Archive for ‘Spain’

June 23, 2021

Memories of my Spain, Villanua!!!

Ah yes so many memories here enough to write a book or two or volumes! Spain is everything under the sun. We end up going there since the moment I was back in Europe. France this time took the cup but so close we could go by car every year, even while staying in southern France! When I met what would be my wife in 1990 I took her to Spain to know my roots and we passed by Villanua. The story is in my blog! and we have passed several times by it. Therefore, this is memories of my Spain at Villanua!!!

This is a road taken many many times since 1990. It nostalgic for me and brings me many good memories now even more.  My dear late wife of 28 years Martine, came to love coming down and did all the preparations of the trip , we were thinking of buying a second home in Castilla La Mancha ,before the F cancer took my Martine, away from me on April 30 2018.  I am talking with deep emotions about a very small town in Spain, call Villanua.

Villanúa is a mountain town in the Province of Huesca and the communidad autonoma de Aragon in northern Spain. It sits at the foot of the peak Collarada with 2 886 meters. The town itself is at 953 meters. It is half way between Jaca and the ski stations of Candanchu , Canfranc ,and Astun and only 12 km from the frontier with France over the Somport tunnel on the road N330 or E-7.

The first time in 1990 we stopped at the mountain hotel Faus Hutte, Carretera de Francia, Villanùa, Huesca province  later was called hotel LaCasa but a very charming place. We ate right there even waking up the cook, so it became our home as we tried to stop there always on our road trips into Spain.  Years later it became as still the El Albergue Villanúa.

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A bit of history I like

Very old town was mentioned for the first time in the Cartrusa of Santa Cruz de las Seros in 992 AD   The Church of San Esteban from the 11C inside it has a polychrome St James from the 15C and a Virgin with Child from the 10C or early 11C called here the Our Lady of Angels or Nuestra Señora de los Angeles.

Things to see I like

It has the cave of Las Guixas, dolmens or old stone as well as the abandon towns of Cenarbe and Aruej with its small roman Church from the 11C. The old bridge or Puente Viejo from the 12C built by ordered of king Pedro I of Aragon in 1100 the only access to the town until the new bridge in the 1990’s. The adventure park of Parque de aventura de los Arboles El Juncaral. The biggest in the pyrénees.

Villanua is an excellent base for the skiing station of Candanchu and Canfranc especially and for the lovers of nature and walks, bikes, it is very laidback and the hotel/restaurant we stayed and always stop is still there even if the name has change. Even if we do not stop, we always passed by here at least one way and take a look at the hotel. The story is we arrived very late by 22h or 10pm and the kitchen was closed, but the nice owner open it to serve us and even allow to take pictures of his pyrenian dogs.

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In addition to skiing, the area offers great caves and walk trails in the mountains. Some of the better known caves other than above are Fuente del Candado, Way of Canfranc, new cave or Esjamundo, and Venero. It is ,also, a way to the Camino de Santiago or the way to Santiago de Compostela, many routes pass by here all into the Camino Aragonés.

The town of Villanua things to see webpage in Spanish:  http://www.villanua.net/el-pueblo/patrimonio/

The now call Albergue Villanua (old Faus Hutte) hotel resto in Spanish: http://alberguevillanua.es/

The Villanua tourist office on things to see/do in Spanish: https://www.turismovillanua.net/que-ver-en-villanua/

The Pirineum of Jaca on Villanua things to see /do in Spanish: https://www.jaca.com/villanua.php

Not been there but one of the principal attraction of Villanua is the cave of Guixa see them at the Huesca province tourist office in Spanish: https://www.descubrehuesca.com/cuevas-de-las-guixas-en-villanua/

Memories to last a lifetime at Villanùa. I have many paper photos and with the aid of the internet and wordpress blog, my history can now be kept longer and for more to know the beauty of the mountains of Huesca and Aragon, kingdom of Spain.

Hope you enjoy the story and thanks for reading me since Nov 2010. And remember, happy travels, good health and many cheers to all!!!

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June 23, 2021

This is unique San Clemente!!!

And I bring you down to my beloved Spain. So many memories in my life and can’t wait to be back when possible to do so safe. The family and I went long stays here over the years , and many new places that joined our pantheon of memorable spots; one of this was San Clemente.  There are several posts on the town in my blog. Let me update for me and you this wonderful visit. Hope you enjoy it as I.

When we made our runs of Castilla La Mancha in the last couple of years, after I convince my dear late wife Martine to come here. It was not easy to convince as she wanted to go elsewhere in Spain. However, my adolecent and youthful days were spent around here, and it is like a pilgrimage each time around my beloved Spain. So , let me tell you about San Clemente in the Province of Cuenca, Castilla La Mancha autonomous community of the kingdom of Spain.

We were base in the serrania de Cuenca high on the mountains at 1400 meters, and used it as a base to go by car all over the Castilian countryside.  I have remote recolletions of been by here before, but we decided to pass by and check it out with the family. It was a memorable stop and we love it. This is San Clemente, another memorable spot of nice family souvenirs that today are stronger than ever. She would still reminded me about it ,and I am sure , it would have been easy to convince her again to vacation by these lands.

