The stadium is here: http://www.rfebs.es/terrenos#

Then, I moved over to the football/soccer section at the old Casa de Campo fields, back in 1972-74. Real Madrid official pg is here: http://www.realmadrid.com/futbol/cantera/alevin-a

I have continued to played football all over where I have been until recently in an indoor corporate league in France.  Being very attach to the Real Madrid I have been a life long fan Madridista of the team and follow it religiously anywhere.

In the meantime, I am honorary member of five peñas or supporting group of the Real Madrid from Xove Galicia to Malaga Spain;visit often.

The trips to the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Valdebebas Real Madrid city  for the junior teams are annually and sometimes more; some times getting together with similar friends there in groups or individually. Nowdays, the facilities have nothing in common to those of earlier years, more here: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/about-real-madrid/club/ciudad-real-Madrid

More on the Bernabeu stadium here: http://www.realmadrid.com/en/santiago-bernabeu-stadium

So far this year 2016-2017 season, the team is tied in first place on points with a string record of 14 straight victories or ties Under coach Zinedine Zidane (France). Going this Saturday September 10th vs Osasuna for a record 15 only done before in the 1960-61 season Under coach Miguel Muñoz.

The farm team Real Madrid Castilla plays in the Liga Segunda B Grupo II , next game vs Gernika September 10th. They are now in 6th place: more here: http://resultados.as.com/resultados/futbol/segunda_b/2016_2017/clasificacion/regular_ii/

Been a true Real Madrid fan, I,also, followed and have attended their Basketball games; more here season starts next September 30th vs Unicaja of Malaga: more here: http://resultados.as.com/resultados/baloncesto/acb/2016_2017/calendario/

Needless to say,in both football and basketball we are the winningest club both in the Spanish League (Santander)  and European titles( Champions).

My hangout when by the Bernabeu is the Real Cafe Bernabeu restaurant where you can see the field of play sitting in a nice table. More here: http://www.realcafebernabeu.es/

It has become a way of life even if not so prolific writer on sports in my blog, there are some, just search ::) Hala Madrid!!!  And our anthem https://youtu.be/lIMokbMWz9o

Real Madrid

Real Madrid

 Real Madrid  Real Madrid  Real Madrid  Real Madrid  Madrid  Madrid  Madrid  Madrid Real Madrid Real Madrid Real Madrid

 

September 7, 2016

Some news from Spain, XXX

And why not Spain, already breaking records on weather as much as 44C in Granada and 41C in Madrid to visitors arrivals all over the country this year. Some interesting info here me think.

Spain has over 275000 bars restaurant-hotels and people asked the question why go to a bar? There is a study done by the beer brand Mahou San Miguel that shows some interesting facts.

People go to them for meeting with friends (88,9%), parties (88,4%) or lower the daily stress (86,6%) are the principal reasons. The ages old question that we go to connect with the opposite sex is not confirm as only 15,3% said they do , the highest response was in La Rioja region with 19,9% .

The motives for going are in no specific order: get together with friends, lower the daily stress, party for special occasions, meet colleagues from work, watch a football/soccer game, so do not have to cook, to do network or close business, to study or work with colleagues, to find the opposite one or connect to WiFi

The best out of it according to this study about 85% says the most important segment for the economy and to bring in tourists to Spain by (83,9%) especially in the region of Navarra (90%).

The survey tell us that they come to bars for its quality of food (70,3%) the good time and terraces (67,5%) are the ones most preferred by the tourists way ahead of variety of offers (58,8%),Fairs and routes of tapas as well as regional celebrations (58,1%), the quality price ratio (57,8%), the good service (57,7%) and where they serve free tapas (with a drink) (53,1%).

And what about the old question of tips ? You give it for good service (61,8%) or always no matter what (20,4%) or never no matter what (17,8 (%). There you go.

And how to drink that beer ! or Caña the best is to be really cold for about (47,8%), of Spaniards but higher in some regions such as Murcia, Canarias, Andalucía, Castilla-La Mancha ,and Extremadura. Of course, the women wants it colder than the men 52% vs 43,8% . However, for 25,6% of those in the survey the key is that the beer is well serve and 70% of them agreed in their regions is done well with Andalucia (82,5%), Madrid (80,4%), and Extremadura (77,3%) as the most satisfied.

And how to tell which beer goes with what meal . by general in Spain 62,6%. Can tell the variety and match with the food. However, about 36,2% has basic idea on how to do this. Here the best match is done by Asturias (46.3%), Andalucia (42%) and the less adapts are Extremadura (24.4%) and Balearic islands (23.9%).

