Archive for ‘Spain’

May 21, 2020

Port Vell, Barcelona!

So lets go back to Barcelona, Spain shall we. This is a city actually my oldest son visited first, way back in elementary school and spent a month with a local family as a student exchange from France. Then, I came on a business conference and then well the family came aboard as usually it is with us. Pleasant experiences and again missed telling you about Port Vell or old port of Barcelona. This is my makeup post.

The Port Vell,is Catalan meaning old port, is the historic port of Barcelona. It separates the Gothic quarter from La Barceloneta. It is reached either by La Rambla or by Via Laietana.

Currently the facilities of the Port Vell are destined for sports boats such as the tank dock and the La Barceloneta dock. There is a part of the port also reserved for cruises. More info on cruises which not taken is here: Port Vell bcn cruising and ferries

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Also in the central part you can find an area dedicated to commercial use, known as the Maremagnum a mall containing shops, a multiplex cinema, bars and restaurants, IMAX Port Vell and Europe’s largest aquarium. I really enjoy the shopping here and the walks in the area, nice. Webpage here : Maremagnum shopping and entertainment complex

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You get there as we did on Metro Line 3 the “Drassanes” stop, it goes directly to the ferry terminal area, also, there are bus lines 59, 14, 91, 57, 157  allow access to the port. La Rambla in its vast sea communicates with the city’s port at Plaza del Portal de la Pau, where the Columbus Monument is located. It also has a shuttle bus service for cruises, and direct access to the coastal road (B-10) for access by car. You never know me but will mark this parking: World Trade Center parking

The Colon or Columbus Monument is a sculptural ensemble located in the Plaza del Portal de la Paz in the Ciutat Vella district. Built in homage to the discoverer Christopher Columbus, it is erected at the junction between the Ramblas and the Paseo de Colón, opposite the Port Vell. The monument was built on the occasion of the Universal Exposition of Barcelona in 1888. Opened on June 1, 1888, in full exhibition, it quickly became one of the most characteristic icons of the city. Inside the column there is an elevator that allows you to go up to the hemisphere located under the feet of the statue, from where you can see the city.

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The monument measures a total of 57 meters in height, and is divided into three sections: a circular base, with four flights of stairs 6 meters wide, decorated with eight lion statues and eight bas-reliefs with the shields of the Spanish provinces and the main acts carried out by Colón; an eight-sided polygon, four of them arranged as buttresses, in the shape of a cross, with allegorical statues from Catalonia, Aragon, Castile and León, as well as figures of characters from different origins who helped Columbus, such as the Aragonese Bernat Boïl , the Catalans Pere de Margarit, Jaume Ferrer de Blanes and the Valencian Luis de Santángel; then stands the iron column, of the Corinthian order, with a base with several groups of caravels with two taps that hold the Barcelona shield, as well as winged Famas, the fluted shaft with a central relief alluding to the Navy and the inscription Barcelona to Columbus, the capital with representations of Europe, Africa, Asia and America, a county crown for the County of Barcelona   and a hemisphere for the newly discovered part of the globe; finally the statue of Columbus.

An attractive way to see the port as a whole and from above is the Barcelona Air Shuttle, which crosses the air from the San Sebastián Tower in La Barceloneta, passing by the Jaime I Tower next to the World Trade Center, communicating the port with the Montjuic mountain.

Finally, for the looks::)  Marina Port Vell is a world-class home port for superyachts. Originally built for the 1992 Olympic Games, the marina recently completed its transformation to a 151-berth luxury facility, creating the ultimate destination for yachts up to 190 metres. Webpage here: Marina Port Vell

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The Port Vell webpage has a map you can magnify and tell all the points of interest nearby, it is here in English: Port Vell on points of interests or things to see

The tourist office of Barcelona on the maritime heritage in English: Tourist office of Barcelona on maritime heritage

And as customs and port goes hand in hand this is the customs (aduanas) building in Barcelona! Very near the Columbus monument for info.

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This is a nice area for walks, shopping, eating ,and the beach ; there is very nice night activities there too with lots of clubbing. All in one spot or neighborhood. Enjoy Port Vell Barcelona.

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

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April 29, 2020

Some news from Spain XC

So are we getting some news as when we will get out of the wuhan virus I like to give you some updates on my regular series Some news from Spain. This is concerning only Spain.

First, something we have always keep track of and visited while going on many times over the years, La Vuelta!

The organization of La Vuelta bike race of Spain, in agreement with the UCI (International Cycling Union), agreed to postpone the 75th edition of the race. The Vuelta was originally to be held between August 14 and September 6, departing from the Netherlands. However, the forced reorganization of the annual cycling calendar, following the world health crisis caused by COVID-19, has forced a change in plans. The Vuelta 2020 will be held in autumn, on dates yet to be determined, it will have 18 stages and will start in the Basque Country. The start the Spanish round with the Irun – Arrate stage. Eibar in the reorganization of the calendar with the exceptional variable of a 20-day Tour and not with the 23 initially planned. The 75th edition of La Vuelta will be marked as a historic race in many ways. It will be the first time in the last 35 years that it has less than 21 stages. The last time this circumstance occurred was in 1985, in an edition that had 19 stages. Likewise, for the first time since Unipublic took over the race in 1979, La Vuelta will start in the Basque Country. The Basque Country had spent almost five decades without hosting a first stage of the race. In 1961, La Vuelta started in San Sebastián, with a team time trial with a start and finish in the city of San Sebastián.

More in official webpage in English:  Official La Vuelta cycling event of Spain

And now updates on what is coming up from the government sources on the wuhan virus or covid-19 as it relates to Spain.

It will go as Fase 0 or Phase 0, preparation and which begins on May 4, includes the opening of small shops, which include bookstores and archives, and which may go back to their own activity with the security and prevention measures dictated by healing for this initial phase. From May 4 you can open the retail trade and the bars and restaurants prepare food to pickup or take hom. But it will be on May 11 when the first phase of this process of return of economic activity will begin.