San Clemente is in the southeast part of the  province of Cuenca  historically it is known as the town of  Mancha Alta, inside the  Mancha de Montearagón area, this name came from the fact that the Castilians traveling to Valencia  (once conquered by king Jaime I of Aragon in 1238) climb up or went up towards Aragon, and therefore the high or alta on the name that was at a higher altitude.

It is about 110 km from Cuenca, 80 km from Albacete 197 km from Madrid ,and 200 km from Valencia on the banks of the Rus river and the roadcross of the  A-43 and AP-36, and only 30 km from the A-3 that connects fast and free Madrid to Valencia. The signalisation of the roads are AP-36 ( Autopista Ocaña-La Roda: Ocaña – La Roda), A-43 (Autovía Extremadura-Comunidad Valenciana), A-3 ( Autovía del Este: Madrid – Valencia) connecting itself to the  A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. The A-31 ( Autovía de Alicante: Atalaya del Cañavate – La Roda – Albacete – Almansa – Alicante) connects also with the A-43 at Atalaya del Cañavate. Other roads and directions are the N-310 ( Manzanares – San Clemente – Villanueva de la Jara)  N-301 ( Ocaña – Cartagena) ; CM-3009 ( Saelices – San Clemente),  CM-3112 (San Clemente – Honrubia) ; CM-3117 ( San Clemente – Minaya). N are National roads ,and CM are community regional roads.  It could be tempting by many but I would not do this trips with bus or train, not comfortable in my opinion. However, there are buses and a station in San Clemente connecting to Madrid, Albacete, Cuenca, Valencia, and severall other towns. The train station closest are in Villarrobledo at about 29 km and  Albacete at 80 km.  Albacete has AVE connection to correspond with any city in Spain using RENFE.

A bit of history I like.

Here, there was a Goda town venerating the Virgin and once the Moors invasion the Virgin was hidden in a rock inside a cave.  On this spot, later came to live a Moorish people but a pastor found the Virgin in a cave known locally as the Mora or moor at the foot of a castle. The Virgen de Rus is today the Patron Saint of  San Clemente, an a Church was built at the foot of the old Castle.  The name of the town comes from a knight that was installed here name Clemente Pérez de Rus, the name of the castle before the founding of the town.  The conquest of Cuenca and Alarcón by king  Alfonso VIII and later defeat of the moors at Navas de Tolosa in 1212, is the cause for the annexation of San Clemente and its territory in Castile.  Depending of the town castle of Alarcón it passes to be part of the Marquis of Villena under the lordship of the Manuel, first and later of the Infantes of Aragon finally passing to Don Juan Pacheco, Master of the order of Santiago (St James), and first marquis of  Villena.  In 1445,  Don Juan Pacheco raised it to a City recognized by king Juan II of Aragón and Navarra ,and  Enrique IV of Castilla.  The town of San Clemente took side with queen Isabel I  la Católica (the Catholic) on the fight with Juana for the right to rule in Castile and rises up against the power of the Marquis of Villena that sided with Juana. Once the war of succession over, the Catholic Kings incorporated the town into the crown and freeing it from the association of  Alarcón; receiving the visit of the Catholic Kings (Isabel and Fernando)  in 1488 as gratitude for the services rendered to them. During the follow up war of Succession was the headquarters of the Duke of Berwich showing support for king Felipe V that gave the town the title of most noble , most loyal and trusted city.

In the 19C during the War of Independance of 1808-1814 (against Napoleon’s France) it offered resistance to them as Napoleon sent a division Frére to reinforce the army of Moncey  that were operating in Valencia and Dupont that was in Andalucia. However, the Frére division could not do what it was intended due in part to the resistance of the local people of San Clemente, amongst them was the local heroe Bibiano Hellín. During the Spanish Civil War it was built here an aerodrome and was the home of the 3ª squadron of the group 12 of Russian bombers  Tupolev SB-2 (katiuska) and some Russian fighters planes such as the biplanes Polikarpov I-15. As comunist USSR sided with the Republicans in the war.

Main things to see in San Clemente, in my opinion are:

At the Roman times both Republican and Imperial there was a Roman bridge to cross the Rus river with three arcs and still the best preserve of the Roman bridges in the province.

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Parroquia de Santiago Apóstol ,or parish Church of St James the Apostle is on the renaissance style from the 16C with elements Gothic from early in the 15C and some Baroque from the 17C.  It is a basilical Church with three nerfs and huge pillars and chapters and starets coupolas.

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The Casa Consistorial  it served as the city hall and currently the first floor houses the Museum of Graphic Work “Fundación Antonio Pérez”. On the ground floor is the Temporary Exhibition Hall of the Museum of Graphic Work. Inside, the Local Historical Archive is preserved, with documents and copies from the 14C. 

