Archive for ‘Spain’

March 28, 2020

Torre Mangana is Cuenca!

And back to my beloved Spain, nowdays more than ever solidarity is stronger. I have many souvenirs of living in Spain and visiting over my life, and Cuenca has a strong case to be one of the most memorable. My family followed me here and my dear late wife Martine really enjoy it so much. We had many memorable moments in Cuenca, Provincia de Cuenca, Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain

One of those memorable moments was climbing to the Torre Mangana tower; it has steep steps and rolling street. I was on point and the rest of the family follow begging to slow down lol! We always had a joke about this walk. Let me share it with you, the Torre Mangana of Cuenca.

Cuenca

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). Today it is a symbol of the city of Cuenca.

During the second half of the 19C, it was decided to change the top of the tower; which, despite the restorations, it is known that in 1862 it was in a terrible state. In 1926, the appearance of the tower will change considerably. The walls were covered with a rich and colorful decoration in plaster, inspired by Islamic motifs, mainly North African; while the staggered battlements that finished off the tower refer us like the mosque of Cordoba.

But this picturesque and exotic neo-Mudejar tower would not be the definitive one, the Torre Mangana was once again remodelled in 1970. With this restoration, it was intended, as stated in the project’s memory, to dignify a tower that, although it could not be considered a artistic monument of the first order, had great importance for Cuenca, as it had become one of city’s symbols. This project encase the tower and give it a fortified and defensive character that, as part of the old wall, it had originally had ; it provided the construction with a very powerful corbel, and finished it without a roof.

Let me go on on the Torre Mangana a symbol of the city of Cuenca.

By starting in Plaza de la Merced, you can already see the Torre Mangana tower looming before going to the Plaza de Mangana. You will do good to stop to contemplate the façade that is carved in stone that is just before reaching the tower, which belongs to an entry from the Cuenca Seminary: Mangana means machine in Arabic. It is known that in the 16C this 28-meter-high tower was remodeled or perhaps was built, in which a cross, a weather vane and a spire crowned this tower, and in which the clock was installed giving the time to the residents of the city. or more surely is that the Mangana Tower was part of the wall of this Arab fortification.

Cuenca

Already in the late 18C and early 19C it had to be repaired due to the damages of the war of independence against the French and in the 20C, specifically in 1926, the tower was remodeled in the Mudejar and African style. The Tower that we see today is from the last reform, in 1970, in which a corbel was put to make it look like a defensive tower.

The great Alcazar of Cuenca, was built here. A great building of which little is known and of which little remains today, which are the archaeological remains that are in the same square and the wall cloths in the streets that surround this area of the old town of the city. There is still the part of the ruins of the old alcazar and the old Church of Santa Maria.   When the city of Cuenca was reconquered by king Alfonso VIII, the Muslims who remained in the city and the Jewish community settled in the neighborhood where the tower is today. In this space a Synagogue was built and in the 15C the Church of Santa María, a one-story church with a tower with two bells, the only thing that remains of that church is the Montemayor tomb, transferred to the Cathedral. The church was demolished at the beginning of the 20C. In the archaeological excavations of the Plaza de Mangana in Cuenca we can see remains of this church.

Cuenca

Ou have wonderful viewpoints from the Mangana square or Plaza de Mangana where the tower is also: The new city area, the Hoz del Júcar river and the old town of Cuenca in different perspectives. You can look out or you can also sit on one of the banks of the Plaza de Mangana to contemplate the beautiful landscape of Cuenca.

You see more and more info on the Torre Mangana in these webpages, hope it helps you come and visit here, it is recommended

See the Cultural Center Cervantes in Spanish on the Torre Mangana; Centro Cultural Cervantes on Cuenca torre Mangana

The tourist office of Province of CuencaTourist office of province of Cuenca

The tourist office of Castilla La Mancha in english on Torre Mangana: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Torre Mangana in Cuenca

There you go a symbol of Cuenca and worth the climb to see it and see the city from there, the torre Mangana is worth the detour indeed. Enjoy the walk and tower.

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

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March 26, 2020

The streets of Mexico DF, some!

So let me bring you back to the land of tequila, mariachis, beaches and architecturally stunning sites; my Mexico. One of the countries I have visited the most over the years and family there!

I like to tackle the streets of Mexico city or some of them in this post. Hope you enjoy it.

I always wanted to write something on the streets of Mexico City and finally took the challenge. Of course, this is a monumental task in a huge city and even if I have driven by it or driven with for most of it do not have enough photos. Probably the reason not written on the subject before. However, have some and here I go for you. Hope you enjoy it in one of the world’s most congested cities, driving is a thrill and a challenge. All handle well by your road warrior!

Let me start with my favorite area. The place known as the Zona Rosa is a space that over the years has become a commercial area. Located within Colonia Juárez, which belongs to the Cuauhtémoc Delegation of Mexico City. It is surrounded to the north by Paseo de la Reforma, to the south by Avenida Chapultepec, to the east by Avenida de los Insurgentes and to the west by Avenida Florencia . All largely walked by yours truly over the years as well. This is my Mexico city central!

You know why this area was call Zona Rosa or pink zone? Well several theories, my favorite was written by the Mexican painter José Luis Cuevas, whose explanation was that the pink color of the area comes from being a red area at night, and white area during the day. Indeed this is a happening area and my home even if over the last few years it has become the LBTG central as well.

Likewise, he has declared on numerous occasions both in the press and on television, that the name originally emerged as a tribute to the Cuban actress Rosa Carmina born in Havana,(1929), who is a film actress and Cuban television, dancer, singer, rumbera and star based in Mexico ; you can search for her work. She belongs to the so-called Golden Age of Mexican cinema as one of its main stars. For some years, she lives in Barcelona, Spain.

The most notable street for bars has to be Calle Amberes. All between Avenida Chapultepec and Paseo de la Reforma!   This is my central central and as said lately the home of its LBTG bars even if all are welcome including me! I have stayed here several times on the Royal Hotel and the Basque/Spanish Tezka restaurant, and just around in Calle Genova the Konditori now closed. And by Calle Hamburgo, El Lugar del Mariachi still open. And just across the street Avenida Chapultepec another old favorite the Segovia Regency Hotel.