In Fase 1 or Phase 1, the Libraries (lending and reading with limited capacity). Cultural acts and shows of less than 30 people in closed places (with 1/3 of capacity). Outdoor cultural acts and shows of less than 200 people (as long as you are sitting and keeping the necessary distance). Museums (visits only, not cultural activities) 1/3 capacity with control of crowds in rooms. Active and nature tourism for limited groups of people. Audiovisual production and film and series filming will also resume.

Cinemas, theaters and auditoriums will be able to reopen their doors, reducing their capacity to a third, in phase 2 of the de-escalation process (which would take at least four weeks), which has four stages and will be completed by the end of June, as announced by the Prime Minister, Pedro Sánchez.

In Fase 2 or Phase 2 :the activity will return, with controlled and reduced capacity for cinemas, theaters, auditoriums and similar spaces (with pre-assigned seats) with a capacity limit of 1/3. Monuments and other cultural facilities (visits only; no cultural activities) 1/3 capacity. Exhibition rooms, conference rooms and multipurpose rooms 1/3 capacity, with agglomeration control. Cultural acts and shows of less than 50 people in closed places (1/3 of capacity). Outdoor cultural and leisure events and performances for less than 400 people (as long as they are seated and keep the necessary distance). Active and nature tourism for larger groups of people.

In Fase 3 or Phase 3 the de-escalation will continue with the activities with 1/3 capacity in phase II, they can go to 1/2 capacity in this phase. Performing and musical arts rooms with a capacity limit of 1/3. Cultural acts and shows of less than 80 people in closed places (1/3 of capacity). This phase, there is the bullfighting exception. Squares, venues and bullfighting facilities with a capacity limitation that guarantees one person for every 9 m2. It is also necessary to include in its reopening cultural acts and shows, theme parks and outdoor leisure of less than 800 people (as long as it is seated and keeping the necessary distance). And active and nature tourism. In addition to beaches, in conditions of safety and distance.

The source for most was the leading newspapers in Spain ABC, El Mundo and El Pais. The latter is here in Spanish: El Pais on regulations for covid19

The map of covid19 in the comunidad de Madrid by towns in Spanish from the newspaper ABC: ABC covid19 by district of Madrid

Gathered information on the virus from the Worldometer/coronavirus  in English on Spain (You can go to source and see it by regions): Worldometer Coronavirus counter Spain

We will get over this one as we have in the past. I am looking forward to the opportunity to return to my beloved Spain before year’s end 2020. Wishing you stay at home and safe. Un abrazo

And remember, happy travels (it will come back), good health (stay safe), and many cheers to all (indeed)!!!

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April 22, 2020

Church San Manuel y San Benito, Madrid!

Ok so here I am again and another missed in my blog. I will skip my history in Madrid as have many many posts on it. However, only briefly mentioned this church and it was my mom’s favorite and near our home. Oh well as the saying goes , better late than never.

I like to tell you a bit more on the Church San Benito and San Manuel of Madrid.

Near my old home ,apartment or piso in the Calle de Alcalà but further where the church is just across from the Retiro park before arriving at the Puerta de Alcalà lies the Church of San Manuel y San Benito where my mom used to take me as a boy. It is still nostalgic to see it and remind  me of my mother again, always in my mind even if already 13 years passing in France.

The Church of San Manuel and San Benito,is located on Calle de Alcalá, 83, in front of the Retiro Park and was built between 1902 and 1911. The work was intended as a residence and church for the Augustinians Fathers. The patrons of this initiative were the Catalan businessman Manuel Caviggioli and his wife Benita Maurici,(both of Italian descend) who donated the land for this purpose and from whom the church takes its dedication.

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It is one of the best examples of Madrid’s Neo-Byzantine architecture, and always a sight from the Retiro park, a must for me to stop ok. The Church of San Manuel and San Benito has a centralized layout of a Greek cross, with a large cupola on pedantries where the four evangelists are symbolically represented. Inside, there is a side chapel de la Epístola, with a white marble altar in the center and the two tombs of the Catalan couple on the sides. Of its facade, the tower stands out, erected in the manner of the Italian bell towers.

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The restoration in the last third of the 20C of the Church of San Manuel and San Benito,left it spanking beautiful. The exterior was built in stone and white marble, and the splendid red copper dome. At the corner between the Calle de Alcalá and Calle Lagasca, where the entrances to the church are located, a bell tower with a square floor layout, more than 43 meters high,can be seen.   Again, the white Macael marble in the semicircular apse that houses the High Altar, with ornaments of various colors. Another of the most unique and beautiful details of this temple are the mosaics that adorn the walls and ceilings. And the sculptures that continue to amaze us. In the center of the Altar is the figure of El Salvador (the Saviour) that measures two and a half meters, on the sides of Saints San Agustín and San José, all of them made of Carrara marble.The images of the two lateral chapels, the one on the left, dedicated to Santa Rita, and the one on the right that houses the tombs of the founders. On the central body, the magnificent cupola with mosaics representing the evangelists. At the foot, in the high choir,one of the best organs in Madrid!

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The complex as a whole includes the schools of the Caviggioli Foundation, with an entrance on Calle de Columela .This small street istrategically located next to Puerta de Alcalá and the Retiro park, was built on the space it had occupied the bullring of Puerta de Alcalá, demolished in 1874 (for the one in Ventas see post). On its short route on the continuation of Calle de Recoletos that links it with the Paseo de Recoletos, there are side facades of great architecture such as the old palace of the Duke of Abrantes ,and after José de Palafox, on the corner of Calle Serrano, and the Caviggioli Foundation schools, next to the Church of San Manuel and San Benito.