Source/ http://www.mahou-sanmiguel.com/es-es/sala-de-prensa/notas-de-prensa/mahou-san-miguel-descubre-los-habitos-de-los-espanoles-en-hosteleria

And on something different you know the Vuelta de España cycling race is going on now. It went to places that I past by before by car :J You have Colombians leading the race with an English (born in South Africa) and the Spaniards Alberto Contador , Samuel Sanchez, and David De La Cruz in the top 10. The 18 stage will be in Valencia country tomorrow. Then down to Alicante and up to Madrid on the 21th stage to finish on the paseo del Prado. More here: http://www.lavuelta.com/la-vuelta/2016/us/overall-route.html#

The movie Julieta by Pedro Almodovar will represent Spain in the coming Oscars of February 26 2017. A story of women, see trailers and more here : http://www.sensacine.com/peliculas/pelicula-234404

Secrets of my Madrid, do you know that on Calle de Amaniel, 29. was the original Mahou beer company of Madrid brewery built in 1892-94.  The brewery was transferred to Paseo Imperial and , then further to the Ramirez de Prado on El Aguila beer  brewery ,and finally the building was in decay until rescue by the Comunidad de Madrid that renovated and now houses the Regional Archives. More on it here :  http://www.madrid.org/icaatom_pub/index.php/archivo-regional-de-la-comunidad-de-madrid-3;isdiah

Selena Gomez will be in concert at the Palacios de los Deportes in Madrid on November 14 it has been announced as well as others coming up like Laura Pausini on October 7th. More here: http://www.saborea-madrid.com/tapa/10861/selena-gomez-14-11-16/ and more on Selena here : http://selenagomezspain.com/

And always even if in Spanish the best guide for Entertainment in Madrid for yeeears, is La Guia del Ocio. Here it is folks: http://www.guiadelocio.com/Madrid

And do not missed the quaint Mercado de San Ildefonso in Calle Fuencarral , 57 ,barrio de Malasañas. 700 M2 and 18 stores to serve the typical Madrid ambiance, great. More of it here: http://www.mercadodesanildefonso.com/

And , do not forget to scroll down on my blog to the blogroll to see some of my favorite links on travel , sports, food ,and much more.  Showcasing the webpage of my good friend from Tenerife, who is an avid Walker and trekker of hte island mountains, canyons and forests. http://www.paulinoalonso.es/

Enjoy Spain, everything Under the sun; and of course Madrid is a must. Cheers

 

 

 

 

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September 1, 2016

From Las Majadas back to France, the long journey of memories!

Well all good things ends quickly and the time is never enough. Our family vacation in Spain is over and we headed home to our Morbihan Breton in France.

We spent two glorious weeks in Spain , see my previous post to this one. It was special because the boys are now old enough to undertand everything, and we went by places that first  my Mother took me, and then came alone, and then came with girlfriend and then wife and even with the boys younger,and now Young men. All begins to sink in now, the roots are important.

We say goodbye to our wonderful property owner of Casa Pitu in Las Majadas, Serrania de Cuenca, who were fantastic and kept the memories lingered. We left early by 7am or 7h in our family car, the big tough Ford. We did not make hotel reservation as this will be a lingering long trip full of memories of my Spain. If had time we would stop and if not I am still good on the road to do it all the way ::) Our house was this one: http://www.casapitu.es/

I wanted one last memory for our family in Spain, and decided not to go back the same way we came by the Col du Portalet. This time we headed first to Guadalajara , passing by one special town of Calatayud. This is the town I stopped with my then girlfriend for gas and something to eat at the next door restaurant/hotel that had a wedding going on ! appropiate it seems.  We sat in the middle of the restaurant with the wedding party on one side and always remembered by us. This time the hotel restaurant was abandoned and just the Repsol gas station was there.  We decided to gas/petrol just in town at the Cepsa gas station but we stopped by the old just for the memories and another story to our boys.

At the end of town  ,we link up with the A2 direction Zaragoza that we bypass on the beltway road Z40.  We took the A23 direction Huesca where we link up with the N330 direction Jaca passing by Sabiñanigo.  We continue on the N330 direction France and the Somport pass tunnel.

This was memorable too as when I first started traveling by car between Spain and France there was no tunnel but had to go on first gear with a VW Golf up the Pyrénées mountains over the Col de Somport mountain. Here passing Castiello de Jaca, and then Vilanua ,a great memory as usually we had stayed at the Faus Hutte mountain hotel here,now it is call Lacasa. We remember arriving very late like 10PM or 22h and the hotel owners opens up the restaurant to give us something to eat and stayed for the night before continuing on to France !!! Memories never to forget. This is the hotel now: http://www.hotellacasa.com/

Further on, we passed by the winter stations of Canfranc and Candanchu before arriving at the Col du Somport (1632 meters high). You can still do this route, but we have done it and were eager to get back home quicker.  So instead ,we took the modern tunnel of Somport.  You have two lanes road in the tunnel that is 8 602 meters long with  2 848 meters in France and 5 754 meters in Spain.

Once we came out in the French side ,you are on the N134 road direction Pau. However, first town you see is Urdos, where it was the customs border before the EU and you were check sometimes and sometimes not. Now, of course you are not check at all, and you won’t even notice the customs house.

The N134 takes you direction Oloron-Sainte-Marie and then towards Pau.  Here by Orthez we took the A65 direction Langon. However, we heard on the radio that there was traffic jams at the Bordeaux beltway N230/A630 so we change gears.

Alone the Garonne river we took the D10 to Langoiran to hook up with the D20 road passing Creon and onwards to Libourne.  We came across on the D670 to Saint-André-de-Cubzac hooking up again with the A10 direction Saintes.

We continue on the A10 to just past Niort where we hook up with the A83 direction Nantes. This later road hook ups with the N844 and then the  N165 direction Vannes and home taking the D768 road.  Easy ride and no traffic, minimum tolls as we like it.