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Torre Vieja,or old tower, was built in the 15C before 1445 during the reign of king Juan II .It is a tower with a square built and it is the oldest construction in San Clemente.  Currently it is the Tourist office and from 1998 the Etnographic museum of Labranza. Castillo de Santiago de la Torre  or castle of James of the tower is on the west of San Clemente,on the banks of the Záncara river.  It is a medieval castle that belonged to the Order of ST James or Santiago as well as the Marquis of Villena and the Catholic Kings. However, last in 2017 was in bad shape and hopefully it will be safeguarded for future generations.

The main event here is to come during the Festival of Rus or Fiestas de Rus on the Sunday of resurrection when groups of young and young at heart come together in the main square or Plaza Mayor  below the columns of the old city hall with money in cash to begin one of the most beautiful spectacles in all of Castilla-La Mancha. The auction of the walks of the Virgen de Rus. The square is full of people on foot with notary, and brotherhoods houses that within half an hour of uses and costums starts the groups putting a quantity of money on the table for all to see, each group would do the same until the last one and on the last minute push for the highest amount ;even bats have been given to the groups to reach the last table with the highest amount. The auction of the Cross follows the same ritual but with younger groups . Until the spectacle is done and all go to Mass.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip to this nice town of San Clemente are:

The San Clemente tourist office on its heritage in Spanish, see right hand column for more: http://www.turismosanclemente.com/es/edificios-religiosos.zhtm

The City of San Clemente on things to see in Spanish: https://www.sanclemente.es/que-ver-en-san-clemente/

There, a new town for you maybe… this is another of the jewels you will find in nice Castilla La Mancha, the region of Don Quixote of Cervantes Saavedra. Again enjoy San Clemente, we will be back!

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

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June 15, 2021

Urdos, memories never to forget!

And I bring you to some of the most memorable experiences of my life in a little town of less than 120 folks right before the Pyrénées mountains of France! Let me tell you a bit of the story, and hope you like it as I always will.

I forgot to count the number of times we passed by this road passing by Urdos ever since that wonderful moment of 1990 when my then girlfriend gave me her VW Golf to make the trip from Meaux to Madrid! Indeed many years and many trips , thereafter with family and the boys until her passing in 2018, my dear late wife Martine. Memories forever!

Urdos is located in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region of my belle France. The town borders with Spain (Aragon) to the south. Urdos is the first village in the Aspe valley, the gateway to Béarn and Aquitaine for travelers coming from/to Spain. Urdos was once an obligatory stopover due to the complexity of crossing the Franco-Spanish border resulting in the presence of gendarmerie, police and customs services. The town is served by the national road N134. The N134 goes towards Spain passing by Urdos the last stop in France. The anecdote is that I passed also before the European Union and the customs office border crossing was here!

Urdos

Two important events in the history of Urdos On September 15, 1915, opening of the Somport railway tunnel and on January 17, 2003, opening of the Somport road tunnel. And I took the tunnel and before going up the mountains on second gear as far back as 1990!!

Some of the things to see here are the houses from the 16C, 17C and 19C. the train station on the Pau-Canfranc line, closed to traffic since 1970 (now reopening for domestic service and international out of Canfranc on the works) . The Somport tunnel. And Sainte-Marie-Madeleine Church, from late 19C. Almost all of the church was rebuilt in the second half of the 19C. Between 1887 and 1889, it received a set of decorative paintings and Glass roofs were provided in 1901.

Urdos

You can visit the surprising Fort du Portalet, built on the cliff and partly troglodyte. From Urdos, you will access the Somport ski resort at an altitude of 1600 meters and the Somport ski area remarkable for the quality of its environment and ideal in particular for the practice of Nordic skiing .

Urdos is part of the community of towns of the upper Béarn or Haut-Béarn contact as not much on a town of less than 120 folks! : http://: https://www.hautbearn.fr/nous-connaitre/territoire/urdos.html

It is a small hole on the world map, and now just a fast passing on the way from France to Spain but for us its a major town, Urdos will not be forgotten , part of our family’s history and great memorable moments of family travel. You too can take the ride its wonderful with huge beautiful views of the Pyrénées mountains, and the road freedom of a road warrior. Hope you enjoy the post, and again thanks for reading me!

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

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June 15, 2021

The Col d’ Aubisque !

Well here I am taking one from the vaults as the saying goes. This one is a memorable road warrior trip of the many taken into and by the Pyrénées mountains between my dear France and Spain over the years. This one was steep and high but we love it, great memories of crossing by the Col d’ Aubisque (mountain pass). Hope you enjoy it as we did!

One of the memorable mountain pass over the years for us and a great sporting history to boot. Here is my small contribution to the Aubisque pass.

The Col d’ Aubisque pass is in the central French Pyrenees, culminating at 1,709 meters, about 40 km from Tarbes and Pau in the department of Pyrénées-Atlantiques no. 64, in the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region. It is dominated to the south by the peak of Ger (2,613 meters). It is located in the town of Béost and is generally closed to traffic in early December and reopened in early May due to heavy snow avalanches. The Aubisque pass is supported by the Col de Soulor pass, that connects the Ossau valley on the towns of Arudy / Laruns / Gourette to that of the Gave de Pau on the towns of Argelès-Gazost by the ledge road that crosses the Litor cirque, in the upper part. from the Ouzom valley, the road D 918! Magnificent views on the road warrior trips!!