A bit of the story on the protagonists, Manuel Caviggioli and his wife Benita Maurici, of humble Italian origin, were born in Barcelona, he in 1825, she in 1819. It is not well known how they forged a great fortune. They settled in Madrid from youth, they managed to enter the most aristocratic circles. Don Manuel planned to build a pantheon temple that, once deceased, would keep his remains, as well as a residence for a religious community that would be in charge of directing a foundation whose purpose would be the free instruction of the working class. He died in 1901, and it was his widow, Doña Benita, who finally launched the project. Don Manuel and Doña Benita used part of their money to build the church and the school, entrusted to the Augustinian Fathers. In return, in the future, they should remember them in their prayers by celebrating masses and funerals monthly and on special dates. Along with the couple’s undoubtedly good intentions and religious beliefs, there was a desire to perpetuate their memory and record their power. They did all this. The first stone of the so-called Church of El Salvador -after San Manuel and San Benito, in honor of their promoters-, and of the free schools, was laid and blessed in 1903. Doña Benita died the following year, so she could not see the work finished either. Fulfilling her wishes, on December 30, 1910, the transfer of the coffins from the Almudena cemetery to the new temple took place. On January 1, 1911, the official inauguration took place in the Church of San Manuel y San Benito.

The School functioned until the beginning of the Spanish Civil War in 1936. The church, convent and classrooms became a dance hall, warehouse, commissary, public library, and headquarters of the Communist Party, among other things. Today it houses the sacristy, parish offices, classrooms for cultural activity and other rooms. The complex is surrounded by gardens and a beautiful wrought iron fence, which from the Retiro offers a spectacular view. Indeed I come up by here to see the fence gate always.

One of the nice off the beaten path monument of my Madrid and located in one of the most visible areas by the Puerta de Alcalà and Retiro park! It is always memorable for me to visit again, and hope you get the chance to do so, it is a very nice church inside.

The official Church of San Manuel y San Benito in Spanish: Official Church San Manuel y San Benito

The tourist office of Madrid on the Church of San Manuel y San Benito in English: Tourist office Madrid on Church San Manuel y San Benito

Hope you get to see it and let me know about, one nice off the beaten path monument in my Madrid. As we said, From Madrid to heavens and a hole in the sky to look down on it everyday!

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

 

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April 22, 2020

Church of Calatrava, Madrid!

Well here is another monument of my beloved Madrid that had passed in front many times but never got in. This is an omnipresent tourist area near Puerta del Sol , however, it stays off the beaten path to many. A worthy architectural and historial monument of Madrid and Spain.

Let me tell you a bit more on the Church of Calatrava of Madrid.

The Iglesia de la Concepcion Real de Calatrava or simply Iglesia de las Calatravas or the Church of  Calatrava is the only surviving part of the old Concepción Real convent, of the commander nuns of the Order of Calatrava, located at the beginning of one of the most important streets in Madrid, Calle de Alcalá, a short distance from Puerta del Sol.

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The history of the convent is inseparably linked to that of the Calatrava Military Order, founded in the 12C to defend the Christian possessions in the south of the peninsula from Muslim attacks, within the framework of the Reconquest. They soon had female equivalents, of a monastic character, in order to welcome the wives and daughters of those who went to war in the monasteries, and the vocation to help the mission of the Christian knights through prayer and penance. In this way the religious commendators of Calatrava arose, as a feminine branch of the Order of the same name. The nuns of Calatrava in Madrid had first occupied a convent in Almonacid de Zorita province of Guadalajara, a town closely linked to the history of the Order, but in 1623, seeking proximity to the Court, they moved the house to Madrid by order of king Felipe IV . The convent and church buildings were built at that time, soon becoming one of the most popular and crowded religious centers in Madrid. All that splendor lasted just two centuries.

Finally, although the convent building was destroyed, Queen Isabel II had it rebuilt in 1872. Already converted the convent church into a parish, luck wanted it not to suffer too much from the vicissitudes of the Spanish Civil War, keeping its interior almost intact. However, the lack of maintenance and institutional neglect led the monument to a state of serious deterioration during the last decades of the 20C. Finally, at the beginning of the 21C, an ambitious program was undertaken that included intervention both on the external part of the Church of Calatrava such as remodeling of roofs, cleaning of facades and recovery of the original plaster, and on the inside, which was completely restored. Currently, the church is open to visitors outside the hours of liturgical celebrations.

The Church of Calatrava responds to the convent typology of the Spanish Baroque, characterized by volumetric and decorative simplicity. On the ground floor, the church presents an intermediate solution between the basilica and the central layout. The preference of military orders for centralized spaces is striking, perhaps as a demand or need for certain rites or ceremonies that are known, such as the investiture of new knights. The influence of the Escorial models on the general sobriety of the building is evident; the original severity of the exterior, only broken by simple moldings and plaque decoration, was radically transformed in the 19C, when the king consort Francisco de Asís ordered the entire exterior of the church to be decorated in a romantic fashion, In this way, the façade main one, recalling Calle de Alcalá, presents today an ornate appearance, with grouped pilaster strips, scallops, cushioning, graffito, and a curious cornice with stiff taps, all in a Neo- Plateresque style that contrasts strikingly with the architecture. Omnipresent both outside and inside the church is the Cruz de Calatrava, very visible in the rose window that crowns the entrance, formed by a semicircular arch flanked by very flat pilasters with grottoes, the ensemble ending with a niche with a statue of the Virgin.

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As passed several times by it each time there was service so not seen the inside yet. However, the interior of the Church of Calatrava is characterized by its luminosity and decorative exuberance The space of the main chapel is perhaps the most outstanding part of the church. The front of the same occupies a spectacular altarpiece made of gilded and polychrome wood, which makes a pendant with two smaller ones located on the transom studs. There is a wonderful retable master altar as well.

This one is one major one to see completely and now more than ever eager to go and see it. The architecture is nice and the history is huge so noted down. Hope you enjoy the brief introduction and do come to see  the Church of Calatrava in Madrid.