In previous post, I have told you about these wonderful towns and cities in no particular order: Madrid, Valencia,Segovia, La Granja de San Ildefonso, Torrejon de Ardoz, Alcala de Henares, Aranjuez, Toledo, Villarejo de Salvanés, Colmenar la Oreja, Chinchon, Huete, Las Majadas, Cuenca, Uña, Alarcon, Segobriga, Jaca, Vilanua, Calatayud, Belmonte, Jaca, Canfranc, Camarsac,Libourne, Albarracin, Villalba de la Sierra, Bordeaux-La Bastide hoping not to have forgotten any.

Now a weekend is approaching and already trips book to Paris, Dublin and Prague for the next couple of months on solo trips. Enjoy your weekend and yes it is TGIF ::) Happy travels ,better motoring, and keep on driving !!!! Cheers

 Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud  Calatayud Camarsac Canfranc  Calatayud Huesca Huesca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca  Jaca Las Majadas Libourne Pau Somport Somprot Somport Susmiou Zaragoza Zaragoza

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 31, 2016

Madrid never can get enough of you!!!

Ok so this is part of same trip but one last family look at my Madrid, the last post on the same trip is here

Madrid ,well is more than a word for me, always nostalgic to be back!

Well Madrid for me is everything to come back to Spain for it. If you have read my posts/blog you know I used to lived in Madrid and visit several times a year now usually alone. This time I came with the family and they as well as me re confirm our faith in the city. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it every day.

We came back as usual by car from Cuenca on the A40 then A3 , but this time we headed to Cibeles and found parking in Recoleto underground garage just next to Plaza de Cibeles, very central and nice. We then as usual set out on foot to see the city.

In no particular order, we had to go see the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium of my lifetime team Real Madrid FC,and had a beer and tapas at the Real Café Bernabeu with wonderful views of the stadium field.  The official site for the team is here: http://www.realmadrid.com/en

The cafe webpage is here too : http://www.realcafebernabeu.es/

We had the opportunity to try the bus network taken bus 21 from Plaza de Toros (Ventas) to Paseo Rosales; http://www.emtmadrid.es/EMTBUS/Mi-linea?lang=es-ES

This get you a nice overall view of the city and go from the wonderful historical Plaza de Toros very near of my old home to Paseo Rosales and the Teléferico (cable car) and the Temple of Debod Egyptian gift to Spain.

http://www.las-ventas.com/

http://teleferico.com/en

http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/templo-de-debod

Right around the Monumental de Ventas plaza de toros, there is Los Timbales one of the original matador bars and still kicking, lovely memories and highly recommended to see something of Madrid and Spain away from tourist central. http://www.lostimbales.es/

I used to hang around the Plaza de Toros when as an early teen lived here and always a pilgrimage to this cultural and historical mecca of Spain. The teléferico or cable car, my mother used to take me to the Casa de Campo attraction park and the temple de Debod a gift of Egypt to Spain for helping in the flooding of the Aswan Dam. The temple sits on the Cuartel  de la Montana park, and old establishement military base during the Spanish Civil War and now practically part of the Parque del Oeste along Paseo del Pintor Rosales.

Of course, when we parked at Recoletos (Paseo de) , we immediately took a look at the Fuente de Cibeles that was undergoing renovation/cleaning and the Palacio de las Cibeles, the old city hall of Madrid and now a great place to see and climb to the top for great views of the city.  At the corner you can see the Casa de America a cultural center sharing the heritage of Spain and the Americas, all in the Plaza de la Cibeles.

https://parclick.es/parking-madrid/mm_recoletos?lt=40.4206191&ln=-3.6918906999999&z=15&df=2016-09-01+10:00&dt=2016-09-01+13:00&ft=1

http://www.casamerica.es/

http://www.centrocentro.org/centro/home

A bit further walking and you reach my Puerta de Alcalà, the great gate of Madrid and I lived closed to it for four years! And from there, you go in to the fame Parque del Buen Retiro park another must and always a must for me, a wonderful memories of youth and still feeling Young just stepping into the park.

http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/puerta-de-alcala

http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/parque-del-retiro

Near here, in Calle Alcalà just across from the Retiro park before arriving at the Puerta de Alcalà lies the Church of San Manuel y San Benito where my mom used to take me as a boy. It is still nostalgic to see it and remind if need to of my mother again, always in my mind even if already 9 years passing.  Tourist office here: http://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/iglesia-parroquial-de-san-manuel-y-san-benito

Official Church site here: http://www.samasabe.es/

There is one by Doctor Esquerdo going towards Plaza Conde de Casal and another one by Menendez Pelayo and Calle del Alcalde Sainz de Baranda (photo) across from Retiro park, this is the Cerveceria Cruz Blanca, is another of the typical one in my Madrid away from tourist central.  A must . http://cerveceriacruzblanca.es/local/cervecer%C3%ADa-cruz-blanca-las-murallas

Right diagonally from the brewery restaurant and before crossing the street to Retiro park there is a nice archicturally done Church the Parroquia del Santisimo Sacramento; more here:  https://sacramentinos.cl/inicio/historia/nosotros/