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The Col d’Aubisque pass is a thermal road, built thanks to the Empress Eugenie, wife of Napoleon III, who wanted to be able to link Eaux-Bonnes (good waters as in thermal) to the Argelès valley and its various spa towns that she helped to promote through her many trips. This thermal road was completed in 1864.

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The Col d’Aubisque pass is an important summer tourist destination, especially for amateur cyclists. There is a stele in memory of Lucien Buysse , a Belgian cyclist and winner of the tour de France in 1926. He best known for having won in 1926, after more than seventeen hours in the saddle, the Bayonne-Luchon stage, a dantesque stage of anthology, generally considered as the most extraordinary stage in history. of the Tour de France, fully run in the pouring rain. There are giant sculptures of bikes in the colors of the Tour de France (one yellow, one white with red dots, one green). Nowadays, it is a starting point for excursions and a winter sports center. It is close to the Gourette ski station. The ascend/rise of Aubisque is an annual mountain race taking place at the end of August with 18.7 km and 1,204 meters of elevation from the town of Laruns.(which where we past too!)

The Col d’Aubisque pass is an integral part of the “legend of the Tour”. While the organizers of the first tours did not dare to approach the high mountains, the step was taken in 1910 with the first major Pyrenean stage. Since then, the Tour de France has crossed it 73 times, more than one year out of two. A new ascent of the Col d’Aubisque was scheduled during the 6th stage of the Vuelta of Spain 2020, but the passage of this pass was canceled and the stage modified due to the ban on passage in France following the resurgence of the pandemic of COVID-19. Too bad indeed.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and be ready to climb either bike or car worth it fun sublime views of the wonderful Pyrénées.

The history of the col d’Aubisque by the cyclists: http://www.memoire-du-cyclisme.eu/eta_tdf/aubisque.php

Another cyclist webpage on the ascend of the Col d’Aubisque : https://www.cyclos-cyclotes.org/archives/col_aubisque.html

The Gourette tourist office on the Col d’Aubisque in French: https://www.gourette.com/decouvrir/le-col-d-aubisque/

The Pyrénées tourist office of the Béarn on the Col d’Aubisque route Laruns to Eaux Bonnes in French: https://pratique.tourisme64.com/itineraire/laruns/col-d-aubisque-la-reference/ITIAQU064FS0003O.html

There you go folks, another dandy off the beaten path road warrior trip into the sublime, gorgeous, wonderful Pyrénées. Hope you have enjoy the run as I

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

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June 13, 2021

The Vuelta de España at Cuenca!!!

This is a memorable little post I did a while back during our vacations to my beloved Spain. Many memorable moments over my life and very special at Cuenca, province of Cuenca, autonomous community of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain. Let me tell you about an event I like.

We were having our vacation in Las Majadas (see posts) and would come down always to Cuenca  (see posts) on our way out as my road warrior instincts tells me. While passing by city center Cuenca we notice preparation for a bike race…it turn out to be the stage of the Vuelta de España or the tour of Spain bicycle race! Therefore, we splash on this opportunity and the first for my sons!

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We cruise,walked and climbed by several sites to get in the flavor, the air, the beauty of this in country place. The best travel is often off the beaten path and this we know well.  We set out from Las Majadas up into the mountains by the site of Los Callejones. on the CUV 9113 road and panels lead you there; passing by it, this is a place of nature walkers with plenty of mountain terrain and rock formations from another era ! high mountain and wild animals such as deers abound and were seen!

We came back to Cuenca and saw the preparations and ending of the 7th stage of the Vuelta de España or tour of Spain bicycle race! The whole town was mobilize, really an spectacle to see.

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On the way back to Las Majadas we were to see a herd of brave bulls leisurely eaten on the prairies, dare not go in lol!!! We saw a stray young deer on the A40 and needed to zigzag around it !!!no time for a picture yikes!

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Another great day in back country Cuenca, and Castilla La Mancha. Really a great vacation time and so hard to think we must come back to work yikes!!!

The Cuenca tourist office in Spanish on the nature wonders including the wonderfully huge Serrania de Cuenca (see post) where we stayed up 1400 meters!(about 4620 feet). https://www.visitacuenca.es/es/naturaleza

The same Cuenca tourist office on the road and nature trails such at the above mentioned Los Callejones: https://visitacuenca.es/es/ruta/los-callejones

The Cuenca province tourist office on trails to see better on foot/bike but car were ok by us! https://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/rutas

Cycling news journal on the “historic” stage 7 of the Vuelta de España we saw in Cuencahttps://www.cyclingnews.com/races/vuelta-a-espana-2017/stage-7/results/

There you go folks, a dandy short post on a wonderful family experience. We are missing one a big one ,but looking forward to be back to the area as soon as possible. Cuenca has become a memorable point of many family happy times and we love it. Hope you enjoy the post as I.