The official webpage for the Church of Calatrava is here in Spanish: Official Church of Calatrava

The tourist office of Madrid on the Calatrava Church in English: Tourist office Madrid on Church of Calatrava

Again, Madrid has a world to offer and see architecture and history of Spain, Europe, the Americas, do come and see it. And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 20, 2020

Parque de Atracciones ,Madrid!

Well going way back in these days of home living and memories come to mind perhaps otherwise not brought to your attention or mine. As said, Madrid is special for me, know the city like the palm of my hand. Been there since early teen and then more. One of the memorable moment is been able to bring my boys to the same places my mother took me. One of this was the amusement park or Parque de Atracciones de Madrid.

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I like to take you on a guided tour of the amusement park. Hope you enjoy it as we did/do.

The Parque de Atracciones or amusement park, you will enjoy our favorites Nickelodeon Land, Lanzadera ,Tornado and Abismo that are rollercoasters, and the Walking Dead Experience rides. The Amusement Park in the Batán area of Casa de Campo. It has two entrance doors: by the Tranquility Zone and by Nickelodeonland, 50 meters from the Batan metro/subway station. The park can be accessed by car on the M30 beltway direction Badajoz exit/Salida Parque de Atracciones / Casa de Campo, although it is also connected to public transport by the Batán Metro station line 10 and by bus lines 33 (Principe Pio-Casa de Campo ), 55 (Atocha-Batàn) and 65 (Plaza Jacinto Benavente-Colonia Gran Capitàn. However, when I came with the family we went there by taking the cable car or téléferico de Madrid (see post) from Paseo del Pintor Rosales in Parque del Oeste.

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The history of the Parque de Atracciones of Madrid began on May 15, 1969. And I first visited with Mom in 1972!!! Several attractions quickly became well known, such as El Tobogán, Los Coches de Shock, Labyrinth of Mirrors, 7 Picos, Enterprise, Los Piratas, El Valle de la Prehistory, El Pulpo or Jet Star. Over time, the park has undergone several renovations, in which they have been closing, opening and replacing attractions. In 1998 the most important renovation to date was carried out to remodel the park and convert it into a theme park. This complete remodeling consisted of dividing the park into 5 zones, adapting the visual appearance and name of the attractions to their corresponding zones, filling the pathways with decorations, and multiplying the number of souvenir shops, as well as increasing the number of performances. In that same year 1998, the Parque de Atracciones, together with the Zoo Aquarium, Aquópolis and the télferico of Madrid or cable car, joined the Parques Reunidos company. I brought my boys here in 2005.

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The Parque de Atracciones or amusement park is today divided into four zones, in which the attractions are distributed. Until April 2012 it also had one more area, called La Gran Avenida,(too bad we love it)  which has now been framed within the Tranquility Zone. These four zones are describe as follows by yours truly.

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Zona de Tranquilidad or tranquility zone: La Jungla or   Jungle Open Ride in which a boat goes through different scenarios pretending to be the jungle. In 2000 its route was reduced and they changed the way station to be able to install Río Encantado there. Zeppelin: It is a suspended monorail, whose gondolas are in the shape of zeppelins, which go around the park at a height of about 10 meters. Star Flyer :chains that rise to 81 meters high, being the highest attraction in the park. Virtual simulator : simulator in which a film is projected while the seats move according to the movements that take place in it to give the feeling that what is being simulated is real.

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Zona del Maquinismo or Machinism Zone: Abismo or Abyss The climb is made on a 90º plane that finally ends with the cars upside down, while making a corkscrew. From there, the roller coaster begins at a speed of 105 km / h, going through all kinds of investments, corkscrews and banked curves. Tarantula: It is a long and intense roller coaster 25.5 meters high and 630 meters long in cars with capacity for four people, sitting in pairs and with their backs turned. Tornado: inverted roller coaster, The track is located at the top of the seats, unlike conventional roller coasters, allowing the public to enjoy the sensation of traveling hanging, seeing at all times the landscape that passes by their feet. La Lanzadera: A free fall of 63 meters at 80 km / h in 3 seconds, after a stop at the top of approximately 4 seconds, from where you can enjoy good views of Madrid. Cave of Tarantulas: the cars carry pistols that will be used throughout the trip to shoot all the targets that are in the cave. These targets are giant moving tarantulas.   Aserradero or sawmill: Mounted passengers in themed boats as if they were logs, they will go through up to two slopes: a small one practically as soon as they leave the station, and a larger one in the middle of the route. Sillas Voladoras or flying chairs: Consists of chairs hanging from a chain. The area above which the chains are hung rotates, giving the feeling that the chairs are flying. In addition, it will rise in height as it progresses. La Màquina or the Machine: The attraction is a circular platform, hanging from a central beam, with capacity for 40 people who will look inside. The beam will move in a pendular way from right to left, reaching movements of up to 180º. In turn, the platform rotates on the axis that joins it to the central beam. Top Spin: The only attraction that still exists that has kept its original name after the redevelopment of the park. Its operation is similar to a giant swing with two rows of seats with capacity for 40 people, first performing back and forth movements back and forth to finally spin, with a second axis of rotation where the rows of seats are held. Rotor: The attraction is formed by a 32-meter tower through which a structure that holds 28 gondolas ascends, distributed in 4 circles. Those 4 circles will go around as the structure ascends, placing the gondola horizontally in certain positions. Typhoon: Its operation is similar to the attraction La Maquina, being this one softer and oriented to a younger audience. Its biggest difference is that the seats are arranged outwards and that the nacelle moves on a track instead of making a pendulum movement, thus achieving a less dizzy feeling.