Mexico

Mexico

Moving on to Calle Mercaderes,Colonia San Jose Insurgentes is   home of Fiesta Inn hotel , City Express Hotel and the El Gran Leon de Oro restaurant. All of my usual stays over the years. As well as Le Pain Quotidien Belgian chain resto ; Teatro Insurgentes and the Parque de los Hundidos ,and of course the Lamborghini car dealer for Mexico lol!

Mexico

I moved into more business like areas and reach the Avenida Centenario, by delegation Alvaro Obregon home of Teatro Centenario Coyoacan and Arcos de Centenario a very nice residential area of friends.

mexico

mexico

And really central for me and close to all the others is the hugely popular and grand Avenida de los Insurgentes which is a set of three continuous avenues that form one of the main road axes in Mexico City. With a combined length of almost 29 km, it crosses most of the Mexican capital. It is divided into three avenues or zones: the Norte (north), the Centro (center), the Sur (south) zone, which is the one I have been the most. The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur, from Paseo de la Reforma, to the Caminero Monument, its numbering starts north and ends south between 1 and 5000, north to south. This area begins at the intersection with Paseo de la Reforma and due to its extension it will be divided into several areas.

 

I will mention the ones I crossed either by car or walking! These are the Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Cuauhtémoc – Juárez). Between Paseo de la Reforma and Avenida Chapultepec It is characterized because to its west is the popularly called Zona Rosa, while to the east is the Colonia Juárez which is characterized by its architecture, where the modern and tall buildings that surround it.

Mexico

The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Roma). Between Avenida Chapultepec and Miguel Alemán Viaduct and it begins at the so-called Glorieta de Insurgentes , built by the works of Line 1 of the Metro and where the Insurgentes metro Station is located, this gazebo is characterized by being sunk with respect to the rolling area, having several tunnel accesses, such as the Zona Rosa and this is characterized by being one of the main meeting centers of the LGBT community.

Mexico

Mexico

The Avenida de los Insurgentes Sur (Napoles – Del Valle). Between the Miguel Alemán Viaduct and the Interior Circuit. We find one of the areas with the highest economic level in the country, in which there are several colonies such as Napoles, Colonia Insurgentes Mixcoac, Colonia Nochebuena, Colonia del Valle and the remains of the Pueblo de San Lorenzo. Tlacoquemecatl. In this segment, the World Trade Center building in Mexico City stands out (see my post on views from above Mexico city). You , also find in this area the wonderful Monumental Plaza de toros (bullfight arena) and the so-called Estadio Azul (Blue Stadium) This stadium was home from 1996 to 2018 of the Cruz Azul FC of the Mexican first division football/soccer. It has been said, that it might be demolished in 2020 as the team plays now its games at the Estadio Azteca.

The tourist office of Mexico city in English: Tourist office of Mexico city

The Atlas turistico of Mexico City in Spanish: Atlas turistico of Mexico city

Tourist office of Mexico on Mexico City in English: Tourist office of Mexico on Mexico city

And there you go a wonderful tour of Mexico City; you do not have to do it by car, once in the location walking around is magical and allows you to see the architecture styles of this great metropolis. Enjoy the streets of Mexico city as I do!

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

 

March 25, 2020

The Gentlemen from Paris, Havana!

And here is a nice story of my lointime Cuba. This was very popular and all our grandparents told us stories of him. One of the souvenirs is that I actually saw him in Havana before leaving long ago. It’s about time I write about him in my blog.

Therefore, this is story of the Gentlemen from Paris or El Caballero de Paris.

The story goes that José María López Lledín was an elegant vagabond known as El Caballero de París (The Gentleman From Paris) who wandered the streets of  La Habana (Havana) and was a well-known cult figure in the city. According to the birth certificate issued by the district court of Fonsagrada  in Lugo, province of Galicia, in Spain , López Lledín was born in the village of Vilaseca, located near the Asturian border and the Eo river.  The fourth of eleven children, was born on 30 December, 1899 in Vilaseca, in the Municipality of Fonsagrada, Province of Lugo, Galicia. As many in Cuba came from this region of Spain.

Traveling in the German passenger ship S.S. Cheminitz, he arrived in Havana at twelve years of age on 12 December, 1913. His mother was Josefa Lledín Mendes and his father was Manuel Lopez Rodriguez; the owners of a small vineyard, they produced and sold wine and Sherry. He was baptized in the Parish of Salvador de Negueira.

According to his sister Inocencia, he worked as a tailor and in a bookshop. Later he worked as a waiter in the hotels Inglaterra, Telegrafo, Sevilla, Manhattan, Royal Palm and Saratoga. There are many stories as to why he lost his mental sanity but all of them converge on the fact that he was imprisoned in the Castillo del Principe ( Prince’s castle, used many times as a prison) in 1920 for a crime he did not commit.

El Caballero de París was a cult figure in Havana in the 40s and 50s. He was of medium height, disheveled hair with some gray hair and a beard. He always wore black, with a long coat of the same color, even during the summer. He used to carry a folder full of papers. He was a gentle and educated man who roamed the streets and traveled by bus all over the city, greeting people and discussing philosophy, religion and politics. He never asked for alms or said bad words, he only accepted money from people he knew or liked.

He could regularly be found in the Paseo del Prado; the Avenida del Puerto; in a park near the Plaza de Armas; near the Church Iglesia de Paula; in the Parque Central, where he sometimes slept on one of the benches; in Calle Muralla street; near streets Infanta and San Lazaro; and in the corner of 23rd and 12th streets in El Vedado.  It is remembered seeing him walking along the central path of the Fifth Avenue (5th ave) in Miramar, where he usually was in the afternoons. I am not sure but i believe i saw him by the Parque Central.

He was late in life diagnosed as suffering from Paraphrenia, a late-onset mental disorder featuring such symptoms as delusions and hallucinations; it does not have any negative symptoms such as the deterioration of the intellect or of the personality.