One park that used to be my hangout and so far until now no pictures is the parque Eva Peron off the Plaza Manuel Becerra. There is a Church parroquia de la Covadonga right there too. http://www.madrid.es/portales/munimadrid/es/Inicio/Medio-ambiente/Direcciones-y-telefonos/Parque-Eva-Duarte

http://www.parroquiacovadonga.es/

Of course we walked a lot see Madrid soak up its air, feel the city , once again is beyond words for me. We took the metro this time from the fame  Plaza de España to the Santiago Bernabeu stadium. line 10. https://www.metromadrid.es/es/viaja_en_metro/red_de_metro/lineas_y_horarios/linea10.html

And we took bus 14 from Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to paseo de Recoletos parking spot to recover our car. http://www.emtmadrid.es/EMTBUS/Mibus?lang=es-ES

Of course, we ate all sorts of ice creams and sodas along the way and water from mini grocery stores, but the nice sit in was near my old neighborhood on a new outfit call Audrey Brunch & Coffee, Calle Alcalà 183.  This is a new place, nice clean and friendly full of locals in non tourist central area. We had our chorizo sandwich and fanta lemon here as well as coffees and sweets to load up on the sugar content and survive the 35C weather in the city.  In fact so new is not even in the webpage of the company, wow!! http://pansaudrey.es/nuestras-panaderias-2/

Oh well once again, had to leave my Madrid. I never get tired of visiting even repeat places. I have live in 5 countries, visited 79 cities of our world but Madrid is touching, virus like proportions, again I never get tired of visiting it. From Madrid to heaven and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday. Enjoy it too, Cheers

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August 30, 2016

La Granja de San Ildefonso, a palace in the mountains

On our way back from Segovia we came up the mountain of Navacerrada to see La Granja de San Ildefonso and its Palace. I have to say ,never been here, even if heard all about for yeeears and coming down to Madrid several times a year. Been with the family and already at Segovia , I said ,this is the closest I will ever be so let’s give a visit. It is about 11 kms from Segovia.

We arrive on time, but the palace was getting some facelift, and we did not go in , and believe or not ; I was not impressed. Maybe so used to the best castles/palaces in Europe , especially France and Spain, seen this one was a bit letdown. Nevertheless , the gardens are gorgeous and a brief visit while from Segovia will be good.

The tourist office of the Spanish heritage monuments in Spanish  is at http://www.patrimonionacional.es/real-sitio/palacios/6252?language=en

The national tourist office of Spain is here in English: http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/ciudades-pueblos/otros-destinos/san_ildefonso_o_la_granja.html

And the tourist office of the  Royal Palace of  San Ildefonso, La Granja, http://www.turismorealsitiodesanildefonso.com/

We were able to find parking just outside the property gates around the corner restaurant.  The we set out to walk Inside. We saw the palace and the rénovations and proceeded to the gardens.

King Felipe V (who is the Grandson of King Louis XIV of France and was born at Versailles-1683) acquired the land and building of the Jeronimos in 1721.  Construction continues into the reign of king Carlos III. The garden is surrounded by several fountains with the best looking one the one call Fuente de Neptuno as per photo. The gardens have more than 12,000 trees in-line, 70,000 trees in total , and 30 kms of lawn with 26 fountains.  It has a total area of 146 hectares and a high wall of 6 kms around encircle the garden. The highest point is at the Ultimo Pino at 1325 meters high and the lowest point is at the Puerta del Vivero.

The work on the Palace of San Ildefonso, continues from 1725  to 1732,and the Patio de Coches (carriages) is built where today visitors entered the palace.   Next to the palace you see the Real Colegiata de la Santisima Trinidad Church where the tomb of Felipe V and his wife Isabel de Farnesio are laid.

Spanish history here a bit intro: At this palace was the summer residence of the Bourbon kings and held the wedding of Carlos IV with Maria Luisa de Parma, the signing of the Treaty of San Ildefonso between Spain and France, the sargeants in the revolt obliges Maria Cristina de Nàpoles of proclaimed the Constitution of 1812.  Here too , was a place for receptions of embassies, births and baptism amongt them those of the Infanta Isabel (la Chata) and Don Juan (father of former King Juan Carlos I of Spain) Grandfather of the current one Felipe VI.

Yes , is a nice high mountain range, very regal but the palace is smallish even thus Inside it is said to be a little Versailles lol!

Stay tune for the big city next. Cheers

 La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso  La Granja de San Ildefonso

 

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August 30, 2016

Segovia , aqueduct, alcazar, catedral and memories of always!

I wrote last in my blog on Segovia on March 14,2011. However, I have come here many many years ago , in fact came with my girlfriend 26 years ago , today she is my wife. So , very emotional memories coming back here. Even if always stop short in Madrid, Segovia is special for this and the magnificent stable of monuments of wonderful beauty and architecture.

The municipal tourist office in Spanish is here: http://www.segoviaturismo.es/home.php  ; and the city of Segovia is here in English : http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/  ; and the community of Castilla y Léon is here in English :  http://www.turismocastillayleon.com/turismocyl/en

So where to start ,this is very emotional for me and many nice memories that my mind is going back to when my Mom took me here as a Young early teen boy in the early 1970’s. Then coming with what is now my wife of 26 years, and finally coming up with my grown boys in their 20’s. So special family memories and now to continue sharing.