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

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June 13, 2021

Some news from Spain CV

And back to Spain everything under the sun, and things are getting hotter. All is out and most booked in most places already, the hunger to travel is big in the 2nd most visited country in the world (UN-WTO). I am waiting for the stadium Bernabeu to back to my Madrid so will hold on past August for this. In the meantime, here are the latest some news from Spain already in its 105 edition. Thanks for reading me since Nov 2010!!! aprreciated.

Something enormously historical is happening… The National Heritage releases the codices of the Cantigas de Alfonso X. The manuscripts of the wise king kept in El Escorial, the only ones so far inaccessible to the public and researchers, will be available online before the end of July 2021. The two codices of the Cantigas de Santa María ,a collection of more than 400 songs in Galician produced by King Alfonso X the Wise in the 13C  inaccessible until now. The Codex Rico and the Codex of the Musicians have slept a secular dream, kept in the Royal Library of San Lorenzo de El Escorial. Webpage: https://www.patrimonionacional.es/coleccion/real-biblioteca-del-monasterio-de-el-escorial

This in Càceres I had mentioned before, this is an update. It was not enough for it to be a UNESCO World Heritage City or to have one of the best preserved medieval historic centers in Europe, full of palaces, large houses, churches and crenellated towers. Cáceres never tires of hoarding claims. The last (but not the only one) is the new building with a garden at the Helga de Alvear Museum of Contemporary Art. This space is added to the existing one known as Casa Grande, on Calle Pizarro. A total of 8,000 m2 where the most complete private collection of contemporary art in Europe is exhibited, belonging to the gallery owner Helga de Alvear (Germany, 1936). Of all the corners of the palace open to the public, the Sala de Armas ( Weapons room on the first floor) with grotesques decorating its walls and a spectacular polychrome alfarje (carved wooden ceiling), both from the 16C, attracts attention. While on the upper floor there is one of the palace’s greatest treasures: a selection of 9,000 documents and codices from the Foundation’s Historical Archive, with jewels such as the account book of Queen Isabel la Católica written by her waiter, Sancho de Paredes Golfín.  From the Palacio de los Golfines you have to head to the Torre de los Sande (15C), which rises with power although it is topped-like so many others in the city, by order of the Catholic Monarchs. In the Plaza de San Mateo, occupying one of the corners of the Palace of the Saavedra. webpage: http://fundacionhelgadealvear.es/en/art-visual-centre/

The esplanade in front of which the reception opens gives a glimpse, a little further away, of the magnificent façade of the monastery of Santa María de la Vid. It was in 1140 when Sancho Ansúrez and Domingo Gómez de Campdespina, two noble students at the then recently inaugurated Sorbonne University in Paris, returned to their Castilian fiefdoms to found the first two premonstratensian monasteries on the Peninsula: Santa María de Retuerta. (today Abadía Retuerta winery, with its luxurious Le Domaine hotel, in the Ribera del Duero) and Santa María del Monte Sacro, moved two decades later to the other bank of the Duero with the name of the Vid. In 1516, Abbot Íñigo López de Mendoza ordered the erection of a new cloister and a church under the current Renaissance moldings that welcomed other Baroque reforms undertaken during the 18C. The only bestiary in Castilian that exists in the world, written in 1570, is preserved here. Anecdotes and stories are not lacking in the monument, so many as to justify the transformation of the old monastic inn into a modern hotel opened in 2020, in full pandemic convulsion. The first floor is dedicated to the bedrooms. The stairs, or the elevator, are left to contemplate, on the right, the library and the private area of the monks of the order of San Agustín, who since 1856 have inhabited the monument after the ineffable confiscation of Mendizábal (state vs church). To the left are the rooms, whose windows overlook the cloister. Monasterio de la Vid, Calle del Camino Real, 3. La Vid (Burgos) webpage :https://hospederiamonasteriodelavid.es/

Las Chorreras del Cabriel  , wonderful memories as we stayed nearby couple of summers, this is near Las Majadas (see posts). They are waterfalls, and pools of crystalline water, declared a Reserve of the Biosphere of Valle del Cabriel. This incredible natural setting is similar to what we can find on paradisiacal islands, so it is well worth a visit in summer. Of course, it must be borne in mind that it is only allowed to bathe in the pools and it is totally forbidden to step on the tuff formations and slide down the stromatolite ramps since they are very valuable as they are considered one of the best representations of these geomorphological elements of  the Iberian Peninsula. Webpage: https://www.chorrerasdelcabriel.es/es

Hondarribia, a day in the territory of the Vikings (as the locals are call). The medieval and marine town dazzles with its traditional architecture, the views of the bay of Txingudi. The best way to enter Hondarribia is by descending Mount Jaizkibel. The sanctuary of the Virgin of Guadalupe refers us to the traditional Alarde (civic-religious parade to fulfill the vow made by the people to the Virgin during the siege of 1638), which is celebrated every September 8. From here, the Bidasoa river is a water scar that separates it from Irun and Hendaye, a neighbor with a truly irresistible beach. In view are part of the medieval wall that borders the old city.  Before crossing the Santa María gate and entering the walls, the sculpture of the Hatxero (sapper), symbol of the city, welcomes you.