Zona de la Naturaleza  or nature zone: TNT – Tren de la Mina: mine train. Despite being an attraction also for children, it reaches 17.5 meters in height and 55 km / h. Vertigo: It is a wild mouse type roller coaster, which does not reach great speed but has very rapid and abrupt changes of direction. Los Rapidos or the Rapids: Mounted on a circular tire, 8 people will be navigating the river prepared to simulate a raft descent. Travelers will go through rapids, areas where there is no way to avoid water. Los Fiordos or the Fjords: After climbing a 15-meter slope and seeing the landscape, the boat falls down a ramp, landing in the water and creating a wave that drenches all the people who are in it. There is a bridge as a viewpoint, just in front of the descent ramp, where people also end up soaking wet after the boat fell. Tiovivo or merry-go-round: It is the classic carousel or merry-go-round of wheelies and other animals. It is the park’s longest running attraction (even older than the park, from 1927) that is still in operation. 4D Cinema: Cinema room where a film with holographic technology will be shown.

Nickelodeon Land: Splash Bash: Aquatic attraction consisting of six rotating gondolas on a rotating platform. Patrulla Canina or dog patrol: roller coaster themed in the television series Patrulla Canina. Hero Spin: Themed in the TV series SpongeBob, it is an attraction similar to the well-known octopus or grasshopper, with the difference that in this the gondolas are cars, which you control with a button inside each car. Nickelodeon Express: elevated train that travels throughout Nickelodeon Land. Al Bosque con Diego: bus-shaped cabin that makes 360-degree turns similar to the hands of a clock. Los Globos Locos or the crazy balloons: Eight hot air balloons on a rotating central axis. The circle above the axis that holds the balloons rotates at the same time as the axis, but with an undulating movement. Padrinos Voladores: the only suspended roller coaster in Spain, with a route similar to that of a wild mouse. Jimmy Neutron’s magneto: a drop tower like the one placed in the Zona del Maquinismo, only this differs in that its height is much lower and in which its route is motorized ; there is no free fall. Cazamedusas de Patricio: or Patrick’s jellyfish hunter: Similar to Splash Bash, but not aquatic. As in the classic attractions known as tazas locas or crazy cups, several rotating gondolas intermingle with others thanks to the rotating platforms on which they are located. La Aventura de Dora or Dora’s adventure: Tour on board a Jeep through a forest with characters from the animated series Dora the Explorer. Coches de Choque de Rugrats or Rugrats bumper cars: Classic bumper car attraction, but smaller, since it is childish. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles License: a children’s attraction in which to learn how to drive a small car on a tour set in a city. Water Games: aquatic attraction formed by different jets of water to cool off.

There are services and restaurants in each zone for your comfort and great lunch experience with the family. In all a great park right at the door of the city of Madrid. Wonderful family souvenirs at Parque de Atracciones de Madrid. Hope you enjoy it as we did.

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Some webpages to help you plan your trip here and a family must are

Official Parque de Atracciones de Madrid

Tourist office of Madrid on the Parque de Atracciones

And there you go another childhood memories of my Madrid. Never forgotten and now so lucky to be able to bring my boys on them too and relive again the joy of adolecent living in the movida city of Madrid, my Madrid. Hope you enjoy the Parque de Atracciones as I/we did/do.

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

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April 20, 2020

Trujillo, Extremadura. Birthplace of conquerors !!

I have been here! and have other posts on Trujillo in my blog. A wonderful souvenir because came here with friends still on board!  I ,of course, was in Madrid and had the grand opportunity to visit this wonderful town, Trujillo, in the Autonomous region of Extremadura in my kingdom of Spain. I recall was here so many years ago when a teenager, and now it was wonderful to come back as an adult. The city is compact ,and full of history all around you. I will just touch here on the souvenirs, the monuments are in other posts.

I was taken there by car, and given a short tour of the city that turn out very nice.  We stop along the road for gas at a Repsol service station at El Berrocal  Autovía del Suroeste, km182, 10300 Navalmoral de la Mata, province of Cáceres on the road A5. We arrive right into the plaza Mayor, full of historical buildings all around it, and the huge statue of conqueror of Peru Francisco Pizarro.  The best way here as always with my opinions is the car of course. Out of madrid on the A5 will get you here. They have a Facebook page! here: Facebook page of El Berrocal resto Repsol gas station

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In the square or plaza Mayor you will see the many monuments I had mentioned in previous post but the square is loaded.  The tourist office of Trujillo with monuments links in Spanish is here: Tourist office of Trujillo on things to see

Trujillo

However, before reaching Trujillo ,we had a great lunch at Hotel Las Cigueñas, just before reaching the city center at Avenida de Madrid ,52. Its a complex hotel, restaurant,and events facilities. La Bodega restaurant inside is wonderful, we had tapas entrees of iberico ham, mollejas de cordero,a nice lubina fish dish, and red wine tayita from the region, all well serve, friendly efficient and well done.  For the gourmand in me, this was heavens and the hightlight of this trip. Always looking forward to stopping by again. Recommended.

The official webpage Hotel Las Cigueñas is here: Hotel Las Ciguenas

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For info those without a car, there are bus service from Madrid by Avanzabus , webpage here Avanzabus destination Trujillo

By train is a bit longer about a bit over 2 hrs, from Madrid Atocha to Navalmoral de la Mata and then bus to Trujillo with the above firm. The Renfe trains is here Renfe schedules

Worth the trip for a day or better rent a car! Hope you enjoy the ride! Trujillo is full of architecture and history of the Americas! And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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April 17, 2020

Basilica Our Lady of Atocha, Madrid!

So here again need to expand on this marvel of my beloved Madrid. Again, written so many posts on my Madrid and always something is missing, as now. Briefly touch before, need to tell you more of the wonderful story of this huge monument call the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha or Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha of Madrid.