We took off by car from Cuenca on theh A40,A3 direction Madrid and then the M30 tunnel until getting off the AP61  entering Segovia by Calle de Jose Zorilla and just landed at the underground parking of Ezequiel Gonzalez and then walk all over. The parking is named on Calle Los Barreros / Pº. Ezequiel Gonzalez; more here : http://www.movilidadsegovia.es/muevete/coche/parkings-publicos/

From there in no particular order we set out to see the city on foot , the best way to do so.  The sights we saw or visit were:

We passed by the Puerta de Madrid to find the parking and then walked up  the hilly back around the Cathedral and direction the Alcazar we passed by the Museo de Segovia at Casa del Sol, museum is on since 1842 and the house or casa is very old from the time of king Enrique IV: more here in English: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/museums/442-museum-of-Segovia

We walked on the Paseo de los Tilos by a nice fountain encrusted on the ramparts walls, we took a look at the city and alcazar from a mirador or lookout of the museum of Segovia and walked passed the Puerta San Andrés that connected to the old Jewish quarters, and we passed the tourist office too! More here in Spanish: http://www.turismodesegovia.com/es/que-ver/museos/1017-puerta-de-san-andres

We arrive on the side of the Alcazar following the high end of the old ramparts and with beautiful views of the country below. The Alcazar have older photos can see myself become of age lol! This is a beautiful fortress and a must visit with armor and statues of past Kings and portraits all beautifully kept.  More here in English: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/monuments/alcazar#

Inside the Alcazar, do not missed the section on the Real Colegio de Artilleria, royal college of artillery a wonderful museum of military history of the times. 250 years of history!!  More in Spanish here: http://www.realcolegiodeartilleria.es/historia/resumen-historico

We went around back into Calle de Daoiz and we found our first shopping spree on leather bags on 50% off!!! real bargain from Fernando. We continue on munching on ice cream until we reach the Cathedral or Catedral de Nuestra Señora de  la Asunción y San Frutos , a masterpiece and another must see here.  It has 27 chapels and the cloister, sacristy, Corum, Altar nave included. The work on its construction began in 1525 and completed in 1768! Considered the last gothic Cathedral even if many styles are renassaince. I can’t put enough photos here but i tell you is a must. I am nostalgic about the chapel of Sainte Barbe or Santa Barbara of which my mother was a devotée.

You can see a nice building on calle Juan Bravo just before the Plaza San Martin that today acts as a Municipal Library but once was the Royal Prison where the great Spanish writer Lope de Vega spent time…more here: http://www.jcyl.es/web/jcyl/Portada/es/Plantilla100Directorio/1248366924958/0/1142233551859/DirectorioPadre

You come running if you can to see the Aqueduct and all its splendor, a must and again have a much younger picture of it as souvenir and now again… We came from above the aqueduct goes into the city upper side you come down on a grand stair alongside the aqueduct and see the Plaza de Azoguejo below and the famous restaurant Candido.  This goes beyond words of mine, you just have to come and see it.  You read more here in English and wait for my photos ::) http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/monuments/aqueduct

Another wonderful building that I came straight for it is the Casa Museo Antonio Machado , one of Spain leading poet/writer.  He first came here in November 25 , 1919 to hold a place as professor of French in the Instituto General y Técnico where he stayed until 1932.  And even thus he leaves the city in September 1932 to teach French in the Instituto Calderón de la Barca in Madrid. He did came back for visits afterwards; Segovia keeps a very big heart for him. He was actually born in Sevilla in 1875 , and founder of the Spanish Modernismo been part of the famous Generation of ’98 and member of the Spanish Royal Academy.  One of the poems I always remember was dedicated to the assassination of another great Poet/writer of Spain, Federico Garcia Lorca in the early stages of the Spanish Civil War, “El Crimen fue en Granada” = Se le vio, caminando entre fusiles, por una calle larga, salir al campo frío, aún con estrellas de la madrugada. Mataron a Federico cuando la luz asomaba” IN short, it translates as, He was seen walking amongt rifles on a long street, going out into the cold field still with stars of the night. They killed Federico when the daylight looms. One of my favorite poets of Spain.  There is a guide map where you can trace the walks of his daily routines in the city ask the tourist office. More here: http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/museums/441-house-museum-of-antonio-Machado

You can see the Church of San Andrés, on the street near the ramparts walls and the beforementioned Puerta de San Andrés, more on Masses here; http://www.misas.org/p/iglesia-de-san-andres-Segovia

We came by to see the Church of San Clemente, built in the 12-13C; something more on it here: http://www.sacred-destinations.com/spain/segovia-san-clemente

A nice one was the Church of San Martin, built from the 12C in Romanesque style. More info here: http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/segovia/iglesia_de_san_martin.html

A historic one, Church of San Millàn, in the moorish area built by 12C, similar to the Cathedral of Jaca (you can see my entry on this town on previous post). More on it here: http://www.parroquiasanmillansegovia.com/

Another nice one we passed by was the Church of San Sébastian built in the 12-13C however, dismantled and rebuilt in the early 20C.  More info here in English as well as some on the above Churches; http://visitsegovia.turismodesegovia.com/es/places-of-interest/407-churches-and-monasteries

Convento de Carmelitas Descalzas de San José, founded by Saint Teresa de Jésus in 1574. More info in above link as well as here: http://turismoreligioso.turismodesegovia.com/index.php/que-ver/conventos/convento-de-carmelitas-descalzas-de-san-jose

The Monasterio Santa Maria del Parral we saw at a distance as time is of the essence. However, is a worthy place to visit too. More info here: http://www.spain.info/en/que-quieres/arte/monumentos/segovia/monasterio_del_parral.html

Of course, we walked around and the Plaza Mayor is a must and Plaza de la Merced, and Plaza San Martin as nice too.  And we ate here too lunch in the Plaza Mayor at the La Oja Blanca restaurant. We had of course our bathful of beers, codfish croquettes, chorizo a la cazuela, hot dogs! and omelettes all for about 8€ per person. More here: http://www.guiadelocio.com/segovia/tarde-y-noche/segovia/la-oja-blanca

And we had our day in Segovia, ready to continue to our next post on a nice place nearby ::) Stay tune. Enjoy your week,Cheers.