It is impossible not to recall the slow steps of Dustin Hoffman and Steve McQueen, convicted prisoners in Papillon, shot here in 1973. The City/Town Hall and the Zuloaga palace both from the 18C or the Church of Nuestra Señora del Manzano , where on June 3, 1660, Maria Teresa of Austria and Luis XIV, the Sun King, were married by proxy, before staging the formal wedding six days later and at full speed in Saint Jean de Luz France.  The Plaza de Armas , the usual meeting point, is dominated by the parador Carlos V, from the 10C. Half castle, half palace, its monumentality controls, from the top of the promontory, the bay of Txingudi and explains its old function of fortress and watchtower. Continuing along San Nikolas, you reach the Plaza de Gipuzkoa where the brick creaks with the traditional architecture in wood and stone. There is a monument of a bear and a strawberry tree in Plaza Javier Ugarte as a courtesy to the many visitors from Madrid. It is essential to know the essence of the chacolí, cultural heritage of the Basque Country. Nothing like a visit to the Txakolineria Hiruzta, on the outskirts, which thanks to the oenologist Ana Martín has recovered the centuries-old tradition of production and elaboration of versatile, gastronomic and first-rate chacolís. Webpage: https://www.hiruzta.com/en/home/

There are two nearby excursions from Hondarribia. You can go to Saint Jean de Luz and see what remains of the original La Pérgola casino , or visit the fishing villages of Pasaia, crossing by boat from Pasai Donibane to Pasai San Pedro and remember Orson Welles reading only in the historic Casa Cámara restaurant and visit the house where Victor Hugo lived during his stay in 1843. To see what inspired him this place just have to open his book Journey to the Pyrenees and the Alps. More on the house of Victor Hugo here: http://www.oarsoaldeaturismoa.eus/en/explore-oarsoaldea/our-museums/victor-hugo-house.html

The Casa Camara resto of the readings of Orson Welles: https://www.casacamara.com/index_english.html

And the Spring 2021 has arrived with all kinds of gifts at the store that forever changed the wine trade in Spain, Lavinia. Thierry Servant, a French businessman living in Spain, founded Lavinia in Madrid 22 years ago, before those of Paris and Geneva. Following Servant’s death in an unfortunate accident, he was succeeded by his daughter Charlotte. And, in Spain, its director has been Juan Manuel Bellver, a journalist with deep knowledge of wine who has become one of the first merchants in Spain.  The good news is that there is a new  opening of the new Paris headquarters on Avenue Victor Hugo (after closing Madeleine as too big too expensive), better equipped for tasting its thousand most special references, while another 5,000 are sold online. The timing could not be better if it were intentional: The Wine Spectator, the world’s leading wine magazine, has just informed Lavinia Madrid, in this case as a restaurant, that it has been awarded the Best of Award of Excellence, an award for the extraordinary quality of the wine list and the cellar.  The French webpage already has the new addresses: https://www.lavinia.fr/fr/pages/nos-magasins

And to finish with something off the beaten path but worth the detour. The story of Juan de Goyeneche and José de Churriguera who created the town of Nuevo Baztán from scratch, a town that served to house the workers of the luxury factories that settled there.  Its streets have been filled every weekend with curious eyes that came and went from the palace to the church, and from there to the nearby houses. A place created from scratch. The history of an era. Nuevo Baztán is between 40 and 50 km from Madrid, depending on the starting point. And there, in effect, an industrial complex with factories was built at the beginning of the 18C where luxury objects were made for the European market. An innovative development not far from Alcalá de Henares. Webpage on how to reach Nuevo Baztàn: https://turismo.ayto-nuevobaztan.es/#

There you go folks, another episode of my long running series Some news from Spain. Hope you enjoy it and give you some ideas to better spend your time in my beloved Spain.

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

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June 13, 2021

Plaza Mayor of Cuenca!!!

And I bring you back to a sentimental town of my beloved Spain. This is Cuenca in the province of Cuenca and Castilla de La Mancha region in the kingdom of Spain. We walked all over here already is like our town; but spent most of the time in the wonderful quant Plaza Mayor of Cuenca. Another dandy main square of my Spain.

The plaza Mayor is the meeting place and communication hub between the various routes in the old part of the city. The Cathedral, the City Hall building and the Convent of San Pedro dominate the landscape. From the Plaza Mayor part of the Calle Pilares, which leads us to the Ermita de las Angustias, the Calle San Pedro and Ronda de Julían de Romero, which lead to the Castle, the Canónigos and Calle Clavel to the Casas Colgadas (hanging houses) and the Puente de San Pablo (bridge of Saint Paul).

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The land is so small that if we access the square through the Calle Alfonso VIII , we will see that once inside it is a continuation of the street that widens. The main road crosses the square until starting the ascent to the ruins of the Castle, along Calle San Pedro. It is the center of city life, an ideal place to take a break on the terrace, to capture the atmosphere of the city and see its most important architectural works. You can also buy traditional crafts from the region.