You can listen in Spanish a popular song created by a popular singer of the times Barbarito Diez, call El Caballero de Paris, video still available in youtube here

 

There is a statue to perpetuated his presence in bronze, so that his figure will wander forever in the streets of Havana.  Where I have a souvenir photo from 2012 here

havana

This illustrious man was a permanent presence in the city which, from the decade of the 20s of the last century and until 1977, saw him wandering through its streets. He died on July 11, 1985 at Mazorra psychiatric hospital atage of 86. He was initially buried in the cemetery of Santiago de las Vegas in Habana province. His remains were later exhumed by the Historian of the City of La Habana, and transfered to the convent of San Francisco de Asis (now a concert hall and museum), his current resting place.

After the Communist Cuban revolution, the brothers and sisters left Cuba and only El Caballero de Paris was left behind. Three of his brothers had descendants, some now living in Chicago and others in Asturias, Spain. The only surviving sister of El Caballero de Paris, Mercedes, was living in Spain,was last read 91 years old , and in perfect mental and physical health.

No official webpage for him but there are many private efforts on the web; i just will put one here CiberCuba in Spanish; CiberCuba on El Caballero de Paris

Hope you enjoy this unique anecdote of Havana and do look out for him if going there. Hope it helps find him. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

 

March 21, 2020

The roads of my Spain!!

Ok this is a daunting task but always wanted to write something about it. As you have been reading my blog , you know I  love the road, the car is my second home! Road warrior all the way or we used to say in my good old Daytona Beach, put your pedal to the metal and rock!!!

Wait a minute! I have moved about the globetrotter in me and been around to so many countries, regions, and cities I lost count lol! Well in my beloved Spain I started out not driving at all , too young! but then did do it back in 1982 and it has never stop afterward!

Therefore, let me tell you a bit about the roads of Spain and my favorites and some photos to show. Hope you enjoy the freedom of the ride and Spain!

A generation or so ago, travelling around Spain was a time-consuming business; while the main roads radiating out from Madrid; numbered in Roman numerals from N I to N VI, were well surfaced, they were both dangerous and cluttered with slow-moving trucks/Lorries.  I remember driving into France on dirt roads, and the folks guiding me to follow the snow capped mountain to reach the border lol!!! and the EU came and the rest well even the younger Spaniards won’t know. All that is history, and today Spain has perhaps the best domestic transport infrastructure of any country in Europe… and thanks to Europe. Since Spain joined the European Union, it has benefited from major  development funds to help transform its isolated and impoverished regions into part of the modern Europe. The Spanish highway/motorway network is the third largest in the world, by length. Yes indeed!! A long way !!!

Highways in Spain come into two categores; the busy to very busy ones, hehehe! often toll roads , most of them radiating from Madrid, and along the Mediterranean coast: and the others, most of them carrying only light traffic. Nearly all of these are free. Spain’s toll highways  known officially as Autopistas are designated by the letters AP, as in AP8. Spain’s free highways, usually known as Autovias, are generally designated by the letter A, as in A66.

However, around the capital city of my Madrid, the system is different, and complex. Madrid is a maze of highways, yes not well managed at first and can be confusing to the many visitor counts I received…  with in addition to the A designated highway, the M highways for Madrid and R Radial highways (tolls). The highways  M30 (first finished in 1974 my sentimental as it passes near where I used to lived in Madrid!), M40, M45 and M50 , and even a short M55 nowdays are the main orbital routes round Madrid.  M50, the outermost, runs 80% of the way round Madrid, and connects all the main national A highways, from A1 to A6. The missing section is the northwest, from the A1 to the A6 – for which the A40 should be used. Orbital M highways are free, the radial R highways are toll roads (which i always avoid).

Madrid

The traffic moving southwest from the French border on the Atlantic coast at Irun can both avoid most of the tolls and take a shorter route between San Sebastian and Vitoria, by using the N1 and A1 autovia, rather than the AP8 and AP1 autopistas.  The same goes for traffic heading for Zaragoza and Madrid, from Barcelona. Leave the AP7 (which is free round Barcelona) at exit 26, and follow the free A2 as far as Fraga, after Lleida. For examples.

The ranking if you will of highways or motorways in Spain runs as follows

Highways or dual carriageway: Spain is full of this type of road. Highways are the roads that can be identified by the letter “A” followed by the corresponding number of the motorway / highway. The letters and numbers are white on a blue background. Within this type of roads we can make a subdivision:

Nationals: are those identified with the “A” followed by the number.

Toll: they are identified with the letters «AP» and as their own name indicates, they include tolls.

Autonomous: when the road belongs to the community.

Local: when they are under local jurisdiction and belong to a municipality.

Roads of General Interest of the State: the roads of General Interest of the State, also known as national highways, are the roads that are marked with the letter «N» and with the corresponding number after the letter. Letters and numbers appear in white on a red background. These roads are single carriageways and are one of the roads that have the most kilometers.

First-level autonomous: these are the roads identified with the letters «CL» and behind the corresponding road number. The letters are black on an orange background. Second level autonomous: its letters are «CM» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road. Both letters and numbers are white on a brown background. And they are now even CU roads in a similar manner. Third-level autonomous: third-level autonomous roads are those identified with the following letters: «CR» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road itself. The letters are black on a yellow background.

Roads of General Interest of the State in European Itinerary: they are the roads that belong to European itineraries and are identified because they carry a prefix with the letter “E”, followed by numbers. The signage has a green background.

The normal speed limits are as follows:   Motorways (autovias and autopistas) : 120 km/h;  Main roads : 80 km/h,  90 km/h or 100 km/h as indicated; and  Built-up areas : 50 km/h or 70 km/h as indicated. There are now plenty of speed traps, or radars, on main roads in Spain, and police can and do issue on-the-spot fines. Advance warning of speed traps tends to be given,  However, the boxes are hard to tell so you must be alert if do not know the road or first time by it.

The Six radial toll roads which connect Madrid with its coasts and its borders divide the Spanish continental territory into 6 radial sectors. These radial roads are enumerated in clockwise fashion as follows

A 1 from Madrid to France as Madrid, Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Vitoria, San Sebastiàn, Irùn to the French French border.

A 2 from Madrid to France  as Madrid, Zaragoza, Lleida, Barcelona, Girona and French border.