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August 28, 2016

Valencia from the El Cid to Pedmar10 !!!

It has been visited in my early teen when family still in the area, and now many many years later came back to Valencia. It is a major city of Spain and many many things to see which our time could not possibly allowed for all. Nevertheless, well planned I think we hit the main areas that needed  to be visited and might encourage others to do the same; we will be back.

The city tourist office is at http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/home  ; and the Community of Valencia region here: http://en.comunitatvalenciana.com/places-to-visit/city-of-valencia

We came in by car on the A3 expressway  passing the viaduc de Buñol,  and getting by the Torres de Quarts and the Puente de las Artes straight to our underground parking garage as planned, this was the parking empart Colon at Carrer del Comte de Salvatierra,23 underneath the great Mercado Colon. Wonderful choice walk all over from here. http://www.parking-valencia.com/aparcamiento-mercado-de-colon

Therefore, the first thing we saw was the Mercado Colon.  Created as the market of the area of Ensanche and recently beautifully restored. It is a magical place with plenty of food stalls, and supermarket especialising in meats, seafood, cheeses, wines etc on the below ground floor and restos on the ground floor, way below is the parking. More here: http://www.mercadocolon.es/

From there, we move on by foot to visit as much as the main sights as possible.  Walking is always better than public transport for us;once we parked our car.  In no particular order these are the sights we saw or visit with at least a corresponding photo.

Basilica de la Virgen de los Desamparados or Our Lady of the Foresaken; the city patron Saint as well as the Community of Valencia. This is a must  ,gorgeous in and out, just a sample of photos here. More on it, http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-visit-valencia/monuments/list-of-monuments/monument/7788

We reach the Cathedral or Catedral Santa Maria, very nice but a long line so we skip the interior. See photos of exterior on the this post and for more info here: http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-visit-valencia/monuments/list-of-monuments/monument/valencia-cathedral

We went by the Church San Juan de la Cruz, nice architecture of Baroque style ,indeed. more info here :http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-visit-valencia/monuments/list-of-monuments/monument/7805?_ga=1.21728376.2133243585.1418068697

We went to the Church San Martin, there since the Christian conquest of 1238AD.  There is some info on the city hall page of Valencia in Spanish; http://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/Infociudad_accesible.nsf/vDocumentosWebListado/813ACEAB7DA3A602C12572C20023FD5D?OpenDocument

We passed by the Church Saint Nicolas y San Pedro, a nice Church with lots of history. More info here: http://www.sannicolasvalencia.com/

We took a peek at the Church Santa Caterina and tower right around the Plaza de la Reina. The tower is impressive. More here : http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-visit-valencia/monuments/list-of-monuments/monument/7800?_ga=1.196147311.2133243585.1418068697

Again more history and architecture in the Church of San Juan del Hospital, claiming to be the oldest Church in Valencia; see the official site in English here: http://sanjuandelhospital.es/iglesia-san-juan-del-hospital/?lang=en

The Parrish Church San Tomàs Apostol and San Felipe Neri, borrowing the baroque from Rome, nice architecture; more here : http://en.comunitatvalenciana.com/places-to-visit/costa-blanca/valencia/monument/parish-church-santo-tomas-apostol-and-san-felipe-neri

Government buildings are dull except the city halls of Europe that can be rich and ornamental sometimes former palaces and manor houses; this is no exception in Valencia where on the Plaza del Ayuntamiento (city hall square) you have a beautiful city hall building before you.  Be careful if coming by car , we saw several cars been wreck truck taken to the car pound rather quickly. More here in Spanish: https://www.valencia.es/ayuntamiento/laciudad.nsf/vDocumentosTituloAux/origenes?opendocument&nivel=3&lang=1

There is a great statue here of Francesc de Vinatea a great heroe of the region opposing the feudal ideas of the king and serve as First Juror . One of his famous phrases and slogans of the time is this one “cada uno de nos somos tanto como vos, pero todos juntos mucho más que vos.” It reads something like ,Each of us is as much as you, but all together are more than you. Democracy rings! but this was in around 1300!