In the Plaza Mayor you will find as emblematic buildings the Cathedral of Notre Dame of Grace (see post) from the 12C, the City Hall, a baroque style building from the times of Carlos III; that is raised by three semicircular arches. In the 20C it had to be rebuilt to obtain the appearance it has today, and the beautiful facade of colorful buildings. On one side of the cathedral we find a street that leads us to the statue of Alfonso VIII, (see post) the most important king for the city of Cuenca, since it was he who liberated the city from Muslim occupation in 1177. This monument was built in 2009 and it shows Alfonso VIII on the back of his horse. It is a bronze sculpture on a stone base that exceeds 3 meters in height.

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I like to give you some webpages to help you plan your trip here and especially around the Plaza Mayor; hope it helps.

The city of Cuenca webcam on the Plaza Mayorhttps://www.cuenca.es/webcam-plaza-mayor

The Cuenca tourist office on the Plaza Mayorhttps://www.visitacuenca.es/content/descubre-ciudad-y-paisaje-urbano/plaza-mayor

The province of Cuenca tourist office on the Plaza Mayor of Cuencahttps://www.descubrecuenca.com/es/enclaves-y-poblaciones/la-capital/cuenca-cuenca-plaza-mayor-y-catedral-35

The region of Castilla La Mancha on the Plaza Mayor of Cuencahttp://en.www.turismocastillalamancha.es/patrimonio/plaza-mayor-de-cuenca-87964/descripcion/

There you go folks, another dandy in my beloved  Spain. This one very close to the heart in memorable Cuenca and its quant nice Plaza Mayor. Enjoy it as we did.

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

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June 13, 2021

Calle de la Princesa of Madrid!

I have done several posts on streets, squares, etc in my blog on several cities and especially my beloved Madrid. Streets of always with memories walking them and enjoying their surroundings. Each time there brings about family memories of old and always. One very important street as it passes by several monuments is the Calle de la Princesa or Princess street in Madrid. Let me tell you a bit more on it ok.

The Calle de la Princesa or Calle Princesa begins in the Plaza de España and ends in the Plaza de la Moncloa (see posts). It is the dividing line between the Centro and Moncloa-Aravaca districts (up to the intersection with Alberto Aguilera and Marqués de Urquijo streets) and Chamberí and Moncloa-Aravaca (between Alberto Aguilera and Melendez Valdés streets).

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The Calle de la Princesa receives its name dating from 1865 from the Infanta Isabel de Borbón y Borbón, known as “La Chata”, (hollow nose) so beloved by the people, and an object of ridicule among the intelligentsia. She was twice Princess of Asturias and died in exile in Paris.

When the left Second Republic was proclaimed in Spain. Doña Isabel decided to accompany her relatives and left for France. Five days after she left Spain, she died of natural causes in a convent in Auteuil, Paris. She was buried in Paris. On May 23, 1991, by order of King Juan Carlos I, her remains were transferred to Spain and deposited in the Collegiate Church of the Holy Trinity of the Royal Palace of La Granja in near Segovia together with those of King Felipe V and his wife Isabel de Farnese. Next to the Parque del Oeste stands a sculptural group in memory of her, in the Calle del Pintor Rosales (painter Eduardo Rosales) at No 30.

The street Calle de la Princesa, before taking the name that it conserves at the beginning of the 21C, it was called Calle del Duque de Liria, because it was located around the palace of Liria, (see post) in the old stately estate of Moncloa (Real Sitio de la Moncloa and before Real Sitio de la Florida).

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The Calle de la  Princesa is one of the busiest shopping streets in Madrid. You will find the most trendy brands there, aimed at a young clientele: Zara, Mango, Benetton, Tintoretto and Massimo Dutti. It is a residential and commercial area that has a few important buildings, in particular the Palacio de Liria, an excellent example of the typical 18C neoclassicism, the residence of the Casa de Alba.(see post)

The Madrid tourist office on shopping by Calle de la Princesahttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/compras-princesa-arguelles

The Madrid tourist office on Calle Princesahttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/shopping/calle-princesa

There you go folks another dandy walk in glorious Madrid. The calle de la Princesa we walked and walked , saw the sights and shop and ate see the above sights in other posts in my blog. Hope you enjoy the tour.

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

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June 13, 2021

The Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo!!!

Ok so this is new but it has briefs notes in my other posts on Madrid. I just took the text out and creating a single post on it here. This is the spot of the other team of Madrid so enough said. However, the square is very nice and in the middle sits the Fuente de Neptuno fountain. Let me tell you a bit more about the Plaza de Cànovas del Castillo ok.

The Plaza de Cánovas del Castillo is a large, almost circular roundabout located on the border of the Cortes district and the Retiro district, occupying the heart of the old Prado Hall and centered on the Neptune Fountain since 1898. The Prado and Thyssen-Bornemisza museums, the headquarters of the Cortes (Spanish parliament) and the monumental buildings of the Westin Palace Hotel and the Ritz Hotel are very close. Since 1895, a municipal agreement baptized it with the name of the 19C politician Antonio Cánovas del Castillo.