Zaragoza

Calatayud

A 3 from Madrid to Valencia or Carretera de Castilla La Mancha. I must say never pay toll on this road

Valencia

A 4 from Madrid to Cadiz or Carretera de Andalucia as Madrid, Cordoba,Sevilla, and Càdiz

A 5 from Madrid to Mérida, Badajoz, and Portugal or Carretera de Extremadura

A 6 from Madrid to A Coruña or Carretera de A Coruña as Madrid, Medina del Campo, Benavente, Ponferrada, Lugo, and A Coruña.

La Granja

Some other roads that I count as my favorites over the years and the list is not inclusive are

N110 Soria San Esteban de Gormaz , Segovia, Avila, Plasencia.

N240 Tarragona, Lleida, Huesca, Jaca, Pamplona, Altsasu.

N310 Manzanares, Villanueva de la Jara.

N320 La Gineta, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Venturada.

N330 Alicante, Almansa, Requena, Utiel, Teruel, Zaragoza, Huesca, Jaca, French border at Somport tunnel.

jaca

Canfranc

N400 Toledo, Aranjuez, Ocaña, Tarancon, Cuenca. My all time favorite a pleasure to drive on it!

Toledo

paredes

A402 Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, After about 78 km of the A42 it splits into two roads the N401 and Autovia de los Viñedos

N420 Montoro, Ciudad Real, Puerto Làpice, Alcàzar de San Juan, Cuenca, Ademuz, Teruel, Montalbàn Valdealgorta, Reus, Tarragona.

Belmonte

N521 Trujillo, Càceres, Valencia de Alcàntara, to Portugal

N550 A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, Vigo, Tui

N634 Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo, Torrelavega, Bilbao, San Sebastiàn

There is now  beltways or rocade or periphérique roads  full or partial, and they have originated from the upgrading of one or several roads reaching the town to the autovía level, as the several  variant choices looping around the town were joined in a single beltway that received a new naming such as TO-20 or Z-40 (the Zaragoza beltway coming from France!). Other very popular ones around Madrid takes you to the international airport such as the M11 and M12 . My always nostalgic M30 first beltway finished in 1974. And the all the new ones making the area around Madrid messy to drive for the uninitiated such as the newer ones M40, M45, M50, and M55!

Huesca

madrid

And some mountain roads in Castilla La Mancha;enjoy them as I do

Tragacete

Albarracin

Las Majadas

Some webpages to help you drive in my beloved Spain are

The General Directoire of Traffic information in Spain: Official DGT on traffic in Spain

Highway maps, handy from the Royal Automobile Club of SpainOfficial RACE on highways

Repsol guides on itineraries and route maps, the Spanish Michelin: Official Guia Repsol of Spain

And the weather in Spain from official agency AEMET! AEMET official weather reports on Spain

Just enough info for the smart road warrior, and then off you and enjoy it as we do. The roads of my Spain!

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

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March 21, 2020

The Serranias of my Spain!

So here I am making you read me 360 degrees back to my beloved Spain, the one of dreams and stories, architecture and history, and food and wines! This is another story, the mountains of the Serrania of Cuenca and its smallist towns done several times by yours truly in my road warrior mode!

This is my story on Tragacete, Cañete and Tarancon, follow me if you dare! The towns are so small but quant that will put them in one post ok, enjoy it.

We were driving all over Castilla La Mancha as our road warrior habits are known! And we realized were running short on gas/petrol so we were on the back roads of the Serrania de Cuenca and headed for Tragacete, another small mountain town pop of less than 500 folks but has a Repsol gas station !! yupeee! and the old Church of San Miguel, passing by was nice. This is real countryside and we love it!!!

Tragacete

Tragacete is of course in the Province of Cuenca and the already mentioned region on the high plateau of the mountains or Serrania Alta. It is part of the Natural Park of the Serrania de Cuenca. And we rented a house around here for several years which was memorable, great souvenirs with the family see my posts on Las Majadas especially.

Tragacete

Tragacete is a mountain town hahaha really! that starts at the valley formed by the Jucar riverbed. In its outskirts you will be on hills of considerable height, like Mogorrita with 1,866 meters and San Felipe with 1,840 meters (yes and we rented at 1400 meters). Tragacete’s natural environment is quite diverse, including valleys and canyons. Numerous trails marked as “Pequeño Recorrido” or short trails will let you get to know this gorgeous setting ,especially for the walkers in us. The historic quarter exhibits the main characteristics of the local architecture, namely balconies with grilles and wooden beams. One of the most beautiful examples is the Church of San Miguel Arcángel, built in masonry, with ashlar stones in its corners. Its marble ornamental screen on the wall at the back of the altar built after the Spanish Civil War of 1936.

Tragacete

City hall of Tragacete on its history in Spanish here : City Hall of Tragacete

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete: Tourist office Castilla La Mancha on Tragacete

Cañete  is another small mountain town in the same area province of Cuenca in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha, located about 70 km east of Cuenca, the provincial capital. We went to visit it a really old town on the CM 2106 road with lots of canyon, ramparts and old castle ruins way up town. The best here is the El Postigo canyon with old world laundries by the river , a water fall and escalation to the castle ruins but we did not went all the way, this is for the real outdoorsman aficionado!!! High up!

Cañete

The town was the birthplace of Álvaro de Luna, a Castilian nobleman of the Luna family at the end of the 14C. He was Constable of Castilla, Grand Master of Santiago and worthy servant of King Juan II of Castilla. He is buried in the Santiago chapel, in the ambulatory of the Toledo Cathedral.

During the Spanish Civil War of 1936, the Republican militias who arrived from the Levantine region devastated the parish church, the Chapel of San Julián and the Sanctuary of Our Lady or Nuestra Señora de la Zarza, destroying   the images that the Christian piety   safeguarded and as far as worship existed in its sacred precincts , and which later they dedicated to warehouses or garages ; likewise, in the last moments of the war they destroyed the two beautiful bells of the parish Church.