This is supposed to be the biggest attraction in Valencia, the Ciudad de las Artes y las Ciencias or the arts and sciences city actually just outside city center ;not really big on muséums and on the last way out, we skip it. However, it is here for content, and more information is here: http://www.cac.es/en/home.html

We, also, took a look at another novelty the train station, we are road warriors so the train is only when must on business trips. The estacion del Norte is very nice architecturally thus and it could be visited. Locals call it Estaçio Nord. More info here in English from official source: http://www.adif.es/en_US/infraestructuras/estaciones/65000/informacion_000080.shtml

Nearby there see the statue on king Jaime I  the Conqueror, very much in the local fabric; he was  Jaime I de Aragon el  Conquistador ( Born Montpellier France in 1208 and died in Alcira in 1276. He was king of Aragon (1213-1276), of Valencia (1238-76),and Mallorca (1229-1276), Count of Barcelona (1213-1276), Count of  Urgel,Lord of Montpellier (1219-1276),and other places in Occitania (covering France and Spain).  The statue is in the Parterre garden by the Plaça d’Alfons el Magnanim. More from city hall in Spanish here: http://www.ayto-valencia.es/ayuntamiento/premiosjaimei_accesible.nsf/vDocumentosTituloAux/917D920EB762A3E5C12572B3003C8E08?OpenDocument&bdOrigen=ayuntamiento%2Fpremiosjaimei_accesible.nsf&idapoyo=491158C06C8711A8C125721F004C84AC&lang=1&nivel=3

And we arrive at the Mercado Central, now this is us, love it, vibrant live, great ambiance and great food and drinks… the center of it. The gorgeous hams was a tentation as well as the great wines to take back to the house. This is a must and for us just enough to be back.  The construction is marvelous and it was already pack with locals and visitors alike.  The official page is here in English: https://www.mercadocentralvalencia.es/El-Mercado.aspx

In Spanish is as such El Colegio del Patriarca San Juan de Ribera , but just call it the Patriarch. A gorgeous monument showcasing the work of Father Juan de Ribera (Saint).  It is a vast building, we took a peek Inside and it is gorgeous, Worth coming back for a detail look. More in English here; http://patriarcavalencia.es/?lang=en

Another that needed more time was the Museo Nacional de Ceràmica y Artes Suntuarias “Gonzalez Martî” -Palacio Marqués de Dos Aguas. or simply the Ceramics and arts museum. A gorgeous baroque building richly decorated with what it shows! More info in English here: http://www.mecd.gob.es/mnceramica/en/home.html

There is a Plaza de Toros or  bullfight arena here, and rather dull round brick building. It is next to the Estacio Nord train station. More on it here: http://www.visitvalencia.com/en/what-to-visit-valencia/monuments/list-of-monuments/monument/7828

And we headed for the beaches, passing by the Puerta de la Mar arch. The weather by now was cloudy a bit of fine rain so not much action but the beach is long and wide, rather nice. We moved the car and park at the Paseo Neptuno parking garage, and then walk up and down the beaches of Arenal and Cabanyal, and continues into Malvarossa. The paseo maritimo walkway is rather nice with shops and restos and of course hôtels. Plenty of activities in sandy wide beach, something to think about next time with more time.  There is a nice statue mémorial to Antonio Ferrandis a great Valencian actor.

And we came back one more time to home base in the Serrania de Cuenca. Before moving the car from the parking at Mercado Colon we had lunch at Pantalan 5 in the ground floor of the market, nice cold beers and sandwiches of chorizo and potatoes, croquettes of ham and cheese and other goodies for about 8€ per person. Nice simply and grand style lunch in a beautiful place. More here: http://pantalan5.com/donde-estamos/ ,and more photos here : http://www.guiadevalencia.es/esp/categoria:bares-cafeterias-etc/anuncio:pantalan-5/seccion:el-local

Until next episode on our trailblazing saga of Spain, hope to be given you a sampler to come to Spain, is everything Under the Sun…and more. Enjoy your Sunday, Cheers.

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August 28, 2016

And one more time in Cuenca our main city home base!

And on our second weekend to keep it low and relax we stick around our area where we rented a rural house in Las Majadas (casa Pitu) in the Serrania de Cuenca mountains at about 36 kms to Cuenca where we descended several times. See previous posts on Cuenca and Las Majadas.

Now we came down early and we saw a nice spectacle on the road down the mountains; we have seen goats, wild pigs, cerfs, and cows on the side. This time there were two cows right on the road blocking our access!!! (see photo). So how to get them to move lol!!! When I claxon they just look at me like we are here and you wait ::) finally after some minutes that seems like an eternity one of the cows moved to the road edge and we were able to pass by the other one that just stood there on the road looking at us wow!!! It was very funny could be worse…. We move on.

We went down to city center by the by now repeated metal art work on the road into city center.  We came into the Stream of the river Jùcar that passes by the city and the Church of Virgen de la Luz, dating from the 16C .  This Church is famous for housing the Black Virgin. More here in Spanish: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/iglesia-de-la-virgen-de-la-luz-30464/visita/

There is a curiosity that we did not took the bait for it but maybe interested for others, the Tuneles Alfonso VIII, admission is 3,50€. These are underground passages showing life as it was in the time ,and serve as refuge during the Spanish Civil War. It has 90 meters long by 250 square meters of space with three entry points; been the main at the street of same name Calle Alfonso VIII.  On this street you can ,also, admire great architecture as on the houses or casa de los Clemente Aróstegui from the 17C,with a facade adapted to the curve of the street; casa del Corregidor, with a palace like facade and on the back gives way to the neighborhood of (Barrio) de San Marín; and the casa de los Mendoza, that now houses the museum Museo de las Ciencias de Castilla-La Mancha. The street is hilly as most in Cuenca. http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/tabid__11430/default.aspx

See the beautiful photos of the rio Jùcar river passing thru the city and the life of promenades in the shade very nice. It goes around the town up to the mountains and where we stayed. There is a great eery nice shot from the town up the mountain and a huge Christ on the very top. This is Spain still.