The square is framed by the Paseo del Prado, with the Palacio de Villahermosa, and the landscaped space of the Plaza de la Lealtad and the Ritz hotel, which facing diagonally has the Westin Palace hotel (stayed here!) occupying the plaza to Poniente in the confluence of the Carrera de San Jerónimo with the Plazuela de las Cortes streets. You have the Calle de Felipe IV, with the entrance of Murillo to the Prado National Art Gallery, the continuation of the walk to the neighboring Glorieta de Atocha, and the entrance of the Calle de Cervantes.

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The whole of the Westin Palace Hotel and its services were seized, looted and mistreated by the French occupation army in the course of the Spanish War of Independence (May 1808). Half a century later, in 1857 part of the land was urbanized to extend Calle Lope de Vega to Paseo del Prado; A similar process was carried out at the beginning of the 20C so that Calle de Cervantes reached the Prado and Calle Jesús reached the Cortes (parliament). After the death of the fiftieth Duke of Medinaceli in 1873, his widow moved to the new ducal palace on the Paseo de Recoletos corner of the Plaza de Colón. The old palace was demolished in 1910 to build part of the estate of the Westin Palace Hotel you see today.

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The Neptune fountain in the middle (see post) was designed in 1777 and built between 1782 and 1786. Although originally it was located at the descent of the Carrera de San Jerónimo, later, in 1898 it was moved to the place it occupies today.

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The Madrid tourist office on the Neptune fountain in English: https://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/fuente-de-neptuno

There you go folks another dandy combination in my beloved Madrid; never ceased to amazed me on its architecture and historical beauty. Hope you enjoy the Plaza Cànovas del Castillo and the Fuente de Neptuno.

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

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June 12, 2021

Plaza de las Cortes of Madrid!!

Ah and I left this one out, with just bits and pieces of its most famous buildings but really, me think, merits a post of its own in my beloved Madrid. An area, I have walked and stayed over the years alone and with the family. Let me tell you a bit more on the Plaza de las Cortes of Madrid!

The Plaza de las Cortes makes the junction between Sol and the Prado, along the Carrera de San Jerómino. The most notable building is the Congreso de los Diputados. On the main facade of the Congreso de los Diputados, a staircase leads up to the neoclassical portico, with six imposing striated columns, of Corinthian order, on which rises the triangular pediment decorated with reliefs. The iconic lions flanking the entrance were cast with iron from cannons captured during the Moroccan War.

Here you see the imposing Palacio de las Cortes, the name of the building that houses the Congress of Deputies or Congreso de los Diputados, that was built between the years 1843 and 1850. This is one of the two chambers of the Cortes Generales, the Spanish parliament. It is very close to Paseo del Prado, and is one of the emblematic buildings of the 19C, in neoclassical style.

More on Madrid tourist office on the Congreso de los Diputadoshttps://www.esmadrid.com/en/tourist-information/congreso-de-los-diputados

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In this spot was before the Convent of the Holy Spirit, inside which, curiously, some sessions of the Cortes were held. The favorite of the Plaza de las Cortes, the great Miguel de Cervantes. This sculpture, from the year 1834, keeps a curious fact and that is that it was the first public tribute that a person who did not belong to the field of politics or royalty or religion received in Spain!

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Also, down the street you will see the white facade of the Groupama building carillon (see post) that, thanks to its mechanism and automatons, piles up a huge handful of tourists every few hours. The figures were made by the draftsman and writer Antonio Mingote. These represent king Carlos III, the Duchess of Alba together with her poodle, Goya, the bullfighter Pedro Romero and a ‘manola’, the typical Madrid castiza native woman. The five, dressed according to Goya’s paintings, have been greeting, at least twice a day, anyone who stands at the foot of the balcony since 1993.

You can see ,and I was lucky to stayed there once, the most illustrious Westin Palace Hotel. This is one of the most famous and reputable hotels in Madrid. It was built in record time, between 1911 and 1912, taking advantage of the noble plot that previously inhabited the Palace of the Dukes of Medinaceli. World-class figures such as Picasso, Pavarotti, Orson Welles and Einstein have passed through its 400 rooms. Even a spy like Mata Hari. I encourage you to come in one day and admire its magnificent dome.

Advancing along it, looking at the Neptune Fountain (see post) and the Jerónimos Towers on the horizon invites all to continue walking through this city. Showing emphasis and willingness to continue reeling off the benefits of Madrid! The best way to get here if far is on Metro line 2 Banco de España, and bus lines 14 and 27 as the closest. You ; also, can easily drive here as I have and use the wonderful Parking Las Cortes. Webpage: https://www.empark.com/es/en/parking/Madrid/las-cortes/

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There you go folks another dandy spot in my beloved Madrid. Wonderful area in the Barrio de las Letras (see post) and close to wonderful monuments many told in my blog already such as the Prado museum, the Puerta del Sol, and Neptuno fountain. Hope you enjoy the Plaza de las Cortes of Madrid!

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

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