Cañete

The town of Cañete has areas such as the Hoz del Postigo, recovered as a tourist recreation area, with a picturesque landscape of waterfall, river, view of the hanging houses of the town, hermitage of the Patron Saint Virgen de la Zarza, vestiges of the walled compound, etc. The Cañete castle is accessible on foot and is of Andalusian origin, it had several extensions, especially after the Castilian conquest. The last reforms are from the 19C, from the Carlist Wars. It stands on top of a steep, narrow and long hill, dominating the town, next to the Mayor del Molinillo river. Yes way up long march. There is a nice Puerta de las Eras gate, in a bend, domed, with a horseshoe arch, and of Andalusian origin. Among the temples of Cañete are the Church of Santiago, the Chapel of San Julián and the hermitage of the Virgen de la Zarza.

Cañete

Cañete

The city of Cañete with a map showing its things to see here in pdf file format: city of Canete pdf file on things to see

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Cañete things to see : TOurist office Castilla La Mancha on things to see in Canete

We came down on the N420 to take the A40 expressway to see a far away town of Tarancon on the intersection with the A3 that goes into Madrid. At Tarancon , you see the Church of Nuestra Señora de la Asuncion , (12C), but really nice was the Santuario de Riansares. Bombed in the Spanish Civil War and rebuilt in the 1950’s ; it had been in the family of the Duque of Riansares as well as built a castle next to it. The Duke and his family are buried inside.

Tarancón is another town from the area but lesser levels and a lot more accessable in the same province of Cuenca, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. It is located between La Mancha and La Alcarria moutain areas in a valley. Tarancón is the second most populous town in the province, after Cuenca, so that it borders the provinces of Toledo, Guadalajara and the Community of Madrid, all of which are just a few kilometers from the town. For this reason, Tarancón is equipped with a network of state highways and roads, as well as rail and AVE routes, which connect it to the main cities in Spain. The A-3 or Autovía del Este (yes we know it very well) is one of the six radial highways in Spain and is the natural union between Madrid and the Mediterranean coast of the Valencian Community, more specifically with Valencia. It has three round-trip lanes respectively, on the Tarancón-La Almarcha section.  The A-40 or the Autovia Castilla-La Mancha (yes we do it !!), which starts in Ávila, passes through Toledo, Tarancón, Cuenca and ends in Teruel. The N-400 that connects Tarancón with Ocaña and Toledo. Tarancón has had a train station in its urban core since 1885, where regional trains on the Madrid-Cuenca-Valencia line stop. Tarancón has a bus station, with four docks, night lighting, café / bar, ticket office with ticket sales and information, etc a couple of lines does the run to Madrid but never use it.

In 1537 the town was given the status of villa, although it continued under the jurisdiction of Uclés. In 1591 it was included in the province of Castilla of the Order of Santiago. The town belonged to the province of Toledo until the territorial reform of 1833, by which it was incorporated into that of Cuenca. In 1973 the singer Nino Bravo (sad one of my favorites!) received first aid in Tarancón after suffering the traffic auto accident that took his life.

A bit more story on the above sites:

Sanctuary of the Virgin of Riánsares: located approximately 5 km from Tarancón. It was founded in the 12C. The palace was initially acquired by D. Fernando Muñoz, Duque de Riánsares where he built his pantheon and, next to it, a summer Palace in which to spend summer seasons with his wife, Queen María Cristina de Borbón. Later it was transferred to the Catholic Church and today is the Sanctuary that gives its name to the Patron Saint of Tarancón. More on a special site of the brotherhood of the Virgin of riànsares: Brotherhood of the Virgin of Riansares

Tarancon

Palace of the Dukes of Riánsares. It is the current headquarters of the Tarancón City/Town Hall. Restored building from the 19C, with a rectangular floor plan of two heights and an attic, it has a central courtyard with Tuscan columns, around which the rooms of the building are located. Outside you can see the remains of the original grid. The palace also had some beautiful gardens that in the 20C were transformed into the current Plaza del Mercado or market square. The home of the Dukes of Riánsares was also modified and few original elements have been preserved.

Tarancon

Church of Our Lady of the Assumption (Nuestra Señora de la Asunción), from the 16C, with a magnificent Plateresque altarpiece that presides over the main altar.It is located in the neighborhood of El Castillejo, the oldest of the town, prior to its construction, since the 13C, there would be a temple of uncertain location, although probably in the same place where the current church is erected, and it would be in the Romanesque style or neo-gothic. The first church dedicated to Our Lady of the Assumption must have been built in the 15C. It was a Gothic building with a single nave, with attached side chapels and a ribbed vault, which persisted until the end of the 19C.

Tarancon

Arco de la Malena or arch is the entrance door to what was once a walled enclosure, becoming the most evident proof of this, and as far as its origin is from the 11C. It is currently the arch that gives entrance and precedes the Parroquia de la Asunción or Parish of the Assumption.

Tarancon

The city of Tarancon on heritage: City of Tarancon on heritage

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tarancon: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on Tarancon

There you a nice quant beautiful scenary ride in the mountain towns and into the valleys of the Province of Cuenca in Castilla La Mancha autonomous region of my beloved Spain. Hope you enjoy the ride and do try it , its great!

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

 

 

 

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March 21, 2020

Quart Towers in Valencia!

So will tackle in this post a unique interesting monument that I would dare to say is off the beaten path in Valencia, Spain. We come to see the great monuments and we passed by these mostly unnoticed except by yours truly always looking for architecture and history. Let me tell you a bit more about the Quart towers of Valencia. or Torres de Quart.

The Torre de Quart towers are twin towers, which were part of the medieval wall that protected the old center of the city of Valencia. They are located at the intersection of Calle Guillén de Castro and Calle Quart. The Quart Towers were built by masters in the noble art of stones in the 15C, between the years 1441 and 1460.  The style of the towers belongs to the late military Valencian Gothic style.

Valencia

The Quart Towers, owes their name to the fact that they were located on the path that leads to the center of the city, from Plaza de La Virgen square where the Cathedral of Valencia is, to the village Quart de Poblet. The towers provided western access to traffic from Castilla. The Quart towers were also called Porta or Portal de Cuarte.