We came looking for the Torre Mangana tower and we did! This is a huge tower on the upper part of the city.  The tower is from 1565 and the clock and Cross were added in 1532. This clock mark the official time of Cuenca even today! There is ongoing excavations below it closed to the public, as  the base of the tower on the plaza de Mangana,was where the neighoborhood of Arabs and later the Jewish quarter in medieval times and finally the Christian area of  Santa María(Saint Mary).  More here in Spanish : http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/cuenca/paseo/torre_mangana.htm

From the tower you can see détails of the city such as the Church San Andrés: http://cvc.cervantes.es/artes/ciudades_patrimonio/cuenca/paseo/iglesia_andres.htm

And Oratorio de San Felipe de Neri: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/oratorio-de-san-felipe-de-neri-30764/visita/

Of course, we cannot go down to the town for the whole day and don’t eat. So lunch we had at Bar Cafe Martina on the pedestrian nice city center street of Calle Carreteria. This is a local joint very friendly nice and the price right. We had our usual beers Under a umbrella canopy in the middle of the street,and had our omelettes, chorizos, and croquettes all good for about 8€ per person.  More info here: http://www.baresdecuenca.com/establecimiento/Martina/36

Nice town, Unesco historical site, and easy in and out on the road A40 of Castilla La Mancha. Enjoy it.

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August 27, 2016

Fortified Alarcon, and the Serrania de Cuenca

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This has been a wonderful trip with the family that will stay with us for a long time. I do travel quite a bit either on business or my football/soccer fanatic friends, but going with the family to areas new and old has been fantastic.

And we move on to the fortified town of Alarcon with its towers and castle. We moved up from our previous post on Belmonte to Alarcon on the road N420 and then the old N III. You come on a mountaineous area throught the gate of the bridge or Puerta del Puente.

The tourist office  in Spanish from the province of Cuenca is here: http://turismo.cuenca.es/portal/lang__es/rowid__126754,22329/dTabID__1/tabid__9384/Default.aspx

You have the tourist office of the region or autonomous region of Castilla La Mancha here with a gorgeous photo: http://www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/alarcon-44031/visita/

You see immediately the castle like a spiral on a hill as you come around by car up the hilly road into the main square of town. The town takes its name from king  Alarico,a visigoth that conquest the fortress from the Romans; today you can still the ramparts wall of this fortress. By  784AD it took refuge here the Moorish invaders and the siege on it took about nine months , that the Moors call the Spanish conqueror Fernán Martínez de Ceballos in 1184AD the year of Alarcon. The castle today is a small parador or tourist residence you can rent out!. More here in English:  http://www.parador.es/en/paradores/parador-de-alarcon

The Church of Santa Maria sits here smallist fortified alike but very richly ornate on the tympan doors. Built between 1520 and 1565  More on the Church here; http://www.aytoalarcon.es/stamaria.html

You,also, get to see the 13C Church of Santa Trinidad as you entered the town after the castle. More here in Spanish as well : http://www.aytoalarcon.es/statrinidad.html

The center for contemporary Arts on mural paintings sits right in the main plaza or square on a former Church( St John the Baptist). More in English here: http://www.jesusmateo.com/eng/pi/arte.html

From here not far, we headed back to our base but having done so early we took an extra ride up the mountains of the Serrania de Cuenca to as much as 1900 meters ( about 6270 feet) seeking lovely villages of Toba and its Dam and Uña and the lagoon as well as Ciudad Encantada.

The Embalse de Toba or water reservoir you can fish and swim as long as the waters are not full and with careful précautions. It is beautiful country that I hope the pictures will tell. It is part of the town of Uña a bit further downhill.  From the water organism in Spanish you have info on the embalses in the region of Castilla la Mancha and of course Toba here: http://pagina.jccm.es/agenciadelagua/index.php?id=22&p=11

The Laguna de Uña was created way back by king Alfonso XIII that was done as soon as the embalse de Toba was done early in the last century . Now it has a water current into and out by canalisation from the Salto de  Villalba de la Sierra, to generate electricity in the hydroelectric plant. This site in Spanish for a rural house ad tells nicely about the laguna de Uña: http://casaelescaleron.com/la-laguna-de-una/

Finally, one of the most popular tourist sites in the area for those who like mountaineering, walks:trekking, and nature in general. However, best to do this in better weather as the heat of these days in the 30’sC would make a trip like this not useful. Anyway ,Ciudad Encantada or enchanted city is wonderful; and recommended by all locals.  Here you see stone mountains turn into statues, objects, monuments to look at marvelously done by nature. It has guided tours to explain all for five euros admission, and check ahead as weather is important here. More in English here: http://www.ciudadencantada.es/en

And we just came down for a few minutes drive to our house in the mountains near here. I must say that we are not nature aficionados per se, and prefers the city life, but having come to these places makes you aware of their inhered beauty and pleasant surrounding that makes a trip worthwhile after all. Enjoy nature ! and the photos.

 

 

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