And, of course I have passed several times and finally saw the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha , very nice, on Avenida de la Ciudad de Barcelona, 1. but main entrance of the parish is at Calle Julián Gayarre 1. It is in the neighborhood of Pacifico, and district of Retiro of my Madrid. Very centrally located very near the Atocha Renfe train metro station on the Alfonso XII exit and Menéndez Pelayo station on the Gutenberg exit, of metro line 1, Cercanías. Atocha Station and bus lines 10 and 14 are good too.

madrid

The main here is the history of the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Atocha , I like

The image of Our Lady of Atocha, is the oldest in Madrid. The legend traces the devotion to apostolic times, attributing its accomplishment to Nicodemus and its polychromy to Saint Luke, being transferred by Saint Peter’s disciples from Antioch to Spain. It is the chronicles of the 17C that begin to provide more realistic data, citing a document where the first reference to the cult of Our Lady of Atocha appeared. It would be a 7C writing by San Ildefonso in which he claimed to have prayed before an image in Madrid whose characteristics would correspond to the current image.

The first documents that mention the existence of a hermitage in which Our Lady of Atocha is worshiped, date back to 1162, and are some Bulls of the Cathedral of Toledo where the archbishop of that city grants ownership of the hermitage to the Collegiate house of Santa Leocadia de Toledo. And finally, the irrefutable document that shows the existence of an important cult to Our Lady in her dedication to Atocha,was in the 13C, in the Cantigas de Alfonso X el Sabio, where direct reference is made to two miracles of Nuestra Señora (Our Lady= Notre Dame) from “Tocha” from “Madride” in Cantigas 289 and 315. The Dominican friars have been custodians of the image since 1523, the year in which, through fr. Juan Hurtado de Mendoza, confessor of King Carlos V, the hermitage becomes property of the Order of Preachers. Illustrious friars have passed through it such as confessors of kings, theologians, writers, musicians etc. Fr. Bartolomé de las Casas, defender of the Indians (Americas), spent his last years of his life, and here he died and was buried , although the exact place of his grave is not known.

There was always a close relationship between the Royal House and the image of Our Lady of Atocha. According to the chronicles, the kings soon began to visit the Virgin of Atocha: Alfonso VII, Alfonso IX, Sancho IV el Bravo, Enrique II, Enrique III, Enrique IV, Juan I, Juan II and the Catholic Monarchs(Fernando e Isabel). It is said of Felipe II that he never left Madrid without going through the Basilica. Felipe IV visited it 3400 times, as a friar of the house noted patiently. Carlos II wanted his first outing as king of Spain to go to Atocha, and there he went after his wedding with María Luisa de Orleans giving on that occasion a cloak and a diamond crown. Alfonso XII, restored the throne, moved from the Atocha station to the Basilica where he prayed a Te Deum and Salve.

madrid

From a very early age it became customary for kings to present princes and infants to their children before the image of the Virgin. So they did, for example, on December 7, 1629, Felipe IV and his wife presenting Prince Baltasar Carlos. Felipe IV brought Prince Carlos before the image a few days after his birth. The relationship between the Royal House and the Basilica has also been maintained during the 20C. The current kings Felipe VI and Doña Leticia approached the temple after their wedding to present the bouquet to the Virgin, and on two more occasions in 2006 and 2007to present to their Patron Saint their current daughters Princess Eleanor and Infanta Sofia

Events happened here too sadly. In 1808 Napoleon’s troops violently entered the Convent and Church, turning it into a barracks and causing terrible damage. It was then that the historical flags were lost, a memory of Spain’s triumphs throughout history, which decorated the walls of the temple in gratitude. They stole all the gold and silver from the Virgin, burned the library books and demolished many parts of the convent. The friars took the image of Our Lady of Atocha and took it to the Descalzas Reales and later they transferred it to the Convent of Santo Tomás where the religious stayed. The confiscation of 1834 was the second hard blow to the temple, when the Dominicans were expelled and the convent converted into a barracks for invalids and the temple guarded by the Royal Chaplain. With the passage of time the temple threatened ruin and the image was transferred to the parish of Buen Suceso.

On November 12, 1863, Pope Pius IX granted the Church of Atocha the title of Basilica, by means of a Brief pontificate signed in Rome. Thus, it became the first temple in Madrid to receive this title and one of the top ten in Spain. It had been Queen Isabel II who had raised the request for such dignity to the Nuncio to Her Holiness in Spain. The Queen was a faithful devotee of Our Lady of Atocha, and in her temple she had celebrated the Mass of vigils after her marriage, and she frequently went to pray and sing Salve before the image of the Virgin. The Pope, aware of the Queen’s devotion to the image, responded promptly granting the title of Basilica.

In 1924 the Dominicans, who could not forget the Virgin of Atocha who had guarded with so much devotion and affection for four centuries, asked King Alfonso XII to grant facilities to restore the Convent and Church Basilica of the Virgin of Atocha. The works were carried out with the greatest speed and on the first Saturday of November 1926 the solemn transfer of the Virgin was made, from the parish of Buen Suceso to its new church, where she was received by His Majesty the King Alfonso XIII ;and his mother Queen María Cristina, resuming a new era in the cult of the Virgin of Atocha.

madrid

The worship was interrupted again in the eventful years of our civil war, when the Convent and the Basilica Church of Our Lady of Atocha were assaulted and burned down – on July 20, 1936 by Republicans forces; and the religious who could not escape that tragic day were martyred. Everything of value kept in the compound was lost, but God wanted only the greatest treasure in the house to be saved, the image of the Virgin of Atocha that had been removed days before her throne and had been handed over her custody to a family friend of the Community.

The current Basilica fo Our Lady of Atocha was inaugurated on Christmas 1951. In 1963, the Virgen de Atocha School was built, which the Atocha community managed for more than 40 years until it was transferred to the Santo Domingo Educational Foundation, although the friars of the convent continue to participate in pastoral care. Of the college. In 1965 the parish of Our Lady of Atocha was erected, which was a great pastoral impulse in the neighborhood that continues today with intensity.

A wonderful story indeed and a beautiful basilica on an area that is grand for walks; see my other posts on the street Paseo de la Reina Cristina. The Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha is very much part of the history of Madrid and Spain , hope you have the time to see it, after all walking distance from Atocha train station!