These towers have gone through the War of Succession, the War of Independence against the French, the Cantonal Revolution and the Spanish Civil War. You can still see in their thick walls the holes of the impacts caused by the cannonballs of the Revolutionary War. And they are still standing!

From 1626 until the 18C, they housed the women’s prison. Until 1874, they were called the Lime Towers because the Lime used to coat the houses of Valencia, had to enter through the door between the two towers.

The Quart towers are the remains of the old medieval rampart of Valencia. From the last decade of the 20C, parrots and other exotic birds escaped from their masters, nested and reproduced in the holes caused by the artillery in their exterior facade. Today, in the 21C, the Quart towers still stand; they have restore their exterior facade, blackened by the exhaust fumes from traffic passing through calle Quart and Calle Guillén de Castro.

The tourist office of Valencia on the torres de Quart in English: Tourist office of Valencia on the Quart Towers

And there you go we went by walking and then passed many times by car while in the city. We were there from Madrid by car and it was wonderful, it ought to be seen the Quart towers for the architecture and the history that they have cover.

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

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March 17, 2020

How about Donostia or San Sébastian!

I have other than Madrid, San Sebastian or Donostia in basque was the first city I ever went to in Spain. Go figure it , do not know how that happened! However, my mom had an old friend from the region that went to school with her and after living in Madrid took the opportunity to see each other once there and once in Madrid! There you go why! This was back in 1972!!!

After it took several years to be back, 1990 to be exact,  but been there several times afterward. I have written on the city of San Sebastian before but very little on two marvelous monuments, the Churches of San Vicente and Basilica Church of Santa Maria del Coro; it is time to tell you a bit more on them.

San Sebastian, also Donostia in basque, the capital of the province of Gipuzkoa, in the Basque Autonomous community of the kingdom of  Spain. Bathed by the waters of the Cantabrian Sea, at the mouth of the Urumea River, it owes much of its fame to its harbour, the Bay of La Concha, framed by two rocky isles, the Igeldo and Urgull mountains, true natural balconies from which one can marvel at a large part of the city, the ocean and the hilly landscapes of the surrounding area. You have the old section or Centro wedge between the harbor and the river Urumea ,the area was rebuilt from 1813 after a fire previously devasted it. Here you find the center of the city and people watching in the Plaza de la Constitucion,  and the Monte Urgull or hill with a Christ on top plus the ruins of the castle Castillo de Santa Cruz de la Mota.

Just at the end of Calle Mayor, at the foot of Mount Urgull and framed by two towers, you will find this wonderful church. The Basilica of Santa María del Coro is of  baroque work of the 18C,  the baroque facade of Churrigueresque hue, chaired by a sculpture of San Sebastián Martyr and the main altarpiece dedicated to the Virgen del Coro, patron Saint of the city. If you look at it from afar it seems to stand out directly from the slopes of Mount Urgull. The church has a rectangular plan, with semicircular apse and secondary units. The nave of Santa María is attached to the northern part. The octagonal pillars reach a height of 15 meters to their capitals, the central vault being the largest with a height of more than 27 meters.

San Sebastian

More here from the tourist office of the Basques/Euskadi in English here: Tourist office of Euskadi on the Basilica Santa Maria del Coro

And this is a beautiful webpage in Spanish on the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro that is very nice and informative: Private webpage on the Basilica Santa Maria del Coro

Another not far from the above is the Church of San Vicente located at the corner of Calle 31 de Agosto and Calle Narrika. This church is of late Gothic style and is built on an earlier period church whose structure was devoured by the flames.

The Church of San Vicente, as we know it today, was built between the 15C and 16C. Taking into account the construction dates one could say that the Church of San Vicente is the oldest in San Sebastián. While it is true that the Basilica of Santa Maria del Coro  was already in the 12C, when it undergoes several renovations until the 17C making San Vicente the oldest religious building in San Sebastian/Donostia. You will see the main altarpiece of San Vicente c. 1586 , considered one of the best altarpieces of Romanism. Also the altarpiece of the Ánimas. As well as several steps of Holy Week: Ecce Homo, the Dolorosa (in the Baptistery) the Descent and the Lying Christ.  Another of the outstanding elements of the Church of San Vicente are its colorful stained glass windows, which can be seen in a thousand wonders from the Plaza Zuloaga of the Centro area.

San Sebastian

The tourist office of Basques/Euskadi in English here: Tourist office of Euskadi/San Sebastian on the Church of San Vicente

More as in an overall view of San Sebastian/Donostia from the tourist office in English here: Tourist office of San Sebastian Donostia

This is a sampler as cannot find more photos, the ones here are from 2009; a period before my blog and not much into photos lol! Hope you enjoy it anyway and do visit San Sebastian , a lot more than films and beach !

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

 

 

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March 4, 2020

Restaurant: Barcelona! Part II

So back to another culinary round in my Europe! in the continuing effort to show you some of my most memorable moments of my culinary expeditions with the family. As often, the case, I come to discover these gems usually on business trips and then if worth it brought alone the family in subsequent trips, and even sometimes do the opposite. The culinary, wine lover in me is well at home in Europe!

One city that is rank right up there with the best is Barcelona, Spain. A blend of Catalan, Mediterranean and other Spanish dishes all in one city , sounds good , let me tell you a bit more ok. You can search back on previous posts and the first one on Barcelona in my blog.

While there , did not wanted to eat at a hotel restaurant thus, so we had a discussion with the concierge, and finally decided to go to the La Fonda del Port (as in port olympic) . Which of course is at the harbor of Barcelona, and plenty of seafood and tapas. We had a great time there.

Barcelona

The restaurant itself is traditional, well-run and quite charming.   As you would expect from its location, a large amount of the restaurant’s menu is seafood, however, there are also meat, pasta and other traditionally Catalan options. La Fonda is a large restaurant with seats within the restaurant itself and also within a covered outdoor area, where heaters and wooden flooring give the feeling of being indoors. The restaurant’s style is classic with a slightly nautical feel. The service at La Fonda is efficient and friendly. The venue is popular and was bustling with people from midday onwards.