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here which is a must are

Official Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Atocha in Spanish: Official Basilica of Our Lady of Atocha

The tourist office of Madrid on the Basilica in English: Tourist office of Madrid on the Basilica

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

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April 17, 2020

An avenue and towers in Barcelona!

And let me bring you back to the Barcelona and some of its monumental work that have been briefly mentioned in previous posts but feel needs a post of their own. Let me tell you briefly about the Avenida Reina Maria Cristina and the Venetian towers leading to Montjuic in Barcelona, Autonomous region of Catalunya, kingdom of Spain.

The Avenida de la Reina María Cristina or Avinguda de la Reina Maria Cristina is located in the Sants-Montjuïc district, It is located between Plaza de España and Plaza de Carles Buïgas, where the Magic Fountain of Montjuic is located. It was urbanized in view of the celebration of the International Exposition of Barcelona in 1929. It is dedicated to María Cristina de Habsburgo-Lorena, second wife of king Alfonso XII and mother of king Alfonso XIII.

The Reina María Cristina Avenue is at the foot of the Montjuïc mountain. It starts from the Plaza de España (see post) and runs in a straight line until the confluence of the avenues Francesc Ferrer i Guàrdia and Rius i Taulet, where a series of squares such as Carles Buïgas, Josep Puig i Cadafalch and de las Cascadas that lead to the Palacio Nacional, which dominates the avenue from the heights.

Barcelona

It is located between various monuments like the Venetian Towers at the beginning in the Plaza de España, and the Magic Fountain and the Four Columns at the end of the street, before ascending to the Palacio Nacional or National Palace.

Barcelona

On both sides of the avenue were the main buildings of the International Exposition   such as the Palace of the Dress, the Palace of Communications and Transportation, the Palace of Metallurgy, Electricity and Power, and the Palace of Projections. This architectural complex currently constitutes the Barcelona Trade Fair or FIRA, next to the palaces of Alfonso XIII and Victoria Eugenia, located next to the Magic Fountain. Next to the avenue was the Plaza de la Mecánica ,currently the Plaza del Universo, in the center of which was the Torre de la Luz, a light source called the Jardin de Agua-Luz, and the sculpture El trabajo.

Barcelona

 

A bit on the main buildings here !

The Palace of Communications and Transportation from a project from 1926, it presents a neoclassical style line inspired by French academic architecture.

The Palace of Dresses or work ,initially called the Palace of Pedagogy, Hygiene and Social Institutions. It presents an irregular plan arranged around a central space with a large roundabout topped by an oriental-style dome.

The Palace of Metallurgy, Electricity and Power Forces is a rectangular form, a large polyhedral dome stands out in the central part, on a drum and with a lantern, with a façade featuring a large classical pediment decorated with fresco paintings and with allegorical sculptures.

The Palace of Projections was demolished after the International Exposition, the current Palacio del Congreso or Congress Palace was built in its place as of now.

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At the end of the Queen Maria Cristina avenue and at the foot of the mountain, the famous Magic Fountain of Montjuïc was built, which amazed the public with its fantastic play of light and water jets. Even today it is an emblematic work of Barcelona, where pyro-musical shows are usually held at the Merced festivals and every weekend of the year they are launched in a recital of water, light, color and music. As a prelude to the great fountain, a small waterfall was placed on the access staircase from the Queen Maria Cristina avenue  to the Plaza de Carles Buïgas square, located on three levels separated by cup-shaped pots.

barcelona

 

The easiest is the Metro station at Plaza España or Plaça Espanya on lines 1 and 3, and several bus lines including the airport express that leaves you off at the square easy walk over to the Venetian towers and the start of the Avenida de la Reina Maria Cristina.

Some webpages to help you plan your trip here are

The city of Barcelona on the Reina Maria Cristina avenue in English: City of Barcelona on the avenue Reina Maria Cristina

The official FIRA congress webpage on Montjuic in English: FIRA Barcelona on Montjuic

The tourist office of Barcelona on the Magic Fountain in English: Tourist office on Montjuic magic fountain

And there you , these are wonderful architectural buildings and modern history of the city of Barcelona with plenty to see, eat ,shop and especially wonderful walks for the whole family. Hope you enjoy the brief introduction so you too can come here as we did several times.

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

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April 16, 2020

A restaurant and bulls of San Clemente!

So coming back to one of my fav regions of my beloved Spain with many memorable family moments over the years. Of course, I have written many posts on the area and its towns but sometime I feel did it in a general way . I would like to give them life in a more detail post of some of the things to see we liked.

This is the case of the town of San Clemente, in the province of Cuenca, Autonomous Region of Castilla La Mancha, Kingdom of Spain. A memorable restaurant and the bullfighting arena. For reference, San Clemente is located in the south of the province of Cuenca, 110 kilometers from the capital city of Cuenca, and 80 from Albacete, on the banks of the Rus River and at the convergence of highways A-43 and AP-36(toll). Although we came on the N310 from Villanueva de la Jara.

San Clemente

The restaurant bar Cerveceria El Carmen is on the Plaza del Carmen a relatively off the beaten path town and restaurant. We were on our road warrior tour of the region and decided to take a look what was there and of course once in town felled hungry. We saw this quant resto right on the square with a nice statue of local workers in rather residential area. Looking for the real my Spain told the fam this is the place to stop and eat. It was and still is a memorable moment in our lives , the whole family enjoyed very much and cheers of beer glasses followed by a great local food in a very friendly family environment we love so much. This one is one for a lifetime with my dear late wife Martine and boys; already looking forward to travel again and pass by here again, recommended.

San Clemente

San Clemente

The Cerveceria El Carmen where we had our lunch for the day !  Plenty of tapas chorizos fritos, tortillas de patata, ham croquettes, etc and the nice cold beers just what the summer calls for it,and all under 9€ per person! Nice ::)

San Clemente

San Clemente

There is no webpage only mentioned in the San Clemente tourist office here:  Tourist office of San Clemente on restos bars and El Carmen

At the town, there were nice monuments many already mentioned in previous post on San Clemente but for the purist in me, the Plaza de Toros was nice.