Barcelona

La Fonda del Port is located next to the beach front. It is necessary to walk towards Barceloneta’s promenade . To your right you will see a large Casino. To your left you will see steps leading down to the tourist outdoor complex area – Moll de Gregal. Head down these steps, the restaurant is directly in front of you. La Fonda del Port at  Moll de Gregal, 7 – 10. Metro: Ciutadella Villa Olimpic on the Yellow Line, L4. 

The resto La Fonda del Port webpage is here: La Fonda del Port

Next day we set out into town again, this time we walk past Gran Via de Carles III then the Rambla Brasil and turning into Carrer Sants we end up in a nice Basque restaurant call Txalaparta. Founded in 2002 by an experience basque chef of many other restaurants work there.  This is like been back in basque country with great Basque cider and Navarra wine of Monjardin red with a wonderful tuna steak with red peppers and a nice crema catalana dessert.  The resto name is a Basque music instrument that after making cider, the same board was used to pressed the apples later was to call the neighbors. Then, a celebration was held and txalaparta played cheerfully, while cider was drunk. This place had no music but it was definitely nice and loud, good food and plenty of good cheers.

Barcelona

Inspired by the authentic taverns and cider houses of the north, Txalaparta is a cozy restaurant whose chef, César Uruñuela, works with the best raw material – brought directly from Euskadi  to offer excellent traditional Basque cuisine. The restaurant has a long bar of skewers and tapas, as well as an ideal dining room for all kinds of celebrations.

Barcelona

The place is characterized by its familiar and cozy treatment so particular to the Basque culture, as well as a very careful space with the best typical decoration of Euskadi, which linked to a genuine traditional cuisine focused on taking care of the quality of the product, will manage to move you to the Basque lands during the period of time your meal lasts. Do not forget that you can opt for one of its varied menus, with which you can delight in house specialties. In this Basque cider house they have a good ten meters of bar that on Friday and Saturday nights are filled to the fullest. It is located at Carrer de Sants, 146 next to Pl. Sants. Metro: Pl. de Sants on lines L1 and L5.

The resto Txalaparta webpage is here: Restaurante Txalaparta

There you go , a nice one two punch for a weekend in Barcelona. There are many more and even more popular and surely maybe good ones, I have tried others too. However, these two are memorable that we will look after them to be back with the family or friends. Enjoy the restaurants of Barcelona!

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

 

February 28, 2020

A bit more on the wines of Spain!

Ok so is not all French wines with me. I grew up drinking Spanish wines, believe I told you already my grandmother gave me a zip of a Marqués de Riscal red Rioja when I was 8 yrs old! And the tradition took off never to look back. Wine is a way of life, tradition, but good foodie complement and I follow it to the letter with diplomas from France and Spain on its wines.

I have written a bit on Spanish wines before , mainly on region overall history and making of the wine. I have done the same for France. However, done a brief introduction to the wines of Castilla La Mancha but not the others for lack of photos. This has change found them and will tell you a bit more on the wines of Spain.  Disclaimer, the prices are only a guide,they may differ in your area or at time of purchase.

Believe me I had this one for the first time in La Coruña, Galicia and been after it ever since on my visits there. This was one of first bottles. The Juan Gil Jumilla Castilla La Mancha 2014 . Nice density and velvety texture. It is clearly distinguished by its nose, a real explosion of fruit, and by its delicacy on the palate. It is a sweeter wine, with perfectly balanced tannins. a varied wine from the Monastrell variety, the variety that reigns in Jumilla. The grapes come from a single estate of old vines over forty years old planted on limestone and stone soils, at an altitude of about 800 meters above sea level. The cost is around 10 euros. Webpage: Official Bodegas Juan Gil

jumilla

Marqués De Griñon Red 2010 Dominio de Valdepusa, Castilla La Mancha. The grapes with which the wines are produced come from the own vineyard planted 20 years ago. After fermenting in stainless steel tanks, it is aged in a heated container in French oak barrels for 18/24 months. Ruby red color of high layer, intense aroma of red forest fruit and spices, structured and powerful in the mouth. To consume today, but it will certainly improve over the next ten years. Cabernet Sauvignon (90%). Merlot (10%). The cost is about 20 euros. webpage: Official Pagos de familia wines of Marqués de Griñon

Toledo

Bodega Garcia Carrion Pata Negra Valdepeñas Gran Reserva 2006 ;Castilla La Mancha. This Pata Negra Gran Reserva is a deep red wine, the tile tones appear very slightly, in the nose the aging aromas are complemented with the aromas of the variety, which are no longer fruity but have evolved to more complex spices and dairy. It is a structured, very pleasant, enveloping wine with a long aftertaste. A wine whose destiny is a five-year-old guard perfectly accompanies red and roasted meats. Theh cost is about 20 euros. webpage: Bodega Garcia Carrion on Pata Negra Valdepeñas

Valdepenas

Bodegas Félix Solis Altos de Tamaron Reserva 2006 Ribera del Duero. Cherry red color with medium layer ocher trim. Very clean and bright. Complex and elegant aroma, with marked mineral notes and other very suggestive aromas. In the mouth it is powerful, broad and with great harmony. Red meat, bush hunting, cured cheeses and lamb stews. The cost is about 12.50 euros. webpage: Bodega Felix Solis Avantis on Altos de Tamaron

ribera del duero

Bodega Lan Crianza 2016. Rioja. Red Crianza wine made mainly with Tempranillo grapes and complemented with Mazuelo. A classic wine from the strains of Rioja Alta and Rioja Alavesa, balanced and with a combination of fruity varietals and unmistakable spicy aromas. A wine with character and elegance. The cost is about 9 euros. Webpage: Bodegas Lan wines

Fuenmayor

Bodega Ramon Bilbao Crianza 2016. Rioja. The wine is a renewed classic which bases a large part of its regularity on an exhaustive monitoring of the whole process of maturation of the grape. It is a mono-varietal wine made from Tempranillo grapes, a typical variety from La Rioja, which comes from several plots. It is only when bottled that they combine to become one of the most balanced and versatile reds in Rioja, a harmonious wine that conquers any good meal and that can be enjoyed from its youth. Once decanted, it wears a brilliant garnet color with a medium layer and an intense nose of wild black fruit, licorice and warm spicy notes of nutmeg, vanilla and cinnamon. On the palate, it is tasty and balanced, with good acidity and a perfect integration of tannins. Roasted tones appear behind the first sip. The cost is about 9 euros.Webpage: Bodegas Ramon Bilbao wines