San Clemente

The Plaza de Toros of San Clemente was built in 1908, and known as La Carmencita for emulating the bullfighting arena in Valencia in a small way. It was inaugurated on August 29, 1908. After a deep and complete restoration, it was reopened on April 23, 1995 in a poster formed by “El Litri”, “El Cordobes” and Adolfo de Reyes who fought cattle of Mariano Sanz Jiménez.

San Clemente

One more reason for celebration around traditional bullfighting of this town, which dates back centuries, with documentation that testifies to this bullfighting hobby as early as 1538. The plaza de Toros of San Clemente has walls of rammed earth with brick surrounds and stone plinth with a crowned crown of rammed earth and pointed arches in all gaps. The geometric decoration predominates, mainly the rhombus. Three pediments crown the main access.

San Clemente

The city of San Clemente with a virtual view of the Plaza de Toros: City of San Clemente virtual view of Plaza de Toros

Toursit office of San Clemente with civil monuments to see as the Plaza de Toros in Spanish: Tourist office of San Clemente on plaza de toros

City of San Clemente with a general view of what to see in Spanish: City of San Clemente on things to see

And there you go a one two punch visit to quant off the beaten path San Clemente; you read it here in my blog and recommended to all. One of the routes of Don Quijote as well; the eternal dreamer of Castilla La Mancha, this in Spanish here: Ruta de Quijote on San Clemente

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

 

 

 

April 16, 2020

Old Hotel Faus Hutte, Villanua!

This is a road taken many many times since 1990. It’s nostalgic for me and brings me many good memories now even more. This is the first trip i took with my girlfriend, back in 1990 to show the Frenchie my  Spain; and later my wife Martine for almost 28 yrs before the F cancer took her away from me in 2018. I am talking with deep emotions about a very small town in Aragon, call Villanua. My personal post with photos was done on May 15 2018.

Years go by and we keep traveling by here between France and Spain, even visiting from USA and of course later more once living in France. It all started with the Hotel Faus Hutte at the town’s entrance next to the Repsol gast station, and a beautiful story of friendly Pyrenees mountain welcome on a dreary night by 22h in September 10 1990 just to get to Madrid for my birthday. Over time the hotel owners passed away and first retired and the hotel was change to Hotel Lacasa  ,and we were surprise of the change but still there. Then, by 2016 a new ownership and completely new direction under the name of El Albergue Villanúa . The old Hotel has been renovated in 2016 to convert it into a hostel and offers rustic décor with parquet floors and wood finishes typical of mountain hotels. Despite the reforms carried out, it has maintain its essence and the pure rural style and the decor indeed. They can change the name a thousand times but it will always be our Faus Hutte mountain hotel. Thanks for reading this post.

Villanua

Villanua

The new webpage for the Albergue Villanua with the section Collaradeta that is the old Faus Hutte is here in Spanish: Official Albergue Villanua on Collaradeta

Villanua

A bit more on the quant mountain town of Villanua

Villanúa is in the autonomous community of Aragon, province of Huesca, where the Aragon valley widens. At the foot of Collarada peak  at 2,886 meters .It is a tourist locality near Jaca and the ski resorts of Candanchú and Astún, and 12 km from the French border by the Somport tunnel. Administratively the locality is in the north of Aragon in the area of Jacetania.

Villanúa communicates by the A-23 highway with Zaragoza and Huesca, and with Pamplona by the A-21. However, the old road passing by city center that we love to take each time is the N-330 road. By now the A23 Z40 (beltway of Zaragoza) and the local to the French border N330 are my second home!!

Again a bit of history I like on precious Villanua. The first historical reference of Villanúa appears in the Cartulary of Santa Cruz de la Serós in 992, the creation of this new City, of free men, with lands and rights recognized by the King is earlier, from the 9C, it follows the repopulation with inhabitants of the Bearn and as a counterweight to the Lord of Visigothic ,the origin of village of Aruej   6C who controlled the valley which is opposite Villanúa, although at that time the valley was abandoned. There is a tradition of strong emigration to Latin America and to France of these younger sons who inherited neither house nor land.

The things to see are the small Church of San Esteban .This church dates from the 11C, but various modifications, particularly in the 17C, made it lose its original Romanesque characteristics. The historic center of Villanua has preserved the evidence of a bygone era, the fountain of the four sources, the old city/town hall with its portal and its Gothic openings, the coats of arms on the houses, the alleys, and passages, the stables transformed into homes.

The cave of “Las Güixas”, with the area characteristic of limestone subsoil of Villanúa and its neighbour Borau, develops the underground network of Lecherines, whose total depth exceeds one thousand meters and the length exceeds fifteen km. More on the caves here in English: Tourist office of the Jaca area or jacetania on the cave

The dolmens, the railway viaduct, the hermitage of San Juan and the abandoned villages of Cenarbe and Aruej, with its small Romanesque church of the 11C are reasons to walk in this territory crossed by the Aragón river and by the Camino Aragones, itinerary of the Pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, with its pilgrim fountain. There is plenty of nature walks here with guides into the Pyrenées.

Villanua

The city of Villanua on its location: City of Villanua on location

Tourist office of Villanua on things to do in Spanish : Tourist office Villanua on things to do

Tourist office of Aragon on the Pyrénées and mention of Villanua in English: Tourist office of Aragon and Villanua

And now feel better in showing this sentimental spot of my beloved Spain, Villanua will always be in my heart. It is a beautiful natural spot where our Earth can be seen at its fullest , mountain walks, and wonderful skiing as well as gorgeous caves and a huge mountain tunnel. Recommended for the whole family, enjoy Villanua and Jacetania and Aragon of my Spain.

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

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