Haro

The Bodega Ramon Bilbao limited edition or edicion limitada 2014.  Rioja. 100% Tempranillo, with soul and fruitiness. Ruby red wine with notes of black grapes, ripe and aged in noble barrels. The palate is long, with weight and presence of the terroir. House with veal, smoked and soft cheeses. The cost is about 15 euros. webpage: Bodegas Ramon Bilbao on limited edition wine

Haro

Bodegas CVNE Viña Real 2012. Rioja. Wine made from grapes from the Rioja Alavesa area harvested by hand and processed in Viña Real. Once the malolactic fermentation has been done the wine goes mainly to age in American oak barrels where it remains 13 – 14 months. During this time, the wine acquires the aromatic balance which characterizes the wine as well as its finesse and great expression. This wine shows shades of medium to deep shiny cherry colour on a purple background. To the nose, intense aromas of ripe fruits (blackberries, blackcurrants) stand out, complemented with subtle hints of oak. To the palate, it shows structured and round with a good integration of fruitiness and oakiness. The aftertaste is marked by very well balanced tannins as well as by persistent spicy, toasty and balsamic aromas. A long stay in bottle is the finishing touch to this Rioja Alavesa wine’s character. The cost is about 9 euros. Webpage: Bodegas CVNE on its wines

Laguardia

Some webpages to compliment those above and provide you with more info for your plan to visit and they are a must, wines is it.

Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on its wines in English: Tourist office of Castilla La Mancha on wines

The wines of Ribera del DueroRibera del Duero wines

The DOC official wines of La RiojaOfficial Wines of Rioja DOC

There you go ,now you all set to enjoy the wines of Spain ,whether those above , recommended or your own finds, wine is good, enjoy it.

Oh yes Spanish nostalgia.  You get the idea , and I won’t translate;;;!!! En vino veritas!

La comida es la parte material de la alimentación, pero el vino es la parte espiritual de nuestro alimento.» Alejandro Dumas

“Un buen vino es como una buena película: dura un instante y te deja en la boca un sabor a gloria; es nuevo en cada sorbo y, como ocurre con las películas, nace y renace en cada sabor.” Federico Fellini

El vino hace la vida más fácil y llevadera, con menos tensiones y más tolerancia.» Benjamin Franklin

Dios no hizo más que el agua, pero el hombre hizo el vino.» Victor Hugo

«El vino es la cosa más civilizada del mundo.» Ernest Hemingway

El vino da brillantez a las campiñas, exalta los corazones, enciende las pupilas y enseña a los pies la danza.” José Ortega y Gasset

El vino, mientras más se envejece, más calor tiene: al contrario de nuestra naturaleza, que mientras más vive, más se va enfriando.» Lope de Vega

«Se templado en el beber, considerando que el vino demasiado ni guarda secreto ni cumple palabra.» Cervantes

«Me gustaría ser todo de vino y beberme yo mismo.» Federico García Lorca

«Para conservar la salud y cobrarla si se pierde, conviene alargar en todo y en todas maneras el uso del beber vino, por ser, con moderación, el mejor vehículo del alimento y la más eficaz medicina.» Francisco de Quevedo

«Un gran vino requiere un loco para hacerlo crecer, un hombre sabio para velar por él, un poeta lúcido para elaborarlo, y un amante que lo entienda.» Salvador Dalí

Remember, always with moderation but keep the tradition going after all these folks above could not be wrong. Enjoy the wines of Spain

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

 

February 11, 2020

Col du Portalet !!!

Well I told you we drive , anywhere! and we had plenty of opportunities over the years to go over the Pyrénées between my loves France and Spain. Even when there were no tunnels!!! It was a thrill. Now with the tunnels is a piece of cake!!!

I love one as the others posts in my blog. Let me tell you a bit more on the Col du Portalet and its port.

Col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass is a border crossing between France passing by the town of Laruns and Spain, between the Ossau valley and the Tena valley.  Located at an altitude of 1,794 meters, it overlooks the Cirque d’Aneou and offers a magnificent view of the Pic du Midi d’Ossau.

col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass proves to be a starting point for various excursions in the surrounding mountains. Snow is regularly present there from the end of October to the end of May.

On the Spanish side, there are several stores that are call  ventas or sales outlet). Because of the difference between French and Spanish taxes, many French people come to get their supplies,oh yes and everywhere along the long frontier.

Col du Portalet

The Col du Pourtalet pass was crossed only once by the Tour de France, in 1991, during the 13th stage between Jaca and Val-Louron. The Belgian Peter De Clercq won the stage.

You can do excellent skiing here at the Artouste station / Col du Pourtalet on the road D934 going to Spain. At Laruns ,you have spas , lake Artouste, and many other mountain activities which to me is reduce to going over by car!

The Col du Pourtalet is indeed an outlet for Sallent-de-Gallego, Panticosa, Tramacastilla in Spain. The tourist office of Laruns offers, with the office of guides and mountain guides, several walks around the Col du Pourtalet. In the heart of the Pyrenees national park, just before arriving at the Col du Pourtalet, the Cirque d’Aneou marks the border with Spain!

Col du Portalet

Not stay at the hotel Portalet, but pass by the road in front so a nice picture of it here: http://www.hotel-pourtalet.com/en/

The access to the col or pass or peak is from the tourist office base at Laruns more here in French it shows more info. Tourist office of valley of Ossau on transports

Info on the ski resorts there ,for information only ,never done it. Tourist office of the Valley of the Ossau on ski activities

Info on the Col du Portalet in French from tourist office of dept 64 Pyrénées Atlantiques: Tourist office of dept 64 on the Col du Portalet

And you try it, now it is highly recommended a thrill to do by car and the views are fantastic much better than my amateur photos! Enjoy the Col du Portalet sitting quietly between France and Spain.

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

 

 

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